1998 Ride the Rockies Reports from the Field, Day Five

Thursday, June 25 - Steamboat Springs to Avon

89 Miles - 6000 Feet of Climbing
Report Posted on 28 June 1998

Today's lessen is about calorie replacement during the ride. This is a subject that I was just made aware of the previous night at dinner. Evan, Linda, and J.P. were talking about the candies they use to get calories during the ride. They agreeded that you can't get enough calories from your sports drink to replace the calories you burn. Lou, who is doing the ride as a cycling medic, had the numbers handy from a medical meeting he attended as part of his duties during the ride. For me, this provided just another reason to eat more food more often.

Linda, J.P., and Calorie Replacement

When I put the candy in my bag, I didn't even think twice about the name. When I reached the second aid station and saw Evan popping a hard candy I pulled it out to show him. He took it and said, "huh, this works for you?" I smiled and told him I didn't know. When he asked if he could have it I said sure and then he probed, "have you used this before?" I said I hadn't and he promptly handed it back. Adam, our candy expert, then mentioned that those candies are really hot so I popped it in and rode off.

All this talk about triathlons and such seemed to have an effect on me. Lou and I had luggage duty so we left Steamboat about 30 mintues behind the others. Figuring on a long day with potentially strong head winds, Lou and I decided to work together straight away. Pacelines are relatively new to Lou and I'm no expert. I did get a really good lessen a few years ago from a Bombay rider and from my friends on this ride Dan, Jack, and Mike. It was fun telling Lou how to avoid the mistakes that I always make, such as picking up the pace when you take the lead. I usually get in trouble when I'm in front. It is surprisingly easy to do because you know that you're not working very hard when you are behind so when you're in front you must have to work harder. This is true but only in small degrees. It shouldn't feel harder right away.

Lou uses his Medical Skills

Telling Lou about the two person paceline seems to be working really well. Not only did we attract the occasional hanger-on but we attracted an invite to join a very competent looking line. As smooth as silk and without working too hard we worked as one until just shy of aid station number two. Just before arriving we passed, rode with, and dropped Mike and Jeremy. Lou was starting to pound up the small hills pretty hard now so I fell back. The next thing I know Lou's in front of me again and he says, "that's Linda up there, let's catch her!" What the heck, I think to myself, it's been thirty miles and I'm still fresh. So I shift up and pound on the pedals. To my surprise I'm going past this world class athlete on a short uphill (Linda Nelson has finished as high as second in the Ironman Triathlon). Of course she's just cruising along taking it easy while my heart rate is reaching toward the ozone layre. After we said our few words of hello the aid station appeared where I stopped to pop that candy. It's called an "Atomic Fire Ball" so it should get me going all right.

I think that it could be dangerous for tourists such as myself to take up the ways of world class athletes such as Linda. Just look what's happened to me, pacelines and atomic fire balls? Next thing you know I'll be replacing my fenders and giant trunk bag with aerobars. Or, perhaps more likely, some one will find me on the side of the road dead from exhaustion. All I really know is that the fire ball was good for about four miles after which I spit it out because it lacked flavor.

Aid Stations Provide Fuel and Entertainment

Today's ride was hot and long but the main feature of the day would be the wind. Not since last year during Ride the Rockies, did I struggle up a hill like this one. It wasn't that long but it was steep and the headwind could have been 20 MPH. I was pressing hard in my lowest gear (1:1) and not until the hill began to give way could I get a good spin going. I was greated with smiles and high fives from Linda and J.P. Palmer as I pulled into the aid station at the top. J.P. agreed that the hill was tough. At first, her comment made me feel better. If a serious triathlete like J.P. thought it was hard then it must have been. Of course her bike is geared for triathlons which means her lowest gear is not that different from my highest. When she went on to say that the hill was "quite a spin," all of my feelings of adequacy were erased.

With only one "Atomic Fire Ball" candy left and twenty two miles to go, the joy of completing that steep climb was fleeting. The wind seemed to be even stronger on the downhill. At the end of the day we could all recall the same amazing story despite an hour or more between us. It goes like this. "The downhill increased my speed to about 35 MPH into the wind when coming around this turn I was hit with such a strong wind gust I thought it would stop me dead. The wind was incredible." I got some help against the wind toward the end by a woman that pedaled hard on the downhill and tucked in behind me on the up. A third tagged on as smooth as she could be astride a mountain bike outfitted with slicks.

J.P. and the author in Steamboat

One thrilling downhill at 49.5 MPH and a slight uphill later we arrived at the final aid station. Fortunately for all, a turn of the road transformed a 30 MPH head wind into a wonderful tail wind which saved me from going up in an "Atomic Fire Ball" of my own.

Joseph King

Go to Ride the Rockies Reports from the Field,
Day One, Day Two, Day Three, Day Four, Day Five, or Day Six.

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