Rocky Mountain High

I need to get this out of the way: I love Colorado. I lived here for 25 years. It’s one of the most beautiful places on Earth and has one of the best climates to live in. There’s no humidity to speak of, the rains pass quickly, and the sun shines more days than not. There are mountains and plains and everything in between.

I miss this state more than any other I’ve ever lived in and get all misty-eyed thinking about how awesome the past few days have been. How careless I was in not valuing the absolute beauty that surrounded me every day.

Confluence Park in Denver, CO. Beautiful downtown park right on the Platte River.

Let’s also talk briefly about Altitude Sickness. Even though I have only been away from this great state for a few short months, my body has mutinied. Day 1 was fine, just a little “disconnected” feeling. The past two days I’ve been battling mild nausea and intense headaches despite basically mainlining non-caffeinated fluids.  I’ve been ingesting as much solid food as I can without actually losing my cookies, which hasn’t been much.

Interestingly enough though, I feel fine when I ride my bike. It’s like all the bad parts of being at altitude again disappear and I have some respite. Then I stop and it all comes back to me. Suffice to say, this has been a significant hamper on any non-cycling fun activities. But I did manage to get two great rides in.

Cyclists are not known for their sexy tan lines.
Cyclists are not known for their sexy tan lines.

Ride One: Chatfield to Confluence Park (Denver, CO)

I met up with my ride partner John for an easy 34 mile bike path ride on Saturday morning after a week and a half off the bike. It was awesome. The first half was really low-key but as I realized I felt better riding than not, we kicked the second half up to par. I’m pleased to report we averaged over 14mph on a relatively flat ride with many stretches of consistent 16-18mph. Very nice ride to acclimate to the altitude.

Ride Two: Elephant Rock Ride (Castle Rock, CO)

This is the reason I’m back in this great state – a 30+ mile ride with my mom and one of my my sisters, who is an accomplished hiker (she bags fourteeners like they are candy).  The three big hills on the elevation map diverted attention from the fact that there were a number of hills in general, just not MapMyRide category climbs – over 1400′ gain over the ride.

I ran into my best friends, James and Rachel, at the first rest station – which was awesome. We chatted about the first big hill and then continued our journeys separately. This was a family ride for me this time around.

My mom is in her 60s and rides regularly but not road rides. She has a monster of a mountain bike that she rides around town to keep up her cardiovascular strength, generally on 15-20 mile rides. She picked up an inexpensive Fuji hybrid for this ride to lighten her load and did an amazing job on this ride. I am so proud to have been part of her “ride team” on this route.

Some of the beautiful farm land we rode through on the Elephant Rock Ride.

THINGS I HAVE LEARNED TODAY:

* How to fix a dropped chain

* How to fix a pedal that is un-threading itself from the crank shaft

* How to adjust my bike fit

* How to disassemble and re-assemble portions of my bike (thanks multi-tool!)

* How amazing it is to careen down a hill at 45mph

My mom and I are probably heading out again tomorrow morning for another gentle ride before I drop my bike off at Criterium Bicycles to get re-boxed up for transport.

See you on the road!

You'd never know I really want to puke.
Me with the million-dollar view of Pikes Peak from my mom’s front porch.

3 thoughts on “Rocky Mountain High

  1. mmonteleone

    Glad you had a good trip, sans altitude sickness, that is! Sounds like you had some great rides – Just think how fast you’ll be flying when you’re back to (almost) sea level!!

    1. Thanks – it has been a good trip. I just wish I could eat (or think about eating) without also thinking “man, I don’t want to eat that.” It’s like a mild hangover that you can’t shake.

      I considered doing a metric century this coming weekend in the Philly area but in the end just couldn’t get the scheduling to work out. Sad face. But there will be other rides later this summer.

  2. Pingback: Elephant Rock Ride 2013 Recap | wife. mother. awesome girl.

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