Livin' the Dream

Livin' the Dream

About Me

I am a sophomore at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA, majoring in journalism. My passion is cycling. I am a category 4 bike racer and my absolute dream would be to turn pro one day. My more realistic goal is to become a journalist for the sport of cycling and eventually move on to become a broadcaster for the sport.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Ride the Rockies - #Livin'theDream

            For me Ride the Rockies (RTR) is more than riding my bike and having the time of my life. It’s about riding my bike for my dad. My dad has Parkinson’s disease and sadly there is no cure for it. There is medication though, and when the medication works he can live a pretty normal life, but when the medication wears off life is a struggle for him. He keeps fighting though, no matter what. My dad is always present at my bike races or should I say “our” bike races, always snapping pictures. Now that I’ve hit my college years he does not get to be to at all of my bike races. I’m surprised to hear myself say I’m disappointed. It is definitely something I am going to miss as I get older

Day 6 – Breckenridge to Golden

            Finally, it was the last day of RTR. The sun was shining and the sky was clear. You could say it was a perfect day to end Ride the Rockies. Unlike the last day of the Tour De France, the RTR organizers decided to give us some serious climbing. The most notable would be the climb up Loveland Pass to a whooping 12,000 feet in elevation.

Flying into the Woods

            Since Wayne, Tom, and I were staying at the same hotel, it was pretty easy for us to meet up in the morning. We decided to head out early on this, the final day, 7:45 am. Understand, that is not very early compared to most RTR riders. The day started with a bike path out of town, simple enough right? About a mile into the ride I was on Wayne’s wheel and Tom started yelling for us to stop. While I was looking back the road curved and I went flying into the woods. I unclipped one foot and was surfing over rocks before tumbling over the bars into pine needles. I pulled myself out of the woods smiling to Wayne saying, “What the hell happened?” The two smiled back. The reason Tom had wanted to slow down in the first place was that his speed sensor was hitting his spokes. I had a small cut on my knee, but I think my pride was hurt more. Once we got going again Tom and I joked for the next couple of miles about my adventure into the woods. He exclaimed with a smile on his face, how I disappeared into a cloud of dust.

Ride the Rockies Day 6 Profile 
What Goes Up Must Come Down

            Finally we got off of the bike trail and the road began to pitch up. The first climb of the day was Swan Mountain. On the way up, Wayne reminisced about a USA Pro Cycling Challenge. During that race, the crowds were so bad that when the racers came over the climb from the opposite side nobody attacked. He exclaimed, “Everyone must have thought they were in Europe!”

After Swan Mountain the giant of the ride was upon us, Loveland Pass. The three of us blew past the aid station at the bottom of the climb and started the climb right away. I attacked the climb hard and with a vengeance. I was going to hold nothing back since it was the last day and I was due for a few days off of the bike after this solid week of training. As I put myself into the red, Wayne and Tom found a comfortable pace to the top. As I set a hard tempo up the climb I kept reminding myself not to go too hard, the altitude was bound to catch up to me. I hammered through the water station about halfway up the climb. The nitty gritty about Loveland Pass is that it is not that difficult of a climb. The average gradient is not that steep and the few switchbacks it has are very wide. The challenge is the altitude. Finally, as I neared the top of the climb I opened up the tank and left everything on the road.  I crested the climb and pulled over to catch my breath, a tough feat at 12,000 feet.

Absolutely Flying

Once Wayne and Tom crested the climb we all descended to the second aid station. I love descending with these guys. We flew down the switchbacks and met Jenna and Laura, who were representing the Davis Phinney Foundation Sag crew, at aid two. Upon leaving, we continued to drop feet in the thousands to the next climb of the day, the short, but steep Floyd Hill. We causally suffered together up the climb, if you can be causal at all when suffering, then flew down the other side of Floyd Hill and hit a “long roller,” as Wayne would call it, toward Lookout Mountain.

A “Race” to the Finish

With a 50x12 as my biggest gear I have to be able to do short high cadence bursts (130 RPM) in order to keep up on the descents. As it was the last day I was unable to do these bursts and therefore, got dropped heading into Lookout Mountain. The course continued up the easy side of Lookout, rollers and big ring all the way. As I chased Wayne and Tom up the climb, I felt as if I was unable to close the gap, even though I was going 100% and knew I had a fast descent into Golden. The only solution I could think of was that Wayne was driving the pace on the front (that would be typical Wayne). I descended Lookout Mountain like a maniac trying to catch up to the duo. The switchbacks offered me a clear view of oncoming cars, allowing me to use the entire road to maintain my speed through the corners. Finally, I caught up to Tom as we hit the bottom of the descent. At a stoplight Tom smiled and said, “I think Wayne has done that descent before.” Wayne is a terrific descender, he claims he has become a bit more timid in his later years in life, but I beg to differ.

Rolling into Golden
Courtesy: Bob Better
Tom and I rolled under the famous welcome arch in Golden (finish line for RTR) smiling and to the cheers of all of the DPF staff, who had driven down from Boulder. Wayne was waiting for us. RTR was finally over and I had left everything out on the road. I saw Wayne and talked about how sweet it was to ride with him again this year. He smiled and simply responded “until next year.”

My dad and I hung out for a couple of hours at the entertainment place before heading back to Boulder for the night. Packing my bike into the bike box that night signified the end to an epic journey through the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.


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