The big days just keep coming! Today was another 90 mile day up and over the huge Wolf Creek Pass. We started at 6:30am under sunny skies and chilly temperatures. The road was gradually uphill for the first 16 miles to Aid Station #1. Then it was time for pancakes! After carbo loading we started climbing in earnest. Wolf Creek isn’t terribly steep, maybe 8-9% at most, but it is long. At the first switchback there was a semi truck lying on its side, the result of coming into the turn with too much speed. The rest of the climb was uneventful. All of us rode our own pace up the hill and then met on top. I felt ok, keeping my pace nice and slow to keep the baby happy. Took some pictures and chatted with folks as they passed me.
It was chilly on the summit so we didn’t stay long. The 20 mile descent down to the small town of South Fork was a blast! Wide open roads with a rip-roaring tailwind. We easily hit over 50 mph. I had a large deer run across the road about 40ft in front of me. If it had stopped to look at me I would have hit him. Luckily he kept trotting and we missed each other. Definitely got my adrenalin up. We reached South Fork in one piece and enjoyed more grapes and animal crackers. Filled up our bottles with Gatorade and started towards the next town of Del Norte.
This next 15 mile stretch was what I call a “powder day” on a road bike. We had a huge tail wind, it was slightly downhill, brand new pavement, and a shoulder that was 10 feet wide. It was pure joy! It never gets that good! We reached the next aid station in under an hour. Quick stop and then another 15 mile stretch to Monte Vista. The wind was starting to change and we had a few sections of cross/head wind. Not too bad and not enough to curb our enthusiasm.
In Monte Vista the riders were treated to free baked potatoes. This area of Colorado is potato country and the town comes out in force to support Ride the Rockies. The best were the purple potatoes. Because of the challenge of finding healthy food this week I decided to give up my vegan diet for the duration of the ride. I slathered butter all over my potato and I admit it was damn delicious. So much so that I had a second one. Did I mention all the salt I added? Yummy goodness! After a long break we finally crawled back on our bikes for the last 15 mile stretch to Alamosa.
This ended up being just as bad as the last stretch coming into Durango. The “powder day” was gone. All the snow had been skied off and it was all ice. Our tailwind had turned into a nasty cross wind coming from the south. It was super hot and the humidity was -20%. My dad had jumped in the sag wagon at Del Norte so it was Marge, Carrie, and me. We stuck together and pulled Marge all the way to Alamosa. This last stretch took forever. Dead flat highway through farm country. And we couldn’t ride very fast because I would start cramping and Marge would get dropped. What a pair. We finally made it into Alamosa and found dad with a cold cup of lemonade in his hand. Once again I was worked! The heat and the wind really take it out of you!
Today I had to wait in line for the shower. I didn’t mind because I was able to stretch and do some Pilates on the grass. The shower felt great and cooled me off. We were all camped at the Alamosa Recreation Center. Beautiful facility with huge green athletic fields. Our community dinner was right here so we didn’t have to go anywhere. We had veggie burritos and yummy salads for dinner. Carrie and Dad also had a few slices of pizza. We got to enjoy a wonderful bluegrass band called the Rifters. It was some of the best bluegrass I’ve heard in a long time! They played until 9:45pm. So I didn’t go to bed until 10:30am. Hard to believe this is our last night. For such a hard ride it goes so fast!