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A beautiful day for a 5 hour ride...

Yes, that's right, I look on my schedule and see: 3-5 hour ride, lsd.

At first I am not sure if that means 3 hours on the trainer OR 5 hours outside. OR if it meant I get to choose how long I ride between 3-5 hours. Either way, I am riding 5 hours.

So, I do the math. 5 hour ride @ ~ 15 mph = around 75 mile ride. Making this my longest ride since... well... Ever. Hmm?

Another dirty secret about me: I don't know where to ride around Denver. When we first started biking, Ross and I bought a map and tried to do some experimenting with routes. Every time we tried, it ended horribly. For the sake of our marriage, we decided to stick only to routes we knew or were shown. That left us with A LOT of riding this summer on the Cherry Creek Trail. I now know that trail like the back of my hand. Think you can't do 70 miles utilizing the CCT? Think again.

When I talked with my coach last, here is what he said: "No speed. Work on increasing your cadence. It's lsd (long slow distance), so it is not about the miles, just the time on the bike. Look around, enjoy it."

So, with that in mind, I talked to a friend and got a new route to try heading east out of Denver, looking for new sites to see. And here's what I saw:
Lots and lots of land. At first it was very mind-numbing and I was thinking "I came out here for this?".

But as I rode along, it turned more methodical, beautiful, simple. It was nice to be away from the city. Out on the plains. I just let my mind go.

It was also fun to come upon some small towns. And I mean small. Here is how you know when you are in Bennett.That is about all there is there. Across the way from here are a few local businesses, but that is about it.

Leaving Bennett, you come upon a really neat tree grove. It was a definite shift from the farms I had been seeing and I just thought the trees here were way old and WAY cool. You don't really get a sense of it in this picture, but see those two cool trees in the foreground? Now imagine a valley of them behind them. I imagine it looks even better in the spring/summer. I guess I'll find out next year. :)

And then more cool things you can see only out in the open
So, I kept plugging along. At one point, I made a turn north (I believe) and the headwind picked up. I didn't mind this, as it meant a tailwind on the way back-- or so I thought.

I kept going and came upon Strasburg. Very cute, quaint town with decorations everywhere. I didn't get many pictures, but each of the little businesses was decorated from the general store to the gas station to the propane center(?).

It made me wonder what it was like to live in a small town. I mean, we bank here:
And, if we lived in Strasburg, we would bank here:Quite a difference.

Anyways, I kept plugging along. By this time, it was getting a little long, but I just told myself "only 'x' number of minutes till I can turn around."

And then I cam upon probably some of the coolest thing I saw on the ride, What, oh what, could this be? It looked like a ride from Disneyland, but realized it was part of an old mine shaft-- or so I think. Here's more track:And the entrance to the shaft:

And, I continue on... until my watch hits 2 hours 22 minutes and I decide it is time to turn around.

And WHAM! Headwind. Serious headwind. My speed immediately slows. And it stays slow for probably 10 miles. I look down at my Garmin and see how slow I am going. I do the math. If I continue at this pace, I will be out here for 7 hours. Ugh. I start to think of how to explain to Ross how to come and get me. Umm.... "Honey, go to this one place and take a highway east and follow it until you find me"??? That won't work. Especially cuz we can't fit my bike in the car he has. So, I continue.

Luckily, I turned a corner and TAILWIND! Relief. And so my pace gets better, and faster, and I think I can make it. By the time I hit Strasburg, I am confident I don't have to call Ross and I am happy.

Then I see it, in the distance:
The mountains. The one thing I love about riding out east is coming back and seeing the mountains. Biking towards them, I feel like I am going home. And I never get tired of seeing them, either. Maybe it will wear off after living out here for more time, but so far it hasn't. :)

So, I make my way back home. Tired, but happy, looking at the mountains.

There you have it. My longest ride ever. (So far.) Here's proof.
5 hours 15 minutes (ish). 78.25 miles.