Knowing I would have Ross' support for Comrades, I agreed to the Triple. Due to logistics, we decided that he would ride the first day and I the second. (This is the first year they were doing a back-to-back ride, so Ross rode Evergreen-->Avon, while I rode Avon-->Evergreen.)
Saturday Ross was up on his way. He had a great ride, enjoying himself along the way. After a morning of fun here, I took the kids up to Avon to watch their daddy finish. I do regret not researching the route a little more and being able to see him along the way. When I asked, Ross said that he just wanted us at the finish line to "have something to shoot for". Still, I think it would have helped for us to be along the way.
|Ross enjoying his ride along the way!|
|Them riding up Trail Ridge Road in snow|
|How my day started|
Off on my way again, plugging along. The day was starting to get nicer. The rain stopped. I was still wet and chilled, but the wind was starting to air it out a bit.
|The sun starting to pop out|
I got to the top of Vail Pass (no pb&j at aid station- sad) and looked forward to the downhill. One pass at a time, I thought. I can make it to the bottom of Loveland and reassess. Made it there, then halfway up the pass to a water stop. Refilled and received encouraging words from other riders (also looking to pump themselves up, you could tell). "I hear if you make it here, you are good" and "Weather is looking great for the rest of the day". At this point, I didn't care if they were all lies, I didn't. I just wanted to believe them.
|Heading up to Loveland|
|Starting to smile... Last pict I got of the day- camera battery done.|
The following aid station was the *big* aid station with actual food, sandwiches, muscle milk, etc. I had a full turkey sandwich and hung out with Ross and the boys for a little bit. Not long, but enough to get me back in good spirits. The next aid station had pizza. PIZZA! Now, I (as I am sure many of you) have read Ultra-marathon Man and when Dean Karnazes talks about eating pizza in the middle of a long, long run, I can't fathom the idea. But for some reason at that point PIZZA is what sounded like the best thing in the world. And the other riders concurred. We started praising the volunteers, telling them they were getting our vote for 'best aid station', and they loved it. I even went back for a second piece.
So, as I was riding down to Idaho Springs, I found my happy place. My really, really happy place. I was full, energized, I had seen my boys, knew I was going to finish it. Everything. Then it started raining... I mean thunderstorming... HARD. Ugh! Earlier in the day I had told myself that if it started thunderstorming, I was bagging it. No use riding in the cold, wet, with a chance of getting struck by lightning. Now, I was telling myself I am doing this EVEN in the thunderstorm. I might sag down from the top (afraid of descending a mountain in the rain-- really unsafe), but I was getting to the top even if I had to suffer in the rain the whole way. I was.
Word to the Wise: When caught in a thunderstorm in the mountains, seek shelter and wait for it to stop. I didn't, and wish I had. I saw others do it. Smarties.
By the time I got through Idaho Springs the rain had stopped and it was time to climb! 16 miles to the top. I was at mile 92. To put that in perspective, I had already done almost a century that included 2 mountains and now I was going to do the longest pass of the day. Just keep trucking, I told myself.
It was a long, slow climb, but I felt good doing it. It seems that I tend to draw strength the longer I go in an event. Plus, I kept thinking "Just 16 more miles". Funny how it changes perspective when you put certain adverbs and adjectives in front of things like "just", "only", "little", "short", etc. Plus, I was passing people along the way, so this gave me opportunities to talk with others, which made the time pass by better. I know. Who me? Strike up a conversation? Unthinkable. ;)
The part I probably liked best was the doublers- the people who rode both Evergreen-->Avon and then Avon --> Evergreen. Riding Sunday, a lot of the people were doing the back-to-back ride and I was in awe of them. They were an encouragement, awesome and I made sure I let them know that.
After Echo Lake it was still another 3 miles to the top. I finally reached an aid station, refilled, texted Ross to let him know I was on my way. At the top top, I stopped to put on my jacket for descending, celebrated with a few other riders that we were almost done and then started heading down and... FLAT. No frickin' way! Well, why not. I flipped my bike over and started changing my tire. (Ross had brought me more tubes, but no CO2). Then the SAG stopped to offer her bike pump. I used it and, as I was changing my tire, a thunderstorm rolled in. How opportune, a SAG was right here, I could pop in the vehicle and take a safe ride down the mountain versus chance riding in the rain with wash-out, bumps, wet brakes, etc. So what did I choose? The dumb way down the mountain.
And, as soon as I chose not to get in the SAG, I regretted it. The rain was cold, pelting, brutal. It was horrible. There was so much gravel and washout on the road, it was so, so, SO unsafe. I was miserable. MISERABLE. I rode slow enough not to get out of control, which only prolonged the cold, agony of it all. Not to mention how unsafe and stupid it was.
The only thing that made it slightly better was the view of the rainbow at the end. It was AWESOME! I don't think I have seen a rainbow like that since childhood and that really made me smile.
I crossed the finish and I was done! Chilled, wet, cold, but DONE!
All in all, I know this post may come off as negative, but that is not what I am meaning for it be. I struggled, I really did. But when I looked back at what I struggled with, it was the mental, logistical, weather-related factors that I did the struggling with. And, in the end, I conquered them. I expected this ride to be a test of my physical strength, but it turned out to be a test of my mental strength and my will. Looking back, I am so glad I stuck this day out. I learned a lot about myself and fighting through.