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Copper Triangle Ride

It is no secret that biking is my weakness when it comes to triathlon. I haven't been riding it for very long and I have been enjoying it for even less of that time. I have been riding just over two years and not until last summer did I real find a joy in riding, and mostly that is when I am in the mountains. I found that out a little more with all of our training for the Triple Bypass. Give me a spin ride - no fun. Give me a long ride up a few mountain passes - I can't wait to do it!

So when the RMTC announced they were going to do a self-supported ride of the Copper Triangle, I put it on our calendar as a must do. The Copper Triangle is a "classic Colorado ride" that goes over 3 passes - Fremont, Tennessee and Vail, totaling 80ish miles overall.
What a good looking group we have. Who's that handsome fellow in the gray?
 As we got ready for the ride, we were briefed by Peter, who was going to ride along with us, take pictures and be a sag. (Check him out, he is an awesome photographer and all-around nice guy!) We were instructed "not to smile" the whole day, but I wasn't really good at it.
There I am, accidentally smiling. In my defense, so is Julie.
Up Fremont Pass was good. I was worried I might be chilly, as I had forgotten a riding coat, but you start of climbing right away, so I warmed up almost immediately. Fremont is just plug, plug, plug. I was amazed at how well everyone stuck together at the beginning and there was loads of conversation all around - always makes time pass quicker. As the pass got longer, it thinned out a little bit.

At the top of Fremont we regrouped, but I couldn't find Ross. As almost everyone was up, and the group started off again as Ross rode up. He had twisted his ankle a few weeks ago and this was his first real exercise since and he wasn't feeling it. We talked and he decided to go back down Fremont, get the van and follow us as a sag. {This turned out to be a tremendous help and mental relief for the ride.}

Left without the group, I had some serious catching up to do. I went down to Leadville, turned and started up Tennessee Pass. I climbed and climbed, probably pushed harder than I would have had I been with the group, but I just didn't want to be left behind. As I got part way up Tennessee Pass, I started catching some people and that was a relief, plus it was fun having people to talk to. At the top of Tennessee, I found the masses. Yay!
What an awesome picture of the group climbing. Me = still trying to catch up.

Arriving at the top of Tennessee (I think)
Hey! Hey! The gang's all here. Top of Tennessee Pass.
Then it was down to Minturn. Along the way, there were some mechanical failures, a couple cables broke. Joe came along and fixed one, Julie ended up jumping in the Peter's car and along came Ross. I was happy to see him. But I was even happier to be descending!
It's always fun going DOWN!
You can't beat views like this. I LOVE CO!

Once we were in Minturn, it was time to refuel and we descended on a gas station. I am not sure they knew what hit them with that many people coming in, buying Gatorade, using the restroom, refilling water bottles, etc. 

We also took the opportunity to do a group shot for Honey Stinger,
one of our sponsors who gave us plenty of fuel for the ride.
After Minturn, we were off and rolling. Everyone kind of was at their own pace, and I was loosely following Michelle, Bill and Matt through Vail. We came to a roundabout and I lost sight of them. Since they weren't directly ahead, I assumed that they went around the roundabout to the north frontage road. (Side note: I had told Patty I just *knew* I was going to get lost in Vail and she told me to "just stay on the frontage road".) So when I got to the roundabout and saw a sign directing me to the north frontage road, I thought I was money. Took it and off I went, looking for more RMTC'ers. Aways down the north frontage road, I looked over and saw a bunch of jerseys on the SOUTH frontage road. THE OTHER SIDE of 70. Zoinks! How was I going to get over there? Back to the roundabout, around and up. I was certain I was REALLY far behind everyone now. Oh well.

On the east side of Vail, I came across Ross waiting for me. :) I stopped to talk to him and made sure I was on the right route. He said I was. As we were talking, another Michelle passed and I hurriedly kissed him goodbye as I told him "I need someone to follow so I don't get lost". (Have I mentioned how much I HATE getting lost?)

So from there on out, it was plug, plug, plug up the mountain. Now, this was my second time up Vail Pass. The first time was on the Triple Bypass in the rain and I flatted twice on it - it was horrible. This time I was on tired legs and feeling a little down nutritionally, but determined not to make it so bad.

As I made my way up Vail I realized how I really don't like it, but in honor of the promise I made to myself to make it better this time around, I had to learn to love it. Love it like an annoying little brother (which I can say because I don't have a little brother). Vail is a bike path so it is not graded like a road is graded. It has very steep pitches at points, which makes for the "annoying" part, but in learning to love it, I had to realize there is a fair share of not so steep pitches that allow your hear rate to settle down after climbing those steep pitches. So... you take the good with the bad. And I did. I used this opportunity to look around, take some pictures and enjoy what I could. It was hard, but definitely worth it.
View going up Vail Pass.
Could it be? Am I leveling out? Is that the top in sight?
I reached the top of Vail, happy and little depleted on the salt (note to self: TAKE SALT, even on overcast days/not-so-hot days). From the top of Vail it is alllllllll downhill, which is precisely what I like. Ross and I always call it our "reward" for climbing the mountain- the descent!

When I got to Copper, Ross was waiting for me with a cup of soup and a sandwich. I immediately wanted the soup, he told me to wait a minute and I told him, "no, NOW!" (normally not so rude to my husband - I swear). He handed it over and I drank the broth straight from the soup - no spoon or anything. It was the salt. I needed it. And I felt amazingly good after it. Enough to sit around, chill and have a few recovery drinks - Mix1 and Sierra Nevada's - both club sponsors... I ask you can this club get any cooler? Oh, wait, yes they can. Because then it was dinner and drinks at Old Chicago with not only Sierra Nevada, but 109 other beers. :)