This morning my cousin Diane, her husband Peter, and I headed
to Alamosa to meet Tommy,
Alice, and Dean as they ended the day's ride. Our favorite cyclists were planning to
leave Walsenburg by no later than 7a, and they anticipated a seven-hour ride, including
stops at the aid stations. We were supposed to meet at around 2p at Adams State College,
the terminus of today's course. After a nice lunch, we headed over to the college to greet our road warriors.
By 2:30p there was no sign of them; in fact, very few riders had made it to Alamosa and the
sag wagons were coming in completely full. So we began asking some of the cyclists how
the ride had gone. It turns out that the wind, which was not a significant factor on
yesterday's ride, returned with a vengeance today, providing a head wind for the
**entire** ride!! There were some hurting puppies coming in off the ride, and we watched
and wondered when our three would make their way into town.
At around 4p, our questions were answered. Tommy was the
first to be seen, with Alice and
Dean coming in very close behind him. The following comments are his:
"We were able to leave Walsenburg at 6:30a, and the wind was a
real factor from the start.
As we started climbing La Veta Pass, we had to contend with both gravity and the wind.
The only reprieve that we got was a small tail wind near the summit of the pass, where we
arrived just before 11a. This was one-third of the way into the course!! Anticipating
that the wind had turned around, we looked forward to the ride down with the wind at our
backs. However, that dream was short-lived and we ended up pedaling the entire way down.
The relatively flat portion of the course began approximately 30 miles from the finish,
and head winds ranged from 15 to 30 miles per hour. The wind was relentless.
Conversation between riders was impossible because of the noise of the wind through the
helmets (and the lack of desire to talk to anybody as we ground out the course).
"Talk at the aid stations was pretty monotonous, with the topic
limited to the wind and
how difficult the ride was. Several of the more experienced riders gave a perspective
when they commented that this was absolutely the worst ride they had ever had on Ride the
Rockies, and one cyclist (who has participated seven times), sagged for the first time
ever with 30 miles remaining on the day's ride. Many a mile was spent in a crouched
position, looking at the ground, in order to minimize the wind resistance. Some gusts
appeared as an instant two- to three-mile-per-hour reduction in speed.
"The discussion at the last aid station, which was five miles
from the finish, was 'We can
do this five miles.' These words were spoken by riders who think nothing of riding 50
miles! The last few blocks into the Adams State campus were welcome indeed!!"
Complicating the ride somewhat was the food situation. Because
of long breakfast lines in
Walsenburg, Tommy, Alice, and Dean opted to forego breakfast with the intention of getting
something significant at the first aid station. Unfortunately, all they found there were
bananas and oranges ... no bagels or anything else with carbohydrates. There were a lot
of complaints heard among the riders about this, and I suspect that the ride organizers
will also hear a lot of these negative comments. Needless to say, our gang tanked up in a
big way at the lunch aid station.
After greeting Alice (we never did find Dean, because he was off
setting up his tent),
Diane, Peter, Tommy, and I headed back to Chama. Diane and Peter made us a delicious
dinner (lots of carbo-loading for Tommy) and we spent a really pleasant evening visiting.
We will leave early tomorrow morning to rejoin Alice and Dean in Alamosa by 7a.
Tomorrow's ride will take them to Salida, with another pass to climb. Here's hoping for
calm winds ...
Day 2...Walsenburg to Alamosa, 75 miles.
There is a saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well,
in this case, the few words above are worth a lot of pictures. In
fact during this segment of the ride, pictures are the last things from
my mind. Photos A through D shows some of the outdoor
camping at Walsenburg before we left for Alamosa. After fighting
the wind all day, I did not take pictures when we arrived. The statistics
for this day are: Total distance 74.94 miles, 10.1 mph average, 24 mph
max. with 7:23:13 spent on the bicycle seat.