Adventures in Sensory Deprivation – Anti Epic 160

4/5/13 – 4/6/13, 292 miles

I’m on mile #162 of – on paper at least, a 160 mile race. In other words, pretty near to the end of the ordeal. The clock is ticking off hour number 11 on riding these long forgotten gravel roads south of Denver – and when I say, “South“, I mean, a good 60 miles south. Better sounding then, “20 miles North of Colorado Springs“, I guess – because who knows really where Colorado Springs is, relative to anything, except Pikes Peak?

I’m staring down a small, one-lane slot that makes up the overpass below I-25. Bleary-eyed, a little sunburned. My crotch is something akin to being on fire, as my pair of bibs are very well over their guaranteed freshness date, having seen thousands upon thousands of ill-cared for miles in the (only) 9 months I’ve had them: the stitches in extremely important places are now only memories, stripped out like the fillings in my teeth from today’s ride, the only evidence of both being the holes left behind. My bottles are empty – I’ve been eating roadside snow for the better part of 3 hours. Stomach is full of nothing but rocks.

I’ve picked up quite a bit of speed, as the last few miles have been downhill – the last 75 miles before that have been achingly undulating – but the direction has been mostly up – 7,000 feet of, “up?” Much to my chagrin and complete blubbering of basic chart reading. At present, I’m going about 25 mph, racing directly towards this hole in the wall. On the other side, going a little faster, but a little farther off, is a giant, F-250 red pickup truck. We’re both approaching this slot, not wide enough for both of us – barely wide enough for the truck at a reasonable speed! – and one of us is going to have to give way.

Christ“, I think, “I’m playing a game of Chicken with a local in a 3-ton full-cab.“.

Surely, the truck will give way to the bike. A head-on in the center would render the cyclist (ME), dead and the truck – well, a quick sweep of the wipers and I’m just a little bump in the road. “Perhaps like last week” (I imagine the driver thinking out loud) “when that errant alpaca got loose on S. Spring Valley Road – and, well the speed limit is 50 mph and those undulations of the grade can be gradual – but they can also be pretty abrupt! biff. Unfortunate – and worthy of some ‘plainin’, but certainly the fault of the lesser object in the way.

I do my best impression of this sometimes stubborn, vicugna pacos, opening my eyes just a little more than seems normal and careening my neck to center in with the slot.

I do a cost/benefit analysis.

Squeezing my tiny little brakes weighed in grams with the force of forearms cross-trained at the bouldering crags, little nibblets of rear tire tear off and join in the surface texture, joined by the sound of the skitching tires. The truck continues hauling through. I give them a thumbs up as dust kicks up around me. “Good job!“, I yell.  The driver neglects to give a second glance.

Welcome to the end of the 2013 AntiEpic Gravel Grinder. You have just earned 6th place. Now, go home.


Photo by Ben Welnak

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Double Dare

Waking up at 2:00am on the Sunday of the weekend St. Patrick’s Day festivities in a drinkin’ city seemed a strange way to begin a trip. I needed to go from the North side of Denver, through the South side, without incident. And then far beyond.

Plan: ride the bicycle from the back door to the Barr Trailhead ~90 miles away in Manitou Springs, CO and immediately begin the 13 miles hike up to the summit of Pikes Peak, for a winter ascent of a Colorado 14er, before it ain’t winter no more (mere days away). And of course carry all the gear that’s probably going to be needed. Which is really unrealistic, so just take what’s absolutely necessary. Which probably means, a different pair of shoes.

Then, take a few winks and ride back home, in perhaps a bit more scenic (read: more difficult, mountainous, less boring) route.

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Mountain Playgrounds


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Mt Evans

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Route + Elevation Profile (clockwise) – View on Strava

The idea was certainly simple enough:

The road that travels up to the summit of Colorado Springs’ resident 14er, Pikes Peak (neé heey-otoyoo @ 14,115 feet would be open to bicycle travel for the first time for an extended period: the entire month of September on an exploratory basis. In the recent past, the road has only been open for one day, for a bicycle race up to the top.

This road needed to be ridden to, from Denver and summited, before the end of September came; before the road was again closed to such noble of transportation options.

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Tour Divide Interview, whilst racing the Tour Divide

Justin Simoni speaks of the challenges of riding the Tour Divide mountain bike race as he works on his bike at The Outdoorsman in Butte, MT.

Kelley Mattingly and I did a fairly casual interview about the Tour Divide, training, etc while I was at the Outdoorsman, outfitting my bike for some drier terrain, with less changes of resupply that I was to hit up in the coming days.

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Surprise! Tour Divide! SINGLE SPEED!!!

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Surprise!

About… 10 days? before the start of the 2012 Tour Divide, I decided to look at plane tickets and found one affordable enough to get to Banff, Alberta and give ‘er another go, this time on a Single Speed.

To my complete surprise, I not only finished, but was the first one-speed-wonder over the line from the Grand Départ at 23 days, 5 hours and change.



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Del Norte to Denver or Die

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Loveland Pass

I am perpetually amazed at what adventures lay so close to home, taken on by just strapping on some clothes, tools, food and a sleeping bag to a cobbled together bicycle and just going for it. Last weekend saw me ride from Del Norte, along the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, with the goal of getting to Breckenridge and from there, taking the I-70 corridor back home to Denver.

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Grays/Torreys/Headache

All my bike rides end up on mountain tops

On top of Grays Peak. 

 

This weeks plan was to ride to the Summer Trailhead of Grays/Torreys, hike up both, and ride back, all in one fell swoop. I mean, why not? It’s ~55 miles and 9,000 feet of elevation to the Winter Trailhead, 3 miles of hike-a-biking on the dirt road to the Summer Trailhead and 8 1/4 miles of hiking to both peaks and back – and then that 55 miles back home.

OK, fairly ambitious, I admit – I brought along my sleep kit, just in case.

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Tour Divide Remnants

Worked Frame

 

 

I certainly don’t like living a life that contains much nostalgia. I’m far more interested in the here and now, or the coming soon, than what’s past. I don’t hold onto many things material. So, it’s always a surprise to me, when nostalgia hits me in the face and I feel an intense emotional response.

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Tour Divide 2011 Call-ins

One of the magical things about the Tour Divide is the MTBCast call-in service. If you can find a pay phone on the route – which are actually still, “plentiful” in the areas the GDMBR wanders through, you can call a 800 number and leave a message, that will then be posted up by MTBCast for everyone to listen in.

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