Alaska Adventure Machine!

Alaska Adventure Machine!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

New Mexico or "Bust"!

May 14th arrived and so had Dan, except he was nearly on death's doorstep. Fatigued from a stressful week in Indiana due to an unexpected funeral, and all clogged up by allergies and bronchitis, he had trekked up from NM half-doubting whether he should even ride. I hardly expected him to show up, but he gamely did, so our ride was still on. At 8:30am, we took last photos at Lake Granby and started South facing a real test of his health. Day 1 would entail 114 miles, 5,700' climbing and a high point of 11,538' at mile 100 no less!! Rain and snow were in the forecast, a low pressure system headed our way...
A least we are riding I thought, trying to repress doubts about Dan's health. I looked back and he was nowhere to be  seen. I stopped, peered back, yet still couldn't spot him. He'd been on my wheel about three miles back, gee we were only seven miles from our start. Where was he? I got off my bike stretched a bit. After 10 minutes I started cycling back. A couple miles later he appeared... a flat tire already! We had three spare tubes to start with and now were down to just two. I was sure we'd need all three tubes for the goathead thorns of New Mexico. This was not promising!

By Kremmling CO, only 40 miles into our day, it was apparent that Dan was really suffering. There was no way he could stay on my rear wheel and draft, and I wasn't pushing it at all. At the gas station bathroom break he looked pretty grim. I gamely encouraged him, but this was going to be the mother-of-all suffer-fest days for him. The upcoming 5 mile stretch of road construction didn't help. While he privately suffered, I wondered about getting the likely-hood more flats on this gravel section with our skinny 25mm road tires?

We stopped, sipped from our water bottles, and talked. Dan needed help. He was just too sick to push it. The only solution that I could offer was to take some of his gear. So I strapped his extra-large 'bike packing' rear seat bag onto my bike and started off. It wasn't too heavy, but it at least gave Dan some moral support. He struggled onwards to Lake Dillion and Frisco. (In the photo, the large seat bag on the white bike is Dan's. He used that and a day pack. I used only a day pack))
We turned a short break into a long one at the Frisco Safeway store. We lounged in the sun, refueled our bodies. Dan was despondent, but I keep encouraging him. He had done 60 miles so far. After an  hour we cycled to Breckenridge. The ski runs were still ski-able and the white-capped mountain views amazing.
As we climbed past 10,200', I was feeling the altitude and needed to shed Dan's gear. At least I had helped carry it for 30 miles and 2,000' of climbing. Dan would need carry it over the Pass, another 1,300' higher. Dan seemed stronger now, perhaps getting his second wind. He pushed the pace up the Pass, I drafted for the first time all day.
Near the summit of Hoosier Pass a storm blew in; so bad in fact a motorist stopped to see if we need a ride. Sleet blew sideways, and the altitude taxed our lungs. but no way were were going to stop now! Victory was a few pedal strokes away. Finally at mile 100 exactly, we to reached the summit. In stormy weather we took photos and enjoyed a fast (48 mph) 14 mile decent into Fairplay CO. An epic ride of 114 miles 5,700' of climbing up to 11,538' had been accomplished. A day for the personal record book that's for sure. Dan had suffered greatly, but he had done it!
Chow time ;)

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