The day was beautiful. Does everyday in Boulder begin this way? Is there not fog, or thunderclouds, or 30 mph sustained winds ever around this place? The sky was clear, cyclists were out in large numbers along the highways, and I was ready to ride.
Luckily, both legs cooperated. I was given strict orders by husband not to attack, pull, or charge anyone. I was clearly on a short leash – to save my legs, to save my husband’s sanity because if I was in pain for more than a few days he would hear about it again and again.
As the ride rolled along, I couldn’t keep my eyes off the mountains. Wow. Could you imagine looking at this every day on every ride? My landscape is corn and traffic lights. Sure, there are beautiful parts of Illinois – but this, this is something spectacular.
I descended into St. Vrain and looked at the ranches along the way. I saw some corn and I felt at home. Except for the giant mountains peering over my shoulder. I took a right turn and all of a sudden I had company. There was a young man that had come up to me in a bike store yesterday and recognized me from some midwest races. Well he found me again. We chatted for awhile before he took off on his way.
I entered the Boulder Reservoir, turned a few miles later and decided to do the course in reverse. My leg felt good and though I was low on water, it was mild enough outside. So I found my way back to the Diagonal Highway and up St. Vrain.
The wind must have shifted. I was sandwiched in this valley between two impending storms. The storms were magnificant to watch – large blankets of bluish gray clouds covering the mountains with lightning scattered throughout. And that was just to the right.
I reached the top and decided to descend back down and do the course the right way. Part of me wanted to go back to the Left Hand Canyon to find Chris and the Red Bear and climb. But part of me also wanted to retain what was left of my left leg.
I decided to mix it up and turned rigtht on Niwot Road. It was nearly 2:45 into the ride and I entered what I would call the Valley of Fire. Though the road looked flat and easy, I was immediately going 15 mph, the wind was in my face, and the temperature had to be over 90 degrees. Maybe it was lack of fluids or just fatigue, but this was like the Tunnel of Fire that Red Bear talked about. I could see Highway 36 – the end – off in the distance but it was a hot, long grind up what really didn’t look like a hill until I would get there.
Once I climbed out of the Valley of Fire, I was tired. It was just steady and false flattish and I believe the ibuprofren was wearing off because I was ready to be done. I rode back into Boulder and soon after Chris and Red Bear returned.
In the amount of time I rode 62 miles, they rode 43, averaged 9.8 mph in the first hour on their way up to Ward. On their way down from Brainard Lake, they nearly froze while I rode through the Valley of Fire. That is how diverse the riding around Boulder can get. A little bit of everything, something for everyone.
It was a great weekend. A very painful weekend but that is what brought us to Boulder in the first place. Neurons respond to change. They don’t respond to the same thing over and over again. It was time to mix it up, change it up, and force the body to adapt to something new. And I would say we had a success.
Now I will rest for a few days and hopefully my body will settle down once I am down at sea level again. I have to admit I would like to come back to Boulder one day, perhaps for a few weeks next year, to train, adapt, drink good coffee, and look at the mountains every morning.