Monday, June 27, 2011
Death Loop 2011
Well, I wanted to ride the high country on the single speed mountain bike this past weekend to scout out Blackhawk but I had a better idea pop into my head: DEATH LOOP-aka-San Juan Scenic Byway in one day. Solo. And on my geared ti Dean road bike. Yep, 225 miles of road riding in one day. I have done the ride two years ago in a clockwise direction and missed the chance last year and this time I was to ride it counter clockwise from Rico. I started at midnight on Friday night and finished back in Rico at 6.15pm Saturday night. 225 miles, 16k of climbing, 14.3 mph average ( I wanted closer to 15 mph avg) 15 hours and 46 minutes of pedaling time and 18 hours 15 minutes total time out in the elements. I saw many deer and elk at night, several coyotes and a set of green cat eyes staring at me through the scrub oak atop Mancos hill at 3am within 15 feet of me. And it looked to be a very big cat. I was a bit freaked out after that encounter.
My pedaling time was good throughout the day. I was at mile 84 in Durango at 4.30am. I had to conquer two passes on my way to Silverton, Molas at 10,910 elevation and Coal Bank at 10,640 feet elevation. I arrived in Silverton at 9.30 am. I have raced the Iron Horse Classic in under 3 hours from Durango to Silverton but I wouldn't see that kind of pace today. Uh duh! I was granny gearing (39x25) the passes as the legs were tired from the previous weekends 24 hour racing efforts. I really could have used a compact chain ring up front. I expected the fatigue to set in climbing the passes and knew I was in for a long day. I was not disappointed.
I arrived in Ridgway before 1pm at mile 165 after clawing my way up Red Mtn Pass at 11,018 feet elevation. That was a long 8 miles up from Silverton. Now it was a nice downhill 16 miles to Ouray. The headwinds were kicking in now and the 9 mile ride from Ouray to Ridgway wasn't pleasant. It was going to be brutal climbing up Dallas Divide over to Placerville. The winds were worse than I thought they were going to be. At times climbing Dallas Divide I was pedaling at a mere 5-6mph. I was getting battered. After an eternity I made it to the top of the divide and battled the wind all the way to Placerville. The downhill was even a hard effort. After a brief stop in Placerville to rehydrate I started the 16 mile grind up to Telluride. Keystone Hill was hot! I was wilting like a drought stricken daisy. I stopped at the gas station for some cold drinks and knew I had to battle up Lawson Hill still and onto and over Lizard Head Pass. I know these roads like the back of my hand and knew what was to come. After grinding to Lizard Head Pass at 10,200 feet elevation I saw Laura riding to meet me and to get her own training in for the day on her cross bike. The head winds picked up again on the South side of Lizard Head and all the way to Rico. Of course more wind, why make it easy on me on the final 12 miles descent. Damn I was tired. My initial goal of 16-17 hours were put to bed earlier with the ferocious head winds and I was looking at 18 hours total time which was fine with me. Cross it off the list until next year. A great day in the saddle with amazing scenery. I truly live in a great place.