Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Fall is in the air

Where did the summer go? It seems like this question gets more relevant with every year I age. I remember the long, sweet days of my childhood summers seeming to be endless. Now the days fly by faster than we can count. But like all good things, summer and it's bountiful sunshine must end. Don't get me wrong, fall is my favorite season and I get excited just thinking about pumpkin bread and hazy fall afternoons. But part of me is not quite ready to let summer go.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Day five: Granby to Estes Park

Back to civilization! Or at least that is how we felt after today's ride to Estes Park. After a fun, yet chilly night in Granby we headed out to conquer Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mtn Nat'l Park.
I'll be the first to admit I had a bad attitude this morning. Partly due to the 2 hour coughing attack last night, and partly due to our wake up time - 4:30 am. Somehow we managed to pull ourselves out of our warm sleeping bags, eat some breakfast ($9 for oatmeal and coffee, those Rotarians ripped us off) and head out on the road. We had to be through the park entrance (15 miles) by 8am, so it was a race against the clock. Not so fun when you're not feeling well. Thankfully everyone else pulled me through, endured my whining and we made it with time to spare.
Once we entered the park, it was apparent why this was a special day. We saw wildlife and tons of beautiful vistas as we began to climb towards Trail Ridge Road. The actual climb was a pretty decent grade, but I was so tired and struggled to keep the wheels spinning. Scot and Robyn put the pedal to the medal and rocketed towards the top, while Kent as the dutiful husband stayed with me. We eventually made it and were treated to breathtaking views at the summit. Then began the fun part as we sped down the hill, relatively traffic free thanks to the park rangers controlling cars.
Just as we were cruising into town, I had a chain malfunction and had to pull over. As the slowest rider, everyone else was ahead of me and didn't know I had stopped. I struggled to get my chain back on, and eventually gave up and asked for help. No one could figure it out, so I started to walk into town when my knight in shining spandex came to my rescue! After some cursing Kent fixed it and we were back on the road.
After tent set up and showers we grabbed a bite to eat in the beer garden and headed to town. The highlight of the trip so far - Starbucks! We cruised around Estes Park for a bit and felt like tourists, complete with the requisite stops in the shiny polished rock store, the T-shirt shop and the ice cream parlor. It was bliss!
Now it is off to bed for day 6 of this crazy adventure. So far we have traversed over 400 miles across the state and we are at the home stetch - woohoo!
Stats from day five:
64 miles
11,500 feet summit on Trail Ridge Road
1 flat tire
1 mechanical chain issue
2 elk spottings
4 ice cream cones to celebrate
Photos from day five:

Taking a rest, I mean photo break on Trail Ridge Road

The Continental Divide

At the summit, brrr

Finally a picture where I am not in spandex! At the beer garden
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Day four: Leadville to Granby

Greetings from Granby, our home for night four. We are over the hump with only 2 days of riding left - yahoo! Today was the day we were all dreading as it was a 95 mile day (after our killer day yesterday), but it ended up being the best day yet!
I think our bodies have finally given in to the pain and suffering, and are beginning to cooperate. It also helped that 30 plus miles were a fast downhill off Fremont Pass into Silverthorne! We had a couple nice steady climbs, and the wind at our backs, who could ask for more? The one drag was a section of dirt road - again! - that caused a lot of problems for people and slowed us down a bit. But we finished in a record 5 hours and 45 minutes, a blistering pace for an almost century ride!
Tonight we actually felt like we had a night off, as we showered and set up the tents before venturing down to the beer garden. Granby put on quite a show with fabulous local food and a great band. I almost forgot where we were!
But alas it is now time for bed again in our cozy little tent. 4:30 will come all too early tomorrow!
Stats from day four:
95 miles
2 mountain passes
42 miles per hour top speed coming down the mountain
4 beers to celebrate a great day
Photos from day four:

Scot and Robyn trying to close the jam packed duffle bag

Filling up our bikes for the long trip

A pretty view along the way




Enjoying a little downtime under the sunshade

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Day three - Carbondale to Leadville

The field report from day 3 is a bit delayed as we were too exhausted to even think about writing last night. But better late than never!

We started the day in chilly 23 degree temperature, not so fun when you are outdoor camping. But we persevered and got on the road early at 7:00. We stopped at the first rest stop and had all you eat pancakes and sausages. Unfortunately that was the best part of the day :(

What looked like a nice easy bike path from Carbondale to Aspen, turned into a bit of an uphill slog with a headwind - not so awesome. Like most roads in Colorado, bike paths are also under construction in the summer. So we got to test out our mountain biking skills on a sandy dirt path for several miles. I was never so happy to see pavement at the end!

But then the pavement, albeit better than the dirt, started climbing at a wicked angle as we began the climb up Independence Pass. I had never been up the pass, but heard it was long and steady. It delivered on both, and thankfully there was also beautiful scenery to gaze at. 20 miles later we reached the top, took our requisite picture and headed down the backside as quick as we could.

The boys had gone ahead at this point as Leadville is short on good camping spaces. So Robyn and I cruised down the mountain and enjoyed the most delicious burger ever at the bottom. We still has 20 or so miles to go, and it thoroughly kicked our a$$, uphill with a headwind. I thought I was going to die on that highway, but somehow we made it into Leadville and promptly flopped down on the dandelion covered grass. 7 1/2 hours on the bike does not make for a happy body...

After we recovered a bit, we ventured into town where everyone had the same zombie-like look on their faces. We ate a ridiculously huge dinner at the world famous Golden Burro, and promptly fell asleep for the night! Whew, definitely the hardest day yet.

Stats from day three:
85 miles
Summit of 12,000 feet over Independence Pass
5 giant pancakes at breakfast
4 times Ava said bye bye and tried to get Grandma Jane off the phone with us (someone is obviously having a good time without us)

Photos from day three:



Riding the dirt road




A look back at Independence Pass

Lots more pics but they are on the camera, not the phone....

Off to Granby tomorrow!

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Day three - Carbondale to Leadville

The field report from day 3 is a bit delayed as we were too exhausted to even think about writing last night. But better late than never!

We started the day in chilly 23 degree temperature, not so fun when you are outdoor camping. But we persevered and got on the road early at 7:00. We stopped at the first rest stop and had all you eat pancakes and sausages. Unfortunately that was the best part of the day :(

What looked like a nice easy bike path from Carbondale to Aspen, turned into a bit of an uphill slog with a headwind - not so awesome. Like most roads in Colorado, bike paths are also under construction in the summer. So we got to test out our mountain biking skills on a sandy dirt path for several miles. I was never so happy to see pavement at the end!

But then the pavement, albeit better than the dirt, started climbing at a wicked angle as we began the climb up Independence Pass. I had never been up the pass, but heard it was long and steady. It delivered on both, and thankfully there was also beautiful scenery to gaze at. 20 miles later we reached the top, took our requisite picture and headed down the backside as quick as we could.

The boys had gone ahead at this point as Leadville is short on good camping spaces. So Robyn and I cruised down the mountain and enjoyed the most delicious burger ever at the bottom. We still has 20 or so miles to go, and it thoroughly kicked our a$$, uphill with a headwind. I thought I was going to die on that highway, but somehow we made it into Leadville and promptly flopped down on the dandelion covered grass. 7 1/2 hours on the bike does not make for a happy body...

After we recovered a bit, we ventured into town where everyone had the same zombie-like look on their faces. We ate a ridiculously huge dinner at the world famous Golden Burro, and promptly fell asleep for the night! Whew, definitely the hardest day yet.

Stats from day three:
85 miles
Summit of 12,000 feet over Independence Pass
5 giant pancakes at breakfast
4 times Ava said bye bye and tried to get Grandma Jane off the phone with us (someone is obviously having a good time without us)

Photos from day three:



Riding the dirt road




A look back at Independence Pass

Lots more pics but they are on the camera, not the phone....

Off to Granby tomorrow!

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Monday, June 11, 2012

Day 2 - Hotchkiss to Carbondale

Happy Monday! Today was another beautiful day in the Colorado mountains. We woke up to a chilly morning - we could see our breath and frost on the tent- and enjoyed a tasty pancake breakfast courtesy of the Hotchkiss fire dept. One of the best parts of the ride is eating whatever we want as you know you are burning more calories than you are taking in! Note to self: limit consumption when bike riding ceases next weekend.

We peeled out of Hotchkiss and had a beautiful ride through the orchards of Paonia before getting to the base of McClure Pass. We've learned now that the RTR guide book is deceiving as it looked like a short, gradual climb. Not so much... It was short - 5 miles - but sure steep with no breaks. Slowly but surely we made it up the hill and celebrated with a yummy lunch of savory crepes. Good food is definitely not in shortage.

From there it was all downhill as we cruised into Carbondale, a well deserved break from the climb. Robyn and I definitely miscalculated as we arrived with the boys and had to carry our own bags And help set up the tents! The nerve...

Tonight was a fun night on the town with one of Robyn's friends, a local resident. The best part - she drove us in a car! No walking or biking to dinner, hallelujah!!

Off to bed early for a killer day tomorrow - 92 miles down through Aspen and up over Independence Pass (12.000 feet) before ending on Leadville. Needless to say, I'm
totally freaked out!

Stats from today:
68 miles
3500 vertical feet of climbing
3 sunscreen applications, not enough!
4 railroad crossings
3 flat tires

Lessons learned from day 1:
1. Put your clothes in your sleeping bag at night, so you don't have freezing bike shorts
2. Don't drink grape Gatorade, it is nasty.

Some pics from today's journey:




Pancake breakfast




Picture break!



The summit!




Team Odendahl/Scrafford

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Day 1 - Gunnison to Hotchkiss

Disclaimer: we had very little internet access in Hotchkiss, so we are posting late. Good news, we finished day 2! More to come later.

Greetings from beautiful Hotchkiss, Colorado! The big news of the day... We survived day one! Today's ride was a gorgeous, scenic tour of the north rim of the Black Canyon. We toured through winding roads along the rim of the canyon, and took some spectacular photos. We had an uncharacteristic headwind, which made the ride just a tad more difficult (I.e. more painful). But the rest stops were plentiful, and well stocked with yummy food!

We rolled into Hotchkiss around 4 and the boys, who had ridden ahead, greeted Robyn and I with cold bevvies - glorious! The tiny little town of Hotchkiss turned out all the stops and treated us to a delicious pasta dinner (except the ran out of salad - grr), complete with Pedal Push Pale Ale by Odell's Brewery. True western hospitality!

Not sure we are ready for what day two holds... A shorter ride of only 68 miles, but more climbing. Send us positive vibes that our legs and rear ends can make it tomorrow!!

Stats from day one:
79.9 miles
5 hours and 30 min on the bike
4000 calories burned
1 yak sighting
1/2 face sunburned
3 types of cold medicine consumed
Hot showers for all - the best part of the day

All in all a good first day!

Some pics of day one:



The crew in Gunnison before departure.



Lunch, Kent and Scot were very excited about pancakes and eggs



Along the route

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