Sept. 29th: The big wet climb.

I decided that this was it. It was time to do more climbing. Ward is somewhere around 8,000 feet up a canyon. Left Hand Canyon is a road that snakes from north of Boulder, all the way up this scenic drive. It was being repaired in five sections after last years thousand year flood so some brief moments of dirt hard pack had to be crossed. The climb wasn’t all that vertical, it was just slower. Cruising on the flat road I can maintain 20mph in perfect still wind but I ranged from 6 to 13 for almost two hours.

I was on a working trip and had a layover at home for twenty four hours. With the wife working and kids in school there was no better time. Starting from home it took ten miles to get to the base of the canyon road. At 22 miles it began to rain a nice mist. At 24 miles I was hating the world and the thunder above was hating me. A well meant, “howsit goin?” To an unfortunate rider on a time trial bike heaed down hill was met with nothing. Ignored and with a distressed look. Huh. Ive not known many TT guys to acknowledge me anyway. I discovered why later.

Two turns from Ward. Two turns. I was at 28 miles. I just rode up 3800 vertical feet non stop, something I have never done before. It had been raining pretty well. My feet were in thick bags of water socks, it was forty-three degrees, I was short on time. I had to pick up the girls from school. I aint got no time fo dis.

I turned around. I was nearly out of water and I ate my last food five miles ago. I cut my losses. I would climb to ward again another time on a better day. I started down hill and discovered what the TT rider was experiencing. I thought I was miserable on the way up! Remove heat generating pedaling and the cold comes right in. Rain to the face. One more thing, constantly pointed down hill puts weight on the handlebars, and up in to your shoulders if you don’t wish to try supporting it from your arms themselves. I had to alternate foot pressure on the pedals to keep heat in my feet. They were sitting in shoe buckets of water really. Every time I altered that weight I felt a lake squeeze out of my sock. There is a debate on socks vs. sockless out there. I have narrow feet and as narrow a show as I can afford. I have different insoles and supports in there to fit the shoe. A nice hiking sock works very well keeping the abrasions away plus making the show fit secure. It works for me on long distance. Until it rains apparently.

I spent an entire hour riding down this hill riding the brakes the whole way. I was not about to let the brake track be wet and cold when I really needed the brakes to work. They were already compromised as it were. I had to pick lines on the road where it dint look too glassy wet and pick lines through the five dirt patches of road construction that weren’t too rutty or washboarded with backhoe treads. I managed to pound out a few moments anyway. Washboard impacts are awful through the wrists and forearms. The hands buzz trying to hold a grip. The wheels, I don’t want to know about. I kept envisioning loosing grip and washing the front end out or sliding out the back of the bike, pancaking my side on the pavement at twenty miles per hour, off the shoulder into the trees. Road rash up my leg. The airline would love to hear about that one. Why their pilot cant finish the trip and why they have to fly a replacement pilot out. Because I was dumb enough to go ride in a thunderstorm up and down a mountain canyon on a company trip.

I exited the canyon feeling much warmer air. Perhaps it was sixty degrees? I turned on the phone out of the canyon but service wasn’t received yet. I started on the last fifteen miles home. Now I’m out of water completely. Thirty minutes to go. Im trying to do math in a partially dehydrated state. School is out at three. What time is it now?

I had to call. I wouldn’t be there in time. I pulled over with ten miles to go. “Hi honey…”

“There you are. Where are you?”

“Oh I’m in the rain. Its a bit humid today…” Enter some thunder overhead. At this moment three cyclists have ridden past all smiling and waving. Its such a great day for them. My wife disagrees.

“Do you want me to pick you up? Where are you now?”

I thought about teasing her and saying I was up at Ward with another two hours to get home. She would have driven to me and shot me in the street. With witnesses. They would have sided with her.

I told her my location and she came to pick me up. Worried. My GPS said 49.9 miles-fixed with a quick spin of the rear tire. 50. Recorded and reset. I guess that sixty mile goal would wait for another day. We loaded the bike in the back of the SUV and drove directly to school to get our Kindergardener. I was sitting on and wrapped in a few leftover dog towels.

Once home I unloaded the car, hung up the bike, and took a shower. My backside s brown with road dirt, soaked and stained that way from the rain. I was a good ride. Im glad I did it. I went back to work the next day and finished the trip but my knees were in deep achey pain after a day and a half. They had never done such a thing. My knees don’t do that so I must have worked a muscle group more than normal. Kneeling down to kiss a daughter goodnight was agony.

I will finish this climb. The intended route is to not stop at Ward, but continue past and loop down the mountain to the north into Lyons and then home. The distance would be about the same sixty miles but the total climbing would be around 5,000 vertical feet in the end.

Cleaning up the bike after that ride was something else. I had to take the tires and tubes off the wheels. Water was trapped inside. I cant explain it either but somehow water made it in past the stem into the gap between the rim holding the tube and tire bead, and the deeper vee section the spokes attach to. A good three table spoons of water spilled out. The rest was sandy dirt grime to rinse off. Cleaned and re oiled, the bike was hung up in the garage rafters with my growing budget bike collection.

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