Another Courage Classic is in the books. This was the third year for me, and I don’t really understand why it doesn’t get any easier. I did actually ride a bit faster this year, but that’s nothing to write home about. Still slow. For completeness, here’s what I put up on Strava: Day One, Day Two, Day Three.
When I first rode two years ago, I did it as an excuse to ride my bike more. Knowing that I had a hard ride to do I would have to train a bit more seriously. I took a couple of weekends in the months before the tour and rode a few mountain passes (Cumbres, La Manga, Wolf Creek, Hoosier), around Summit County, and did more climbing on my local hills (to Ward, Jamestown, etc.).
I also liked the idea of giving some money and support to Children’s Hospital. I don’t have any direct ties to Children’s, but like most people, I have friends and relatives who have lost a child. It’s hard to imagine going through anything worse. I’m also glad to say that I know of others who’ve had their child saved by Children’s. It’s amazing that we rarely focus on that side of the picture.
This year was especially fun for me getting to spend some time with friends. I rather like sitting down to meals with strangers, and chatting briefly while passing people on the ride. (There are always a few people I play leapfrog with since I go fast downhill and slow uphill.) Sunday night was definitely fun sharing drinks with Evonne, Jay, and “the twins”. We won’t go into how much we drank (I don’t really remember). But I did manage to ride fine the next morning, so it can’t have been too much….
I didn’t take too many pictures this year. (Do I ever?) But here are the best of what I have.
This is the start of the tour in Leadville. I intentionally got a late start so that I wouldn’t be eating lunch at 10:30 like previous years. I was really surprised at how few people were at the start. Apparently, most people leave much earlier. (The parking lots were packed as always.) But it turns out that 8:45 wasn’t really late enough as I got to lunch only two hours later.
My plan was to meet Evonne and her group at lunch, so I figured I might as well push it. I didn’t stop at the rest stops except to take the next picture at the top of Tennessee Pass. I expected I’d either catch them on the ride or see them once I got to lunch. It turns out that I must have passed them while they were at one of the rest stops, as they arrived about 20 minutes after me.
We rode out from lunch with Marjorie leading us all the way through Vail. I was definitely impressed with pace – I certainly wouldn’t have gone any faster on my own. It didn’t help that I was reminded (by Margaret?) that the ride through Vail always sucks because of the heat. The heat was all I could think about during that section.
Finally, we began the real climb up Vail Pass. Below we have Evonne, Margaret, Walt, and Pat just after leaving the rest stop near the bottom. Notice the smiles!?
As the grade continued, we spread out along the road. I rode alongside Evonne for the first stretch. It was nice not pushing too hard, but that doesn’t mean it was easy climbing the 5% hill. We regrouped at the end of the road where the bike path starts. The sisters decided to do the last stretch together, so Pat and I headed out together.
We reached the top about 20 minutes ahead of the sisters. We had enough time to grab some drinks and download cowbell apps for our phones so that we could properly great them when they arrived. Here are Evonne and Marjorie arriving at the top.
The time was getting late, and I had a massage appointment to get to by 4, so I took off to climb the last few feet of the pass before coasting down into Copper Mountain. We had a nice dinner a few hours later but were all too tired to do much else.
I went back to my room and watched the Tour de France (nice job, Cadel!), before being treated to a fireworks show right outside my window. Most of them were exploding at eye level, and less then a 100 yards away. Very cool.
Unfortunately, it was really loud in the village even after the fireworks were done. I didn’t get to sleep until well after midnight, but had to get up at 6:30 to do the “century” ride.
This year’s “century” was just over 90 miles. There was another event going on in Keystone, so that leg of the ride was cut out. I made pretty good time, finishing in 7:22 (6:32 on the bike). That’s more than an hour quicker than last year, but the ride was 7 miles shorter. No rain this year either. (Last year I finished the ride from Breckenridge riding in a horrible downpour.) Still that last climb up from Frisco was a killer. I don’t remember it being so bad before.
After a long massage and a quick dinner, I met them all at the Incline for beer. Margaret was having fun getting me to match her drink for drink. She really should have taken our 80+ pound difference in body mass into consideration! It was great chatting with them all, and hanging out with Jay, my son’s band director.
The last day was a relatively easy ride 😉 over Fremont Pass and around Turquoise Lake. I managed to time my ride so that I met everyone again at the final BBQ in Leadville. Here’s Pat and Marjorie.
And here’s Evonne and her son Alex.
As ever, it was a fun weekend in Copper Mountain. I’m always reminded how lucky I have it. While I try to do some reasonable fundraising, this is still more of “just a” bike ride to me. For many people, the ride has much deeper meaning. They ride for friends and relatives who have been helped by Children’s. This is a chance for them to give back. I’m glad, at least, to ride along with them.