[vc_row padding_top=”0px” padding_bottom=”0px”][vc_column fade_animation_offset=”45px” width=”1/1″][text_output]Today was Stage 3, Buena Vista to Snowmass Village, called “The Queen Stage” since our route took us up and over Independence Pass, the highest point on this year’s tour at just a tick over twelve thousand feet. I could spend several pages trying to describe the beautiful (stunning!) views and thrilling descent, but instead my mind jumps first to these thoughts:

The first time I was in this region of Colorado I was brand new to the mountains and joyfully agreed to a moonlit ascent of nearby Mt. Elbert with one of my best friends. Although we made the summit just in time for sunrise, that December trip ended with Brodie guiding me back to the trailhead after I was overpowered by a serious case of altitude sickness; welcome to Colorado! You can imagine my joy, then, as I passed by that same trailhead near Twin Lakes today, riding strong and filled with excitement that my knowledge base of these powerful mountains would now very likely keep me from experiencing that kind of defeat again.

We caught a glimpse of that power today riding past several major slide areas from this record-snow winter. Aspen that were decades old were piled high on top of each other as if the mountains spilled a jar of ginormous tooth picks. Evergreen were in the mix too and the air was thickened with their fragrance in these Avalanche zones.

I’m riding tandem with my wife and best friend, Cassie, and reaching the summit of Indy was a moment we will treasure for our lifetimes together. We learned something today we didn’t yet know in full — our training paid off, we climbed strong at high elevation. What an incredible feeling to share in recognizing that now both Monarch and Independence are past, actualized moments! You can dream and dream and dream, but it’s when the dream materializes into actuality that the fun really gets going. What a fun tour thus far. To my fellow riders, you guys are super encouraging and strong and fun. To the tour crew, well done and thank you!

Onward and Upward,

Michael Thornton [/text_output][/vc_column][/vc_row]