Gasper made it to Rabbit Ears Pass above Steamboat Day 2!

Gasper made it to Rabbit Ears Pass above Steamboat Day 2!

My buddies are laughing this morning – but sure as Hell weren’t after Sunday’s epic “Blizzard Day” at Berthoud Pass.  After surviving that — and the wet freezing night in Winter Park — my buddies have given me a new nickname: “Piece of Cake”.

We had trained so very hard for Ride The Rockies. We were on our bikes at daylight many days a week riding our training circuits (with significant hills, yes, even in Alabama). As we got stronger, Reverend Roberts would ask me: “Ken – will this really be that hard?”

“Piece of cake”, I foolishly said, every time. Guess I was remembering my first RTR in 2009 — now I remember that I was about 30 pounds lighter then. So I convinced RTR first time riders Johnny “Country Boy” Turner and “Reverend” Paul Roberts to come with me, with false encouragement that we could handle it.

Frozen camp chair at Sherpaville morning of Day 2 in Winter Park.

Frozen camp chair at Sherpaville morning of Day 2 in Winter Park.

Reverend just said “There’s some mountains here that take all the freakin’ sense of humor out of you!” And they’ll never believe a single thing I say again.

So how is it I missed that that Day 1 on Sunday would be the most challenging day in RTR history, almost 10,000 feet of climbing over 89 miles? Then we got four seasons in one day.

Country Boy made his first summit up Boulder Canyon — but he’s 61, with a year-ago brand new full-knee replacement. “Ohhhh me!” I heard him say at least 100 times as I helped him do the climb.

Reverend said this morning in Steamboat Springs, “After the first day, I feel like someone ran over me with an 18-wheeler, and then backed up over me five or six times.” And that was Golden to Winter Park. About Day 2, Winter Park to Steamboat, “Well today, they just ran over me once or twice.”

We’re taking a rest day today, foregoing the 53 mile loop ride. And best of all, our friend put us up in his brother’s condo in Steamboat Springs — a warm room, hot shower (single, no 20 other guys there with you), and real mattresses. This is a far cry from the freezing tent in Winter Park, or the refugee camp inside the rec center in Winter Park.

I love Ride The Rockies — we’ll get enough great stories out of this trip to last a lifetime. The truth is already being stretched with each re-telling. By the time we get back to Alabama, most likely we’ll also say we wrestled grizzly bears along the ride course.

About riding in the heat, rain, hail, snow and 30 mile-an-hour headwinds, Reverend commented: “On Sunday, we had the Rapture poured down on us — a little thunderstorm back in Alabama won’t ever worry me again.”