“The Perfect Day,” I thought around mile three of day one; that is what I will title my blog post at the end of the day. The sun was shining, the scenery was gorgeous, my legs were strong and Doug was pedaling away in front of me. Shortly after that thought we began our ascent through Boulder Canyon. Surrounded by rocky walls, the sound of a rushing river, no vehicle traffic and the adrenaline of being part of Ride The Rockies, conquering the challenging grade was exhilirating. But something happened to Doug halfway up the canyon. I noticed that his cadence changed. He was not pedaling smoothly and he was wobbly.
We pulled over and Doug gasped out of breath, “I need a pill.” Doug relies on a Parkinson’s medication called Sinemet, which is a combination of two drugs that deliver synthetic dopamine to the brain. Doug only benefits from the medicine for 2 to 3 three hours per dose. When the medicine is working it is hard to tell that he has Parkinson’s. It is difficult to time doses to maintain the optimal level of medication to manage his symptoms.
Doug took “a pill” and Mocha Cliff Gel with caffeine. I had serious doubts about whether he would be able to continue on. But once the pill and gel kicked in, Doug pushed ahead. It was shaky going at first, but then he seemed to catch a second wind. We victoriously arrived at Aid Station #1.
We recovered with a gourmet breakfast at Salto Coffee and mingled with a few other Davis Phinney Foundation team riders. I never expected to chow down on a brioche toast egg sandwich, homemade granola and an expertly made a cappuccino at an RTR aid stop. A fabulous bike mechanic gave my bike some much needed love, then off we went.
Between Aid Stations #1 and #2 the weather turned from rain to hail and then back to rain. Cold and wet, I still enjoyed the ride. Riding in the mountains is so incredibly beautiful and out of the ordinary for me that it stirs excitement in my blood. I was so happy and excited to be riding that I refused to let a little cold, hail and rain get me down. I thought about my blog post title, “The Perfect Day” and decided the title would remain.
At Sid Station #2 we were met with a sight for sore eyes and sore behinds. The Davis Phinney Foundation Victory Crew sag awaited us with PB&J, dry riding shorts for me and encouragement. We refueled and charged forth. Doug was hanging in there; I knew he wasn’t feeling his strongest.
We persevered up the seriously steep grades around the Black Hawk and Central City areas. Doug doesn’t have the best gearing on his bike for such challenges, and — not feeling strong anyway — he chose to walk up some of the hills. I waited for him near the steep dirt road just before entering the highway heading into Idaho Springs.
We later joined a narrow bike path along I-70 designated from the highway by a short concrete barrier wall. Doug heard riders approaching from behind. In an attempt to move his bike to the right to be passed he brushed the wall with his bike and crashed. He acutally flipped over the barrier wall onto I-70. His saving grace was his slow speed and the wide shoulder on I-70. The rider closest to him slammed on her brakes, coming to an abrupt stop. The second rider behind her went down. The second rider sustained injuries requiring an ambulance and medical evaluation. Doug helped load her into the ambulance. We remained on the solemn scene until the State Patrol said we could leave.
We felt pretty horrible after the accident. Doug was banged up but had no serious injuries; just scrapes and bruises.We debated waiting on a sag with the injured rider’s riding buddy or pedaling a few more miles into Idaho Springs. It was going to take while for the sag to reach the bike path. We opted to head into Idaho Springs. Once there Doug wanted to continue on. A few miles later he decided to call it quits. I sat with him for a while feeling crappy about the turn of events.
I decided that I would go for the summit. I wanted Berthoud Pass. I pedaled hard all of the way to Empire. There I heard the news that the course was closed. Riders on the pass already would not be allowed to descend. Truth be told, I was going to have to quit there anyway. My legs weren’t strong enough at that point for Berthoud and it was late in the day.
We hit the road together and had a great day of riding. Doug was strong all day. I had a hard time keeping his pace. Once the road shoulder disappeared he rode behind me, protecting me from traffic. At Aid Station #4, 65 miles into the ride, I decided that we should call it a day. My legs were tired and I wanted to enjoy the rest of the day. Doug had cycled up Rabbit Ears from the other direction, already, years ago. We don’t have anything to prove.
We are skipping the Steamboat loop today. We can count our training rides on two hands. There were two 35-mile rides of rolling hills back in Ohio, two 20-mile towpath trail rides, a handful or 12-18 mile rides and three months of one-hour spin classes twice a week if we were lucky. That doesn’t cut it. We have ridden over 120 miles in the mountains with some tough climbs. I need a day to recover before I go back for more fun.
But don’t get the impression that we quit easily. Loveland Pass, I am coming for you!!!