Firecracker 5k
View of the mesa east of Grand Junction, a bit after sunrise.

View of the mesa east of Grand Junction, a bit after sunrise.

What an epic ride it was today! The long, steep climb up the Grand Mesa, a fast and fun descent down the other side, and the rollers between Cedaredge and Hotchkiss made this day unforgiving yet memorable for me.

The slow and gradual climb out of Grand Junction to Mesa was great. The riverside path was a great course to take, with nice views of the Colorado River and a gorgeous sunrise. I was trying to finish the day quick and get it over with quickly, so I rushed over to Mesa in a speedy two hours. Going into Mesa, I encountered the whole scale of the Grand Mesa. It astounded me. We were supposed to climb 20 miles to the top of this? And where does the road go? How step is the road actually? These questions resounded in my head as I stopped in Mesa to fill up my water bottles.

Ascending the Grand Mesa, I greatly miscalculated my strength and the difficult grade of the climb. I had expected to be at the top in two hours. However, it took me three gnarly hours of grinding to reach the top. I was not too happy with myself. But it was all worth it with the descent.

Descending the Grand Mesa into Cedaredge, I was wowed by the scenic lakes beside the road and the grand view of the whole valley below. I usually don’t like descending, as I can never seem to go fast enough to get anywhere fast enough for my needs (and I get passed by everyone I passed going uphill), but today is one of the few exceptions I’ll make. What a grand ride!

The rollers from Cedaredge to Hotchkiss were somewhat fun, but once again I underestimated the difficulty of the few steep climbs and my remaining strength. I was thinking I could blaze through the rollers in an hour and finish strong. In reality, I slogged up most of the rollers and finished weary and exhausted. Once again, I was not too happy with myself.

One big positive comes out of this: I finished today. Despite the arduous climb, going through a growth spurt (my knees and thighs have gotten extremely sore in the past couple weeks!), some wind and massive rollers, I still finished what is likely to be the toughest day on this year’s RTR.

See you all out on the ride!