Ride the Rockies Day 4

Words: Joe Staples | Photography: Dan Sharp | Date:

OURAY to DURANGO

A teacher of mine once pointed out how tense people are when they are walking in the rain. Their shoulders are high and they cover their heads with newspapers and umbrellas. He then told me to watch someone who had been rained on for awhile; when they are really wet, and they can’t get wetter, they just relax into it.

This seems to apply to being tired as well as being wet.

In the Tour of the Rockies, Ouray was where I couldn’t get any “wetter”. We had ridden a few days, done 20mile climbs to 11,00ft passes. We had camped on baseball fields and on gravel parking lots. I was tired in the best possible way.

The morning would start with a climb, Red Mountain Pass to be exact, a wonderful winding, tunneled climb of 13miles from literally the first meter. We could see this harsh introduction all evening as we looked up at the mountains surrounding us. It would be the first of three high passes of the day.

Ben, Franny and Rubi decided they needed a few miles warm up before they started the switchbacks. So they rode back down the valley for 20mins before climbing after us. Those guys can ride.

Like all amazing rides this is a bit of a euphoric blur punctuated with moments of clarity.

Here are a few things I remember clearly.

I remember riding the second climb two up with Rubi and him snotting backwards. We then heard a shriek from a woman we hadn’t known was following us. One of the cutest things in the world was Rubi apologizing over and over again until he pulled out his trump apology “I’ll buy you a hot chocolate!”. She chuckled which to us was the sign that Rubi had been forgiven.

I remember descending 12 miles with Franny and Carey and averaging 50mph. The surface was perfect and we didn’t even have to touch the brakes because the corners were so open and safe. A couple of years ago I started calling Carey “Savo” as in “Salvodelli”. She descends with her hands on the tops and the base of her ribcage on the bars. Race her down a hill. I dare you.

I remember watching Ben fly past me on a climb, the third climb. I had always thought “dancing on the pedals” was a poetic saying until that moment. Then it became a factual description.

I remember following Selman’s calves on some late rollers outside of Durango. This is disconcerting; those things look like they have tennis balls in them. A few on each side.

With 10miles of the day left we were cruising thinking we were rolling it in, but the amazing day hadn’t finished with us yet.

A local Durango rider on the other side of the road recognized Ben from an LA ride and screamed at us. This was John, from our “Thank you Rockies”:/thank-you-rockies blog post. John turned around and rode us to a local Bakery for lunch.

We ended up sitting in the cool shade of the bakery, drinking cold chocolate milk, eating croissants and sandwiches as the warm wind rolled pass. We took turns swinging back and forth on a swing hanging from the roof as others were introduced to a 65-year-old ex-6-day racer.

It’s safe to say it this day didn’t suck.

Click image to download pdf.

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