Ride the Rockies Day 7

Words: Peter Rubijono | Photography: Dan Sharp | Date:


Hello cycling lover, my name is Peter and here is a story of how we burned rubber.

It is the morning of day 7; Ride the Rockies has pressed its amassed disciples through a bowl of stale ribbon candy.

Everyone might be smiling in the sunshine, but everyone has had mighty lashings.

Rapha Continental rises and turns pads to mat-rolls; tent to dress food. I am signaled by the comforting presence of Ben as he strums pyrex and steel about the tailgate breakfast station nook. He has besieged these materials with course grounds and shredded potato. Boiling leads to caramelizing leads to pan-fried wraps steaming on the skillet with eggs popping in the sun. What an invincible meal and hot…gosh there is some viscous yogurt in the cooler.

There is altitude of 7,500 feet with which to contend, so all hands chow down.

The morning air smells like several grand feet above sea level and is filtered through a french press.

Recoil the bivouacs and put them in the diesel Benz.

This morning I am too preoccupied with thought of todays finale ride and atmospheric hush to hit the road with Dan Sharp our photographer for an easy 5k run.

A morning run in our Kin Yun style is not in today’s plan as I have yet to crack this Colorado fantasy scrim.

“I do not believe I will be joining you for an easy 5K run, man.”. I can see in your face that you feel me.

Shameful altitude hangover requires a pause in one’s morning, and a cross-country run will cripple me. (Kin Yun:  to take flight at dark hours in the manner of quick low steps and cadence so as to conserve energy, and/or make ready for further onslaught from wicked entities.)

The words are stuck somewhere and I am unable to continue talking, (aHem!) this is the end of our ‘Ride the Rockies 2010,’ as participants of a massive bicycle tour. Today we will leave the encampment area and take to the pipeline.

Today will be a grand push out of Alamosa, north toward Salida. The seasoned RTR riders are keenly grouped together, for they know there is no where to find shelter on today’s route. FaceWind on the straights and cross cover.

Rapha rolls out into the pan fried sun rise, late.

For two hours there is a mad pace set and we are six friends cruising smartly in jovial frantic motions towards a gang of mountain ranges just over there, so close and yet somehow slipping away. (Really, this was weird.) We are on our bikes rolling fast and having a big time of it. This day we are together reeling the pulls in synch. We are one of many groups who have taken to this fantastic group rate special. Steve is taking strong hauls on the front, and we are coasting over road and getting fresh with the rumble strip.

When we get tired, there are our mates to tuck in with for a spell and revive. Munch a mashed snack and drink a mineral water.

We are in communion with many fast rolling groups with bright colors and burnt cheeks, many are still smiling up on Colorado.

I will be wishing for a slice of flat-bread pizza and some ale to fight off the fantastic bike ride withdrawal, but first there is the false flat creeping into the scenery.

At mile 50, Joe has a burning desire to make haste to yonder urinal at the Villa Grove – Aid Station #3.

At 8,000 feet the swing sets and see-saws behind a battery of time capsule pee booths also reveal green grapes by the bunch; tasty fruits and fresh baked treats. So many delighted folks gathering fruit and gabbing over snacks!

I find Joe spring-rocking on a caste aluminum pony coated in mixed primary acrylic.

Citizenry on lawn chairs proudly holding welcome signs, I see one that says, “ice-cream sandwiches, pastries.”

Down the street there are two soda machines from 1977 that are chained together and covered with many directions of brick and grass dust. It is hot in Villa Grove and 50 cents dispenses a sweating ice cold Cola can.

I was struck with mild sun-kissed fever as the early afternoon heat capped judgment/aversion functions, and I almost missed the depression-era church whose steeple was clad in pitted aluminum platting. Just waiting to reopen. To save again.

Everyone on the road is humming along in their groups, everyone working for mutual advantage and a chance to hang off the back and witness Poncha Pass – Aid station #4, draw back its wave and blast forth. Expansive. Mile 71 sits at 9,000 feet above the oceans.  There have been 20 miles of false flat and many ‘Rockies’ riders breathing the vapors of finale; another bbq and industry park music fest are scheduled. Sweet wholesome bliss in the shade.

The State police accept a wave and a nod, but for how long. Thus far, the patrolmen, mounted on forest green Harley’s, have been professional and attentive. They are keeping sound watch on the hundreds of miles of cycling devotees. Their troop are following our journey: advancing everyday and remaining the same polished aviators in jackboots. Although the State motor corps give reassuring smiles, their gloved knuckles are tout and will wave heat.

They drive to and fro, spitting badge flakes. Pros.

Today the road has been straight and true, and there is the knowledge that this is the last day to be with so may weathered and storied cyclists. The final time to pack in thinned air and pass it down the pace-line. The air is warm and charged by the bright big sun, shining down on the finishing stretch. This ride treats everyone like a champion-hero. From the canyon loop, to Grand Tour finish-line.

Rapha Continental have ridden with many people,  and shared the road and the stories of the passionate road affair.

I speak with a rider who is sporting a jersey from a past Rockies event, and it depicts a brilliantly drawn geisha in regalia. Beautiful color design. The 25th running of such grandeur. What a heritage is this ride. What a feeling of accomplishment to heave and gasp and establish the very climbs and routeways still regarded as daunting and complex. The Rockies put a foot in American arrogance by silencing gas pedal supremacy.

Take the time to get bike experience in these fine places in Colorado. There are roads and gravel routes waiting up there that will majestize you and make you feel like a free roaming god.

Ride the Rockies made the experience flow and bank, brilliantly tailored and well staffed. Challenge yourself and spin your mettle.

Think about burning a little rubber.

Take it easy, friends.


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