My last few rides have been bust. The last was the ill fated Lee Gulch ride with Lily on Sunday afternoon. The rains came down and it took two full days for my bike shoes to dry out.
On Saturday I tried to ride to Bergen Peak's summit from Morrison. I made it to the trailhead for Bergen, but turned back because I wanted to be back to Golden by 9am. Overall it was a good ride and fun. I rode a short loop through Elk Meadow OS and then detoured onto the Bear Creek Trail in Lair O' the Bear OS on my way back down Bear Creek Canyon. But I felt slow on the entire ride. I crawled painfully slow up Bear Creek Canyon before turning back.
So I took a couple days off the bike, though we did do a five mile hike with the Reitmair's from church on Monday.
This morning I woke at 4:45 am and was stepping out the door and onto the bike at 5:20. My goal was Genesee Mountain's summit which was 25 miles away and 3,000' higher. My mind quivered at the thought, so I quelled the thought initially. The first leg of the ride was my normal commute from Denver to Golden so I just forgot about the remainder for an hour.
But then in Golden I headed into new territory. I passed the Taj and began the long, slow crawl up Mount Vernon Canyon toward Genesee's summit 10 miles further west. Almost immediately I was pounded by a headwind…and the thought that 2,000 of my 3,000' gain was still ahead of me…aimed directly at the beast of a wind barreling out of the canyon.
I told myself that I would reach the summit and that soon I'd be riding down Mount Vernon Canyon with a strong tailwind. It raised my spirits, but didn't strengthen my legs.
The pull of gravity had begun to work its way deep into my legs, permeating the soft tissues of my muscles before beginning to bang on my bones, causing an ache that I so desperately wanted to stop. But I continued…onward…upward.
The one good thing about Mount Vernon Canyon was that most of the way up I could almost see my objective and it didn't look so far away. It was easy to keep my eyes focused on the goal and not on the road below my bottom bracket.
I passed the first I-70 interchange (Highway 40 up Mount Vernon Canyon parallels I-70 for a few miles) and then my spirits began to rise.
Slowly, slowly, 5 mph….7 mph…5 mph…
And then I saw white poking above the ridge in front of me. I was almost to the head of Mount Vernon Canyon and the Genesee interchange where I would enter the park and wind around the wooded slopes to the summit. I crested the divide and took in the Divide. I was looking out across the Clear Creek drainage to the James Peak Wilderness area to the west. It was an amazing view and it was worth all the effort to the point. I could have turned and rode my little red rocket back down to Golden and could have called it a good ride.
But alas, I am not only a cyclist, but a peakbagger as well. To Genesee!
The road through the park was tame and relaxing compared to my long grind up the canyon. It was peaceful and serene and I cranked along at and above 10 mph for the majority of the final leg of the climb.
I passed the spot where we had the picnic on Memorial Day and then the road turned to dirt, but it was hard packed and I just continued to cruise upward like a bird floating on an updraft.
Just below the summit the trees opened up a bit and I got an amazing view of the James Peak area again, as well as a peak of the Mount Evans Massif to the southwest.
And then I was there. The top…the pinnacle…the summit.
Everyone knows Denver is at 5,280'.
3,000' of gain…more than my ride up Guanella Pass and a much longer distance to boot but a similar time frame…it had seemed so much less intimidating than Guanella, but I guess it was actually a harder ride.
Mount Evans was 14 miles and 4,000' in elevation gain…so I was definitely approaching the magnitude of the Evans ride. And a good thing. I am planning a 100 mile there and back ride from Lakewood to Mount Evans summit in June. This morning was a perfect training ride for that.
I'm close to my goal of 400 miles for the month of May. I'm at 389. If I ride home today I'll bust 400 easy with a few miles to spare. I probably won't crack 500 this month, but I might be able to get close. I still have tomorrow and there is always the remote possibility of Sunday afternoon if we're all unpacked and put away after the move to our new apartment on Saturday. We'll see. But I'm happy about the 400 all the same. That'll be the most I've ever ridden in a month.