For those who don’t want to read this entire post (trust me, it’s gonna be a long one!), here’s a brief bullet point recap for ya:
- David was in a bike tour with 2,000 other cyclists across Colorado called Ride the Rockies. It spanned 6 day, almost 500 miles, 5 mountain passes and about 25,000 feet in elevation gain. Intense would be an understatement.
- I got to photograph the ride for our local newspaper.
- My other duty was to be David’s personal sherpa 😉
- I got stung on the butt by a giant furry bubble bee on Day 2 😦
- Each day, we would travel to a new town and there would be a Ride the Rockies “village” set up at the local high school with food, bands, mobile showers, bike repair stations, vendors selling stuff, a little “tent city” where everyone camped, medical tents, water trucks etc. The towns each put on community meals each day for all the riders, supporters and staff. It was a pretty remarkable sight!
- I drove almost 900 miles as I followed the tour and stopped to snap pictures and help David refill water bottles.
- Our earliest wake-up time was 4am and our latest was 5:30.
- Due to the bullet point above, I had my first cup of coffee in over 6 months just so I could function.
- I strongly dislike porta-potties.
- This was one of the coolest experiences either of us have ever had. It was fun, challenging, beautiful and exhausting! We both walked away grateful to have been a part of such a unique experience. Definitely another notch in our belt of cool stuff we’ve done!
Now for the long version. This is mostly for me so that I can remember everything years from now. Feel free to just look at the pictures 😉
Sadly, I missed the start of Day 1 because I had to stay home and photograph a wedding. I got home late and woke up at 6am to hit the road and drive to Hotchkiss, where Day 1 ended. It was a long, but beautiful drive to Hotchkiss. I found the Ride the Rockies “village” and waited for David to come in from an 80 mile ride from Gunnison. He made it in around 3pm and was pretty tired! I set up camp and we got settled before heading into town for the community dinner.
Our first community dinner was spaghetti, which was put on by all the cute little church ladies in town who brought in their crock pots full of spaghetti. Sadly, all the church ladies in this little town couldn’t feed 2,000+ people and they started to run out! We ate in a pretty park and then headed to bed since we were both exhausted!
It was so stinking cold that night. I probably got 2 hours of sleep because I kept waking up shivering. I have a nice sleeping bag too, but dang it was cold!
I was wide awake at 3:30am due to hypothermia setting in (not really, but geeeez it was cold) and we were up and getting ready by 5:30am. Breakfast was expensive and not that great…$10 instant eggs and rubber pancakes anyone? Then David set out for a 68 miles ride to Carbondale over McClure Pass. I saw him about 20 miles in and grabbed a few pictures of him. I made a terrible mistake and left some of his warm weather gear sitting on the side of the road. Gear that he was desperately going to need on Day 4 since he was going to be starting above 10,000 ft. and 30 degrees. Epic sherpa fail.
One of the many “aid stations” along the ride. Riders could stop to get water, Gatorade, food, medical attention and bike repair.
We spent a portion of the evening in downtown Carbondale enjoying yummy food and music. As we were getting ready for the next day, we discovered the missing gear and I drove all the way back to look for it. Of course it was gone and I was forced to drive back empty handed 😦
Another expensive breakfast before heading out for the most difficult day of the race. The route went from Carbondal, through Aspen to Leadville, via Independence Pass. The ride was over 80 miles long with 7,000 ft.+ in elevation gain. Before he went over the Pass, I rushed into Aspen to buy more warm weather gear to replace all the stuff I lost. Watching all the riders go up the pass…oiy! I felt pain for them. There was a lot of huffing and puffing going on! At least it was beautiful. This was definitely one of the most beautiful areas we saw on the ride, it was gorgeous!
This was the final section of Independence Pass. The picture doesn’t really do justice to how steep it really was!