One eighth of RAAM: Part 5, My Colorado

 

When Jimmy Neutron laid down his plan for our team conquering RAAM at record pace, I was immediately thrilled that our sub-team would likely do the highest climbs and the majority of Colorado.  I had even made one request; I wanted to have the pull that put us over 10,825 feet on Wolf Creek Pass. Virginia still feels like home to me, but I have really come to love Colorado and its many, many great attributes.  That is why on Monday morning when we awoke just east of Pagosa Springs, CO, I was thrilled and wanted to welcome each of my teammates to MY TERRAIN!  I even had special socks for the day.

Great socks next to my race drink GU BREW!

Climbed well with my CO socks and my GU Brew.

Our bus had shimmied through the western mountains to our team hand-off at the foot of the Wolf Creek Pass climb, but we had our first down-time in normal sleeping hours, so I slept very well.  My TT bike aero bars needed some attention, so when I awoke, I quickly went to getting my TT bars fixed with some carbon paste.  Thankfully, I would not have any troubles after this work was done.  I knew the day would be full of extremes, climbing on steep grades at altitude and then flying on the flats with prevailing tailwinds.  I needed both bikes in perfect condition.

The only sore spot of the morning was finally seeing Team ViaSat. They did an athlete exchange in front of our team hand-off position.  They were over an hour ahead of our time and it was slightly disappointing.  I made sure to be social and sarcastic.  They said they had one rider who would do the entire climb– uh, bull shit. So when they asked me our plan, I hinted sarcastically I was done being friendly and sharing information.  Oh well, they had a great race, I wish it could have been closer and more back and forth.

 

Back to our race, we did some serious trading off on the climb, as you can see I barely was doing a mile, but I did get in a good 2 mile pull at the outset.  I also pulled an extra going up, so I could get to finish out the climb, reaching the highest point of the race and then tag off to ABConfire so he could descend Wolf Creek like the badass he was.  I thoroughly enjoyed being back in Colorado, but my teammates were immediately suffering. They had these looks of death and were having difficulty thinking, eating, and even riding.  At that point, I began to discover how much it really did aid me to be from altitude.  We had shot up to 6000+ in less than 48 hours and with the efforts we were putting out, it was hard on those not accustomed to the lack of oxygen. I took a few longer pulls across the flats and saw some decent power numbers, but although not feeling ill, I was not able to push huge numbers, either.

The highlight of the day was awaiting me in the last third of our shift.  Lara and Paige had driven down to meet up with Kyle’s parents and cheer our sub-team.  So across the flats we flew unremarkably, and then I was given the first pull through La Veta to the base of the other 10k climb.  When I entered La Veta, I made a right hander and right before me was Lara and Paige there to cheer me into town.  For me this was one of my Le Tour moments. It was just Lara and the cowbell, holding Paige, but it felt like a massive group of fans bringing me into their small town before I took on their massive climb.  I was high as a kite and took off.

Paige waiting sporting her 2XU gear

Paige waiting for daddy.

Unfortunately, my follow car got confused a half mile later and asked me to stop.  Being about 99% sure I was correct on my path and knowing that stopping was never a good idea, I kept going and yelled into the radio for them to get their heads out of their asses.  It was not nice on my part, but I was frustrated.  Thankfully, we were on the correct road and we kept trucking up to the climb.  The last climb was tough tactically, as with RAAM you have to find enough shoulder for pulling over that transition vehicle in order to transition.  Unlike Wolf Creek, La Veta made this difficult.  Having seen the anguish in my teammates, I really only wanted to be on the road. I was riding well and really enjoying TTing uphill on my Soloist.  Plus, Lara and Paige were leapfrogging us up the climb which just gave me chills. I was always happier on the bike, as my patience was thin in these situations. I was very happy with my numbers on that last climb, as holding over 280 over 8000 is good for me even on a good day and I was doing it at the end of the shift.

 

I got to hit the apex of the climb and hand it over to our crazy man ABConfire as he descended amazingly well.  He did have a near crash, but it only got him more jazzed about ripping descents.  That is why I climbed and he descended.  At the end of the day Shawn and I compared numbers.  I had the same time on the bike as he, but had gone about 15 miles less.  The roads after the decent into our team transition were rolling and fun.  We each got a good roller-coaster pull and with the altitude coming down quickly our team was finally coming back to normal physically. Even our assistant crew-chief was excited beyond belief because she unknowingly was driving right through an area where she had hunted with her dad as a child.  Seeing the country this way has these kinds of awesome moments.

Best reward of the trip came in CO

Best reward of the trip came in CO

 

At the team transition we quickly stripped and let our amazing crew get to washing bikes and even washing our kits.  I then spent about 45 minutes with Paige and Lara.  It was about noon, so just about the right time for an egg and cheese burrito.  Jimmy Neutron even abandoned his vegan ways and had an egg, cheese, AND bacon burrito.  Seeing Lara and Paige really was rejuvenating.  I never really thought being a parent or husband would change me much, but they really do make life MORE awesome.  Our sub-team was gelling and we were all very enthusiastic- me for being in Colorado and seeing little Paige and Lara, my teammates for being done with the hell that is the altitude of Colorado.  We had our eyes on records and the soon to be flat, easy, rewarding section that is Kansas. Unfortunately, we had no idea that our next shift would be the hardest.

Bacon Burrito time even for the Vegan

Bacon Burrito time even for the Vegan

 

 

Shift 3 Pull Information:

1. 1.9 mi/ 7:00/ 16.3 mph/315/312 watts (266 ft gain)

2. 0.7 mi/4:16/9.7 mph/319/x watts (234 ft gain)

3. 0.7 mi/4:40/11.2 mph/320/x watts (250 ft gain)

4. 6.9 mi/13:21/ 32.1 mph/ no data (flats to Alamosa at 8000+ ft)

5. 7.5 mi/16:24/ 28.1 mph/ 287/284 watts

6. 7.2 mi/15:37/27.6 mph/ 283/283 watts

7. 5.9 mi/13:34/ 26.0 mph/289/291 watts

8. 3.3 mi/9:46/ 20.3 mph/ 293/293 watts

9. 4.1 mi/10:43/ 22.9 mph/ 280/286 watts

10. 1.9 mi/ 5:57/ 18.9 mph/282/288 watts

11. 3.1 mi/ 12:18/ 15.1 mph/ 277/276 watts

12. 1.5 mi/8:02/ 11.3 mph/279/280 watts

13. 9.2 mi/17:04/ 32.4 mph/ 268/270 watts (last pull of the shift with some interesting terrain)

 

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