10 August 2014 ~ 0 Comments

2014 Colorado High Country 1200

This year my annual 1200 km grand randonnée was in Colorado from July 15-18th. It is called the Colorado High Country 1200. Here is the Ride with GPS online map and my Strava upl0ad, made after the ride. (750 miles with approx. 33,000 feet of climbing over 3-1/2 days).

As always, this will be a Twitter-like report. To see a photo larger, click through twice to make “it” happen.

I decided to “use up” one old tire and put it on the back rim, which had kept me flat-free for the past several thousand miles that spring. But as seems to be tradition with this ride, I got two back-to-back flats about 70 miles in on day one. I was carrying a spare tire and swapped it out, later disposing of that tire. Because of this flat, I fell behind many of the riders I would have like to hang with. This year, the climb up Cameron Pass was dreadful, due to tons of biting black flies. Kinda like horse flies, but smaller. Dozens of them all over my legs and arms, but oddly not my face! I thought that as I climbed up to cooler temps, they would dissipate, but they didn’t.

The first two days we had unseasonably cold weather with blowing hail, rain, thunder and lightening. Crossing over into Wyoming, we had a nasty crosswind, which later produced pea-sized hail. Earlier, I left the Walden, a supported checkpoint, with Luke Heller. We alternated working in the wind, as best as possible in cross winds. His stomach started bothering him, so at the last town before the overnight, a few of his friends caught up to him and I kept on moving on, arriving at about 9 p.m. to the motel, just as it was starting to get dark. The mileage that day was about 219 miles.

After a good breakfast, day two started at 3:30 a.m. with a monster climb (3,500 ft?) up to Snowy Range. At about 4:30 I started to pass many others, which had left in a big at 3:00. Eventually I came upon, Kerin Huber, a tough rider from Calif. She and I rode together the rest of the day. Near the summit of this climb, her speed dropped off and I continued on to get caught in a heavy hail/rain storm right at the treeless summit (a cold 38F). It hit when she was near a forest service restroom and ducked in there for protection from the elements. I quickly put on my helmet rain cover and climbed through it all. I already had on my Craft waterproof/breathable jacket. I was shivering so much on the descent, that my front wheel was wobbling a ton. Others reported having the same problem. I later stopped on the descent, down in the protection of trees and put on Rainlegs. I finally made to Centennial and stopped in a c-store to warm up and feed. From there we continued to Laramie and eventually over Rabbit Ears Pass (with thunder and lightening) and down to Steamboat Springs. Throughout the day, the weather alternated from warm and sunny to rainy and cold. Kerin and were constantly changing layers to keep up with the ever changing conditions. I arrived well before sunset and was able to get some much needed rest and food. The mileage that day was 199 miles.

Day three started at about 4:15 a.m. Kerin had left earlier as I was slow getting going that day. The forecast was much better. I passed a few groups as dawn was breaking and came upon Kerin again. We rode the first half together, working together on the flats drafting and sometimes side-by-side talking. Later that day, my knee started hurting, which was a totally new problem for me, I had her ride on ahead of me, while I tried to fix my problem. I usually have saddle sores, but rarely other issues. I thought it must be the height or angle of my saddle and started to fiddle with it several times to little avail. So just ingested more “vitamin I” to mask the pain. Part of my elevated sole (to compensate for leg length inequality) of my sole fell off, so I jury-rigged up some wood on my pedal to compensate for this. Mileage on day three was 193.

Day four started kinda late as I really wanted to catch up on some sleep (I started day one sleep deprived, having stayed up late visiting family in the Denver area), so I left at about 5:00 a.m. with my motel-mate, Peter Hoeltzembein, who is from Canada. It was about 37-40F and his hands were freezing as he had only brought short-fingered gloves. We stopped about an 90 minutes into the day at the Moose visitor center (still closed) and his fingers started to warm up a little, but my knee was still bothering me, so I let him proceed alone. On the climb up to Cameron Pass, I discovered the problem. Before this ride, I very firmly (with an allen wrench) set the angle of float on my cleat at a normal 90-degrees. But my heel “wants” to turn in (due to an old climbing injury and subsequent surgery), which frequently rubs against my crank arm. The cleat finally loosened up (inadvertently) enough so my heel could turn inward and my knee pain quickly diminished. But the damage was done, so the rest of the day I had a low-level pain in my pain. At the last checkpoint of the day, I met John Pearch (from Washington state) and we rode most of the balance together. Mileage for the day was “only” 147.

Many thanks to John Lee Ellis, his wife, and others that helped out to make this event possible. As always, it was nice to have a hot supper waiting upon arriving at each overnight and then have a solid breakfast for the next day.



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