Thursday, June 21, 2007

Day 5: Now that's what I'm talkin' about!

Distance: 42 miles
Feet of Climbing: 2,800
Weather Conditions: Sunny and warm, light breeze

We're at Bentley's Yorkshire Brewery in downtown Aspen, having lunch and Fat Tires and using wireless connection (not sure where it came from, but it'll work).

So, what do you get when you combine blue skies, low humidity, breathtaking views of snowcapped mountains, 15 miles of newly-paved bike trails with no roller bladers or strollers? Answer: The makings for a perfect ride.

And today was perfect. After a good night's rest at Hotel Colorado and a jacuzzi bath to loosen the leg muscles, we worked our way back to the campsite, dropped off our luggage, rescued the bikes from the tennis court (overnight security), filled tires and water bottles and hit the road.

The course profile promised 42 miles of climbing to Aspen — 5,800 feet to 8,000 feet. Technically, we did climb all day, but it didn't feel like it. The grades were so easy we were able to maintain 14 - 16 mph and spin easily up the inclines. There were a few steep climbs. At about mile 34, we went vertical. But the 12+ percent grade was no match for our gearing. We both peddled up easily, passing people slogging much larger gears... and walkers. The hardest part about the climb was getting around people who were unstable or trying to tack (not a good idea on a road with 2000 riders).

We were rewarded with a stunning view at the top! We encountered another shorter, steep climb as we came into Aspen. Again, no problem. Our legs felt great and are hopefully ready for Independence Pass tomorrow. (Not sure if you'll hear from us tomorrow night :-)

Relive our spectacular ride with the following photos -- just a selection of the more than 100 shots (really!!) we took during the 42-mile journey.

So nice to get away from traffic!

Self portrait... for you, Mom.

Singing Shimanos - the tech crew at aid station 2. Everybody: "take me home, country roads, to the place where I belong..."

The Rio Grande Trail from Carbondale to Aspen. Quite a bit quieter than I-70...

... and more scenic.

Lisa coming to the top of the steep climb.

The reward.

We came, we saw, we climbed.

Coming into Aspen.

Wildflowers along the trail in Aspen.

The cure for hotfoot.

Waiting to be kicked out of a neighborhood retention pond.

More flowers...