Zoom, Zoom (The good kind)
Wow! Wednesday’s descent of Rabbit Ears Pass was perhaps the best mountain descent I’ve done in my limited opportunities to ride in the mountains! Twelve solid miles of cruising between 33 & 38 mph down nice road with wide shoulders. At that speed, my focus was entirely on the road and my mirror…the slightest bobble or pothole could mean a nasty crash that I totally intended to avoid. My concentration and focus didn’t keep me from grinning ear to ear the entire way down, however. That grin was so big that at one point I felt a bit of drool blowing across my cheek! I didn’t dare let go of the handlebars to wipe it off so there was no other option other than to just grin and bear it!
That descent actually capped off a really great ride. It began with a pretty nice sunrise in Winter Park. Our hotel was a few miles short of the official campsite for CRMBT, so as I rode past it I did some quick calculating and decided that those extra miles might put me at a century for the day.
Most of the route for the day was DOWNHILL through the Frasier Valley. While not necessarily mountainous on either side, it was pretty in a nice kind of way with lots of Indian Sage, rolling hills, and the occasional outcropping of rock. Once out of Winter Park, the traffic which had been my irritation the prior day died down to a reasonable level.
Just past the town of Granby we crossed the Colorado River for the first time. It flowed beside me for a long time before splitting off at Kremmling.
The river took us down through Byers Canyon, which was beautiful but fairly short. I was still continuing downhill at this point and noted that my average speed was over 19 mph. I wasn’t sure if I could maintain that pace for the rest of the distance so I kept trying to tell myself to slow down and smell the roses. That worked for a while until I looked over my shoulder and saw the condition of the sky!
I knew there was a good chance of rain all day, and since I had already gotten wet once, I wasn’t particularly wanting to do so a second time. Needless to say, my resolve to slow down blew away in the wind and I kept pedaling toward the blue sky in front of me!
At the 50 mile mark, I had been riding for 2.5 hours. I knew that wouldn’t translate to a 5 hour century because the climb of the day was still ahead of me, but at that point I really started thinking I might be in the range to break the 5:53 century Pam and I rode earlier in the summer. But, the problem was a 14 mile climb to the top of Rabbit Ears Pass that was still to come.
I fueled up at the final rest stop before the climb and headed out not quite sure what to expect. I had heard that the ascent up Rabbit Ears Pass from this side was less steep than the descent we would have, but you don’t want to underestimate what it takes to go uphill for 14 straight miles!
As I started getting higher, the views around me continued to be amazing!
Then, I rounded a corner and saw them! The Rabbit Ears were peaking out ahead of me!
At the top of the pass, I managed to get my first picture under the sign of the entire trip!
Rabbit Ears Pass has two peaks, so at the summit of the second, I bundled up before starting down.
I kept watching my computer as I rolled into Steamboat Springs. It was close enough to 100 miles that I knew I would have to roll it over before I stopped. Luckily, it hit the 100 mile mark exactly opposite our hotel! Talk about good timing! I rolled on into downtown looking for a shady place to stop and call Pam. She had gotten to the hotel about 30 minutes ahead of me, so my timing was impeccable.
Oh…and the time for the century was 5:39, which I’m pretty sure is a PR for me. It was a good day on the bike!
You can click the map above for the full GPS track.
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