A full seven hours of saddle (sore?) time were on the training schedule. After some coordination earlier in the week Ben Welnak and I decided to meet up Sunday to scout the second half of his AntiEpic route. A added a bit extra to up the mileage and provide the hours I planned. A few unexpected mapping events made this “extra” unnecessary.
While I prepped the night before I managed to leave the house without a hat or sunglasses. As I left Boulder though, it was cloudy, sprinkled some and the temps dropped from 40 to the mid 30s. Crap! I had a really crappy pair of shades I purchased years ago that collect dust in the car. I upgraded last year because my eyes would always be tired and sometimes even sore after a long day using these. I only get one set of peepers and they’re worth it. Regardless, the craptastic truck stop shades would have to do for the day. The hat was provided courtesy of the Elizabeth, CO Wal-Mart women’s department (apparently men there don’t get cold ears). I honestly didn’t even think I would need a hat as the temps were supposed to be near 60. Crisis averted.
I met Ben at the Post Office in Kiowa, where we quickly kitted up and rolled out. A short jaunt down the pavement took us to the first of many miles of premium gravel. Heading North we both had cue sheets and I also had the route loaded to my Edge 500. The Garmin wasn't giving directions. I should have had a clue why when it said “You’re Finished” after I had just turned it on. I had loaded the course earlier that morning to make sure it was in the unit, and apparently that screwed things up somehow. Stopping the course and then selecting “Do Course” again fixed the issue. Too bad I didn't realize this till after 60 miles and our two navigation issues.
The first was completely missing a right turn. To be fair we didn’t really miss the turn – the road just wasn’t there. After a brief reroute we later saw the back end of the road (not as dirty as that sounds). What looked like a fine road on Google turned out to be a degraded farm service road which nobody had driven for years. + a few miles.
Rolling into Deer Trail we scoped out the town. Long ago when, Deer Trail was a shipping point for grain the town held two banks, five both of the gas stations and made a quick stop at the local watering hole/café – The Brown Derby. Honestly, I would be surprised to see someone wearing a derby of any color in Deer Trail. Leaving the big city for the return leg, we realized Ben and I had routed different courses. We rolled south to scope his course which avoided backtracking up a hill (smart choice) and managed to completely miss Co Rd 47. How did we miss that, we just passed 42? Well, one side of the intersection is 42, the other side is 47. Oh, and 47 is a gated driveway after 50 yards. Back to Deer Trail and the backtrack route. + a few more miles
The route South was pretty great. There are far more hills in this section, but the road curves, there’s more interesting scenery and the surface was better. It was on this southern leg that I got the Garmin working again. It really does save a lot of time having the course loaded. All those seconds of stopping and looking at the cue card really add up. We had stopped in Deer Trail for a good while where we scouted the town and I refilled fluids, we probably stopped half a dozen times just for pictures and I made a few nature stops, but all in all only lost 30 minutes out of 7 hours.
On Not flying solo
I was glad for the company on the ride. Excepting races, all of my other long training rides have been solo. As Ben rightly opined, riding this far on gravel isn’t quite normal even for a cyclist. Ben has many more years of experience, training and about 4 billion watts of power on me. We rode a pretty quick pace all day and kept yo-yoing through the hills. I’d scream down only to see Ben catch and pass me (like I was standing still) on nearly every ascent. This guy was still sick, riding a 29er, hauling about 200oz of water and still he was powering up the hills in an insanely high gear. I swear he didn’t leave the big ring all day. Check out Ben's take on our ride HERE.