When Lightning Strikes (The Bermy Chick Chronicles Book 3)
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I knew that there were a handful of women ahead of me, including Tracy Thelan VT veteran and seasoned endurance racer. The Colorado Trail was in great shape. Afternoon rain showers meant hero dirt, so the traction was beautiful. I was feeling strong and really starting to warm up, but resisted the urge to burn any matches. I took it easy down the last CT descent holy sketchballs and rolled in to the first aid station.
At that point, I was a little sleepy and the course ahead was daunting. However, at Aid 1, I saw a bunch of 92Fifty friends. It was a highly motivating and uplifting place to pass through at that time of night- exactly what I needed before riding off into the meat of the course. The next few hours was more of the same. I paced myself, ate, drank, played songs in my head, and generally tried to think positive thoughts.
The time flew by quickly, and, soon enough I was on the final hike-a-bike up Granite Mountain before dropping down Canyon Creek to Aid 2. I plugged in my backup battery, zipped my jacket, ate a snack, and generally made myself cozy before turning on the high beams and rallying down the mountain. I hit up the bathroom, refilled bottles, and ate a piece of breakfast sausage. I knew that the climb up Monarch Pass was the only thing between me and warm, dry socks and shoes.
The combination of sleep deprivation and physical exhaustion can be overwhelming. I feel irresponsible carrying less for outings at Vapor Trail elevations.
I had to really work to keep it together up that climb. The back pain was terrible, though the immense amount of discomfort was doing a good job of keeping me from falling asleep while riding.
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I finally made it up the pass and across the short, but seemingly endless section of Continental Divide Trail that connects Old Monarch Pass to new Monarch Pass. At Aid 3, I caught up to Tracy again. She was about to leave as I rolled in. I felt bad, so I dumped my bike on the ground and immediately started the process of doing what I needed to do to feel better. Right then, I was only thinking about survival and finishing, but, in the back of my mind, I knew that the short break, lightening of my clothes, and sunlight above treeline were probably going to bring me out of my hole.
Also, they had bacon and peanut butter sandwiches, which magically sounded like the most delicious thing in the world, even though my body had been rejecting all thoughts of solid food prior to that moment. Very slowly, the pain lessened in my back, and the full sunlight brought some awareness back to my senses. I drank some warm Coke and saw some sort of monstrosity of a creme-filled maple-glazed doughnut that looked like the best thing in the world, so I crammed half of it in my mouth and left the other half for my return trip.
The Starvation Creek jeep road that leads to the trail takes you up a mind-melting series of rollers that seem to get progressively steeper and longer.
It was there that I caught Tracy. She was walking. I got off to walk a particularly steep pitch, passed her, and then got back on my bike to ride the last one. I set a PR time down the Starvation Creek singletrack, then, when I made the turn to go back up Poncha Creek road, I was able to settle right back in to climb it at a decent pace. I encountered Earl on his moto about halfway up the climb, and his enthusiasm of seeing me leading the race snowballed into my energy up the climb. I ended up with the Strava QOM for the loop, knocking it out in an hour and a half.
At the top, there was some thunder in the distance. I inhaled the other half of my magical doughnut, filled just one bottle, and took off as quickly as possible. At the top of the Silver Creek trail, I paused briefly to slam some Roctane gel and some water in order to ensure a strong finishing pace on the Rainbow Trail at the bottom. I miraculously felt like the remainder of the course flew by. I rolled in to the parking lot of Absolute Bikes at pm- finishing time of 16 hours and 16 minutes, and 11th overall…. As soon as I sat down, my backbone was the only thing providing my body with any structural integrity.
The long races have always served me as a vehicle for seeing new trail and new adventure. Now, living in Salida in such close proximity to so many new trails and new adventures, I am ready to explore outside the confines of the race course. This weekend, I wanted to check out the route to Tincup Pass. Elmo at the base of Tincup Pass. I packed up, dropped Marley off at dog daycare, and started up to Aspen Ridge around 9am. The aspens are just starting to get patches of yellow, and the intermittent views of the Arkansas River Valley below were really cool, albeit smokey.
From the top of Aspen Ridge, the route generally descended down through the Castle Rock area towards Hwy a few miles east of Buena Vista. I turned on a really bright taillight, waited for traffic to clear, and had at it.
Where on earth do you want to go…?
Luckily, it was short. The next portion of my route was some more road out Cottonwood Pass to CR It was a little hot, and there was a little traffic, but the view was nice. I was pretty glad to be off pavement once I was there, though. Once I was on gravel again, I ate some more and continued up the climb towards the Green Timber Gulch trailhead.
Somewhere along that part, the distance, elevation, and hours traveled started to get to me. I got tired and cranky, but the view and the temporary leveling off of the grade along Cottonwood Lake soothed me a bit. I was glad that I still had a few hours of daylight to get up higher on a trail, because the valley was full of weekend campers. I finally reached the trailhead just before 5pm, where my plan was to fill my water and head up to treeline to camp. I knew the trail would be rough, steep, and mostly hike-a-bike, especially with the loaded hardtail.
I removed and flushed the filter repeatedly in order to get at least a trickle of clean water out of it. Sometime around , I passed a flat-ish spot in the trail. The sun peeking over a distant saddle drew me up like a siren, as its presence through the trees indicated that I was close to the elevation I desired.
However, I stopped at the next really steep hike-a-bike, looked at my GPS, and realized that I was already at 11, feet and that the trail would not really level off again until almost 12, feet where it turned to make the final push to the summit. It was, admittedly, too close to the trail according to the ethics of backcountry travel I was at least far from water, though.
I noticed the cold first, and, as I unpacked my warm camp clothes, immediately stripped off my damp cycling kit I told you it was secluded , dried myself off, and bundled up. It took a huge mental effort to pitch my tent, including 4 tries at getting the correct side of my rainfly facing up. The best part of that camping spot was that it was totally silent of all things human. I never sleep great in a tent, especially at that elevation. So, I had weird dreams and woke up three or four times.
Eventually, I woke up to creeping morning light.
I made some instant coffee and oatmeal before packing up to continue my bike pushing adventures. The summit was about another 50 minutes of pushing from my campsite, and was gorgeous as always.
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At the top, the name of the trail changes to Poplar Gulch. I rolled in to St. Elmo as the general store was waking up and ventured inside to buy a couple of bottles of water. It was also the time of day that at least 50 not exaggerating off road vehicles of various sorts were staging to climb Tincup Pass. It was a little disappointing, as my legs felt like they were up for it. So, yeah- poor planning on my part in both filter and route considerations. Afterwards, I picked up Marley from daycare.
A couple of weekends ago, I was torn between several different choices in 3-day-weekend adventure. The Breck Epic was happening, and I strongly considered driving up to spectate and hanging out a few days. I was waffling on that when the guy who does the Singletrack Sampler videos came through the shop. Then, I got a text from friend Levi, who was out on the Colorado trail, riding from Denver towards Durango…. He arrived just before I was off of work, had a beer, and we went to get some pizza.
Lots and lots of pizza.
treatpailanreelsvi.ga There was some of that, but there was also a lot of awesome. Segment 16 is burly as ufck. My front roll buzzed my tire at about half fork travel, so I ended up hiking down the gnarliest of the gnar. The view was totally unique to me. We found a spot to camp near the top right at treeline. I cooked my first camp dinner ever- ramen noodles with dehydrated veggies and a vacuum-sealed pack of salmon- one of my most memorable meals ever. My sleep setup is dialed for the chilly weather at that elevation somewhere over 11k feet. I can get all the way inside my sleeping bag and draw the top shut, which probably makes its 20 degree rating pretty accurate.