Today I rode up the dreaded Columbine climb. It starts at 9,200' and tops out at 12,400' in five miles. It's a long and tortuous gradual climb where the air gets thinner and thinner as you go up. My heart rate was telling me one thing, while my breathing was telling me something else. I do feel better than I did yesterday, but I know I need to keep my effort low. Easier said than done.
This is the halfway point of the Leadville course. I plan on riding conservatively up till this point, hopefully leaving enough in the tank to get me home and under nine hours. Having pre-ridden most of the hardest sections of the course I'm feeling a shaky about my finish time. As long as I continue to acclimate and ride strong throughout the week I'll be in a good place by Saturday.
It starts out somewhat exposed before the climb picks up at the base of Columbine. The landscape just keeps rolling as far as the eye can see. The majority of the climb follows a tree-lined fire road, gradual at first, but really picks up towards the end, ranging from 6-17% grades.
You're completely exposed to the elements once you're near the top. It isn't easy getting up here either. It's really loose and rocky. I managed to ride up the entire way without hiking any of the sections, but that's with somewhat fresh legs. Who knows what will happen come race day. Also, since it's an out and back format, everyone has to stay to the right, regardless of terrain.
A storm is approaching and I'm just about to the turn around point. The view up here is spectacular, and I'm glad I got to enjoy out without the stress of racing.
All smiles here, for now. My riding buddy, Dereck, took this picture of me. I met Dereck yesterday on our way down St. Kevins. He came in second place overall at the Leadville qualifier in Wilmington, NY. Impressive! He's super fast and has been a great riding partner.
The downhill back was so much fun. Really sketchy at the top, but thankfully I have full-suspension to help me through the rough spots. I just pointed straight down and let it rip. My tire choice is perfect for the entirety of the course, fast and grippy. My plan is to eat as much solid food at the top before the long descent down.
The ride was perfectly timed, having beat out a storm that just started as we were finishing up.
I've been enjoying my Subaru Outback rental. Lots of capacity and power.
However, this has got to be the coolest ride I've seen in Colorado so far. Classic.
Tomorrow I may take a rest day, but I'm compelled to ride the flat section from Powerline to Twin Lakes. It's the only section I haven't pre-ridden, but I may just save myself for later and try riding some local trails here in Breckenridge. I wish I had another week to see it all.