Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Spring Road Ride (part of getting back to normal)

The weather in Colorado in the spring is quite variable; cold and snowy one day then warm and sunny the next. We were presented with a couple days of the latter, to be followed by a couple days of the former. Jesper and I knew we had a brief window of warm and sunny opportunity to get out before the cold rainy and snowy hit later this week, so he yanked me away from my office yesterday at 3:00 to go for a road ride. It was sunny and almost 70.

I had been toying with going on a ride by myself and was envisioning riding up over Old Stage Road for a little bit of climbing - maybe a 1,000 feet or so. Jesper would have none of that! We were going to go over Lee Hill Road AND Old Stage, maybe a little bit up toward Jamestown too. A whole lot more climbing than I had originally planned. Realizing I had absolutely NO reason not to follow Jesper's plan, I agreed.

It felt good to spin the legs, even on the approach to the canyons, which is slightly and gradually uphill and into the wind. The ride started working out the sore muscles in my back from the back bends in yoga the night before. Before I knew it, we arrived at the steep part up Lee Hill; with grades from 10% to 15%, I was soon out of gears and standing up in the saddle, with little reprieves to sit down and grind. Jesper waited for me at the false summit partway up, proclaiming that I was climbing really strong! My climbing has definitely improved since I got the light, carbon Contessa with it's compact double drive train and a 25 in the back. I LOVE that bike!

While we were stopped, a little fox crossed the road, getting very close to Jesper. It certainly wasn't afraid of humans! We watched as it trotted off into the forest and then got back on the bikes for the last mile or so to the top. Somewhere along the way, our sunshine turned into clouds and it began to slightly trickle rain. We put on the arm warmers and jackets and were super happy with that decision once we started down Lee Hill toward Left Hand Canyon. Lee Hill had not yet been swept, so it was covered with the sand the road crews put out for traction in the snow and we took it slower than we normally would have. I hate having to brake on the downhills.

We hit Left Hand Canyon, where Jesper pointed his bike up again; more climbing as we headed up toward Jamestown. We ascended about 1 more mile before the rain became steadier; it was time to turn around. Left Hand Canyon had been swept, so we were able to bomb down it. I LOVE getting my Speed On on the road bike!

At the intersection of Old Stage Road, we had another decision point; ride up Old Stage for more climbing or stay on Left Hand for a flatter, albeit slightly longer ride home. Of course we opted to go over Old Stage! What was another 1,000 feet of climbing at this point? Despite my tired legs, I managed to stay in the saddle up until the end where the grade tops 15%. Toward the summit we encountered another fox, this one trotting along the road with several mice in its mouth. It stopped to add a dead piece of mousey road kill to its already full mouth and headed up toward the woods. I suppose it was bringing dinner home to a den of kits. We watched this guy, who was much bigger than the first fox we saw, for awhile before hoping back on the bikes.

The rest of the ride was DOWN until about a mile from our house. Our race back home on Jay Road with the wind at our backs and a 2% negative grade made me feel FAST! We arrived home to beautiful sunny skies, the rain we encountered now a dark smear over the eastern plains.

Our 29 mile ride took us 2:12, not bad considering our fox-watching breaks. According to my Garmin, we climbed (and descended) about 3,000 feet and I burned about 1,600 calories. A normal day for me! We're planning a mountain bike ride tonight, for another normal day.

Here's the profile:


Carey said...

The fox are really in hunting mode right now. We have a resident black fox around us and I see her or him almost everyday with a load of mice in its mouth, hopefully for some small baby black fox. Beautiful.

Itty Bitty Betty said...

Seeing those two critters was a highlight of our ride. They are beautiful animals.

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