After my arrival yesterday, I went to work on Fred’s mountain bike, switching tires, pedals, seat, and seat height. Uh, oh. At full extension, the seat was still about 3 cm too low for me. We hopped in the car and headed to Fred’s favorite bike shop, Old Town Bike Shop in Colorado Springs. The kind folks there searched around and came up with a suitable seat post, but the price was about $54. Adding that to the money I spent on tires and tubes, the total would be more than what Criterium (another bike shop in town) had quoted me a couple of months ago for renting a nice Specialized Roubaix Elite for the three days here. We called, and they still had one available in my size. I decided that’s what I would prefer. I’ll send the tires and tubes back to Performance when I get back to Florida. We jumped back into the truck and headed down the street to the other shop to pick up the Roubaix.
This morning I got the bike set up and we headed out for a short ride. After a few miles warming up, we headed up to the Zoo, one of Fred’s favored training rides because it is close to his house and offers a challenging climb. Given the new bike which is not geared as low as my triple crank bikes at home (this model features a compact crank and an 11- 28 SRAM cassette), and my cautions regarding altitude, I took it easy. The climb is approximately a half-mile with an altitude gain of around 300 feet. Theoretically that should be harder than Sugarloaf back home, but I found it significantly easier. I am guessing that it probably is a constant eight percent or so for the entire distance. By contrast, Sugarloaf’s center section is 10 to 13 percent, but has a less severe grade at the bottom and top. Below is a shot in the parking lot at the top of the climb up to the zoo. The enclosure in the center is the Orangutan habitat.
Looking the other direction, you can see down to town, where we started. Kansas and the American Great Plains are on the horizon. Colorado Springs sits right at the Eastern edge of the Rockies. Look East and it is flat; look West and the jagged peaks of the Rocky Mountains are RIGHT THERE!
After admiring the view, I told Fred that I was feeling fine. “I feel good. Let’s do the real climb.” The optional climb on this jaunt was Old Stage Road, which my Delorme Topo maps at home showed with grades over 30%. Fred is in good shape, but I could not believe that the grade could be anything like 30%. I figured it might be 20% though, and I wanted to have a look for myself. Stage is actually a spur off the road we had just taken. We glided down to the turn-off, geared back down, and started grinding up the road. No question that it was steeper than the climb we had just done, and perhaps longer. Fred figured that it climbs about 100 feet more, in about the same distance. I did not have any way to measure the grade accurately, but based on effort, I don’t think it was more than 15%. I was a bit winded at the top, but not badly, and my pulse and breathing were back to normal very quickly. I was very pleased, to put it mildly. Fred says that Hoosier Pass has nothing that is any worse than the climb up Old Stage Road, so my only concern is, of course, the altitude.
Today we rode 15 miles, with 1300 feet of climbing – a nice prelude to the remainder of the weekend.
Fred will be back from his meeting at the University in 90 minutes or so, at which time we will drive up to Breckinridge. Tomorrow we are planning to do a 50 mile ride including Vail Pass!
Here are a few more photos from Colorado Springs: