In spite of my best efforts to the contrary, yet again I was the last one ready to roll. At least I was only a couple of minutes behind the other guys this time. We left the cabin at 8:40, all three of us dressed for cooler riding.
When we reached the main road, we turned left toward Hoosier instead of right toward Breckenridge. Although the gradient was shallow, we were climbing immediately, and kept climbing all the way to the top of the pass. After about five miles we pulled off the road to remove our outerwear and take a good slug of water. From this point to the top, roughly four miles, the road would be significantly steeper, especially when going through the four switchbacks.
Back on the road, I told the others that I was going to take it as easy as possible, so they should not worry if I fell back. Fred immediately volunteered to stay with me. I found a satisfactory pace and, with the exception of one short stretch where I slowed down even more to take in a particularly pretty vista, we stayed close together for the rest of the climb. Based on my internal effort-meter I would estimate that the grade was between five and eight percent, though when we drove it later on the way back to Colorado Springs, it looked steeper than that. At about 11,000 feet my breathing, cadence, and effort fell into perfect equilibrium; I felt like I could keep going like that all day if I had to.
All too soon, Fred announced that we were about to do the final switchback. When we rounded the last curve, I still had plenty of energy. On impulse, I upshifted, got up and sprinted the last hundred yards or so. I swear it was not something planned, or intended to mess with Fred, but it took him by surprise. Of course, he responded in kind, and we hit the parking lot at the top at virtually the same time. I was winded from the effort, but once again, I recovered very quickly. I am still amazed at how much difference the interval training has made.
We lounged around up there for twenty minutes or so, chatting with another cyclist who was at the top when we arrived, and taking turns taking pictures for groups of tourists who were stopping for photo ops.
Hoosier Pass is 11,540 feet above sea level. I took some photos to insert right here, showing the view and the sign, but sometime between leaving Breckenridge and now (the next morning) I managed to lose the camera! I know I had it with me in the truck – we stopped to take a picture on the road while driving back. It is possible, I guess, that it was in my lap and fell out of the vehicle on one of our two stops on the way back to Fred’s house. It has a stuffback.com sticker on it, so perhaps I will still get it back. We’ll see. In the meantime, Fred has promised to send me the photos he took with his phone while we were up there. I’ll post them when they arrive.
Our Hoosier ride was 8.9 miles up and 8.9 miles back down, with 1,700 feet of climbing, almost all on the way up. Elapsed time was roughly 90 minutes. I greatly enjoyed the challenge of the climb, and Ray and I had a ball on the descent. Fred rode down very conservatively in accordance with a promise he made to his wife Pat. This weekend is the anniversary of her first husband’s death in a motorcycle accident, some 27 or so years ago.
So ends a fantastic weekend of cycling fun, laughs, amazing scenery, and delicious dinners (prepared by Pat, who loves cooking at least as much as I love cycling). I no longer have any anxiety about doing the mountains on our tour next summer, so the trip was, most definitely, a success.
(Fred sent me his photos. Here they are:)
Excellent cell phone coverage. Called Kathy and Steve to share my joy, and pass along a heartfelt “I wish you were here.”