Posted by: Miriam | 30/08/2010

Colorado Peace Ride – Day 1 or The Day My Lungs Exploded

Once and awhile,  everybody needs a good challenge. I dont mean, an emotional challenge, or a challenge at work (I think those abound anyways).  But a real hard physical challenge to push our bodies and then minds to at least our perceived limits. Enter the Colorado Peace Ride. 240 Miles. 4 10,000’+ mountain passes. 4 days. Just what I needed. I live here so I could ride all these roads myself, however I would have to haul my gear and I like support. Enter the tour. I know the awesome ladies at Ecologic Events who were working with the Peace Ride to create a zero waste event (fyi, zero waste is 95% recycled/composted or otherwise reused). I offered to volunteer to help out with the recycling and composting during the ride if I could do the tour. Done (insert happy dance here). I road during the day, and worked the recycling in the evenings.

Day 1 was the hardest. Durango to Ouray, 74 miles and a crap ton of climbing. The first pass is the lowest, at not quite 10,400′ but the climb is the longest. And it averages 6-8%, which is hard. It takes me just about 40-50 minutes from the base of the climb to the top of Coal Bank pass. Its only 6 miles. The 2nd pass at 10,600′, Molas, was significantly easier. The climbs were not any where near as arduous since we were already up at elevation. A nice speedy descent into the hamlet of Silverton, Colorado and then up to Red Mountain Pass at 11,100′. This is the one I was most worried about. I only have my race gearing a 53-39 on the front and a 12-26 on the back. That 39-26 gear isnt that small, not compared to the compact crank sets and the triples most people on tours sport. No spinning for me, only mashing at like 55rpm. But my knees held out and I made it [slowly] up Red Mountain Pass. The first part of Red Mtn Pass is slow and steady and easy. Then you get to a 180 corner and your world gets steep. The road is narrow and the sheer cliff or over steepened scree slopes start at the white line. I think what kept me going the most up that last climb was the rain storm marching up the valley behind me. I would look over my shoulder to take in the view, but it was wet and grey, and mostly wet. I despise being wet on my bike. After years of riding in the rain/wet/drizzle in Oregon, I am on beyond over riding when it is wet out. Needless to say, I got my hiney up that hill as fast as my little legs could go.

Thirteen Miles. Thirteen miles of down. This may seem stellar, but there are a number of 180 hairpin turns to negotiate. I can take these on a bike easier than I can take them in a car, though I am pretty sure I cannot go 45mph around these babies. I took it easy on the descent, hit a PR of 44.7mph (on a straight section, Mom) and coasted into Ouray by mid afternoon. The worst part: all of Ouray smelled like waffle cones. Sweet sweet off limits waffle cones.  I bought some post cards to send to my grandparents, a coke, and some salty potato chips. I set up my tent in a baseball field with the rest of the Peace Riders and waited for my friend Kristen to roll into town. When she got in, we took a stroll around town to find me a mascot. A ride of this proportion needed a mascot. After a couple unsuccessful tries, I hit pay dirt. Bernadette the Brontosaurus. For the low low price of 2.99 she was mine.

After dinner, I hung out in the info tent to help with recycling and composting. I answered a few questions, charged my netbook and phone. Most people are pretty hip to the whole recycling thing, composting was a bit different. I pulled a decent amount of compostable materials out of the trash, and helped people remember to compost. It was mellow and easy. At sunset I hauled the bins in to a moving truck, this is bear country after all and the last thing I want is to have bears sniffing around my tent at 4am.

Up next: Day 2 Ouray to Telluride.



  1. If I ever tell you “get your hiney up that hill, woman!” you’ll know why. 🙂

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