I am not a climber when it comes to cycling. At 6’1″ and just shy of 200lbs., gravity just won’t let up. When the thought of riding my bike upwards of 14,000 ft. above sea level entered my mind, I just had to sign up before thinking too long (it also helped that I talked my brother in law into riding with me). Once the registration fee was gone, I could think about what a bad decision I had made. Nothing left to do then but train.
So how do you train for a ride like that while living in Oklahoma? Thanks to my experience with Team Young Life (this you need to ask me about); I had long ago learned that being from the lowlands was no excuse for tackling rides at high altitude. Still, I was nervous about this, as I had never ridden my bike above 11K before.
So I began riding with groups that were way faster than I had any business riding with. Those rides hurt. Yet I couldn’t get the great Jens Voigt line (“Shut up legs!”) out of my head. I knew that pain was required in training if I wanted to minimize the hurt of the event itself. I also mixed in a couple days a week in the gym for my legs. I trained hard for a month…oh – did I not mention that I only gave myself a month to prepare? Yeah, like I said, not a great decision. However, by the time the trip arrived, I felt great! Go time.
As I’m packing the car, I get a phone call from (of all people), my mom.
“Should I plan to take the girls to church while you ride on Sunday?”
“No, mom. My ride is on Saturday.”
“Oh, you’re not riding Pikes Peak on Sunday?”
“No. Mt. Evans on Saturday. I didn’t even know there was a ride on Pikes Peak.”
“Well, I just assumed you were riding both.”
“Umm. I guess I could.”
“Well, I can watch the girls for both if you want.”
Bad decision #2…”Ok. I will.” Seriously?! Now, who can I get to do this with me? My wife who hasn’t ridden her bike more than twice this year. I ask her, not really believing this will happen and using her as my excuse to back out of this ride.
She says yes. Oof!
So I end up riding 2 fourteeners in 2 days and can say (on this side of it) that it was fun. The pain of training didn’t keep the rides from hurting, but it did allow me to recover quickly and have huge smiles at the end of each ride. It also helped to be pedaling in some of the most beautiful landscape in America. Every turn was breathtaking (not only because of the elevation), and kept my mind focused on much more than the pain in my legs. These rides are not for the fainthearted, but definitely worth it for those that are able.
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