The Pre-Century Journals: The Final Four Weeks

Since I haven’t been able to ride my bike due to my recent crash, I went back and was reading my journal that I kept prior to the 2010 Tour de Cure Century. I wrote in the journal every Sunday looking back on the week of workouts from April to August. I thought these final four entries were pretty funny and probably reveal that I needed a couple more weeks of training (at least in my mind). If you were to make a word cloud from this post, the word, porta-potty, would be prominently displayed.

Sunday, July 25 … four weeks before the Century …

Today I rode my bike for 66.7 miles, the longest ride of my life. It was a peculiar day. When I woke up, it was 59 degrees; the sky was covered in fog and low hanging clouds. I couldn’t get started. I was stalling because I didn’t feel stellar. My stomach was filled with martinis and meats. Rose and I went to Lori Shumate’s birthday party in Black Forest last night, which was really fun considering I didn’t know too many people. They were all nice.

The house is located off Palmer Divide (or Baptist Road) way north on 83. That’s some beautiful country up there. The backyard was the forest. There was a small deck with a multitude of drink options — I went for the grapefruit martinis. I was already full when I got there, so I had no plans to eat a lot and really no plans to drink too much because I had a long Sunday ride planned. But those martinis were good.

Buffalo Gals catered a luau-style meal with seasoned pulled pork, coconut rice and beef with lemongrass. The beef was sensational. I might of ate too much of that beef.

I’ve been sick the last week with a head cold, lots of sneezing and a little coughing, so one drink can make me feel hung over the next day. I had three or four martinis. Put it all together and you had one overstuffed, lethargic biker this morning. I didn’t get on the road until a little after 8 a.m. It was like NFL playoff game with bad weather, snow, windy and 12 degrees, not ideal conditions, but you still have to play the game.

I filled my tires and was on my way. I rode right from my driveway towards Powers and down to Woodmen, my old standard. Along the way, I tried to blow a snot rocket. Usually, I’m really good at doing that, but earlier this week one snot rocket ended up under my glasses and along my cheekbone, presumably due to my head cold and the lack of viscosity. Today, I blew one and immediately knew I had misfired. I checked my shoulder, my shirt, and my face; then much to my dismay, I discovered that the snot rope, by this time 10 inches long, was still connected to my nose, swinging to and fro. It was more of a snot kite than snot rocket. I had to employed the ‘pinch and fling’ method of removal.

I went back down Powers, all the way to North Gate. Riding near the Air Force Academy, I took a new road that Rose and I scouted on the ride home from the party. It’s always fun to try a new road, but now I had a series of hills to ride up. At the bottom of North Gate, I noticed two burros frolicking in a field. They were playing and I thought that was a fun thing to see … something from a happy, weird dream. Later I was tooling along, not going especially fast, and was, in fact, singing a song out loud that I was making up at the time. The lyrics went, “I like riding on North Gate because it has so many challenging hills…“ and right at that very moment, I hear “On your left.”

Dude riding one of those razor thin time-trial bikes passes me. I note that he must have just come from the Air Force Academy; his shorts say, “Air Force.” He gets a block or more ahead of me and I am chuckling to myself. I try to go faster, but the grade is getting steeper. I downshift. I can’t catch him.

But then I notice that he is hanging his head; he too has just downshifted. Like Levi Leipheimer, I sense an opportunity.

I say out loud, “Let’s go catch that punk.”

I shift into a bigger ring, into a higher gear.

“Slingshot engaged.”

I hear Phil Liggitt describe the action in my head.

“Snyder rises from his saddle. The old Colorado Cobra is set to strike, taking one final shot at glory.”

About three-quarters of block later, I sit down, shift down and look up. Liggitt concludes, “The young cadet has broken Snyder.”

The attack was ill conceived, short-lived, and fell embarrassingly short.

Support my 2012 Southern Colorado Tour de Cure ride here.

Sunday, August 1 … three weeks before the Century …

It was a rainy week. On Friday, the weather looked bad. It totally looked like rain and I decided that I was going to ride in the rain no matter what. I’ve been amazingly lucky with the weather; I’ve only been sprinkled on a little bit a couple times. Ten minutes into the ride, the rain comes, not too bad but I immediately start thinking of places where I might take shelter if it gets bad. I think, ‘get to the bridge.’ It’s not pouring, pouring, but the rain stings. I get to the bridge, breathing hard. A couple things that I either didn’t know about riding in the rain or didn’t remember … the tires spray you. I was wearing these shorts that are very tight on the thighs, but not that tight on the waist, no drawstring even.

The back tire is spraying water on my back and after a while I notice the sensation of a little reservoir of water forming in my shorts at the top of my buttock cleavage, or butt crack, if you will. I kind of enjoyed that sensation. The front tire sprays up and back, directly into my face. And going over puddles of any depth drenched my feet; my shoes and socks were sopping wet.

I stayed under the bridge for a little while until it stopped raining. I rode eastward. When I got to where I was going and looked back at the mountains, I noticed a problem. I could see a large section of the Rocky Mountains and smack dab in the middle of it was a tremendous rain cloud. The rain was coming back with a vengeance; lightening was flying out of those clouds and the whole mess was headed my way. I’m about as far away from my house as I could be and Sam is home alone, a 10-year-old not thrilled with thunder and lightening.

I hightailed it back as fast as I could, watching lightening bolts dropping over the road I was about to ride on. I prayed. “Please don’t let me get hit by lightening.” I stopped at a church; I figured they had to let me come inside. Sanctuary. I wanted to wait the storm out. I called Sam and he said the dogs were scared.

I went back outside, seemed like the rain was lessening. I rode back to the main road, Woodmen. As I reached the T in the road, a lightening bolt hit the ground just on the other side of the road. I uttered something intelligent like, “Fuck me!”

Long story short, I got home safe and sound. I impressed Sam by ringing out a great deal of water from my socks.

Two days later, I went for a long one on Sunday … 72 miles in four-and-a-half hours. I rode Bradley/Curtis to East 94 into Ellicott. When I got to Ellicott, I kept my head up looking for a porta-potty. I didn’t really want to leave my bike outside the Kountry Store. Good God, there’s still somebody who thinks changing the C to a K is clever?

Fortunately, I found a sign for a community park, so I hung a right and rode down about a mile. What I found was one of the most forlorn, neglected parks I’ve ever seen, but thankfully there were not one, but two porta-potties … with toilet paper. I ate lunch in the shade of the trees, including a black plum, the juiciest and most delicious plum I’ve ever had. Then I saw a pick-up truck coming up slowly towards the park. It made me nervous. Sam and I have been watching “Lost” and I was wondering if they were ‘The Others.’ I kept an eye on him, but he just drove by, like I wasn’t even an abduction consideration. I headed back to town and 94 and got startled at the intersection. A dog took a couple running steps at me before his chain caught up with his neck. It was a big, brown pit pull, sitting under a backhoe in the side yard. He seemed real mad about something, but I didn’t stick around to find out what.

Sunday, Aug. 8 … two weeks before the Century …

I tried a few hills this week. That’s what they call an understatement. On Wednesday, I rode from the downtown Y towards Old Colorado City and took on 21st Street by our old house near Van Briggle Pottery (now Roundhouse). When I first got my bike in 1992 one of the first things I tried to do was ride up the incredibly steep and long 21st Street, which I most certainly did, but only after taking four rest stops on the way. This week I motored up 21st slowly, but surely, taking no pit stops. How big is 21st? The road at the top is called Skyview.

The rest of 21st/Cresta is pretty hilly too, before I knew it I was standing, huffing and puffing, at the entrance of Cheyenne Canon Park, the three-mile impossibly steep road up to Helen Hunt Falls, which I have successfully ridden last year. But I had no plans to ride up that road on Wednesday; the plan was to ride up to the zoo. So after not resting enough, I made an impulsive decision to make the attempt. The road has lots of blind spots and switchbacks and elevation gain, but the cars or the road didn’t trouble me. I rested where I could and got all the way up to the two-mile mark, where the most difficult stretch is. I stopped in the corner of one of the switchbacks. An old guy told me I was about a mile from the top. He said this while pedaling with one hand on the handlebars, looking back at me, heading up the hardest hill. I got my feet on the pedals and sped up the hill, but I quickly gave it up and turned around.

The weekend ride turned out to be an epic sufferfest.

The longest ride in length – 75 miles – and duration – five hours, 52 minutes – that I’ve ever taken. (I should say that I just enjoy writing ‘epic sufferfest.’ I’ve hurt worse than Saturday’s ride.) I tried something new, I decided to ride inside the Air Force Academy, for the middle section of the ride. I pulled up to Checkpoint Charlie at 7:48 a.m. and like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, I was told to go away. Civilians aren’t allowed on campus until 8 a.m. So I was suppose to leave and come back in 12 minutes. I appreciate the attention to detail and I know there are plenty of good reasons for tight security, but really? I guess if I want to ride on the campus earlier than that, I’m just going to have to enlist.

The loop inside the Academy is 15 miles of going uphill, when you take it clockwise. The scenery is lovely, but it is a challenging gradual and constant uphill with occasional steepness. I talked to one guy and he said, ‘I think you just turn around when you get to the top of the mountain.’ I thought, “Mountain? Nobody said anything about a mountain!”

I was not feeling well and when I passed the Air Academy High School, I noticed a ball field with a porta-potty. Thank God. I HAD TO GO. I had diarrhea for the first time on a ride. Not good. Now a normal person would say something like, I guess I have to do this ride some other day, but I said, got to get this ride in. There’s nothing like sitting in one of those small portable saunas, I mean, bathrooms, when the temperature is in the mid-80’s; I probably dropped five pounds in sweat alone.

Once I got to the top of the mountain with its two overlooks, I decided to do the whole loop again. Another slow, dehydrated loop, another stop at the sauna-potty, but I was happy to get the work in.

Sunday, Aug. 15 … one week before the Century …

I brought my bike to the shop for a pre-ride tune-up today. With tremendous bedside manner, the mechanic basically told me that if my bike were a horse, he’d recommend putting her down. Nice. I’m six days from riding a Century. I told him ‘just do the tune-up.’

For my final big ride on Saturday, I went back to my old standby, Bradley Road.

The Tour de Cure starts at 6 a.m. and I haven’t been on the road that early yet. So I tried my best on Saturday morning. I got up at 4:50 a.m., got my gear on, fixed my food and drinks and ate breakfast. I was out in the car in record time. As I backed out of the driveway, something or someone in my subconscious suggested that I check my tires. I reach around and sure enough, the back tire was as flat as a pancake. Now ordinarily for any normal bike rider, there were two totally reasonable options: one, put a new tube in the tire or two, check the tube, find the leak and patch it. I chose option number three: fill the tire full of air and hope for the best.

I altered my plan a bit so that I would never be that far away from the car and took off around 6:40 a.m., as the sun was rising. I did the infamous hills on Bradley Road not just once, not twice, but three times. I found a new place to pee right after those hills, wish I had figured that out earlier.

Miles 54-67 were difficult: the third trip up those five big hills, then the gradual up to 94. At one point I was in the middle ring on the fourth gear and I downshifted to the little ring and the chain fell off. No big deal, it’s happened before. But this one particular time, instead of squatting down by the wheel, I bent over from my waist and it took a little longer than usual and when I finished, I stood up and felt lightheaded; actually I felt a little beat. I was pensive. It occurred to me – no matter what anyone says – riding your bike for 100 miles is hard. Riding the Century will be hard.

When I got to the turnaround, a block of Pearl Jam songs came on and that helped me push on through ‘til the end. I also thought about my family in heaven watching over me and that gave me strength.

81 miles in five hours.

The tire held up fine.

2010 Tour de Cure: Part One | Part Two | Part Three

Support my 2012 Southern Colorado Tour de Cure ride here. 

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