Monday, June 29, 2009

Over Cottonwood and Independence Pass: BTC Days 6 & 7

Day 6: We took off from Crested Butte a little after 7 - partly cloudy skies and thunder clouds forming in the distance. Today's ride: 73 miles over Cottonwood pass from 7,800 ft. to 12,126 ft... 14 miles to the summit on packed dirt road.

Twins today:) - sportin' our new BTC riding shirts.
The Taylor River kept us company most of the way up... SO BEAUTIFUL!

The river led up to a beautiful mountain lake. Our destination: over those mountain peeks in the background.
The peeks draw near... green grass, mountain flowers, my D:) and snow capped peeks all in one day - WOW!!
Aid station mile 44. YUM! Our last stop before the summit.
The 14 miles of dirt road begins now. While the rest of us are working, D's doing pop-a-wheelies :)
Climbin' on the dirt road a few miles from the summit :)
We made it!
The 13 miles down hill into Buena Vista started out okay - cold (in the 30's) a bit foggy, but okay.
THEN the DOWNPOUR came... sleet and pounding rain so cold and intense that I had to get off my bike because I couldn't see out of my glasses. Freezing, and wanting/needing to get off the bike and get warm, I started walking my bike down. My shoes were filled with water, pants soaked, hands numb, feet numb, wet and frozen, BUT without the speed of going downhill, at least I could see when walking. There was no way (obviously) I'd make it down the mountain walking, and there was no sign of the rain letting up, so I took my glasses off to see if it helped (it did) and got back on my bike. NOW the problem was that my hands were so numb I couldn't squeeze my brake lever, and the cold rain was pelting my eyes and face so hard, it felt like needles going through my skin... SO dangerous for all of us to be riding off this summit in these conditions. As I continued I knew THIS was too much... there was no way I could withstand these conditions for another 10 miles. People were getting off their bikes and huddling together under trees to try to stay warm. Hypothermia was setting in for many (we found out later when we got off the mountain)... I stayed on the bike hardly able to pull my brake lever; tears started welling up in my eyes - panic was setting in; I was desperate. How would I make it down? D was somewhere ahead of me - couldn't see him anywhere... if I got off to find shelter under a tree, I'd only get colder and colder as the rain kept pouring down in sheets... so I stayed on the bike, squeezed my brakes with all my might, and sobbing, cried out to God, "HELP ME, PLEASE!!!"...
Less than a minute later I saw D waiving his hands at me from a pull off on the side of the road. Behind him was our RV! Roger and Paula had passed us at the summit, and as the rain set in, decided to stop along the side of the road incase we needed help. Dustin found them on his way down (no other day on the tour had we crossed paths with them while riding. We hadn't planned on meeting up - in fact Paula was going to stay at the campground another hour or so to do laundry, but "just decided" to head out early instead and do the laundry later...)... answered prayer! Thank you AGAIN Jesus (and Roger and Paula:)) for taking care of us!
So the story gets even crazier:)... D peeled me off my bike, shaking and crying and loaded me into the RV. There were many people at the door desperate to get in. We decided that we HAD to squeeze as many people and bikes in the RV as we could... no matter the cost. We ended up getting 9 people and bikes in the RV.
When it looked like there wouldn't be enough room for everyone that needed to get warm, D jumped out (to make room for more), grabbed his bike and headed down the mountain in the rain. "NO D, STAY IN HERE!!!" didn't work - he was determined to help - he was out of sight heading down the mountain in the freezing rain. I don't know how he made it, but he did. We met up with him 10 miles down the mountain at the High School. You're amazing D! :)
... A WARM shower never felt so good!

Day 7: 107 miles over Independence Pass (4,000 + ft. elevation gain) from Buena Vista, through Aspen, back to Glenwood Springs.

The morning started out much like Day 6 ended... COLD! - BUT, no rain!:) ... just another head-wind AND:) a beautiful sunrise! The temp. read 39 degrees when we hopped on our bikes. D was riding ahead today, so I was on my own. The first hour and 10 minutes was tough... man, I'm a WIMP when I'm cold!!! My feet were frozen and the cold air made staying focused and positive tough. Once again though, just when the going was getting tough, PEOPLE lifted me through. I looked over my shoulder about 30 miles into the ride and found a string of riders drafting off me:)... after about another 10 minutes, one of the guys rode up next to me and said, "Thanks for pulling! Fall in and take a break." How nice! I fell in behind him and rested for 20 minutes or so. We kept taking turns pulling until the sun crested over the mountain... AHHH, warmth! I pulled into the first aid station, then got off to warm up and eat.
The view from the first aid station... we're heading up and over the snowcapped mountains in the distance.
Still cold and quite tired, my knee starting really hurting (for the first time all week... so thankful!). I made a decision right then that quitting was NOT an option, and thought about how powerful the messages we allow ourselves to think on are. I was reminded of the verse from Romans:
"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will." - Romans 12:2
... the renewing of my mind...
"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things." - Philippians 4:8
I decided to change what I was feeling by changing what I was thinking. I started to think about the beauty...
the quiet and peace of the moment, our Creator's power and stunning beauty, God's provision and faithfulness, my health, D's health, ... thanked God for our marriage, our healthy baby boy, family...
Before I knew it, I was at the base of the mountain, warmer and ready to start the climb.
... heading up and over this... :)
Warmer, I was so happy to be climbing. I love being in the alpine life zone, close to the summit! :)
Mile 38, close to the summit... keep climbin'!
... and climbin' ... the beauty was STUNNING!
I can see the summit coming - YEA!
MADE IT! The aid station at the summit was WONDERFUL!
I made it at 9:30 a.m. - D was already down the mountain in Aspen - miss you D! :)
The 20 mile descent was great - fast and chilly, but beautiful! I made it into Aspen around 10:40 and heard D, Rog and Paulie calling out to me on the side of the road. I got off my bike, pretty wiped out. Since we had to leave Glenwood Springs by 1:30 to get the RV back, we had the choice to finish the last 45 miles into Glenwood, OR jump in the RV and ride down so we'd have time to bask in the Hot Springs before heading down the mountain. D had already made up my mind, and it didn't take more than 1 second's thought for me. The picture says it all -

It was HEAVENLY! :) Thanks for following my babbling through this journey. It was a fantastic week! ... one I'll never forget!
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." - 2 Cor. 12:9
Thanks for being my strength, joy and peace, Lord! :) I love you!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

BTC Day 4 - Crested Butte Here We Come!

Day 4 started early for me. Our plan was for me to leave at 5:30 a.m. to get a head start... D would leave at 7:30 and catch me. So I headed out early - just me, a few early bikers and the long open road. ... LOVED:) watching the sunrise, LOVED the tranquility of the morning.
BUT, as the minutes passed, a head wind picked up something FIERCE!!! Our first climb up Cerco Pass would have been a challenging climb without wind, but the wind at our face for 13 miles of climbing made it one of the most difficult mental (and physical) challenges I've experienced. There ended up being loads of bikers getting off and waiting by the side of the road for the SAG van to pick them up (bailing on the ride). The interesting thing about this part of the ride was this: the climb - hard, the wind even harder, but I really do think that most of the people who quit didn't quit because they physically couldn't withstand the climb and wind, I think they quit because the mental challenge of knowing that even after the climb was done and maybe (or maybe not) the wind died, what lied ahead was still 90 more miles of saddle time. This thought went through my mind a ton while I was fighting just to stay on the bike early that morning, and the verse in Matthew came to mind:

"Do not worry about tomorrow, for your heavenly father knows what you need. Seek FIRST His kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you." - Matthew 6:31-32

... a lesson for me on the power of staying in the moment. Don't get too far ahead of yourself, Heather. Be in the moment - just take it one step at a time and ENJOY! God will give you what you need for the moment.

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith." - Hebrews 12:2 ...not on "worry" for the future.

I snapped this between wind gusts. :)
So this summit is nothing impressive, but for me, it meant a lot. I didn't give in to the physical pain, I didn't give in to the mental "worry" of "all the miles that lay ahead". I put in my tunes and sang (really I did:O) ... "Savior, He can move the mountains, our God is mighty to save..." hoping he really would move the mountain :):):)) my way up... and made it! YES!!
Now for the short descent. LOVED IT! (Oh, if you want to check out our loop or elevation gains etc. each day, it's on the BTC website. Google Bicycle Tour of Colorado). :)
At the bottom of the hill was our first aid station. I left a note for D at the white board... was looking forward to him catching me! ... missed him:)

Our next climb was up to Blue Mesa Reservoir. ... a steep climb, but the view from the top - priceless! This Reservoir must have measured at least 15 miles in length... made that 15 miles pass fast! ...reminded me of MN... LOVE the water!
Me at aid station 3. Still no D... just me and the road, my notecard:), and tunes! I was doing great... a happy camper!
So the best part of the day came when i was pulling out of aid station 3. Some guys I had chatted with earlier in the morning were leaving at the same time. Earlier I had mentioned that I was riding with my husband, but he was planning on sleeping in a bit and catching me later. Since D hadn't caught me yet, they invited me to ride with them. Duncan, Dave and Ron... great guys - strong riders. A peloton is a line of bikers. The front rider (pulling) does most the work and the riders behind get to draft... easier. The bigger the guy in front of you, the better the draft. Ron asked me a bit about myself. I told him about the accident and Caleb. Nice guy. SO, from mile 50 to mile 93, I hung with these guys. It was GREAT! 3 hours of solitude on the road is nice, but gets old. Riding with them provided community, and motivation not to slack... learned a great lesson about the power of community:). They kept a good clip - about 20 mph - and I didn't want to get dropped, AND knew I had a day off coming, so I filed in behind Ron and WOULDN'T let myself fall from the peloton... It squeezed every last bit of energy out of me staying with them, but I had fun challenging my self to stay with these good riders.
The peloton:)... thanks for carrying me into Crested Butte guys!
The view riding into Crested Butte:). BUT... STILL NO D!!! Where is he?
I MADE IT! I had Ron take a picture - 93 miles DONE! :)

Crested Butte High School - where the ride ends. I pulled in at 1:15.
SO turned out Dustin's spoke broke, so he had to get it fixed at an aid station... took a while. Even after lots of wait time, made it in at 1:45... what a guy!
Nothing like being welcomed by this face! I love you Caleb!
Day 5: DAY OFF IN CRESTED BUTTE! We made our way to Crested Butte Mountain for a hike! WOW!!!
...on the chair lift up the mountain.
The beauty speaks for itself... :)
Nap time! What a flexible guy!

Lunch time:)...
D getting work done at the summit of our hike. We're SO lucky he has a job that's so flexible and can be done on the road!

The view on our hike down.

Our little man at lunch. What a BIG boy!

So, tomorrow we take off from Crested Butte (so sad to leave the BEAUTIFUL mountain town!) and head to Buena Vista... 70 miles over Independence Pass (12, 200 ft.)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bicycle Tour of Colorado

Dustin, Caleb, Roger, Paula and I took off Saturday after Dustin's Loveland Lake to Lake Triathlon (see pictures at bottom) for Glenwood Springs, Colorado to start our week-long bicycle tour. Roger, Paula and Caleb are following D and I in an RV as we bike this week.

Caleb hanging out as we set up camp night 1 in Glenwood Springs.
Getting ready for our first day of riding
DAY 1: Glenwood Springs to Hotchkiss - 84 miles over McClure Pass - 4,000 ft. climb
Sunday Morning - Happy Father's Day D! (and Pops and Rog!)
Words cannot really express the pristine beauty we encountered day one. I don't think this smile left my face the whole day. During the long months of healing last fall, I dreamed of this moment... riding through the rockies with 2 good legs. Thank you SO MUCH JESUS!!

"Arise, shine for your light has come and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. Look around you and lift up your eyes look around you then you will look and be radiant. Your heart will throb and swell with Joy." - Isaiah 60:5
D and I at our first aid station... lots of PB&J and fruit - yum!
As I sit here trying to find the words to fully convey the beauty of this day, God's word is the only thing that comes close to expressing the way I felt climbing and soaring through the mountains... filled with the Joy and Peace of our King:

"You will go out with Joy and be led forth in Peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song before you and the trees will clap their hands." - Isaiah 52
... We love you Jesus! Thank you!

"You will fill me with joy in your presence!" - Psalm 16:11
Climbin' McClure Pass:
"I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you. I am the Lord your God and I will strengthen you." - Isaiah 45
At the top of McClure Pass. What an awesome climb!
On the descent...
"The Lord your God is with you. He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you. He iwll quiet you with his love. He will rejoice over you with singing." - Zephaniah 3:17
"I run in the path of your commands, for it is YOU that has set my heart free." :) - Psalm 119:52
We made it in 4 hours... what an awesome day!
... home to our little guy STANDING! :)
Day 2: Hotchkiss to Grand Junction - 94 miles over Grand Mesa. 5,400 ft. elevation gain.
"They sought the Lord eagerly and He was found by them. So the lord gave them rest on every side." - 2 Chron. 15
... a beautiful mountain lake on the way up... Your creation, Father, is AMAZING!!! :)
40 miles up, 5,400 feet and 4 hours of climbing - we made it (actually D made it in more like 3 hours... then waited for me:)
An aid station at the top
Our descent off Grand Mesa... WOW!

... 6 hours of riding... nothing like getting off the bike to see family!
Sunset Monday evening... :)
"You are God. You have made your light shine on us." - Psalm 118:27
Ok, so today was our short ride - 63 miles, relatively flat... the LONGEST 63 miles I've ever ridden - dry, hot, and really boring scenery, D's back end and the note card of verses I have taped to my bike got me through. (Let me explain the D's back end deal: when it's HOT, wind in your face and all you can see in the distance is a LONG highway that seems to never end, I hunckered down and drafted behind him - it made it doable... for those of you that know D's "gift", the ONLY time being "behind him" is a good thing.
Thanks for leading today, D!
What I look at to get me up the hills and through the long stretches :). Thank you for carrying me Jesus!
SO, we made it and you know what they say - all's well that ends well!! Turns out a town called Ouray was only 30 minutes away, so after 4 hours of riding, we jumped in the RV and drove to this BEAUTIFUL mountain town for the afternoon - WOW!
We did a SHORT:) hike to a water fall in Ouray.

So, tomorrow marks day 4 of riding. Up to this point we have ridden over 240 miles and climbed over 10,000 feet. My legs are a bit saucy, to say the least. Tomorrow's our last day before our day off in Crested Butte. We ride 95 miles over 2 passes into Crested Butte... I get a bit overwhelmed thinking about it, but then am reminded how important it is to stay in the moment - don't get ahead of yourself, Heather! God will carry you one peddle at a time... ENJOY the breath-taking scenery!!! YEA! ... K, there's my pep talk! Crested Butte, here we come! :)

Here are pictures from D's Triathlon Sunday. He finished 2nd in his age group. We're proud of you D! :)