Whiskey Tango Foxtrot! That was my reaction when I saw the ride profile for the 1st day out of Alamosa. I get wanting to have a solid ride with climbing to kick things off, but did the organizers really think it was necessary for the first 68 miles to be uphill right out of the gate? Is a Day 1 Sufferfest some sort of RtR hazing ritual? To make matters worse, the weather gods tossed in headwind gusts of 20+ mph. On the bright side, at least it didn't rain.
Given the all that, and our lack of prep for Thin Air, Love Shack Dave and I decided that our Flatlander plan of attack was to be cautious, take it as easy as possible, and take advantage of all aid station breaks. After all, it's a seven day tour, not a race, right? Spoiler Alert: The plan worked!
Well, it mostly worked. The first 50 miles went pretty well but the last 7 miles to Wolf Creek Pass ripped these Flatlanders to shreds. We were saved by the Potato Guys. A few miles from the summit they were serving baked potatoes stuffed with butter, sour cream, cheese, and salsa. It was the best!
We were ecstatic and exhausted to finally reach Wolf Creek Pass and we celebrated by indulging in one of the local brews, thereby living up to Dave's Team Love Shack motto, "Never Miss An Opportunity." I also ran into HeartTransplantGuy Steve and his teammates at the summit. What an incredible story!
Did I mention that the vistas were simply stunning? No way to describe the beauty!
The rest of the ride should have been a coast down to the finish at Pagosa Springs, but those nasty headwinds had other ideas. Dave said that was one of the hardest days of riding he's ever done. I'd agree. Needless to say, we were running on empty and decided to spend the rest of the evening hunkered down in our SherpaVille tent, after a quick stop at Riff Raff Brewery for dinner.
We're now anxiously awaiting Wednesday, the penultimate day of RtR with almost 2X the climbing we did today over three iconic mountain passes. Can we even do it after today's effort? Our plan is to rest up how ever we can and stay within our abilities. After all, we didn't come here to lay up! And, it looks like Gators can climb!