Signing up for Ride The Rockies always includes a few unknowns. What will the weather be like? Will there be headwinds or tailwinds? How will my legs feel after a few days on the road? How will other body parts feel after a few days on the road? One thing that seems set in stone is the route. However, the past few years, it’s become evident that even that can change.
It’s been a horribly tragic few years for forest fires in the US; Colorado in particular has been hard hit. Let me first say a huge thank you to the Colorado Fire Fighters, and my thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by the fires. When RTR was scheduled last year to go through a fire-stricken area, a shortened route was planned to get our riders safely into Fort Collins for the end of the ride. This year was a bit more complicated.
When fires struck the Royal Gorge area, the planners of RTR launched into action. While cyclists were enjoying their ride, behind the scenes wheels were rolling to find an alternative to our original route that would let us continue and finish as planned in Colorado Springs.
Riders were told just a few days ahead of time that instead of a 61-mile day, we would be facing a 93-mile day. I’m not sure about other riders, but I was a bit apprehensive when I first heard about the additional miles. Had they been part of the initial plan, perhaps I would have trained a bit more for three long back-to-back-to-back days. Or, I might have held back a little bit pushing over Wolf Creek Pass. But, isn’t this what cycling is all about? Pushing when you think you can’t go further? Taking an unknown road? Facing a challenge, question marks and all?
No one wants the same ride, day after day, mile after mile. I sign up for Ride The Rockies specifically to see new towns, ride on unknown roads, meet new people, and challenge myself. The day of the re-route was exactly that. Huge kudos to the ride organizers who made the new route a flawless experience. Having volunteered behind the scenes, I know how much work had to go into completely rerouting the ride. Permits, portapotties and pancake vendors all had to be changed with just a few days’ notice. Okay, the pancake guy was probably always going to be at the first rest stop that was on the original route, but the rest of the day’s ride needed a complete make-over. Amazingly, it seemed like there were no hiccups at all. Sure, those first hills out of Cotopaxi were rough, but who remembers the punchy little climbs into Royal Gorge from a few years ago? Not exactly a walk in the park. In my very humble opinion, the reroute was spectacular, and took us to an area new to even seasoned Colorado cyclists. In fact, lots of riders I talked to thought that the reroute was the best day of the entire week.
Now that RTR 2013 is in the books, my Colorado Proud jersey clean and hanging in the closet, I’m looking for new roads, new towns, and new challenges. Instead of sticking to rides I know, I’m looking forward to seeing what’s around the corner, on a road I’ve never taken. See you next year!