Day 4. My legs were sore from the cumulative effects of climbing every day. I wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of 1,100m / 3,608ft of elevation over the course of the next 80km / 50mi. On the bright side, I wasn’t shivering with cold like I had been at breakfast on Day 3.
We also had two Pro guests riding with us. Timmy Duggan was the US National Road Race champion in 2012, the year he rode in the London Olympics. He raced in three UCI Road World Championships, including the 2012 Limburg edition. So I feel a slight affinity with Timmy, having ridden the amateur sportive event in Limburg the day before Timmy raced in the real thing. Timmy retired in 2013 from Team Saxo-Tinkoff. Among other things he devotes his time to the Just Go Harder Foundation.
Will Frischkorn you will recall from Day 3. I am sure running the excellent Cured with his wife keeps Will busy enough, but he also takes time to comment on the world of professional cycling, as in this interview in VeloNews. As well as come on rides with Cognoscenti guests.
We also had two other guests riding with us. Karl Maier didn’t really count as a guest, being a co-founder of Cognoscenti. But his father Peter certainly was. It was a treat for me to ride with Peter, who counts among his achievements in life an unsupported bike ride across America, together with a friend. At the spry young age of 62 I believe. Now there’s a goal for me to work up to over the next four years!
This ride started benignly enough with a slightly downhill 15km / 9.3mi run to the east past Valmont Reservoir to North 95th Street.
From there the road tipped upward ever so slightly. By the time we got to Marshall Road 20 km / 12.4mi later, we had gained about 150m / 490ft.
We stopped to refill bottles and down some rice cakes or cookies. Allen Lim had told us that pro riders can down an entire bottle in one gulp. Russ went one better.
I thought we would continue on up Marshall Road, but the Cognoscenti guides had a little surprise for us. We dropped off to the left onto the Mayhoffer Singletree Trail. 9km / 5.6mi of dirt single track. Sometimes so narrow that your shins were whipped by the undergrowth as you rode through.
The Mayhoffer turned into the Meadowlark Trail as we rode past the Fusion-io Colorado Tech Center. Fortunately the trail wasn’t as technical as Fusion-io is, and we all popped out safely at the Coalton Trailhead.
We all regrouped at the Coalton Trailhead parking lot – more bottle refills and Skratch Labs munchies – before facing “The Wall.” From its introduction in the Red Zinger Classic, which lead to the Coors Classic, The Wall has been a monument in Colorado Racing. The Wall is over 1.6km / 1mi long, averaging over a 5% grade all the way up, and topping out around 12% near the top. So I took my customary position at the back of the pack and spun my way up the hump. With Russ on his bike, and photographer Kevin in the Cognoscenti car, courtesy of Audi Boulder, for company.
The others got to the National Wind Technology Center at the top of The Wall well before I did.
By the time I got to the intersection of Highways 128 and 93, the rest were long gone. Rather than make everyone else wait for me to catch up,which was probably unlikely anyway, I accepted the offer of a bump in the Sprinter van with Jon.
We rode in the van for 7km / 4.3mi before Russ and I got back on our bikes and chased the group down along the bike path on South Broadway Street. We caught the group only briefly. The road turned upward again, and the group disappeared ahead of me. Before long Russ and I were at Chautauqua Park, and I had a decision to make. Plonk myself down at a table near the Cognoscenti tent and dive into a Cured sandwich, or follow the rest of the group up Flagstaff Mountain.
I thought to myself “You came all this way. You have to give it a go.” So I headed up Flagstaff with Russ for company, and Jon following in the van, just in case . . .
370m / 1,213ft of elevation over 6.5km / 4.0mi. I wondered if The Little Engine That Could felt like I did as I negotiated the switchbacks. This is Matt showing how it is done.
The view at the Sunrise Amphitheater was well worth the climb. “Yes” that is Boulder way down there.
The rest of the group had finished posing for photographs and larking around by the time I wheezed into the amphitheater parking lot. It wasn’t long before everyone was ready to point their front wheels downward and let gravity do its thing.
Always the most enjoyable part of a ride for me. Increasingly so as I regain my confidence to descend at speed post my Fraser’s Hill crash last year.
Lunch was very yummy. We had come to expect nothing less from Cognoscenti. Cured once again did not disappoint.
It is a good thing that Chautauqua Park is only 2km / 1.2mi from the St. Julien Hotel. And all of it downhill. I don’t think I could have managed any climbing after eating all that I did. Poco Dolce Bittersweet Aztec Chile Tiles. Need I say more?
We were free for dinner. I took the opportunity to stay in and order room service. Hard to believe, I know, but I was able to eat some more that evening.
The goal was to eat and get to bed early. I had been struggling with jet-lag since I arrived in Colorado. The plan was to get as much sleep as possible. Day 5 was billed as “The Big Day.” I was sure I would need all the rest I could get.