July 26, 2008
Today was the last day of the first section. It was also the last day of the BIG MOUNTAINS. We had a few miles of downhill and level road till we left the city of Winter Park, then it was time to climb and climb and climb. We went all the way up to 11,300 ft at Bertha’s Pass, where we had a sag stop and a bit of celebrating as we had finished all the heavy climbs, or so we thought. The downhill was ok but got pretty hard on the brakes. At a small town most of the troupe decided to stop for coffee, but I decided to keep going as Brenda and the kids were meeting me in Denver. The route got pretty tricky as I had to find my way back and forth across I-70 on frontage roads and bike trails. I was even on a gravel road for a short time. Eventually I came to Floyds Hill which was only about 2 miles long, but had to be one of the nastiest climbs of the trip. I think it was mostly psychological, as I had thought I had the really hard climbs conquered. It was steep enough that I would occasionally spin the front tire (my bike is front wheel drive). Finally I reached the top and a welcome stop at Julie’s sag, then on to Denver. I had a long descent through a beautiful canyon in the Evergeen, CO area. Finally on to Englewood and Denver Christian High School, where they were waiting with a big welcome party. It was wonderful to see such a show of support. As I was again running ahead of schedule and the first one in, Brenda, the kids, and sister in law Barb hadn’t showed up yet. They did, eventually, and it was sure great to see them. We went out for pizza; I hadn’t had pizza in over a month (a staple meal at our house), and then a real bed to sleep in.
So the first section of the journey is complete and looking back it has gone amazingly well. We have only had a little rain for the entire trip and almost none of that on the road. We have been spared any serious injury, although in last couple days, Megan, one of the journalists support staff, fell in camp and broke her arm. Also today Tyler Buitenwerf, an avid cyclist whose folks live in Pella, got tangled up in a pace line and ended up with a broken collar bone. So for now anyway the tour is done for him, and as you can imagine he is very disappointed.