Last weekend Susan and I achieved one of our big goals - riding in the Copper Triangle bike ride. The ride is 80 miles long (in one day!) and climbs 6,000 vertical feet over 4 ascents in Summit and Eagle counties in Colorado. This was a race that I had wanted to do last summer but had to pass on when I got sick with my lung problems from the Bleomycin. This spring when I went through the intense BEAM chemo protocol and got my stem cell transplant, we decided to aim for this as a big milestone celebrating my return to health and our collective return to a life of activity with less focus on medical issues. I'd done the ride in 2009 and really liked it. For Susan, this would be the longest and hardest ride she had ever under taken. We both worked hard in June and July getting ready for the race, culminating in a 73 mile, 5400 ft of vertical training ride in Boulder County last weekend. After that ride I was pretty confident that we would be OK but we were both pretty anxious about whether we would get through the ride successfully.
Here in Colorado in the summer there's always a risk of afternoon rain so most rides start pretty early. The CT is no exception. We were on our bikes and starting the course at 6:01 am Saturday morning. We had a brief thunderstorm the night before but the sun came up at about 5:45 with no clouds in sight. The starting temperature in Copper Mountain at 9300 ft was in the low 50s which was quite warm compared to previous years. Right out of the start the course climbs for about 12 miles to the top of Fremont Pass at 11,200 ft. We had done this part of the course in a training ride so we were both comfortable with the climb. From Fremont Pass you're treated to a 6-8 mile fun descent that goes down about 2,000 vertical feet. Imagine yourself on your bike at 7:15 on a Saturday morning, the sun out, a brilliant blue sky, snow capped mountains surrounding the valley, wild flowers by the side of the road, the quiet hum of hundreds of cyclists zipping down the road. Next, compare this to spending 32 days in a row sitting in a room at the infusion clinic getting toxic chemicals squirted into your chest, transfusions, nausea, etc. Quite a contrast! Although my fingers were kind of hurting from the cold temperatures and some 35 mph descending, I was pretty euphoric about being out on the ride with Susan. The course is very, very scenic - here's a photo of some of the mountains around Fremont Pass:
Over the top and a 6 mile coast down into Copper Triangle. A few hours later and here's a look at us enjoying the post ride dinner with our friend Suzi:
So in summary, a very, very happy day. After 4 months of training we achieved our goal. We weren't the fastest around the course - but we weren't the slowest, either. It was a special day. The goal now is to do this ride every August for another 20 years or so! Consider yourself invited to the 2012 CT; I would love to have you along for the ride next year!