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Old 07-06-07, 04:20 PM   #1
Coloradopenguin
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Assault on Grand Mesa

Grand Mesa. The world's tallest flattop mountain.
For years it has taunted me every morning as I go to work, its siren call -- "Climb me! Climb me!" -- growing louder each year. Five times I've mounted an attack, five times I've failed.

Last week a friend (who also has failed to make the grade) and I committed to riding to the top this summer . . . the next morning he called and said he was so inspired that he got up early and slogged up to the top. I was crestfalled until he described his ride, including the fact that he drove to a neighboring town which cut the distance and total climb in half.

So yesterday I got up early and mounted my sixth assault on Grand Mesa, determined to ride from my house to the mountain and back, a 65-mile trek with more than 20 miles of a steady 3-4 percent grade. Rather than set a speed record, I was determined to keep a high cadence and a steady pace up the grade. I ticked off the past turn-around points and at the 22-mile mark stopped at the ice cream shop -- the highest I've gotten before. Pausing for a brief stop, I assessed the ride so far. I had been riding 2 hours, was halfway up the 5,000 ft. climb, and was feeling really strong. I knew the top was within reach.

As I sipped down a little water and enjoyed some dark chocolate, two roadies came up the road. They offered to let me tag along. It was tempting, but I knew their fast pace would soon burn out my thighs. So I told them to go ahead and I'd plod along on my own. So with a smile and a wave, they were off and within a mile were quickly out of view.

And so I continued on my personal quest. I kept my cadence up, setting a comfortable pace of 6-7 mph. With each bend of the road my confidence grew and I started to enjoy the ride. My pace climbed to 7-8 mph. Deer poked their head up from the oak brush, marmots whistled as I passed, and a couple of rabbits came out to laugh at my turtle pace. I even caught a glimpse of a black bear amongst the aspen . . . okay, it could have just been some shadows.

After 3 1/2 hours of riding I had to face reality -- I had the ability to reach the top but did not have time to get up and back in time to go to work. So I paused at a view point about 4 miles from the visitor center, taking in the vista (wishing I'd brought a camera along), and relishing the knowledge that the Grand Mesa was mine for the taking. Although I did not reach the top, I was turning around on my terms and know I can ride to the summit any time I want.

The 30 miles back home flew by and I got back just in time to clean up and get to work. 4-3/4 hours on the bike, 60.1 miles and just under 5,000 feet of climbing. Not a bad way to start the day!

Next time I'll take the camera along.
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Old 07-06-07, 04:27 PM   #2
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Only one word. WOW






That climb is as good as Ventoux- except you have to put in miles to do it.

Next time take the Camera.
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Old 07-06-07, 04:39 PM   #3
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Nice report... sounds like a place I'd want to ride.
On Saturday I set out for a 40 mile ride down the coast on a road I know well - I drive it to a gig every month. The last mile and a half is a long steady, 4% or so but I believed I could do it. Slowly -might take a stop or two- but I'd get there. I sat at the bottom of that hill, eating my Atkins bar, and looked at my watch. I promised my wife I'd be home a half hour earlier than I knew I would be home if I turned around there. I thought about the wrath of she who must be obeyed and, discretion being the better part of valor, I turned around. I ended up with 36+ miles. Had I made the climb, I'd have had my 40. But I'd also have been really, really late.

You will go back and finish that mesa off, no doubt about it.
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Old 07-06-07, 04:47 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stapfam
Only one word. WOW.
+1 And all this before going to work
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Old 07-06-07, 04:50 PM   #5
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Now you can take the hill on your terms. Its taunts are meaningless. It knows it is conquered. It's just a matter of when YOU want to. Nice ride and nice report.
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Old 07-06-07, 05:16 PM   #6
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If I had been that close and feeling that good, I would have been late to work.

Sounds like your next assault should be on a weekend. Go and conquer it!
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Old 07-06-07, 05:31 PM   #7
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Such is the life of the boss . . . while tempting, I don't want the rest of my crew showing up "whenever"!
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Old 07-06-07, 05:32 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Tom Bombadil
If I had been that close and feeling that good, I would have been late to work.

Sounds like your next assault should be on a weekend. Go and conquer it!

+1, and on the way back down I would have stopped for ice cream. Sounds like you had a great ride, and I do wish you had taken some pictures. I'm starting to get my wander lust back again, and my wife is starting to say " I really do like it here". Thanks for the report, I'll really be anxious to get the next one.
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Old 07-06-07, 05:59 PM   #9
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You da Man!!

I want to do this ride!!! What a great description and report. Thanks for taking the time to share it with us.
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Old 07-06-07, 06:08 PM   #10
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What's going on with this forum lately, everyone is blowing through goals like s**t through a goose. I've done 95 miles this week and feel like a slacker. Great job CP, like Larry says "git er done"
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Old 07-06-07, 06:18 PM   #11
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Another sign of continued improvement and progress on the bike. Keep up the great riding.

Sounds like I need to put Grand Mesa on this list to check out one of these days.
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Old 07-06-07, 07:09 PM   #12
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Great ride report! Makes me want to do it!

Just curious, what time did you start, what time did you get back?
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Old 07-06-07, 08:39 PM   #13
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If you rode 4-3/4 hours and still got to work on time, you must have arisen at 0-dark-thirty! You're one dedicated dude! For that much climbing, you had a good average.

That was a great report, and the Grand Mesa sounds like a piece of real estate worth hootin' and hollerin' about. Please do take the "Kodak" when you get the time and get to the top.
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Old 07-06-07, 10:22 PM   #14
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Started the ride at 6:30 a.m. and was headed for the shower just past noon. Quick bite to eat and off to work at 1 p.m. I'm not a dedicated rider, I just had to be up at 5 a.m. to deliver my papers to the post office after the Fourth of July holiday. Rather than go back to bed, I opted to hop on the bike.

Definitely wanted to stop for ice cream, but settled for a peanut butter cookie from my stash for the homeward leg.

Thought of doing this ride on the Fourth of July, but spent the day canoeing on the Gunnison River -- saw a couple of river otters! Decided late Wednesday to do the Grand Mesa ride. Truly, I am blessed to live in western Colorado with incredible rides and plenty of other things to do in between.
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Old 07-06-07, 10:43 PM   #15
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Well done! And what a great report!

I haven't been up on the Grand Mesa since '78. We did it on horseback, too. I wonder how much more fun it would be on a bike?

Can't wait to read your "I made it to the top" post. Soon, CP, soon.
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