Another day in Paradise! Amazingly it just keeps getting better with more pleasant surprises. Today was longer at 87 miles but mostly "rolling hills"as we made our way to Pagosa Springs. At least they felt that way after the monster climbs we've done the last several days.
The only unpleasant surprise was a Shull's Mill Rd climb right out of the parking lot (8 miles at 6 per cent) and into a blinding sun on a narrow busy road. I had thought we were going to descend back into town but I guessed completely wrong. What a way to wake up and start the day!
Today's highlights were:
Catching on the back of a really fast tandem midway when I was feeling the miles.
Traveling through the valley floor with mountains on both sides and lots of swift flowing rivers.
Hitting a rest stop fairly early when I was beginning to feel puny- and a fella was griddling all you can eat pancakes from his secret batter recipe-I ate 5 with lots of syrup plus sausage and the sugar kicked in fairly quickly.
I've definitely been in calorie deficit and even had a large breakfast but it was burned up in the first hour on that climb.
On most longer rides I generally tend to just wave at the volunteers and keep on riding. I've learned I've pushed things hard enough and long enough here that it helps to take a break and eat up.
Near mid day I really got a a wild hair and tried an energy wrap which is bananas, pnut butter, honey and raisins in a wrap. I thought the raisins might eject themselves but it seemed to help-but next time I'll have them leave out the raisins.
About 30 miles from the finish I hooked up with a local rider who was out doing a training ride not connected with our ride. It was really neat having someone along that could describe the landmarks as we pedaled along. What are the chances of that! I did get lectured by a Hwy Patrolman escorting us on a motorcycle for riding side by side with the fella so we picked our spots to socialize after that.
We also picked up another rider who had never ridden in a paceline and convinced her to give it a try. She discovered how easier it was to ride behind someone. About this time all the sugar and food had kicked in so I pulled our growing group into the finish the last 20 miles. I was riding so well I had to back off to make sure our nice group stayed together.
It was a different ride than what we'd been doing but I think most folks were ready for that type of ride. I keep bumping into tons of people I've met and that has been a blast.
Tomorrow starts with a long challenging climb up Wolfs Creek Pass where we'll get into the upper atmosphere again. It's hard to believe we've ridden 5 days and only have 2 days left. I'll be looking for more pleasant surprises the last 180 miles!