Stage 3, June 26
Start - Winter Park. Finish - Avon
95 miles / 153 kms
6,630 feet / 2,000 meters
Highest Point - 8,901 feet / 2,713 meters
Passes - Cottonwood Pass, Trough Road and Wolcott Climb
Ride Time: 5:04:51
Stage Time: 2:07:23
TSS/Suffer Score: 313
Position on Day: 69
Overall GC Position: 61
50-59 Male Position on Day: 7
50-59 Male GC Position: 6
Haute Quote: "After the last two stages, today will be pleasant."
Early morning deep in the narrow valley surrounding Winter Park Resort is cold and sunless. In June, lows are near 40 and the sun takes its time before making an appearance, especially at 6:30 as riders line up for the start of Mavic Haute Route Rockies Stage 3.
On Winter Park Drive riders shiver and rub their legs to warm up in the starting pen. Next to me is rider #244 - Mark Fuller from Tucson. We chat for a few minutes and he stares at my handlebars.
"Notes showing riders ahead and behind me on GC."
"50-59 category competition?"
"That's my number," as he points to #244.
"You're just behind me, but within striking distance."
"We'll see. Have a great ride."
400 riders lurch forward for a fast massive group descent into town. Stomachs turn. It's cold and we're bombing down Highway 40 with riders of varying ability on a road covered with cracks and post-winter potholes. Everyone survives, but the smell of brakes burning carbon rims is in the air.
By the time we reach the 2nd segment up Cottonwood Pass on dirt I'm feeling pretty good and ride well.
Finishing the segment with Sauli and Brooke we stop to fill bottles at an aid station where I promptly lose my glasses. No idea what happened to them, but I jokingly ask Sauli to tie a string to me and guide me the remainder of the ride. Luckily, I have a spare pair in my "Bike-In-A-Box" box to use for the remaining stages.
John is a former faux pro cyclist enjoying life as a geriatric rider in search of great bucket rides to keep him in shape and out of trouble - well, at least in shape.
He writes about his Bucket Rides in all their variety and glory for Granfondo.com. See his other pieces here.