2012 Vail Challenge
On Sept. 28th, a Friday, I was ready to settle in for the night with a nice glass of red wine when all of a sudden, the phone rang. It was our good friend Christina, who runs a killer PR firm in Colorado Springs. She let me know that Bristol Brewing Company had a few VIP entries into the Tour of Vail's, 100km Vail Challenge Gran Fondo on Saturday (as in, the next day). (What is a Gran Fondo?) She asked me if I wanted to go. Hmm. I took a slow sip of my red wine and cautiously answered "yes?". I was in. The instructions that followed next were nothing short of a made-for-tv-movie, super-secret package pickup. "Call so and so at this number, arrive here no later than 9:30, check in with so and so. You should be good."
Now usually, I like to plan. I like to know what I'm doing, where, at what time and how. But this? This was a mad dash to get s#!% done. I frantically searched my house for my Pikes by Bikes items. I packed, repacked, and packed again. This would be only my third time on my road bike where I've gone over 5 miles. (100km is about 62 miles) So, I was a bit nervous about what to pack or take, especially since I'd be around many pros including Timmy Duggan. My husband kept telling me that road cyclists don't take a pack...they are the pack. Hmm. The "stuffing-of-my-shirt-pockets-like-sausages" wasn't happening for me so...I took a pack.
The morning of, I work up around 5:30am and left the house at 6am. The instructions were to be at Copper NO later than 9:30am for check in. With a bright warm sun lighting up the parking lot, the trip looked promising. Thankfully, because my trip up Pikes Peak just 4 days earlier made me think I was going to loose my fingers and toes due to frostbite. 10:40 rolled around and it was time for us "amateurs" to get on the road. I was in the middle of the pack to start but quickly got passed by everyone, including the pro category which started around 11. That's ok, I had more time to take in the view and get to know folks like David who came from Texas to ride and NoTubes co-owner, Cindy Koziatek. NoTubes was a sponsor of the Tour of Vail as well as the popular race Tour of the Battenkill.
The ride itself was two legs of the Copper Triangle. It took us from Copper, south to Leadville then north to Vail. The climbs were not as hard as the long stretches of straight roads...with wind. After failing to take notice of the first Aid Station, I had to dig deeper and push on until the 2nd Aid Station at the top of Tennessee Pass.
There I enjoyed a nice PB&J, some Gatorade, twizzlers and then cruised down the pass and into Camp Hale area. Another tough spot, the climb up to Red Cliff, brought about the escort of the SAG wagon right behind me at a snail's pace. Then, downhill again into Minturn and eventually to Vail. I couldn't believe the amazing views, crisp cool fall air, golden leaves and bluebird skies. It. Was. Beautiful.
Cold beer and delicious food waited for me, as well as photo ops with Timmy and Cindy. It was an amazing opportunity, I had a great time and I want to thank Stan's NoTubes, Bicycling Magazine, Great American Cycling Series, Bristol Brewing Company, the cool professional SAG Wagon-driver-guy, my Texas partner in crime for the last couple of miles, and of course the ladies who encouraged me to go, Stephanie and Christina!
MtnMama with 2012 U.S. Road Champion, Timmy Duggan
MtnMama talking to NoTubes co-owner, Cindy Koziatek. Cindy did her best but unfortunately due to an uncooperative pedal had to ride in the SAG wagon and stare at my slow a## for too many miles!