Women's Cycling

Ready for the warm-up

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This is my third winter in Colorado, and it’s been the most brutal, though I still can’t complain. We’ve had plenty of days in the 50s and 60s. But we’ve also had pretty consistent (weekly) snowfall. And a LOT of single-digit mornings. I’ve bike-commuted my 35-mile trip to Boulder MANY times, with tons of layers, hand-warmers, foot-warmers, and eventually completely frozen water bottles. The last time I did the commute was a week ago during the first of several 15-degree “freezing-fog” days. It was maybe the coldest I’ve ever been. Honestly, it broke me a little. I’ve had no urge to do the morning commute since. In fact, I may not ride in the morning until it’s solidly in the 30s or 40s. Something about that frozen moisture got to my bones.

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Cycling in the cold is different from any other activity in the cold, in my experience. Just a few days ago I ran 9 miles in 0-degree (but sunny) weather. It felt great! And I can ski for several hours in wind and snow and not really be bothered. (Though, I’m spoiled as a gear-tester for Backpacker Magazine to get some of the best ski jackets that money can buy…for free). Cycling, though, especially with a headwind, is something entirely different. Overall, what I’ve learned this season is, sun changes everything — sun plays by a different set of rules. Anything is possible with full-sun and low wind. And grey skies with headwind will always crush your soul.

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But we’ve made it to March. The days are more than 11-hours of light. And the recent dumping of snow means phenomenal spring flowers are in the making. I’ve still got 2 trips to Eldora on my pass, and am looking forward to some of those classic spring bluebird days. Soak it up, Colorado. Only a few more weeks and we’ll barely remember the cold, dark, mind-numbing commutes of the winter. Despite the intensity of the weather, I still can’t imagine not biking year-round. There’s always something to be gained from being outdoors. I’ve (almost) never regretted getting out in it. Anyone can ride a trainer in front of a fan and a TV inside. Climbing slick streets to see the Flatirons and pine trees dusted with snow — that’s something special, every time.



Sunshine Canyon--Gold Hill--Jamestown--Boulder

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Earlier this year I talked about Gold Hill, and how I needed to try biking all 4 roads that ended in this tiny mountain town. I recently crossed another one off the list.

Fall is really settling in to Boulder County, and this week we’ve seen temperatures dipping into the 40s over night and in the morning. I love this weather. Starting in the 40s and ending in the 70s is perfect, in my opinion.

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I set out for Gold Hill with a goal to continue on through town all the way to Highway 72 (this isn’t an actual highway, just a larger/paved road at the end of a lot of tiny gravel/dirt roads). I wore a medium-weight long-sleeved jersey and medium-weight gloves, but short bibs. It was 45 when I started at 7:30am, but I knew that if I did the entire ride, I’d get hot if I layered too much. I was really never cold: the sun beamed for the entire ride.

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After reaching Gold Hill (which alone is a decently tough HC climb from Boulder), the road narrows slightly and continues to climb. I wasn’t sure exactly how far it was to reach 72, but I figured around 5 miles…It was more like 7.5. Sometimes I like not knowing, and sometimes not knowing is torture.

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After 5,500+ feet of climbing (to around 10,000 feet) I took 72 past Ward and descended back to Boulder via Jamestown. They recently finished paving most of Overland Road, and it is like silk (especially after 17 miles of gravel!) My final climb was Olde Stage, which looks like a speed bump on the Strava report after doing Gold Hill!

Cheers to more epic fall rides!

Race/Fondo Report: Buffalo Bicycle Classic--Epic to Estes

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About a month ago I was feeling like I should have signed up for one more triathlon this season. Last year I had the Harvest Moon Long-Course, but this year I didn't really want to do another Boulder Reservoir race. I searched for cycling events instead, and found the Buffalo Classic. In its 16th year, 100% of the money from this ride funds Colorado student scholarships at the University of Colorado. There are a LOT of choices for this event, which allows almost anyone to participate. I decided to go for the toughest option: 100 miles with 8,000 feet of climb. Called the "Epic to Estes," it is aptly named. 

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Only the first 18-miles of the ride (up Boulder Canyon to Nederland) are considered a race, though I tried to ride pretty hard for the whole thing. I came away with 12th-place female and 4th in my age group. This was my first time riding up the canyon and it was a huge perk to have the road closed to traffic for that initial climb. 

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Overall, this race is really well organized. The start was right around 7am as planned (60-degrees to start the day off), and the aid stations throughout were amazing. I stopped at the snack area in Estes and was surprised to find fresh fruit, PB&J, and tons of Honey Stinger and Skratch products. I made a couple other quick stops in Lyons and at Diagonal Highway, just to fill up water. By the time I got to the last ten miles (around 1pm) it was probably around 85-degrees. 

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I was also really impressed with the signage: there are directional signs for the riders, but also TONS of signs up for vehicle traffic, to make them aware of the cyclists. They obviously can't close 100-miles of roadway, but the signage definitely made me feel safer. 

Awesome day, great weather, and amazing views of early fall foliage. I will definitely do this event again. 

 

Broadmoor Pike's Peak Hill Climb Gran Fondo

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12.42 miles, 156 turns, start elevation 9,390 feet, finish elevation 14,115 feet = 4,725 feet of climb at an average grade of 7%. 

We got an Airbnb and stayed about 30 minutes from the start, which was good considering my wave went off at 6:15am. Sunrise in the mountains was amazing. The weather was perfect: almost no wind, mid-40s at the start and mid-30s at the top. I wore light gloves and a super light wind jacket. I packed a heavy jacket and heavier gloves for the descent (a shuttle took drop bags to the top) and was pretty much perfect for the whole experience. 

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There were only about 20 women in the fondo, which I still don't really understand (why isn't this climb more popular?!) There were over 100 guys. I had no real expectations for my time, though I've been training on hills quite a bit (mostly because I just love to climb). For the first 5 miles I was back and forth between 2nd and 3rd place. Then for the rest I was back and forth between 3rd and 5th. I think I came away with 4th place, but mostly I just had a great time. The switchbacks are awesome. The last two miles are by far the toughest: not only are you nearing 14,000 feet, but it's got to be above 9% at that point. 

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I'm definitely ready to do this again. My time on the climb was 2:03:47. So, obviously I need to get sub-2. For a first-timer, I couldn't have asked for a better day.