Boulder train-cation: day 4

Thursday was our big ride day. And by big, I mean BIG! 

Karel and I thought it would be "fun" to finish our ride with a climb back to our cabin on top Sunshine Canyon.....the 6.5 mile descend was a lot of fun to start but it was a little reminder of what's to come at the end of our ride. 

Staying on top of Sunshine Canyon has been a treat for every ride that we do, we start and finish at Centennial Park Trailhead and the drive up and down is absolutely beautiful. 

Thankfully, my descending skills have improved greatly since moving to Greenville so I have felt really confident going down the mountains (but nowhere near Karel's descending skills).  

We waited a few minutes for our friends to get ready and then we were off to Old Stage road to start our ride. 

The ride through Left Hand Canyon was absolutely beautiful. Tall rocky mountains and a flowing creek to the side of the road. 

A few of the guys went a different route and then heading up to Ward and Karel, Adam Baskin and Chris and I started our long climb up to Ward.

The climb was steady. It wasn't steep but it wasn't flat. It kinda felt like a false flat for a good 8 miles or so and then it kicked up before the final push to the town of Ward. 

I found myself settling into a rhythm with the guys and I was able to hang for a mile....and then another mile..and then another mile. 

The guys were averaging around 10-13mph so I did the simple math and I guesstimated that this 10.5 mile climb would take us/them around an hour-ish.

I told myself, one hour of suffering was on the table and I was up for the challenge. The effort was steady but the lack of oxygen was definitely the biggest limiter for me. 

There were several times when I was uncomfortably breathing but I told myself to just hang on. I was constantly playing games with myself (mentally) and just convincing myself that I was ok...when clearly, by my breathing, I was not comfortable.
But, I was hanging on and was determined to make it until I couldn't make it anymore.

I kept an eye on my Garmin 810 and when we were getting close to 50 minutes, I could feel the road pitch-up and I was really having trouble staying on Karel and Adam's wheel (Chris had dropped back around 9 miles into the climb).

I let the guys go but I could still see them in sight and before I knew it, I was at the general store in Ward and I could finally rest my legs on the ground. 

Holy cow. I couldn't believe I just did that. 

Out of everything in the store, a pop-tart sounded the best...and for some reason, it tasted amazing. 

Karel was so proud of me...it took me a bit to gather myself but I finally pulled myself together.

We took a quick bathroom stop....

Chilaxed a little in Ward...

And then it was time to climb some more. 

After our stop, we had 5 more miles of climbing and we finally got our reward.....

10,300 elevation. 

And we got a few pictures to prove it! 

What an amazing experience. Here are the stats:
From the bottom of Left Hand Canyon to the Lake: 19 miles, 5400 feet of climbing,
1 hour and 32 minutes of climbing

And what goes up...must come down. Weeeeeeee. 31 miles of descending (with a few rollers).
It took Karel 1 hour and 11 minutes to descend 31 miles.

The wind was a bit sketchy at times as we were descending to the town of Nederland  but the roads were open and the views were breathtaking. 

After we re-grouped before the descent into the town, Karel and I went ahead so that we could get a head start since we had one last climb back to our cabin (the guys had the van parked at the park).

The descend into Boulder was unreal - big rocky mountains.
I just love being on my bike....and being so close to nature. 

I forced myself to keep a positive attitude for our 6.5 mile climb back to the cabin on Sunshine Canyon road but I could tell that my body was tired.
2200 feet of climbing in 6.92 miles and in barely under an hour later, Karel and I were finally done with our BIG ride. 

Just a snapshot of our ride.
Total elevation gain: 13,000!!!
And boy, did we feel it! The scenery is amazing here but I can't wait to get back to my oxygen in Greenville, SC next week! 

After a recovery snack and recovery meal, Karel and I rested as the guys headed to Pearl Street Mall and around 5pm, Karel and I found some energy to get to downtown for some food. 

What a great group!

Karel and I ate at the same restaurant where the guys ate an hour earlier. We all ended up at The Lazy Dog.

I got the hummus plate with a Caesar Salad  and Karel yummed over wings and a local IPA. 

What an amazing day on two wheels. I was so proud of my body and I didn't once forget how far I have come with my cycling skills and my love for riding my bike. 

Stay tuned for day 5 of our train-cation. 50 days until the 2015 IM World Championship and the fun continues with a 3+ hour run/bike/run workout for me and Karel.