Just got back from this year's CB Classic 100.
What a great event. What a cool bunch of people. What a tired pair of legs.
Trailriders Trail #401
The Classic is a three-loop series. This year they changed the order. Rather than starting us out with the Strand Hill-Deer Creek loop we started with the Slate River Road climb (the Slate D’huez) to #403, then down to the Schofield Pass Road, up to #401, then down the first leg of #401 and back to town.
That 401-403 loop is pretty huge. Getting it out of the way first, before the sun is high in the sky was nice. Doing Strand Hill-Deer Creek loop in the noon-day heat wasn't so nice, but I'm not sure there's a way to make Deer Creek nice.
Last year I was utterly shelled after the first two loops. I dropped out reluctantly mid-afternoon and took a nap. This year I felt really confident that my fitness was better, and I knew more what to expect (which is always helpful).
This year, I finished the 2nd loop and rolled back into town at around 3:45 PM. I carefully re-packed water and calories, lubed my chain, and headed out toward Keblar Pass to finish up with the Dyke Trail loop.
Ah yes--long, steady climb on tired legs after over 9 hours of effort. Nothing to do but do it.
It was supposedly only 7 miles from the Brick Oven Pizzeria to Keblar Pass, slightly less to our turn towards Lake Irwin just east of the pass. But it felt like 15. The road to Lake Irwin--oh my goodness. It wasn't that far, and it really wasn't that steep. But it was a dose of suffering on top of several prior doses of suffering.
My legs were making a pretty strong case for stopping. I dinged my left kneecap in a crash a week ago. That knee cap was sending me a message on every single crank revolution.
I had never ridden the Dyke Trail before yesterday. After so much climbing to the trailhead, and with the knowledge that I would have to climb back to Keblar Pass from the other side after completing the Dyke, I just assumed that this had to be a Chaffee-County-style 1-way downhill run. Maybe some trivial climbing, but mostly just a disc brake pad-eating contest. But I should know better. CB doesn't roll that way.
At first Dyke followed a descent-short climb pattern that fit pretty well with my expectations. I passed through the beautiful stands of huge aspen trees that are so typical of the CB part of Colorado. It was lovely.
Then the trail turned in a direction that I thought was completely wrong. It was heading sort of north and west toward the Raggeds Wilderness and the climbing went hike-a-bike. I was transported back to the nightmare hike-a-bike I had lived through hours earlier in the middle of the Deer Creek Trail. But now it was after 6 PM and I'd been riding since 7 AM. Once again, I broke out into a full body sweat. And of course doubt (how can this be right?) troubled my tired brain.
After what seemed like a really long hike-a-bike the trail topped out and turned south, back toward the Keblar Pass Road. Now came the brake pad burning bit. My heart got a little fluttery during this descent, the after-effect of the huge energy output of the hike-a-bike on my tired body. I took several half-a-flask gulps of HammerGel and washed it down with HEED water.
When I finally returned to the Keblar Pass Road I was feeling pretty much spent. How far climbing to get to the pass? How long will it take? This is part of endurance racing, especially on a course you don't know. You have to accept that it will be as much climbing as it will be, and it will take exactly as long as it will take. Find a rhythm and deal.
It was about 6:30, perhaps 6:45 PM when I started climbing back to Keblar. I got back to Crested Butte to finish at the Brick at around 7:45. My official time was 12:30. Fine with me. Done before sundown would have been fine with me.
I had a wonderful dinner with Ed and Jeny, and with Dave and his pretty wife on the patio at a chinese restaurant on Elk Street in CB as the sun set. We had one of those unusually lively conversations among people who should have been too tired to feed themselves, but for whom the day had been stimulating enough to breath artificial energy into our brains.
What a great event. I like it even more now that I've finished it.