The parking lot in the middle of town was full of about 100 riders the next morning. It was about 32 degrees but I thought it felt nice. For some reason everybody left me while I was still sitting in the car. I got out and saw the group leaving town but caught back on by the time we hit the gravel road. There were many of the usual suspects there from the Gunnison Valley (and I don't think there's any slow dudes in that entire area and most of them were riding single speeds). We finally hit singletrack and I knew right away it was gonna be a looooong day. I just didn't feel good and was too busy looking at stuff. I felt like poop the first lap. Like when you look down thinking, "I'm still in the big ring" and then realize you're in the small ring.
Back at the car I realized that my front caliper was loose and had been rubbing but even that's not that much resistance. I just had nothing. I made the repair and looked over the rest of the bike, downed some food and took off for lap 2. Last year this lap was my nemesis. I walked tons of it. It starts off with some singletrack leaving town and then hits a gravel road called Slate D'Huez. It was slow going and I felt like more poop but I was able to climb all of it. I rode most of that climb going back and forth with some local guy. He'd stop to put on sunscreen and offer me some as I'd pass. I'd stop to take photos and he'd pass. He'd stop to get a bite to eat and ask if I wanted some as I went by. I'd stop to take more pics. Finally, he stopped to smoke a bowl and asked if I wanted to join him (I declined) and I didn't see him again. Maybe it was some good shit? About halfway up Slate there was a truck parked with some rowdy people around it. When I approached, a guy ran down to me and was yelling and asked me what I needed. I asked what he had and he said, Coke, Jack Daniels, Pabst, and..............bacon. So....I had a Coke and some bacon.
After lap 2, I did not feel so hot. I sat in the car, called Heather and tried to get some food down. I was gonna give myself an hour to rest. I ended up heading out after about 45 minutes. The climb out of town just would not end. Up at Lake Irwin it keeps climbing and then turns to trail. The trail ends up dumping you back on a road and then you have to climb 5 miles back up Kiebler Pass and then it's probably 7 miles back to town. The temps were nice (mid 50's and not a cloud in the sky) but even while climbing, I was getting cold. I stopped to put on 2 base layers, fleece gloves, a hat, and finally......a jacket. Right before hitting the trail I started to get worried. I stopped to think things over and then ended up turning around and heading back into town. It was a fantastic day in the mountains. I was right at 12 hours on the bike with somewhere between 85 and 90 miles and maybe 13,000ish' of climbing. Couldn't have asked for a nicer day. Tough guy Kelly Magelky finished the route in 8 hours and 13 minutes which is mind boggling. Didn't see a ton of familiar faces but I did spend a good bit riding and talking with Jefe Branham and I hadn't seen him since last August on the Colorado Trail. He's always a great guy to spend time with.
I made it back to the car and got semi-cleaned up and then decided to get on the road. I ended up getting home at 10 or so. I want to do more of the longer stuff but I'm really beginning to want to be on my own schedule. It absolutely pained me to pass up all the gorgeous water I saw without getting to know some of the beautiful trout that call it home.