For those of you who followed the cycling progress of the Men's Day 1, you now get the second dose of the following day. Day 2 gives the unfolding of the events that took place on the "Way Back" to Telluride, and without further ado, it went something like this:
Erik and Steve headed out early, while the rest of us woke up whenever, had coffee and enjoyed our usual morning rituals. At around 7:15am we all met at Double Tree where Ralph and the car were all ready to take the day on.
The morning was a bit nippy, and there was a westerly wind a-blowing. We all had our jackets on to start off, and slowly we started making our way up Hesperus Hill. Not 10 minutes into our ride, I get a rear flat. Ohhh boy... this was not a good sign. I feel stupid and wave the guys to just keep going, but Rick and Oz offer to stop and mentor me through the tyre change. The task goes fairly quickly (as some of you know I have had a bit of practice as of late), and these guys pace me up the hill to the top, where Bertrand and Joel are waiting in the sun like fat cats.
We roll down the backside of Hesperus Hill and continue on towards the next bump in the road; Mancos Hill. The sun has been warming this stretch of fresh asphalt for a couple of hours by now, and we roll at a decent pace.
Back when I lived in this town, a group of us would ride this, as part of our Saturday Roubaix Ride in pursuit of dirt roads through the Cherry Creek Canyon, which lies ahead. This highway has rumple strips next to the shoulder, and we would straddle this path as a warm up on our way to dirt. For old time sake I decide to take a turn and "feel the vibration" once again. I sense the calcium being rattled out of my bones, and realize that I am half the man I used to be so, I quickly get off and back to smooth pavement. Ahhh.... Better.
We don't get too far ahead when Rick pulls off. Another flat! Hmmm... By this time I'm starting to feel like the wheels may be coming off of this gypsy wagon. So we stop to return the favor, and once all changed up in new rubber, we roll on.
Close to Mancos, the group veers off yet again. Someone dropped their pump. Oh Jeeezzz. What's happening here?
ON-OFF-ON-OFF-ON-OFF-ON - this starts to feel like a cyclocross race.
Well, we're in Mancos now, and even though we lost so much time with mechanicals, we decide to stop. Running behind schedule, we make a point to make it quick. We blow the doors off the Mancos Grocery store, each one of us making a mad dash through the aisles, driven by our individual needs. I go straight to the doughnut case, where stale pastries ooze with radioactive filling. For some unknown reason, these just look good and I grab a mighty fine looking cherry turnover.
The three steps to the checkout line are far too long for this goodness to wait, so I can't fight the urge, and shove the whole thing in my pie hole.
Like Sylvester the Cat with Tweety in his mouth and feathers sticking out from between his lips, I make it to the cash register, filo dough on my face and I try to explain my purchase. The lady understands, and the deal is settled with minimum amount of words exchanged. Thank you ma'am! You have done me a tremendous good here.
Back outside, I notice an official bronze plaque mounted next to the door. Since the humor is right up my alley I take a snap shot to share with you.
Well, the day is just getting away from us, so Joel rolls ahead, with the rest of us following. But Alas!
We don't get too far because there is a flagger up ahead holding a crooked stop sign. Somehow Joel makes it through though, and keeps on, while the rest of us are stopped and having to wait. Suspecting something fishy, Rick asks the flagger lady if Joel slipped her a few dollars to let him through; a reasonable assumption of course. Well, this young lass makes a face and goes:
"Man You Guys are Worse Than Bikers!"
Then something curious happens. Everything gets very still and quiet and I hear a coin drop, then gears turning. A few moments later the gal speaks again:
"Ummm.... I Mean..... Ummmm Like.... Guys on Motorcycles...."
We're all left speechless, and from somewhere I hear the faint tune of
"Home of the Freee...
Ohhh...Ain't That America...."
Quietly we mount our steeds and with heads hung low, we part with the Stop Sign Handler, and leave that discourse where it dropped; flat on the ground.
Anyways, after some time, Joel and I end up riding together and the conversation starts. This guys is so funny that I laughed my head off for about 15 miles.
"You from Bulgaria?" he asks
"No" I say "Romania"
To most folks the Balkan countries are a grey mix of cold, communist concrete forming the Eastern Block. Pretty accurate assessment I must say.
Good Times non-the-less!
Joel, his humor, and I take the shortcut and end up at the Dolores Market where the boys were waiting. Here, we go through the same rituals as at other stops and take a bit to lounge on the seats in front of the store. Like greeters, we are courteous to the patrons and even open a few doors for old ladies.
68 Miles to Telluride says the sign. We all know that this will be a long leg and after eating too much we saddle up.
But Fate is not done with us and like another practical joke we are stopped dead in our tracks by the sound of gun shot. Ranches of the Wild West here. We look around then pull off. Joel had a blowout. I crap you not, boys and girls. A cartoonist couldn't draw this better. Check out the photo of his shredded tube!
We are all to eager jump to Joel's aid and offer our CO2 cartridges and spare tubes. The man gets the change done, attaches the cartridge to the valve stem and shoots the air. Booom!
Well, the situation was more dire than a simple flat. The whole tyre blew. Folks, please use Michelins next time.
We're now left like sitting ducks or better yet, like we're fish and Fate is shooting in the barrel. Ralph, our support, had already left by this time and headed to the Bear Creek Trailhead. We weigh our options and make a plan. We're men and we solve problems, right?
So Rick, never tiring, offers to ride back to Dolores in search for a cell signal to contact Ralph. The rest of us put our thumbs out to hopefully get some vehicular help. Then like grown, mature men the wise cracks start:
"Noo, no! don't flag the nice cars with bike racks, wait for the rusted flat bed truck!"
"Broke Back Mountain Bro"
"Take your jersey off man! you have a better chance of getting picked up in just your bibs"
Needless to say, cars do long arcs around us and speed up. Not surprised though, considering a bunch of grown men in lycra and tap dance shoes, laughing on the side of the road; left behind by the Bolshoi Ballet Tour on their way to the Sky Ute Casino perhaps?
Bertrand finally has enough and puts an end to the tomfoolery. In his French accent the man brings some common sense to the situation:
"Guys, we need to go. He has a better chance getting picked up if he's by himself"
Good point he makes and we get back on the bikes and ride off leaving Joel to fend for himself. After a few miles, we see the "Team" car speed past us going back. Rescue at last! I'm sure Joel felt like Shackleton reaching Elephant Island. Thanks Ralph!
Anyways, back to the action, Rick catches back up and he and Bertrand ride off ahead. The rest of us slog along on our death march and it goes like this all the way to Rico.
Here, Ralph and Steve are waiting for us, and Ralph informs us that Joel got a new tyre and is back on. Wow! Personally I would have put my bike on the rack and packed up for the day.
Okie Dokie finally we are at our last leg. The long day is starting to take a toll on us but we have no other choice but to keep on truckin'. Steve, Oz and I ride on and up Lizardhead. Climbing this gives me a second wind and by the top the morale is almost intact.
Here a group of mountain bikers from the Front Range, who were riding to Durango, ask us about the best way to reach their destination. Oz and I give them completely contradictory directions, but the confidence with which we did, gave us much credibility in their eyes and they pedal off to their perdition. We meant well though....
However, before they left, and with much reverence, they did take this pic of their mountain guides.
From here, the trio of us continues on towards home and with renewed strength of "being almost there" we roll into town all composed and proper.
It was a big ride and with the series of unfortunate events that plagued us, Joel especially, I have to say it was quite the rewarding experience.
A bit later Joel sent this photo.
A couple of days later, I ran into this gentleman, and expressed to him that, had it been me, I would have packed it up and jumped in the car.
Smiling he said:
"I had to get back on and finish the ride, as I couldn't live with myself if I quit"
...and with those words I realized that this was the spirit we all strive for but few of us achieve.
After all, Genghis Khan, had to get back up on his midget pony time and again, regardless of the saddle sores he must have experienced bouncing around all across Eurasia. He stayed on, and because of that, we now read about this mongoloid and his ravaging exploits through the modern world. The stuff legends are made of, by just staying in the saddle...
And there you have it! Everyone made it back well and intact. Big Thanks to Ralph who offered us his Time, Expertise and Support along the way. Thank you sir!
Same thanks to everyone else for a great experience... and the wives for letting us go.
Till next year...