Day 11: Canyon Hot Springs to Golden
48, 49, 50…
The seconds ticked down as I lifted out the saddle, gave out a roar and sprinted towards the finish.
Bang on 2 hours, 15 minutes and 0 seconds I slammed on the brakes and jumped off Monty, diving off the road and onto the verge where the signpost stood.
Did you see the Giro d’Italia stage this year where Visconti climbed up the Galibier in the snow? He impressively clung on and won the stage in epic style. That was me today
Here I am at the top of Roger’s Pass. I’d ascended the pass non-stop since the campsite, a solid 34km of steep climbing. I was desperate to reach the top in the fastest time possible- I’d been busting a gut trying to keep my average speed above 16km per hour.
At the top I was greeted by a tour guide and a horde of English tourists. They were trying to ask questions about my trip, where I was from, oh yes I know Oxford etc. but now I know why tour riders go straight for the team truck before they talk to the media. “Sorry, I don’t wish to be rude but I need to go now before my legs seize up,” I said jumped back on Monty.
Despite my epic ascent I still had 80km to ride.
To begin with there was a fast descent slowed only by tunnels and construction works. One tunnel was so dark that you couldn’t see the ground which was fun. The downhill felt short lived for then I began climbing again.
At 60km I stopped for lunch. I was so pumped with energy that I could only eat a few forkfuls of my pasta. I wanted to get back on the road. I stood up and looked at the road climbing up the hill ahead. And there I saw it…
The black outline hovering on the hard shoulder. Was it moving? Yes, it was moving. The bear was wandering up along the road, exactly on the hard shoulder where I wanted to cycle. My heart started pounding. I looked at an RV that was parked nearby, the woman inside looked completely unaware of the danger.
I took the monoscope out my pannier to get a better look.
Oh. It was Bryan. The guy whose recumbent bike I had tried out for size the previous evening. You will be amazed how much a recumbent bicycle looks like a bear.
I jumped back on my bike and continued up the hill. I cycled across a time zone. My legs were bursting with energy, pumping like pistons as I charged up the hill getting faster and faster. Now I was no longer in the Giro d’Italia but doing the bike leg of an Ironman. I ripped open an energy gel with my teeth and leapt out the saddle, pushing up my speed.
My legs were spinning out the kilometres faster and faster. As if I was in some sort of trance. I couldn’t stop, I didn’t stop. I just kept on racing to the finishing line.
At 100km out of nowhere three cyclists appeared on the road coming towards me. Three men. They all had thick beards and heavily loaded panniers. They cheerer, waving their arms in the arm, roaring me on. I have no idea if they were a hallucination. By this point I couldn’t tell what was uphill, what was downhill. There were only legs. Energy. Water. And scenery so sublime that I forgot at every stroke about the lactic acid in legs. I was going to win.
As I approached Golden I counted down the kilometres one by one. At each rise of the road I got out the saddle and fiercely hunted down the hills. I was getting faster and faster. I saw Bryan the bear in the distance again. I chased him down and sped past. Less than 10km to go.
Finally I skidded into the Tim Hortons at Golden to wait for Bryan. I didn’t matter that I’d beaten him (although nice that I had beaten a 34 year old man on a recumbent). I had beaten myself. My average speed we 19.3km per hour- that is faster than I usually cycle to work – and today I had cycled 118km over two mountain passes.
Sir Edmund Hillary once said “It’s not the mountain that we conquer but ourselves.”
Today I conquered both.