Saturday, July 4, 2009

Bicycle Tour of Colorado (BTC)

Official BTC jersey

OK, enough of the preliminaries, we came to Colorado to do the BTC.

This was the 15th edition of the BTC and it was a whopper. Over 6 days of riding (plus one rest day), we covered 553 miles and climbed nearly 32,000'. This year's tour was the most difficult in it's history. Two passes over 12,000' - Cottonwood and Independence, a 10,800+' pass over Grand Mesa, and several summits in the 8,000+' range. There were three 100+/- mile days and the shortest day was 63 miles. There was no such thing as an easy day.

But the scenery was spectacular so it made the extreme effort worth while. Colorado has experienced a very wet year with near record rainfall of nearly 5 inches in the month of June. The rivers and creeks were cranking, the land verdant and the high peaks covered in snow. Breathtaking was an understatement.

The tour did a big loop and started and ended in Glenwood Springs. The destination towns were Hotchkiss, Grand Junction, Montrose, Crested Butte (2 nights), and Buena Vista.

Over 1,600 cyclists from just about every state and 7 foreign countries participated in the BTC.

Our first campground at Sopris School in Glenwood Springs. L-R Bob T., Bob A., Dennis and Peter. It rained like heck overnight so we were a little concerned.

Lock n' Load!

Rains subsided and we're ready to ride. L-R Peter, Herb, Bob A, Frank, and me. Dennis missing and eating breakfast. Bob T. taking pic.

On to Hotchkiss . . . sun beginning to poke out

Heading up Hwys 82/133 toward Mt. Sopris

Hungry hoards at first rest stop

Frank loading up on the first of several thousand PBJ sandwiches. He was in hog heaven!

Onward toward McClure Pass

Climbing McClure Pass

View of scenic valley we passed through. Did I say the countryside was verdant?!

At summit rest stop

Cresting my first big pass . . . then 42 mile descent to Hotchkiss . . . Hee haa!!

We found Suzie hangin' out at a rest-stop everyday

Something we don't see in CA . . . a coal mine

Passing Somerset Coal Mine

OK, now where's my luggage??

Tent City at Hotchkiss High

A grueling day . . . climbing 40+ miles toward Grand Mesa . . . but the skies are blue

Dramatic views of valley where we started

At around 7,000', hitting aspen forests

After about 4 hours of climbing, finally arrive at Grand Mesa Summit

Start of 50 mile descent off Grand Mesa. Looking north toward Colorado River. Totally awesome descent!

PBJ crew at one of rest stops

This father and son duo pulled me over Cerro Summit (Hwy 50) into fierce headwinds. On way from Montrose to Crested Butte.

Bucolic ranch scene with grand views

Cresting Blue Mesa Summit

Blue Mesa Reservoir and Dillon Pinnacles

Rest stop at Blue Mesa

Crankin' toward Crested Butte which is nestled in snow-capped bowl . . . great road, awesome views!

Click on pic for grand view

Tent City in Crested Butte

Main Street in Crested Butte . . . cool town with great eateries. Enjoyed layover day here.

Great lunch . . . we're still smilin' after 4 grueling days

The rain/sun canopy came in handy . . . emphasis on rain

My hero . . . Stephen . . . massage therapist who kept my muscles nimble. It was a lucrative week for the team of 20 therapists.

Small world encounter. Reunion with Mark Shimoda, an oral surgeon from Denver, who I met in Patagonia, AZ a couple years ago.

Riding by Twin Lakes and Mt. Elbert, (hidden in clouds) tallest peak in CO at 14, 431'

Before every summit, Beryl the bell ringer, encourages riders to give one last push

Independence Pass just over the last hump

Hoo hee! The last big pass of the tour. It's all downhill for the next 60 miles!!

Port-o- potties with a view

Rest stop at Independence Pass

Celebratin' with a cup-o-joe in hand with Bob T., Bob A., and Dennis. Gee . . . I wonder who sagged in the last day??

Start of grand descent into Aspen

Peter crosses finish line at Sopris School in Glenwood Springs . . . where we started the tour 7 days ago

Plunging into the hot springs at Glenwood Springs to soothe our tired muscles

A great way to end the tour

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