24 August 2011

Stage 2 - Pedaling at Altitude

Dancing on the Pedals on Independence Pass - USA Pro Cycling Challenge Stage 2
I am chasing the USA Pro Cycling Challenge and blogging as a fan. Playing tourist in my own state of Colorado.
Stage facts: 
Stage 2: 131.1 miles from Gunnison to Aspen
How I enjoyed the day: 
I rode my bike to Independence Pass! I was just below the KOM marker at the top with friends. I drove into Vail after the race and am now staying at the Tivoli Lodge.
My day as a fan:
The ride up the pass was beautiful. I started the climb from the town of Twin Lakes, keeping a slow pace enjoying the views and talking to people along the way. I met Betsy from Vail who taught me about searching for mushrooms in the forest. When it started to rain I looked over to see 15 cyclists crammed in under a tent shelter, I said, "that looks too good to miss," and joined in, waiting out the brief showers. 

I asked, "who are our hosts" and learned our host was a woman from The Netherlands married to an American living in Aspen, whose father was visiting the United States for 2 months and happened to be Ted Blom, an old cyclist from back in the day:

Here is Ted (Theo) Blom today with his very kind family under the shelter tent:

When the rain let up, I thanked our hosts and began to pedal again, almost immediately a man came from behind me and said, "are you Pedal Dancer?" "Yes." Tom Murphy and his wife Courtney were from Gunnison, CO, and also traveled to France last year. They have plans to go again next year to see the Tour de France. I was very interested in hearing their stories as we rode for miles up Independence Pass. They had once operated a lodge in Alaska, and appreciated the Pyrenees, and especially the French hospitality. They also enjoyed traveling in the same manner as me. 
It was wonderful to meet them since we shared a joy for long mountain climbs, (and not just the big names), plus good accommodations and food, very similar travel tastes to Mike whom I met yesterday and saw again today. I was happy to see Mike at the top of the Pass. We shared a great time on the rainy descent after the stage today, although it was cold! I absolutely love descending after a stage among the cyclists and cars and excitement of the day.
Story from the day:
Today was all about the mountain top fans, and the characters and fans I met along the way. 

The Hooters guy (I'm sort of glad you can't see his hairy backside in this pic), cracks me up that he is wearing a Road ID
Characters & kids on the mountain top!
Waiting fans were cheering these unicycle kids like crazy
With some live bluegrass music at the top, the mood and setting were fantastic
Although this mountain top KOM experience was much more sober and all the fans were speaking English, I'd say Colorado pulled off a fantastic showing for Stage 2 today. The fans lined the pass, and were so numerous at the top, the cars and riders could barely squeeze through. 
Fans I met:
I again ran into Cristienne Beame and her husband, and my teammates Sherman Towsley, and also Michael Gibson and Carlos Casali and his sons. I again saw Jay and Mike that I met yesterday: 
Michael Gibson and Sherman Towsley
Adam and Carlos Casali
Jay from Stage 1
Mike from Cottonwood Pass
Pictures from the day:
Riding up Independence Pass on Stage 2 USAPCC
This family was from Truckee, California
The excitement built as we could see the race approaching up the pass
the riders and cars flew by in the narrow passage
Carlos and his sons were sprinting up the road with the riders, providing great entertainment for us. I mostly watched the riders come by, looking into their faces of pain, and cheering them on. 

Being on Independence pass today, in Colorado, with the crazy fans and cheerful friends and wild weather was an amazing experience. I was so happy to be there. I hope you all come out next year, especially since I hear the TV coverage did not do it justice at all. It was epic.