Time: 2.5 hours
Distance: 31.1 miles/ 2147* (1414**) feet elevation gain
Average speed: 12.2 MPH
Weather: ranged from mid 70s to upper 80s, sunny
Ride Rating: F-Yeah/5 😉
So. Yeah. We just did that. Today, the boyfriend and I did the 25th annual Elephant Rock bike ride. It started from the Douglas county fairgrounds, followed the route identified on the map, and returned to the fairgrounds. The ride was promoted as a “34 mile” route, but was closer to 31 according to my ride computer. There were also 62 and 100 mile courses, a 25 mile fat tire course that followed the 34 for some of the way, and a 7 mile family course.
This is not my first sponsored ride, as I did the Buff Bicycle Classic 1/2 Century in Boulder last year, but this was the first one for boyfriend. We did the 34 due to the “extreme” hills. Now, it’s not really a massive hill climb route for anyone who does this on a regular basis, but we’re both new at biking, and our rides have never tackled this many hills yet. We wanted to do this kind of hill climb on a supported route, with rest stops, and sag wagons in case something terrible happened.
Well, nothing terrible happened.
In fact, only AWESOME happened.
We left our house at 7:20 in the morning, grabbed bagels from the best damn Jewish Deli there is, and headed down to Castle Rock. After being shepherded into the parking lot, we got all kitted out, suited up, sunscreen coated, helmeted, and ready to go. We hopped on and rode about 500 feet to get to the staging area, where I picked up a cup of coffee, and had the guys at the REI tent check and fill my tires. We grabbed a seat on the grass for a short rest before starting, so that I could finish my coffee, and played with an adorable white labradoodle puppy named Oscar. At 8:40, we headed out for the ride.
The hills started almost immediately. From our starting elevation of 6300 feet, we climbed to 6600 before we were even 3 miles in. The thing that made this ride tough was that in steeling yourself for the three big climbs, it was easy to overlook the fact that there were almost constant climbs that were just not rated. I have to hand it to the people who did this ride on cruisers, hybrids, mountain bikes, and the like. I was especially impressed by the couple with baby seats on the backs of their bikes, and the handful of kids along for the ride on their own bikes or the attached half-bikes. Those little legs were pedaling like crazy.
So, hill one was a cat 4, and it just came at you right at the beginning. Then there was a lovely downhill, a rest stop, and then the giant hill in the middle. Map My Ride only considered the second half a “rated” climb, but the length made it a nice challenge. The rest stop was at the top of that, with a descent, and then a short, brisk climb to the highest point. We picked up a girl around this point that was pacing us pretty well, so we managed to converse most of the way through that, and not focus on the climbing. After that, a sweet, long downhill again, where I got up to 37.8 miles an hour. There was another short, steep climb, which was surprisingly difficult for a lot of people – altitude, place in the ride, and distance from the previous rest stop meant a lot of people walked up it. There’s no shame in walking! But boyfriend and I managed to both stay in the saddle, get up the hill, and then down a huge, sweeping, curving descent into the city again, and back to the fairgrounds. We managed to avoid sunburns, avoid crashing, and avoid bonking.There was one moment when I almost crashed quite horribly, but managed to stay upright and in control at 19 mph on a turn with a bit of road damage, but other than that, no fear of anything!
When we got back to the fairgrounds, there was a full dinner waiting, but I wasn’t really hungry at all. In fact, I still haven’t eaten anything other than a half a chocolate bar just a little while ago, and I’m thinking it may be time to either order sushi for delivery, or tear into leftover pizza. I’ve been drinking water all afternoon, and still feeling a bit dehydrated from the heat and sweat.
I also did this ride in a new jersey and shorts, which maybe helped? I’m not sure. The jersey is the Twin Six Schoolgirl for 2012, a black and blue number that pretty much matches my bike. The shorts are Pearl Izumi Attack shorts, which have a bit firmer chamois than my old BornFit shorts. I did feel some pain in my sit bones starting around mile 26, but that may be just my but getting used to the bike and the distance.
I have more things to write about the bike itself, and the handling, but for now – I need to find some sushi. Overall though, this was a great ride, and I am glad we did it. The distance wasn’t hard, but the climbs made it long, so I am feeling a bit wiped out, but not wrecked. We did take a nice long nap when we got home, and are now just waiting for the promised thunderstorms to roll in and make it a lovely evening.
*Elephant Rock Map calculation
**Map My Ride gps calculation