Then just before Needles, a huge bear came bounding out of the woods, lumbered across the road right through the race and into the forest on the other side. If I hadn't stopped to fix my fallen-off chain, I would've missed the bear, so thank you crappy chain! Good thing I wasn't really racing or I would've been bummed about the lost couple of minutes I spent chasing my water bottle. I'd had a sip at the top of a hill and went to replace the bottle before speeding downhill and missed the holder. It went rolling off, but stopped before I did and I had to run uphill to get it. So much for gravity.
I suppose it allowed the blood to re-inhabit my legs for a few minutes. By the time I got to Coal Bank Pass (10,640ft) my lower extremities were so starved for circulation, I nearly fell over from light-headedness after getting off my bike.
Then things got exciting again. See that little dip in between Coal Bank and Molas Passes? There's a hairpin turn right before it starts going up and the wind loves that corner, but last Saturday was especially windy and I saw a couple of people get knocked over. Tourists! Actually, it was all I could do to keep my bike going too - thought I was rolling backwards at one point. But at least I was prepared for the blast when it came. Local knowledge helps occasionally.
Doesn't it all sound fun?
And then coming off Molas Pass, where my friends Julie and Tim called in our drink orders to the local rum distillery, two cops on motorcycles collided head on. More ambulances. That happened just behind me which was lucky because they closed the race for a half hour.
Rolled into Silverton to thousands of cheering people. Felt like Moses parting the Red Sea.
Cardamom-infused cocktails were waiting, I ran into friends at every turn, and the chili and company at the annual bike party at my friends Kim & Mike's house hit the spot.
But I'm thinking the best part still had to be the bear...