Day 7 of Ride the Rockies brought mixed feelings. On one hand I could ride here forever but on the other hand it felt like it was time to stop. Scott Olson and I began our day at McDonalds which opened at 5:00 a.m. (like they should have).
Once on the road the two of us stayed together through Florence. As we were leaving, and I was missing some photo ops, we were joined by two, then three other riders including a medic. And we were flying.
If I was actually up to hammering it all the way to Colorado Springs I was not in the mood to do so. Unlike Scott, who wanted to get there, tear down and pack his bike, grab his luggage and catch a noon bus to the Denver airport, I had no where to go except Hays, Kansas, after the closing ceremony.
After doing a pull for our group, I moved aside and let them go. One rider saw me and drifted back briefly to pull me back in but I told them to go on. I was happy riding my own pace.
They picked up 50, then 100, then 200 meters on me then I quit watching. I shouldn't have. Moments later I came upon a rider standing in the right lane of two motioning all cyclists into the travel lane and away from the shoulder. I saw a couple of riders down on the shoulder. I thought I hope it's not Scott. But it was.
I stopped as did a second medic (one of our riders in the group was a medic and immediately was administering first aid) and quickly did what I could which was to help direct oncoming cyclists away from the danger spot - an uneven and open seam in the concrete highway.
|The SAG wagon you don't want to get into|
The Colorado State Police, on motorcycles, soon arrived and the ambulance was not far behind. I was able to help lift Scott to put the board underneath him and then onto the stretcher. While we made plans for me to pick up his bike in Colorado Springs after it was SAGged there, that would not be necessary as RTR took care of that.
Scott and a second rider went to the hospital and I was pretty shaken up. It was hard to ride after that.
In comparison, the rest of the day was uneventful. I rode slow just talking to spectators and riders. At the second rest stop one rider asked me if I actually did the Mount Washington Auto Road Hillclimb (that was the jersey I was wearing). We chatted. He wanted to try it but thought it would be too hard.
A few pictures. A few more miles and then I arrived the finish line. It didn't feel like an accomplishment although many people were celebrating it as such. It was just over.
|A USPS bike from Lance's early years|
I loved it. I was asked by Lauren Hunt of the Davis Phinney Foundation to return next year and ride for them - a real honor to be sure. The memories I take are not of the riding although hard to beat a six mile stretch off Wolf Creek Pass where I averaged 40 mph. But I will remember the people - Chris and Erin, the kayakers in Telluride; George Hincapie and Connie Carpenter; Bob Roll, the rider from Haymarket; a veterinarian from San Diego; an 8 year old boy at Oak Lodge in Pagosa Springs; Lauren Hunt and Jenna from the Davis Phinney Foundation; Ron Keifel and his sister, Erlinda; the paraplegics riding with hand cranks; and Margaret and John riding with Parkinson's. And many more which I have left off.
This is one event that I hope to return to.