On the Peak to Peak- Up so many feet!

Over Memorial Day weekend, I was staying up in Allenspark, CO for a family wedding in the area. Of course, I jumped at the chance to pack my bike (and shoes, helmet, etc) and get in an early morning ride in an area that I had read about, but not had the chance to cycle yet: the Peak to Peak highway.

The weather was less than cooperative all weekend. In fact, we ended up in a massive hail storm waiting for the wedding ceremony to start on Sunday. Needless to say, they ended up getting married inside. I woke up on Saturday morning feeling ready to go, but a little nervous to biking alone in a place that I was unfamiliar with and that had limited cell phone reception. I gingerly stepped out of bed at 5:00 a.m. in the cabin, shivering under my sweatshirt. Of course it would be below 40 degrees on the morning I wanted to ride. . .

I layered up, cursing myself for not bringing my toe covers and hoping that an extra pair of socks would keep my feet warm (spoiler alert: they didn’t). A bagel and cream cheese later and I was out the door, wobbling through the gravel driveway of our cabin to the main road.


On the Peak to Peak Highway!

I’ve been riding a bike for a while now and it has become my favorite part of my triathlon training. I think some of it has to do with the fact that it is the discipline that I seem to have the most natural ability in. I also love that it gets me outside and lets me go further and explore places that I will generally never get while just running.

I knew the ride would be challenging as I was starting out at 8500′. The start of my ride was cold and harsh as I struggled to get my muscles warm on a few small climbs, only to find myself heading back downhill again (in the cold wind!) after just reaching the top and warming up. But then I settled into a rhythm and got comfortable in my surroundings: there was a nice wide shoulder on the road and very little traffic at that time of the morning. I cruised along highway 7 until finally making a right turn onto the Peak to Peak highway.

My plan was to ride all the way to Ward, but after a few miles on the highway, my toes were painfully cold and I could feel my legs begin to bog down from all the climbing. I started to head down a steep decline that I wasn’t sure I could turn around and come back up, so I pulled over, ate a snack, and headed back.

Back up into Allenspark I realized just how much descending I had done on the way out, because now I was heading up, up, up! While I couldn’t get Strava to work for me as I didn’t have any cell reception to start out, I later looked up the route to discover I climbed a segment titled, “l’Alpe de’Allen,” which felt about right.

It was a long, slow climb. I ride a full sized cassette and crank on my tri bike, so I was quickly out of gears, slogging along slow and steady, up the hill. I was hurting, but I wanted to push and make it to the top. I picked a spot about 50 yards ahead of me and said to myself, “ok, just get there.” I would make it to said spot and then pick another. And another. Up. Up. Up.

I wanted to think of some positive mantra to tell myself as I slowly pushed up the hill, but my brain was busy screaming at me about how my quads may soon explode. All I could think of was the beginning of the Macklemore and Ryan Lewis song “Can’t hold Us” and just kept saying, out load to myself between gasps, “alright, okay, alright-okay.”


View from the top of “l’Alpe de’Allen”

I finally hit the top of the climb, red-faced, sweaty (at least my toes were finally warm!), out of breath, tired, and wildly happy. I looked around at the trees around me and the snowy mountain peak ahead, a beautiful view all to myself on this cold, crisp, and quiet morning. I felt a wonderful sense of freedom! Here I was in a place few people may have the opportunity to visit, let alone ride, and I was lucky enough to have this experience. I wasn’t concerned with my speed, or my mileage or my cadence. I was just happy to be out there riding for the pure joy of it. It’s so easy to lose sight of that in training sometimes.


Post Ride Mountain Selfie! I’m so cold!

Then I hopped back on my bike and hauled it home passing no less than one Elk and two coyotes crossing the road in front of me. #ColoradoLife


Eventually I cleaned up for the wedding!


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