I’ve had my one allotted beer and I have this map of southwestern Colorado spread out before me. I am thinking about my second beer, but have, so far, restrained myself because the map is frightening me.
Maybe I should explain the one allotted beer first. I would be the first to admit that I enjoy a drink or five and therein lies the problem. I have this reasoning take place in my little brain that goes like this, “If one beer tastes this good, why not have another? And as long as I am at it, a third couldn’t possibly hurt anything, etc.”
If I do reach for the second beer, Blue Eyes will say, “careful, don’t hurt yourself.” She thinks that when I complain about very slow trail running or getting dropped by my road biking buddies, it is because I’m hung over. This is never the case. I can run and ride with the best of them hung over. I am slow because I am somewhat in excess of my fighting weight by a modest 30 pounds.
That term “fighting weight” just popped up on my screen, I apologize for it. The last time I was in a real fight was hundreds of years ago. It was over a chair in the journalism library at my school and I got my clock cleaned by the librarian … but that is story for another time. The point is that I weighed 180 pounds then, so that must have been my fighting weight.
Blue Eyes claims that I slur my words and get sleepy after three beers. I of course deny that. I don’t think I really start slurring my words until after I’ve finished four beers. And I don’t really slur my words, they sound just fine to me even if I tend to speak in run-on sentences that have no real point.
It is possible that I have woken up in my chair near the fireplace surrounded by empty beers. But not that often … this year.
So I’m really thinking about that second beer as I look at the map. I have yet again talked myself into a four-day road ride with these crazy people who call themselves the Gut Grinders. Last year, we did a couple hundred miles in Utah. I thought that was going to be a simple tour through some rolling high desert. Nope. I was dead last every day. At one point, we were climbing a 14% grade (truth) that was twenty miles long (not so true). I was toasted by the ride.
On this May trip, we will start in Ridgway and go up to Silverton and down to Durango. You know that it can snow in the mountains in May … yes I know. That’s why that second beer is sounding like a good idea.
Ridgway is at about 7,000. We go through Ouray and then up to Red Mountain Pass at 11,000 and down to Silverton at 9,300. That’s the first 32 miles. We stop in Silverton for lunch and then head south to Durango by way of Molas and Coal Bank passes and, 47 miles later, we’re in Durango. That sounds like 7,000 feet of gain in one day over 79 miles.
You gotta be kidding me.
“Whish.” That was the sound of my second beer opening.
From Durango, we go west to Mesa Verde National Park and take the 20-mile road into the Visitor’s Center and back out and then up to Dolores. That’s about a 101-mile day, and I’m already thinking maybe I don’t need to see all of Mesa Verde National Park.
The really nice thing about the second beer is that it makes most people like me more reasonable. The really strong riders can do a century ride. I’ve nothing to prove and this trip is for fun.
Screw Mesa Verde.
It’s a night in Dolores and then back into the fricking mountains. We head up to Rico and if the weather is good … the weather better be good or I’m driving the SAG Wagon … we get to see three of the tougher Fourteeners, El Diente, Mount Wilson, and Wilson Peak. Then over Lizard Head Pass and down into Telluride. That’s a 66-mile day.
On the Utah trip, the third day was when I hit the wall. We did this fabulous route out of Boulder, Utah, called the Barr Trail that was about 25 miles of rolling through red rocks and cottonwood groves. On the two previous days, I’d done the complete routes. When I got to the turn-around at 25 miles, I simply decided I was finished for the day. Actually I didn’t decide; my body had had enough. I could have kept riding, but I would have been miserable.
“Whish.” This third beer is to celebrate my great decision-making in Utah. One of the very cool things about growing older is that, when faced with something over your head, you get to say, “I don’t have to do shit like that any more.” And not feel like a weenie for more than a couple minutes.
You also know when you are riding with a good crowd. They’ll push you to your limits. And if they know you have gone to your limits, they don’t give you a hard time when you’ve had enough.
The fourth day looks almost easy by comparison to the previous three days. We head northwest to Placerville, hang a right and on up to Ridgway. It’s only a 52- mile day. But easy is a relative term. I’m writing this in mid-March on a Sunday afternoon.
Yesterday, I put up my first training ride for the season — 56 miles in the flats with only one climb up Rabbit Mountain. I came home and took a nap. Today there are parts of my body that hurt that I didn’t even know I have.
“Whish.” This fourth beer is to start my diet.