Day 16: Pike’s Peak, CO

Wow, this was hard.. really really hard, steep and relentless, possibly the most difficult (subjectively) climb I’ve ever done. [Strava Activity Here]

I got out early and headed up the highway, and it pretty much goes straight to 6-8% grade right after leaving town.  Zero shoulder and cars blowing by at freeway speeds, not fun.

After a bit of this you make a left and head up on the Pike’s peak road, and things get even more serious with 10% grade that just goes straight up. Just getting to the top of this section took about an hour.

I had left early figuring to beat the tourist traffic.. except in typical “zero research fashion” it turns out the road is only open at 7:30.. and they are quite serious about it, it’s a whole production: van loads of rangers and volunteers blanketing the mountain, 2 mobile EMT trucks(!), massive gates and toll structure.

I’m dumb

So I had to sit around for an hour until the road opened, it was not particularly cold or windy, so it was ok.
From about 8K to about 10K, things were ok, the typical alpine tree tunnels.. at 10K I started feeling not so great, which is odd since for both Trail Ridge and Mt Evans I didn’t really feel poorly until 12K.

Looking out from the toll booth

I can only assume the combination of the much steeper grades and it being significantly warmer (and no wind) were making things more difficult.

I saw no big foot or critters, I think they all know 7:30 means “RUN”
About mid-way is a lake and the grades ease up a bit.. before the final brutal ascent
Switchback down
Switchback up
After the “plateau” area.. it’s just relentless 10-15% grades

From 13K on up.. it was a death march.. just put it in the granny gear (helllo!) and tried to keep the pedals turning.  The quantity of pictures declined significantly from here on out.

Pop tart break
10% forever
Another view from 13K+

After what felt like forever, I made it to the summit and received many high-fives and fist bumps!

The cog rail is probably easier than bicycling
Another view peeking over the top
Nerd

Whew, well, after Pike’s, nothing is quite as difficult on the list (I hope!)

My current plan was to head to Ouray, CO and ride Red Mountain Pass, but it looks like they are gonna be blasted out by thunderstorms over the next few days.

I had thought some of the valley rides I had on the list were not going to happen due to heat, but maybe they’re back on if the mountains are too washed out!

We’ll see what tomorrow brings – either way, it is time to start heading west, so probably a 400+ mile motorcycle day.

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