Yesterday morning brought us under the two weeks till Ascent day marker. At 13 days away (less than 312 hours for anyone who's interested), I decided to spend some time pushing hard at altitude. With running still out of the equation this left me with only one option - biking to the summit. Sounds like misery, right? Not really. There were some seriously steep and intimidating stretches that play mind games with the pretty much untrained cyclists that we are, but it was altogether more rideable than I anticipated. Setting out I felt pretty guilty that I had convinced a friend/my boss to come with me. You know you've got a friend when someone agrees to pedal uphill for seven miles starting around 12,000'. This ride was so much more enjoyable than last week's, what a difference it makes to have someone to sing/swear/complain/succeed with!
For me, the biggest challenge was the cold and the marked change in muscle response and recovery time that comes into play at 13,300'. The temperature is something I just need to toughen up about and be prepared for. As for the altitude, everyone feels it at some point. I'm grateful that I feel pretty normal until I'm within 1,000' of the summit. I may ride from Glen Cove to the top again next weekend to spend a little more time in the thin air.
Having not been able to run for the past few weeks I've felt like I was missing out on the camaraderie that comes with training for such a challenge. Luckily for us, yesterday's adventure landed us at the summit at the right time to connect with a group of runners, including my PPS Triple Crown teammates, Beagle and Bubba (and other members of the infamous BRT running/beer-drinking clan). You're always in good company on Pikes Peak.
The way down was a glorious - albeit knuckle numbingly cold - coast until I reached Crystal Reservoir. My quads were not having anything to do with that little hill! The only drawback to the thrilling descent is what I refer to as the "Pikes Peak Protein Shake" a fancy name for swallowing lots o' bugs.
I can't close this post without mentioning the amazing and inspiring cyclist who passed us a few hundreds yards from the summit. Somewhere around 14,000' a young double amputee zoomed passed us, leaving me in awe and utterly grateful. Talk about putting things into perspective.