The century option of the annual University of Colorado Buffalo Classic literally passes a block from our farm. That made today’s ride selection a no-brainer. My riding buddy Dave also happens to work at CU so that made it a double-no-brainer. The ride officially starts at 6:30 am in Boulder, but neither of us saw the need to drive to the start, so we just joined in as the parade went by. Well, we started out at 7:30 so there really wasn’t a parade yet, but we did feel the hot breath of the lead pack on the back of our necks.
Interesting thing about Colorado in September – you never know what kind of weather you’re going to wake up to – could be a scorcher or could make you run for your cap and mittens. Yesterday it rained on and off, the mercury barely crossed the 60 F threshold, and the late weather report predicted a little carry over of that weather into today. They were right! Total cloud cover and about 50 F, but, thankfully, no rain when we started out. A bit of a headwind, but nothing to write home about. Dave and I both had a couple layers on top and long tights over our riding shorts. I added a light wind jacket and had my shoe toe covers on (first time since my early spring training!). Felt a bit cool still when I wasn’t working, but just about perfect for the 13-15 mph pace we had going north.
A Tale of Two Energies
The story of the day for me was the fluctuation in my energy level. Starting out my legs felt like cement and lifeless and they had absolutely no ‘jump’ and I found it hard to find any sort of rhythm. I didn’t force the issue. I’ve ridden long enough to know that, for me, trying to force a pace that isn’t there just makes matters worse. So, I took what my body had to offer — which meant going 3-4 mph slower than usual (quite a hit!) and just “listened” to my body. My heart rate was not elevated at all — actually, I was riding along at 120-125 bpm, which is at least 10 bpm lower than my normal cruising level. About an hour into our ride, Dave and I headed out of Masonville and started up the long, gradual climb to the Open Space trailhead above Horse tooth Reservoir. Now, I’d be willing to bet that for most riders that start off feeling poorly, this sort of climb would be the nails in the coffin. But, for me, it seems to be just the opposite. I felt better and better as the climb went on. By the top, I felt a bit like my old self. When Dave joined me at the Open Space we decided to go down to the Buffalo Classic’s “official” turn-around spot. This meant a screaming mile-long descent followed by another meandering mile that followed the reservoir shore line (or what would be the shore line had the reservoir waters reached that far). I was surprised that Dave agreed to this since we all know that you pay dearly for “screaming descents” when you turn around and have to claw your way back to the top! We stopped and visited with all the super-fast “official” riders. Steve Trowbridge was there (a co-worker) and his claim to fame today was that he was the very first “official” rider at that turn-around rest stop!! Makes me chuckle because Dave and I started about an hour after everyone, but about 25 miles later too! These folks were “lean, mean, riding machines.” But, these were our peers for the moment!
The ride back was like a new day for me. It was still overcast, chilly and now the wind had switched directions (often happens that way out here) and was in our faces again — but that didn’t matter. I was feeling much better. The legs were no longer dead weight but starting to work like mini-pistons. Dave was riding strong too so we were able to blend in pretty well with our new peer group. I thoroughly enjoyed to two long gradual climbs we had on the way back and took the opportunity to chase down a couple of “official” rabbits. Nothing makes me work hard like trying to catch a rabbit off the front of a ride. And, given our new peer group, these were some serious rabbits!!
One pace line on the stretch between Carter Lake Rd and the Berthoud Fire Station turn sticks out in my mind. I was moving a good clip, doing 18-20 mph when this line of 5-6 riders blew by me like I was pedaling backwards! AMAZING speed! After that I decided I must have been slacking off, so pushed myself into overdrive (which was OK because my body was now working with me instead of against me). I upped my speed to 24 mph all the way to the rest stop. It was exhilarating. I could not have kept up that pace the rest of the way home but I know the pace line probaby did!
Dave and I finished our unofficial version of this year’s Buffalo Classic at 11:30am – still a bit chilled, but smiling!
Stats for the ride:
Distance: 50.0 miles
Average Speed: 14.3, Max: 36.1
Heartrate Monitor needed a new battery – no data today
Link to the “official” CU Buffalo Classic ride: