The rest of the weekend

Saturday, after we watched the end of the Pro Men's race we decided it was high time to eat! Justin hadn't had solid food in about 5 hours, and I was starting to grumble as well. We headed across town to Wahoo's! I wasn't super stoked on the meal, but it was decent, and we stopped off at Starbucks (I had a ton of gift cards to use up) for coffee and dessert! YUM. We did a lot of coffee and dessert throughout the weekend!

Finally Saturday night I got a decent night's sleep (at least 9 hours!) and we weren't in a huge hurry on Sunday morning. We knew we'd head out for a ride around the Chutes trail and did some research, hung out, had breakfast at the hotel, got bottles and food ready…

It was gorgeous when we got to the trailhead and got some beta from a few guys about to shuttle the Jones downhill.

We climbed up Chutes to get to a traversing fire road that would take us to a few parking lots where we could get further trail info.

I wasn't feeling super hot. My legs were fatigued, and some of my injuries from the crash were keeping me from feeling stellar. As is typical, Justin felt great and sort of was hoping for a half-day mini-epic in the mountains. Our moods don't seem to coincide much lately!

We enjoyed the views on Gold Camp Rd.

A few cool tunnels on this old mining road!

Sweet waterfall across the valley

We chatted with a few other riders enjoying their day and eventually (after my legs were nice and chilled) we got moving again, and pretty straight up hill! Good singletrack climbing, but by the time I got to the top I was feeling sort of shaky and out of sorts.

I stopped to down some Sport Beans and we met up with Jim from CTS and his ride partner from SRM. Jim showed us around the rest of the morning!

He spent a lot of time waiting up for me, since I was quickly running out of steam!

We descended down Cap'n Jacks on some moto trails and had a great time. From there we traversed back across Gold Camp a bit and descended the wildly popular hiking trail Columbine back down to town.

COS from Columbine

On our way back down we ran into another Pro racer (Alexandra) and her ride partner out looking for a route! Jim said he'd take them up Chutes and gave some instruction, and Justin asked if I wanted to climb Chutes again. Um, no! I was close to bonking and out of energy anyway. We just took the easy route back to the Jeep!

We lunched at Noodles & Co, where Justin had wanted to eat for two straight days. The pasta fresca plates we got were pretty stellar!

We sat in the sun and relaxed a little before heading out toward Pikes Peak Hwy.

As we entered the park we found out what we had assumed - the summit wasn't open. 16 of 19 miles were, so we paid our fee in the rain and headed up the road!

As we headed up the climb a group of cars was stopped as a fox ran back and forth across the road, seemingly begging the visitors for food?

We kept climbing

The way up…

Getting closer

Above timberline now

Lots of snow at mile marker 16, nearly being turned around now

End of the road for us

CTIL (Colder than it looks!!)

Not as high as I was hoping, but it was the highest I've ever been (on ground)!

Oh, sure, now it clears up!

My favorite shot

We stopped by Pikes Perk coffee on the way back to the hotel for some of their flavored coffee (their flavors sound killer! I tried Amaretto on Sunday, and the barista brewed up some French Vanilla for us the next day - we bought a half pound of Crème Brule, even though we meant to get Carmel). It was a cool little café and had some tasty treats.

Once back at the hotel Justin started packing up the bikes in their boxes for the trip home as I hemmed and hawed on where to eat.

I was sort of craving Mexican food and a margarita! But, we were also trying to not spend a ton of money.

Just after I got our boarding passes printed up a huge thunderstorm rolled in! Massive thunder claps, a little lightning, and crazy hail.

We settled on a somewhat local joint - 3 Margaritas - on the other side of town. We both got the healthier chicken and veggie burrito and a margarita. The drinks were strong, and despite the burrito being $7 - it was MASSIVE!!

We were so full we didn't even consider ice cream!

I was falling asleep watching Bewitched with the other Darren, so hit the hay not long after. We took our time getting up Monday morning again, not really sure what the day would bring us. We'd gotten provisions at the nearby Safeway Friday night, so we had about half a jar of peanut butter, half a jug of milk, half a container of creamer, and some whole grain bread to finish up. Since the continental breakfast was seriously stale white bread, jam, small cups of coffee, and Raisin Bran with 2% milk, we made the best of it: Raisin Bran with skim milk, PB&J sandwiches, and bigger coffee cups! Worked out well as we were super stuffed when we finished up.

Time for more coffee!!

After lounging around and getting mostly packed up I requested a bit late of a check-out, and we headed out the door for 7 Falls. Another $20 down the drain later… it was a really pretty drive up to the 224 stairs!

This was just up to a viewing platform

Bottom of the falls

Middle-ish steps


Justin pulls away as my calves burn!

Much needed rest

Once up the stairs we hiked out to Midnight Falls (it was really quick)

d00d where's my bike??

Midnight Falls

A different waterfall up Gold Camp Rd.

We decided to take a drive up High Drive in the Jeep and see the sights

I think there was a USAC Jr. cycling camp or something going on. Lots of kids that race locally were out participating in a what we assume was a non-official timed hill climb.

We stopped in at Pikes Perk to sample the french vanilla flavored coffee (I actually preferred the amaretto!) and then headed back to the hotel to pack up and hit the airport with plenty of time to spare.

Justin wised up and tried the bike box on the roof rack trick. Score!

We hung out at the airport for a long time, and finally boarded the plane to Phoenix. Once there we barely had time to traverse the airport, get a few snacks from Starbucks and scarf those down, and before we knew it we were boarding for Ontario.

I'll be honest - I teared up a bit coming in to land. I honestly don't think I've ever felt that way before about returning home from a trip. I like what I know, and usually miss my own house and bed and stuff. For some reason, I felt pretty at home in Colorado Springs. I got the lay of the land and knew the streets and directions pretty well after just 2 days. Things made sense out there. I liked the city a lot.

Weird emotions upon coming home. Justin and I had a good chat about things on the drive south. I've got some renewed energy and new focus going on. I just hope it continues for awhile. There was definitely a big circle effect. What we discussed on the way to the airport seems to have fleshed itself out a bit, and I hope that I'm able to take my focus and energy in the direction I want to go in.

Overall, great trip. My race results aren't what I would have liked them to be, but I did what I could. Time to get back out there and kick myself to the curb a bunch and see what I can get done. 4 more weeks!