Wow, what a day. Words cannot express the joy felt after crossing the finish line at Snowbird after riding 110 miles of some of the hardest miles I’ve ever experienced. So many miles, so many emotions, trying to stay positive and making it to the end.
This picture kinda says it all.
Starting a long ride like this is kinda terrifying. Looking down at the clock and seeing 10 or 15 miles ridden, knowing you still have 100 miles to go? That’s a lot to wrap a brain around. Taking this ride one section at a time was all I could do to handle it and having people that believed in me allowed me to have the confidence to pull it off.
From the start I knew I had to stay on top of calorie, water and electrolyte intake, this was my main concern. I didn’t know what type of food they would have at the aid stations so I packed about 2500 calories of food in the pockets of my jersey, including about a pound of boiled potatoes with butter, salt, and bacon bits… Yeah, those are good standing on top of the toughest mountain you’ve ever climbed. Along with the potato idea, I had a little bird give me some good pointers. Drink every 15 minutes, eat every hour, take electrolyte pills every hour. I stuck to this to a T and I felt really good the entire time.
The first two climbs, up Emigration and Big Mountain, done almost entirely by myself. I tried to latch onto a few groups passing me but wasn’t able to. I started to worry a bit that I would be doing the entire ride solo, but just kept moving. The first descent was quite nice. It led into some rollers and good flats. I was able to get in with a group on this section. It was a lot like taking a break and I was sooo grateful to have the experience. Time flew by in this section, I rode with another group into Park City, some of the nicest guys, and before I knew it I was meeting Josse. I was feeling awesome and it was great to see a familiar face.
We took a little food and essentials break and we were off for the climb of our life… We had no clue what we were in for!!!!
Turns out it was a good idea to do my King of the Mountain nails. I couldn’t make it up Gaurdsman pass without stopping, but the man I stopped by was so excited about my KOM nails that he took a picture and gave me a push to get started again. I cannot believe how incredibly hard the Empire pass and Guardsman pass climbs were. I should have taken a picture to show the misery cyclists were experiencing on this climb. I couldn’t think straight though. People walking, traversing, doing anything they could to make it up this climb. Hardest thing I have ever done on two wheels. I have a new found respect for the pros. I cannot imagine doing a stage race with days of climbs like this.
Standing on top of Guardsman Pass
Meeting up in Big Cottonwood Canyon
The descent down Big Cottonwood canyon was the most welcomed descent ever! I felt so bad for leading Josse up the previous climb with no warning of its craziness, and after all that misery, she let me draft off her down the entire canyon. Thank you!!! This helped me tremendously. Having this break let me reset my emotions and thoughts after the climb. It helped me wrap my head around making it up the final climb.
Final climb, Little Cottonwood Canyon
Josse and I pow-wowed at the bottom of Little Cottonwood and then we were off. The people lining the roads of Little Cottonwood Canyon made this final climb possible. Elderly couples pouring cold water on my back(so freaking cute!), guys offering beer and goodies(made me smile even though I had no strength to reach out for anything offered), people cheering me on, kids with squirt guns and smiles; Superman, yes Superman, pushing me up Tanner Flats, the final push given by a concerned lady with about 200 meters to go, and best of all, the words written on the road just for me. I had to start singing “just keep swimming, just keep swimming” at one point to keep myself and the guy next to me upright and moving forward. Without these awesome fans of cycling I would not have made the final climb. It’s pretty insane after a long day of hills and riding. The elation I felt after crossing that finish line is indescribable. I’m so grateful for everything loved ones and perfect strangers did for me on this day. It was a group effort indeed.
We finished off the day watching the pros come in for the finish, watched stage winner, Cadel Evans, get pulled over by a cop, and called it a day. A day I will never forget.