Day 41: Estes Park, CO to Kremmling, CO
Total Mileage: 90 miles
Today is one of the most iconic days of 4K history because of the Trail Ridge Road climb. For those who aren’t familiar with Trail Ridge Road, it is a stretch of US Highway 34 and is the highest continuous paved road in the US. It runs right through the Rocky Mountain National Park and reaches up to 12,183 feet of elevation. Estes Park is 7,522 feet above sea level, which means we have to climb over 4500 feet of elevation to get to the top of Trail Ridge within the span of 25 miles.
We didn’t have teams today, but chose climbing partners instead. You choose someone that climbs at about the same rate as you to conquer the beast. Had a great riding bud today and couldn’t have made it to the top without him. Will Seery, you the man! I was adamant in finding the 4K rock all the alumni were telling me about, so I got in contact with Alice (my mentor) who got in contact with team San Fran 2012 to get an idea of where the rock would be.
Everyone on the team (except Will and I) missed out on taking pictures atop the 4K rock. For future reference (this goes out to team San Fran 2014 and above), the 4K rock is two parking areas after you pass the 2 mile elevation sign. First parking lot has a great overlook of the Rockies and a bathroom, the second parking area is much smaller and to the left. You’re going to have to walk your bike down about 30 yards to reach the 4K rock.
Half a mile before the lunch stop at the Alpine Visitor Center, my tube busted and I rode the rest of the way on a flat. I had the option of asking the water van to come up and bring me a tube, but I decided to ride the flat half a mile down to the lunch stop. At the time, it seemed like an awesome idea since I could see where lunch was going to be and it was downhill from there, but I ended up getting two more flats afterwards. I changed my tire at the visitor center and the tube exploded twice even after changing the rim strip. Turns out I messed up my tire pretty bad to the point that I had to throw it out since the side of my armadillo had a huge gash on the side. Gloria was kind enough to lend me her tire for the rest of the ride.
The downhill to Trail Ridge Road was insane: 10 sweet miles of downhills, past the Continental Divide at Milner Pass, and around crazy switchbacks with the Rockies to your left and right. I’d climbTrailRidge Road again just to experience it over again. Definitely THE highlight to the trip so far. Makes us look back and see how far we’ve come since day one. I GoPro’ed more than half of it and playing back the descent already makes me feel nostalgic and also accomplished. I’ll eventually upload the video on Youtube when I have more free time. I’ll keep you posted 🙂
Caroline joined Will and I for the second half of our ride into Kremmling. For 30 miles, we flew past Green Mountain, the Grand Lake, and Lake Granby before we decided to do a post-lunch stop at Mackinaw’s Bar & Grill on 34. It got pretty cold at the summit of Trail Ridge and stayed chilly for the rest of the ride. Right before we exited Rocky Mountain National Park, it started to rain, which made it even colder. The post lunch stop was a great idea to warmup and eatsome great food.
Trail Ridge Road is THE highlight of the trip so far and I’m glad I got to experience it through the 4K. I dedicatedmy ride today to Joe Petrucelli. Six months ago, he had the WHIPPLE procedure andchemo to remove cancer from his pancreas thinking he was in the clear. A couple days ago, he found out cancer spread to his liver and pancreas. Barry told me last night about the sad news, so I dedicated my ride up Trail Ridge to him. Know that we fight for people like you. Keep keeping and don’t stop believing.