Sunday, August 16, 2009

Missed It By That Much

We had a great first day in Colorado. I knew I was pushing it a bit to get to Leadville in time to see the end of the race, but I thought we had a chance. Google Maps said it would take us two hours to get there from the Aspen airport, even though it was only 60 miles. That seemed excessive. However, as we drove farther from Aspen, I realized why it was going to take so long. We were snaking along the side of a mountain on a road barely big enough to accommodate two way traffic. The speed limit varied from 35 to 15 mph along the way. It was a little hairy, but the scenery was breathtaking.

We finally turned off onto a 65 mph two-lane highway. We made it to Leadville, which was overrun with people. There didn't seem to be a parking spot anywhere in the vicinity of the finish line, which was right downtown, so we spent what seemed like forever looking for a spot. When we finally approached the finish line, people were starting to cheer. I started running, afraid of missing something.

Turns out it was Dave Wiens finishing at about 6:57. Dave has won this race six or seven times and is a legend in these parts. Everyone was cheering "Go Wiens-y"! As I soon found out, Lance had already won the race about a half an hour prior to Dave finishing. He'd also been whisked away immediately. So, I missed my chance to see Lance in person.

However, then something even cooler happened. I glanced over at the other side of the crowd and saw a woman in a Fat Cyclist jersey. Next to her was Elden Nelson himself. He was wearing jeans and 100 Miles of Nowhere t-shirt and wasn't supposed to be finishing for another couple of hours. I knew that couldn't be good.

I worked my way through the crowd and stood behind him for a few minutes, working up the courage to ask him for a picture. I felt like such a huge groupie, but I figured if I made the trip all the way there it would be pretty stupid for me not to talk to him. As it turned out, he was there with his sister Kellene. He told me about the crash that took him out of the race. I only spoke to him for a few minutes, but he was very nice. It made the trip out there worth it.

After that, I'm ashamed to say, we spent about 15 more minutes in Leadville looking for a place to eat before we left town. Everything was full, so we decided to take our chances on the way to Crested Butte.
We ended up on the patio at the Buffalo Bar & Grill. We were starving—we hadn't eaten since breakfast at the Detroit airport. We enjoyed the sunshine and Chris tested out a New Belgium Sunshine Wheat.

Also of interest, a lady came by and parked her horses in the parking lot.

The trip to our hotel was pretty long, but at least all the roads were 65 mph, instead of sketchy mountain roads. After we checked in, we hopped on one of the free shuttle buses and went down the mountain into downtown Crested Butte. It's really cute, and there are bikes everywhere. All the bike racks in town were full and there was a bike rack on 75 percent of the cars parked in the street. What a cool place!

I have lots more pictures to post, so I will do that soon.


Rose said...

sounds like a great first day. sorry you missed Lance. Have a good time

Ali B. said...

Sounds like a great first day! ... and you met The Fat Cyclist!