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Thursday, August 18, 2011

A day of gifts

Our blogging break was comprised of a little not-so-fun stuff and a lot of very fun stuff. Near the middle of our blogging break, we took a camping road trip to western Colorado.

Our first stop was near Leadville, a town that sits high in the sky. We camped in National Forest in the mountains above the town. Towering aspen surrounded us.
We visited this same place in June (it's a convenient first stop on a trip westward), and K had a serious kidney infection so she couldn't mountain bike with me. This time, although she was *still* taking antibiotics for her kidneys, she was allowed to romp, albeit carefully.
During our single day visit to this spot, K and I took a mountain bike ride, wending our way through the aspen forests on a thread of a trail. The ground was moist and soft, perfect for mountain biking or dog romping. I truly appreciated having my girl next to me again for a short ride through our glorious world.
After I rode with K and left her to rest with the pack, I wanted to tackle the famous Columbine Mine climb, the toughest part of the Leadville 100 mountain bike race. It climbs several thousand feet to an abandoned mine high above treeline.
When I last rode this climb in June, I didn't see another soul during the entire ride. This time was different. Within a half mile, I spotted a laboring mountain biker ahead of me. I stopped and fiddled with my bike, hoping that he'd pull away from me. I hate passing guys because it tends to turn into a competitive event so I try to avoid it if I can.

Alas, I had no choice because he quickly reappeared when I remounted my bike. I slowed and chatted with him as I passed. He told me that the race was slightly more than a week away, and many racers, including him, were out training on the climb. I wished him good luck and headed upward at my own pace.

Soon, another rider appeared in my view. To say that I was surprised would be an understatement. I chatted again with the racer before resuming my own pace.

Finally, about the 10th rider who I saw in my distant vision turned out to be climbing fairly fast. He and I settled in to ride together for a while. He asked if I was going to do the upcoming race. When I said "no", he guffawed. He said that I'd do great in the women's field because almost no one could climb so effortlessly. With that comment, he informed me that he couldn't keep up with me any more, and he dropped back.

After spending so many years as an "ex-racer" with a badly injured spine, it was great for my morale to learn that I am still reasonably fit, and that climbing is still my forte. I used to love the uphill parts of races, feeling invinceable as I propelled my tiny frame upward. I know that I'm a shadow of the rider that I used to be but it's still fun riding hard every now and then.

I reached the top all alone, just as I like it.
The views of the 14,000' peaks awed me.
In June, I'd been halted partway up the climb by an endless snowfield. On this day, flowers sang their joyful songs where the snow had lingered until late July.

Alpine Sulphur Flower...
Yarrow...
Bistort...
My spirits always soar when I'm above treeline and looking down on the rest of the world. Each time I visit the alpine world, I fall in love with its beauty all over again.

Alas, it's cold up on the alpine tundra. All too soon, I donned some warm clothing and started the descent.
I don't love going downhill as much as I love going uphill. I fear for my spine so I am cautious - probably more cautious than is safe. Momentum helps a biker to negotiate tough terrain.. Yet, I tend to kill all my momentum when the fear strikes.
Happily, this was an easy descent. I coasted back down into the trees feeling giddy.
Just as I re-entered the forest, I spotted yellow flowers leaning over a mountain stream - Monkeyflowers - a favorite of mine that I rarely see.
One last gift in a day full of gifts.

I'm enjoying catching up with your blogs but I have a lot of reading to do!

25 comments:

  1. That was a breathtaking tour you just took us on. I can't thank you enough for doing your blog. Your pictures and your experiences are a true joy to me and My Vickie

    Love
    Bert

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  2. Another beautiful tour of your part of the country. :)

    Woofs and Licks,
    Maggie Mae

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  3. With our loss of Rudi, I've been behind on reading blogs too, and it's such a treat for me to be able to sit and relax and enjoy your amazing and stunning pictures!! I'm glad you had a wonderful trip and all is well with you!!

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  4. Hi Y'all,

    Just caught up with your last 3 posts.

    We've been super busy with mostly not so fun stuff, but have taken the time to enjoy some walks and post some photos on the blog.

    We sure enjoyed your bears and most of all your vacation. We loved your mountain bike ride!

    What beautiful flowers live up in those mountains!

    Thanks for sharing.

    Hawk aka BrownDog

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  5. This part of your "break" seems like it was restorative to the soul, the body and the ego! Your energy just jumps from this post! Welcome back.

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  6. Very good!

    I've never been much of an endurance long-distance anything exercise person. Any time I've ever attempted anything remotely like this, it's always seemed like terrible drudgery....and I've subsequently given up quickly.

    Field work is my only real source of exercise anymore (plus, the only thing I have time for!).

    I always appreciate folks that can actually do the endurance and enjoy it!

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  7. So many beautiful photos and so much fun!!! I love where you live.....so very gorgeous!!! I'm glad you had great rides! It's interesting to me on going uphill and downhill...although I can't ride now, I can walk uphill much better but going downhill I get dizzy and off balance for some reason!! I'm afraid of falling too. Lots of love, Debbie & Holly

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  8. We are so glad you are back, we truly missed your posts. Glad to see you had a good middle part of your time away. Hope all is well now.

    Awesome photos.

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  9. And how kind you are to share these gifts with us. Absolutely gorgeous!

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  10. Stopped in for a visit. It's been way too long! It sounds like you are still in darn good shape! I can only imagine how you were when you were competing. A recent post in our local ladies mountain bike Facebook page was about the problems a woman had experienced in some of the races where men would not let her pass them. Most the guys around here are happy to see the women join in and do not pull that sort of thing but there are a few... Insecurity I guess.

    Such beautiful mountain and flower photos! I really enjoyed my visit!

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  11. Hi KB
    The aspen forests are so gorgeous.
    The trail is so welcoming,, like its reaching out and saying "come".
    I am happy that you were able to say hello to these special parts of your world again.
    So beautiful,,, the view from the mountain top and all the flowers..
    So peaceful.
    love
    tweedles

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  12. What great photos of the Columbine Climb! Bistort (because it's "smelly") is my Grandsons' favorite wildflower. I love your photo of the Monkeyflower - I have it growing by my stream.

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  13. What a beautiful place you visited! Wow! You have such a great eye for capturing the beauty around you, too. I am not even a little bit surprised that you passed the guys and are in incredible shape!

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  14. Hey KB, Its all been said so just let me add, I am here, and this will be one of my favorite posts!

    Cheers and hugs,

    Jo

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  15. The only vaguely adequate comment we can think of is WOW!!!!

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  16. What an awesome compliment from the guy who couldn't keep up!! Looks like a such a great place and what a climb. Glad you made it to the top, had the place to yourself and could enjoy the victory and the beauty.

    Cheers!!

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  17. Stunning...and that is great news that you're pulling hills so well!

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  18. Again, fantastic photos! I love the landscapes and wish I could dive into the photos.

    Thanks for stopping by the blogs and commenting. It appears we do have a few things in common. :)

    Looking forward to more of your photographs. I feel as though I've just taken a vacation to Colorado. Thanks! I needed a break from the desert heat.

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  19. How good for the spirit was that! It must be great to know that you still "have it." And to learn that while biking through that exquisitely beautiful countryside must have been the icing on the cake. I so enjoy your blog, and the vastly different vistas you see. We have a soft beauty, here in the East. There, you beauty is more extreme, angular and spectacular. I've said it before, but it bears repeating -- What a wonderfully beautiful country we live in.

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  20. What a lovely ride... and so impressive that you were passing everyone! It's great that you're so fit even though you have to be cautious about your spine.

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  21. Your blog is one of my favorites... so nice to feel like you're somewhere you'll probably never visit ;-)
    -Corbin

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  22. When I saw the Aspens, I thought it couldn't get better. And then it did. Great post.

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  23. I really admire the important ideas that you offer in the content. I am looking forward for more important thoughts and more blogs. Judi Online

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