Today was tough. Really tough. Here are some pictures:

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Today I rode for Bobby McQuin. He is the cousin of a friend and survived childhood Leukemia!

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Today’s ride was hyped up way more than it needed to be. We knew that we were going to climb to close to 11,000 feet above sea level through Wolf Creek Pass. What we didn’t know is that it was flat the entire ride except for one hill. Here is the GPS route: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/545174106. Allison was awesome enough to take my GPS watch and ride with it for the last 20 miles. Why? Well… sometimes when you hit the road, the road hits back. More on that later…

Today started out at 55 degrees and cold! I rode with Dan, Lisa, and Kenny. After the first two water stops it warmed up just in time for it to rain the coldest rain I’ve ever felt as we were going into the mountains. At the first water stop we watched as a man across the street loaded his pet deer into a flatbed trailer and made his way down the road with it. At the second water stop we were able to play with the most loving two cats ever! They would come and snuggle up to you and pretty much make you pet them! Then we headed into the mountains. We snaked through them while climbing ever so slightly. We saw a lot of pickup trucks loaded with mountain bikes towing campers. There was a beautiful campsite by a small river where we saw a lot of campers parked. The cold rain eventually let up and the weather was perfect.

We started to climb the one big hill of the day and took a water stop halfway up at a really scenic lake (pictured above)! We stayed there for a while so I took my second nap of the day. Then we got back to climbing. As we climbed, we went through a tunnel, passed snowsheds (to protect the road from avalanches), signs for a ski area, lift chairs at the bottom of a hill, and even a snow groomer parked in the middle of a mountain! Apparently it snows a ton in the winter here!

As we reached the top of the mountain it started to rain and again we were trying to outrun the storm. There was 9 miles of 7% grade downhill. Since it was raining we had to go slow (around 20mph). I thought to myself, “It’s probably a good thing that it’s raining because it’s keeping me from flying down this hill at 50mph and probably crashing.” After riding about 3 miles downhill there was this beautiful valley that I wanted to get a picture of. Like I’ve done a million times before I took out my phone and snapped a picture.

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It was a pretty terrible picture. But before I could take another, I got stuck in a crack in the road and down I went! Like I said before, sometimes when you hit the road, the road hits back. At least this crash was only at 20mph and not at higher speeds that this hill could elicit. I can’t blame it on the road, the rain, or the hill. I can only blame myself for not paying attention. Lesson learned. Anyway, I made it out with only skin injuries, and no one else was hurt. I took a few minutes to gather myself together and Allison and Jackie stopped to help me out. I don’t remember the exact details of how I fell, or the first few seconds after that, but I remember thinking to myself as I was going down, “Get up and get out of the road”. Jackie told me that the first thing I did after I fell was dart as far to the shoulder as possible. My bike actually ended up in the shoulder and I think Allison picked it up and moved it for me. Apparently I held onto my phone the whole way down and didn’t even drop it. My otter box case now has some nice gouges in it, but it protected my phone and my hand beautifully! (I should give it a good review on amazon for that) About now, I was able to get my thoughts together, and it started hailing. Yep. On top of the coldest rain ever, it started to hail. We called the van to come pick me up and waited next to a wall that blocked some of the rain and hail. I think I probably could have ridden the rest of the way if it weren’t for my bike. The fork and handlebars were misaligned and BOTH of my shifters were bent inwards. These are both completely fixable, but I wasn’t about to do it on the road in the rain and hail.

The van picked me up and we drove to the host where I helped to unload some things so that more people could be picked up. Some weren’t able to outrun the storm and it was pretty unsafe to ride in those conditions. The rest of the team took shelter where they could and one even got a lift from a search and rescue truck that was returning home from a different cycling event! Our host is Pagosa Springs High School in Pagosa Springs, CO. Once things were brought inside, it was damage assessment time!

I took some pictures of my wounds before and after cleaning them. I don’t want to gross anyone out, so I’ll only post the pictures of after my wounds were cleaned (which hurt like crazy).

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I made it out of my crash really well. I have a skinned forearm and a nice little cut on my wrist and elbow, a road burn on my hip, and a smallish cut on my knee. My inner thigh is really bruised and swollen from what I think was one of my pedals jamming into it on the way down. On the palm that wasn’t holding my phone, I have a good skin burn. The skin never broke there, but it is really raw and burns constantly. I think it’s actually what hurts the most. I also have a bunch of minor abrasions kind of all over the place. I put some small holes and scratches in my bike shorts, but I think they’re still wearable.

After showering, I fixed my bike up and got everything straightened out. My handlebars and fork weren’t damaged, just misaligned. My shifters are scratched pretty badly, but I was able to put them back in their proper place. My handlebar tape broke in half in the middle, so I used some electrical tape to mend it so that the whole thing wouldn’t unravel. I also noticed that my front wheel is slightly untrue now, so I’ll fix that in the morning. In any case, she might not look as pretty as she used to, but Layla is all fixed up, straightened out, and ready to ride tomorrow!

When the rest of the team got back, I had Eric help me to bandage up my wounds and then I put some ice on my bruised inner thigh:

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As you can tell, my spirits are high and everything turned out completely okay. In fact, only a handful of people were able to finish the entire ride. A lot of the riders unfortunately had to be shuttled to our host for safety reasons.

Dinner was ready so we ate a bunch of pizza, a lot of fruit, and probably the best salad we’ve had so far on this trip. After dinner, we packed our things and went to the famous hot springs!

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I only got one picture, but the place we went was a full resort and spa that had built itself around the hot springs. They have 18 different pools each at different temperatures fed with natural spring water. The temperatures range from 96 degrees to 120. Some of the hotter ones smell a lot like sulfer. Due to my fresh wounds, I was only able to put my feet in, but let me tell you, my calves feel fantastic! I even met a little girl (10 yrs old or so) and her family and after explaining my wounds and how I got them, I learned that she had survived stage 4 cancer when she was only 5 years old! It was great to talk to them about a cause so close to home. Another rider was talking to a man who later came over to us in a pool that we had taken over and donated $200 for no other reason than “You all are doing a good thing. Let me buy you lunch.” The generosity of people amazes me sometimes!

We returned to our host and were blown away by all the stars in the sky when we got out of the van! The town is pretty small and there isn’t much light pollution so you can really see all the stars up there!

Tomorrow, we ride 60-some miles into Durango, CO! Such a short day! I have no idea of the elevation, but I hope it’s flat and that there’s a tailwind. I plan to ride tomorrow and take a lot of ibuprofen. Remember to comment or otherwise make fun of me for falling off my bike.

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