Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Aunt Nancy comes to town, part II

What happened to part 2?! My parents, fresh from dropping my youngest sibling off at college, drove into town last week. It's the first time in 34 years that they have been childless. Every time I say that, I'm pretty much trumpeting to the world my age, but who cares. 34 might be a long time to be alive (though it seems pretty quick here in my advanced age), but it is a CRAZY LONG time to have kids at home. So when my mom called me from their hotel room to say they might postpone their arrival by a day to take it slow, I first had visions of hourly pitstops and 4pm dinners. Come on, parents, don't grow old overnight! But then, from the background, I hear my dad shout, "I want to see Old Faithful!" My mom snorted and agreed that, with all the time in the world at their disposal, they were going to check out some of the beautiful countryside.

But they did eventually arrive, after a close encounter with a bison (can anyone explain to me the difference between bison and a buffalo?), and we enjoyed a wonderful visit and much relaxing and before I knew it, I was considering: Did I ever finish talking about Aunt Nancy?

Alas, no. So here we go. On the Saturday of Nancy's visit (was that like 5 months ago now? 2 weeks? ok, fine), we decided to drive up to Mt. Evans - the highest paved road in America. You may recall that last year in the fall we drove to Pike's Peak. In Colorado, is quite common for people to hike one of the many 14-ers (peaks over 14,000 feet). Our family is going to go ahead and knock out the ones we can get to the top of by driving. Since there are only two, though, this may very well conclude our tradition. So be it.

We were impressed by how many cyclists we saw in Idaho Springs, heading up the road. "They're not going to ride all the way to the top, are they?" We wondered. As we headed higher and higher, we saw more cyclists. These people are CRAZY, we thought. We pulled over, about 12 miles up the road, to take in some of the scenery. It was at this point that we saw a woman loading up on power gels and we asked her if she was going all the way. She laughed and said no. There, I thought, I knew that was a crazy idea. "But my husband is up ahead. He'll go to the top, with a bunch of friends." Whaaaaaa?!

Cyclist after cyclist we were shocked at how many people were heading up there. And, how do I say this kindly, they weren't young. Like, I'd say more than half were older than me. And while a lot of them had minimal body fat, some very much earned my perplexed face and incredulously asked question, "YOU rode this far?! YOU are riding farther?!"

By the time we reached the top, it would be no exaggeration to say we saw over 100 cyclists, including a tandem! And while climbing 7000...no wait, that needs to be typed out...SEVEN THOUSAND FEET in 28 miles sounds incredibly taxing (so taxing, that I just took a nap before completing this sentence), may I remind you that the temperature drops from 80 to 45 and the air goes from thin to practically non-existent. I consider myself to be in relatively good shape, and just hauling kids around and picking them up and pulling them back from falling off the mountain was enough to make me winded. Never mind these lunatics who are still pedaling up there.

And then the down. First, I insist on driving down because looking down the sheer drop-off freaks me out. Even right now I'm thinking about how I pulled over so Joel could take some pictures and driving out on the minimal shoulder and my heartrate just doubled and suddenly I'm typing about 200 words a minute. Seriously, it's nervewracking. BUT. Then there's these cyclists whizzing down. Um, hey cyclists? Yeah, hi, it's me. See how when I hit 30-40mph and have to brake to go around the hairpin turns and it's really just kind of scary? When you come flying down the mountain, drafting off my big minivanness, or even PASSING me? YOU'RE NOT HELPING!!!!

Because somewhere in California is a very dear friend who, just weeks ago, was also a cyclist whizzing down a hill around hairpin turns and can't remember what happened now (a deer? who knows) because she is in a rehabilitation facility trying to regain the use of her ARMS. Thankfully, we saw no accidents or disasters. (Shelley! Come Christmas time we're going to have a rocking party!)

The important thing to note here is that it was a beautiful drive and Joel suddenly thinks he's going to take up cycling. Because if some old dude with a hugely hairy back (hence not needing to wear a shirt?) can make it, then surely he can? I'm not sure how far I'll get in supporting him. I suppose this means we need to find another 14-er to summit. And by summit I mean in a car.


Lisa said...

There are some guys in our ward who bike to work downtown and back every day together. I think they're nuts! Don't you get to work all sweaty? But it's kind of awesome that they can, and do, do it.

Alice said...

I've been to 15,000 ft...on Mt. Kilimanjaro. Would have gone the whole 19,300 if I weren't barfing among other things so much. Yup, it was hard to breath.

Tennille said...

I'm not going to tell my husband about this blog post, because then he'll decide to take on this cycling challenge. He's the same brand of crazy as the people you saw.

Angie said...

Bison are domesticated buffalo that may or may not have some cow in them. Buffalo are the pure bred free kind. I'm thinking Adam (the man of useless information) told me this. We did mount Evan's pregnant with Porter and I was feeling a little light headed. Told Adam we need to get down! Porter came out normal.