Rollins Pass training ride

As some of you know, my tandem partner, John Lemon, and I are training for the Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Race, which is just a month away. We've been doing local rides on the road bike during the week and getting out for longer rides on my mountain bike on the weekends. This past Sunday, rode over 11,680-foot Rollins Pass--both ways!

We started near Rollinsville, at about 8,500 feet on the east side of the Continental Divide. From there, it's 23 miles and 3,000+ feet of climbing to the top of the pass, which includes a miserable hike-a-bike over steep scree and boulders. Then it's a rip-roaring 15 miles of descent to town of Winter Park, at 9,000 feet on the west side of the Divide. No rest for the weary, we promptly turned around and rode back up and over.

It took us 9 hours and 15 minutes to cover roughly 75 miles and about 7,000 feet of elevation gain. It was a long day, but at least at the top of the pass on the way back it was gusting at 40 mph and hailing on us - just a typical Colorado afternoon.

As worked as my legs are today and as sore as my derriere is, I contemplate the fact that Leadville will be 25 miles longer and a few thousand feet more of climbing. We still need to go faster too since the cutoff time to earn the big belt buckle is 12 hours. Rumor has it some guys named Levi and Lance will be riding but I bet they don't have the courage to ride a tandem!

Thanks to Paul Foster who took these photos of our training ride.