Day 11: Pikes Peak

FrankFrank planned some vacation days to join us on the last part of the ride, and he met us in Colorado Springs last night. Today was a get up early kind of day. Today was an epic adventure kind of day. Today was the group ride up to the top of Pikes Peak. The night before it had rained as we were driving up to Colorado Springs CO. We were all cozy in our hotel not realizing what was going on up in the mountains above us.

staging area for our ride to Pikes Peak

Staging area

We dragged the kids out of bed, had an early breakfast and got on the road to go to the staging area (parking lot) just outside of the entrance to go up Pikes Peak. We ditched the trailer at the hotel so I would have less weight to pull. Two new day riders joined us for the day on 1940’s Indians.  I was impressed with the bikes, but would be more impressed when they got to the top.

climbing Pikes PeakIt was a beautiful, sunny, but cool morning.  We knew it was going to be really cold at the top, so we had many layers on to be prepared for the drop in temps as we rose in altitude. We had also had many warnings about altitude sickness, so last night we made sure to drink plenty of fluids.  The signs are headache, nausea, dizziness, fatigue or general malaise, and the only “cure” for altitude sickness is to go back down the mountain.

So up we went, this motley crew of old and young, new bikes, vintage bikes, veteran riders and newbies, to conquer 14,114 ft of mountain.  The road became more and more winding and the turns got tighter and steeper.  Unfortunately, two riders collided on a turn and went down in a sharp right hander, which ended in one rider with a broken wrist. Others were already tending to the accident, and waved the group on to continue.

snow!Little by little we gained altitude, and we left the evergreen trees and rose into the alpine layer. The road became a zig zag course of extremely tight U-turn type of turns that required me to really muscle the rig around. Then the ride got interesting as there was snow on the ground, quite a bit, and the road was wet as the snow was already melting from the morning sun. We continued up when all of a sudden the flow of cars and bikes in front of us came to a stop. The road was closed due to snow.  NO!!! Was this how today was going to end? We would be denied the top of the mountain because of snow?

Pikes Peak groupWe all pulled over and shut down. We heard rumors that they were clearing the road with a snow plow, but no word on how long it would be. Some of us stayed to wait, but little by little some of the ladies on bikes decided to head back down. We took a quick group picture just in case we did not get tot the top.  A few started to not feel well due to the altitude and decided it would be best to head back down. An official looking truck came down the mountain and told us we were only about 2 miles from the top, but he was not sure how soon it would open.  So close!  We continued to wait. After about a 45 min wait, we saw on the road up ahead, the snow plow come down and the cones were removed. Yes!! We would get to the top after all. A few more twists and turns and into the quickly melting, slushy, muddy parking lot. WE MADE IT!!

At the summitIf you ever get a chance to go up Pikes Peak make sure you do it. You can hike it, bike it, go up the Cog Railway, or drive your car. Just do it. The views are spectacular all the way up, and my pictures don’t do it justice. Also keep in mind that the Van Buren sisters did this on a dirt road.  The majority of the riders made it to the top and we were able to get a big group photo too. (Sadly, the old Indians did not make it up).

DSC09898-Resized-1024x683-cropI started to feel like I was getting a headache, so I told Frank we should probably get going just to be safe. That turned out to be a good idea in general because the kids were getting cranky. When we got to the bottom, Makayla admitted that she didn’t feel well, and when we went to have lunch I did not feel right. Eating helped all of us, but I did feel a bit off for the rest of the afternoon. Frank was awesome and let me rest while he did some maintenance on the bike, as well as get new tires for the trailer.  This was disappointing, since I put new tires on the trailer in Massachusetts, and they still looked fine in Nebraska.  We will be trying another set, and we’ll see what happens.  I’m just glad that we are on top of the maintenance and we have not had any issues while on the road. Tomorrow is a “rest” day, but we will still go take a route to see some local parks and fun roads. I plan on riding Franks bike…hopefully I remember how to lean.

To view more photos, click  here: 

The vintage Indians. DSC09809 Resized DSC09811 Resized DSC09815 Resized DSC09821 Resized

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DSC09888 Resized DSC09890 Resized DSC09895 Resized DSC09899 Resized Pikes Peak Summit

DSC09917 Resized DSC09921 Resized DSC09923 Resized The Indians didn't make it... DSC09928 Resized

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