1 photo = 1,000 words, right? Ergo, this entry = 23,000 words



And on the 28th day of July of the 2011th year of our Lord, Ted King declared, “There shall be a blog entry.”

And it was good.

Ladies and gentlemen, allow myself to welcome myself – and you by association – to Assspen, Colorado. I arrived a little over one week ago in order to grow accustomed to breathing really thin air for the upcoming Tour of Utah, which as you all know runs August 9-14, followed by the absurdly thin air featured in the subsequent USA Pro Cycling Challenge, formerly known as the Quizno’s Sandwich Toasting and Eating Spectacular. That’s on everyone’s calendar for August 22-28. “Absurd” is an apt description for this highland Colorado air because many of the Tour’s stages probe into the near realms of celestial orbit like this one below, high atop Independence Pass.

Day one here in Colorado and teammate, overall great person, and American cohort in this Italian cycling profession Timmy Duggan met me atop Indi’ Pass. Coming directly from from sea-level just 12 hours prior, this photo doesn’t seem to capture that I passed out immediately after Timmy’s missus snapped the pic’.

(Aaand that is a lie.)

As indicated by that photo as well as this entire subsequent entry, my shoulder-healing-prowess is locked into high gear. The formerly fractured clavicle continues to fuse with lightening precision – thanks be to milk! Additional thanks to the good Doctor Jupiter who pinned me together.

So day one consisted of a massive BBQ including Timmy and fam’, a massive ride, and a household jam packed with people and board games and, believe it or not, water pong – an excellent dose of fun for athletes in training looking for high altitude hydrating involving ping-pong balls, plastic cups, and H2O.

All the while quoting Dumb and Dumber incessantly, my adventures throughout Assspen tend to involve two wheels and look like this:

After climbing Ashcroft to the end of the road, I continued along a rutted-out dirt road until my 23c tires couldn’t handle any more.

The riding in these parts is simply excellent. The open roads are relatively void of cars, they’re well maintained, the views are exquisite, and the terrain is a challenge rivaling the best in the world. But if you really want to explore, I have one word for you: DIRT. As in, dirt roads. This pic below is about 10 miles out of town on a silly steep section of dirt – my GPS showed 17% at the steepest pitch. I did make it to the top, albeit with ample spinning of tires, but then circled back ’round to take the pic.

By now we’re on day two or three and I made a piloted my bike around a large loop up to Carbondale and back. Not knowing the route, I set out on pavement, which devolved to dirt, which segued precipitously to the most bombed-out, gnarly section of enormous gravel that I’ve ever ridden. By this point, I was committed to completing the loop, which is just as well because riding up the dirt (photo does NOT do the conditions justice) would have proven impossible. I should mention it was a 5 mile section. Long story short: believe it or not, I made it long enough to blog about it now.

Here’s another one nearing the top of Ashcroft. I don’t dabble in Photoshop; I merely meander in the color settings on my camera. Photo accent yellow.

Here’s another word, besides dirt, to expand your horizons when on two wheels: FLUFF. As in, Fluffernutter. I’ve spoken about Nutella briefly over the years, I’ve sung the praises of speculoos at great length, but now I’m telling you that marshmallow Fluff is where it’s at. Among other great aspects of this whipped heavenly delight, is that it comes in 5lb tubs in case you needed the reminder.

But there is only so much time you can spend in Assspen before the allure of nearby Coloradian hamlets beckon. In this case, Crested Butte. By now I’m about a week into my time at Assspen’s 7,909ft and the weather until this point has been flawless. So I penciled in planning to ride to CB on a Tuesday and with a return trip on a Wednesday; it is therefore fitting that these two days had the first chunk of deleterious weather hanging in the forecast. I therefore did what anyone else would do in that situation with 200+ miles of mountainous riding on the immediate docket: I sucked it up. (And packed a raincoat.)

Mid-ride, I also attained one of my life goals by being a guest on public radio – Vermont Public Radio, in this instance. Joining Gary Kessler, who puts on the greatest subtly quaint race on the planet, the Green Mountain Stage Race, as well as a Middlebury fellow alum and one of America’s greatest mountain bikers, Lea Davison, you can be wholesome and listen to us jabber away right here.

With four hours yet to go and no rest for the weary, I continued on my merry way. From whence I came…

…and to whereth I pedaleth…

Oh yeaaah, the sky is not ominous at all.

By now the road has turned to dirt for the majority of the final 30 miles to Crested Butte and the previously dry air has turned to inclement air rife with drizzly precipitation. Ergo, the dry dirt roads have turned to wet dirt roads, which is also referred to as mud, which leaves a sandy red stripe up by backside.

Previously, it’s worth mentioning that I managed to snap this photo at 35k-an-hour amid police, EMTs, a wrecking crew, and various other service folk. My guess is this tractor trailer took the corner slightly hotter than he intended. Thankfully I am sure the gully in which he overturned really appreciated the spewing of 15 tons of fertilizer.

At last, I arrived in CrustyButt. Ever been here? This town is steeped in awesome. To those who haven’t yet visited, the best anecdote I can think of for folks who enjoy the virtues of bicyle riding is that virtually every storefront has a bike rack chock full o’ bikes. Plus the mountain bike hall of fame is here, plus there are a plenitude of awesome restaurants a smattering of great bars, and as my BFF4E Garrett Peltonen says, “plus Heidi from The Hills is from there” so you just know it’s a fantastic place.

A staple of Crested Butte is the Secret Stash pizza joint. Supposedly their most popular pie and the one I opted for as seen below is the Notorious FIG. An amalgamation of three ooey-gooey cheeses, chopped figs, slightly toasted prosciutto, and drizzled with truffle oil. Oh my sweet goodness it’s good.

Art.

This is the mountain, who’s name I lack, that is located due east of town around 8am yesterday. It rises above town and clearly indicates to all who visit that CB is a mountain town. Dank, thick fog characterized the morning which cast an ominous start to the day.

…but no more than thirty minutes later the sun and my pretty face made everything in Crested Butte considerably brighter.

No time like the present, this day was meant for me to learn the roads of USA Pro Cycling Challenge’s stage 2 from Gunnison to Aspen. I wanted a mere five hours and 150km, rather than the 7 hours and 209km as scheduled for August 25. Therefore I started on the 22km dirt climb to Cottonwood Pass. Gooo…

Continuing going…

Up. And more up.

No ride is complete without a support vehicle. I think the third time I’ve ever had this. HIGHLY recommended. No I didn’t write this, but yes I fully endorse it.

And at last I arrived atop Cottonwood. Below, that’s looking backwards from Taylor Reservoir 22km back along a very sinuous DRY dirt road.

As we can all agree, everything is better in panoramic. Especially mountaintop views of the Rocky Mountains. From the previous photo, this is now looking 180 degrees in the opposite direction, gazing east (I think) atop Cottonwood Pass. Or in cycling-speak, this is “about 78km into stage 2 of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.” Duh.

And now the two rides. Riding to Crested Butte:

And riding back to Assspen:

A little more than one week before jetting off to Utah. I think there are plenty of adventures still in store. Adiossss…

 



Comments

  1. Rachel

    Wow. That’s some seriously amazing viewage right there! And I’m going to have to try to make that pizza at home, now that figs are in season!

    Reply
  2. Marc

    Wait, there’s grass on Independence Pass? http://www.facebook.com/marcgustafson#!/photo.php?fbid=10150665618425714&set=t.665860713&type=1&theater

    Reply
  3. Jason

    Killer entry. Love it when you document your training rides!

    Reply
  4. Cosmo

    Nicely done. I don’t remember the Cattle Creek-Catherine Store dirt being so gnar. I didn’t ride it super-frequently, but I definitely rode it and rode it fast. Aspen Town Series used to have a race that went up the way you came down. Then again, it was nearly six years ago.

    Drop by Dos Gringos Burritos on 133 in ‘Bonedale if you get the chance. That’s where Cyclocosm was founded during the ’05 Giro.

    Fun fact: There are two Cottonwood Passes. The important one is the one you rode. The other is a left turn off the dirt between Catherine Store and Cattle Creek (Co 113, headed north). I made it to the non-existant reservoir before wussing out and turning back. A guy I worked with at Ute City Cycles rode it on a geared-down(!) ‘cross bike. It apparently comes out in Gypsum, back out on I-70.

    Reply
  5. DJ

    Good stuff Ted! Glad to see you on top-blogging form and hopefully in peak shape for the coming races as well, good luck!!

    Reply
  6. Anthony

    Your words and life ARE AWESOME! I believe you appreciate it and know how lucky you are too….

    Reply
  7. Joao

    Pretty darn awesome. Nice photos and you’re looking lean.

    Reply
  8. Jeff

    Love the pics Teddy!

    Reply
  9. Neela

    When I heard “dirt” I got excited…I was hoping that I’d see you on a mountain bike. Does that ever happen? Offseason?

    BTW random question, do you now what the highest VAM you’ve ever done on a climb is?

    Reply
    • iamtedking

      I dunno. I think I’ve seen 1600+…? Honestly I dont track that at all though. If my last name were Basso or Schleck or Evans I might think differently but for now I just slay WATTS.

      Dirt… Mtb sure. Definitely ride the Mtb in the off season. Albeit short. I have a sweet Cannondale Flash Carbon 29er. Love it.

      Reply
  10. Patti

    Great pics. And I have to say as a Canadian this Fluff stuff is so weird. We don’t have that here. It’s marshmellow…but spreadable? Isn’t it very sweet? And would I need 5lbs?

    Reply
  11. Steve Fortier

    Ted, you are masterful on and off the bike. Thanks for the amazing photojournal. Glad you are healing well. Wishing you all the best in Utah and CO… I hope that you are able to show your immense talent in each. Be well, Steve

    Reply
  12. Briggs

    Belated congrats for your podium appearance in Greenville, SC! It was too freaking hot for me and my son to even drive over to see it, and, in hindsight, we regret it.
    What happened to you in Philly sucks. You deserved a trip to France and the Tdf. Best wishes for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. Give those boys heck!

    Reply
  13. Bill E

    TK wearing an IANTK t-shirt? That popular in CO that you need to try and confuse the paparazzi?

    Reply
  14. Justin Balog

    That was the fastest I have ever read 23,000 words. I’m actually going to recon the course a bit this weekend. Doing a bit of riding as well as scouting out some prime photo locations for the UPCC. Any ideas?

    I’ll be sure to grab a pic of you at the the UPCC….

    Thanks Ted!

    Justin

    Reply
  15. Dana

    Doh’! We just moved from CB back to Vermont or else we could have shown you ’round town. The mountain you don’t know the name of is the one and only Mt. Crested Butte. Good luck on the Quiznos Sandwich Munching Pedal-Mash! We’ll be watching on the Tele!

    Reply

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