|Charlie rides the Peak-to-Peak Highway towards THE peak - Longs Peak|
Follow me on this and see if you can help me find the flaw. The elevation of Lyons is 5374 feet. The distance from Lyons to Boulder is about 12 miles, but we'll round down to be conservative; say ten miles. The average grade between the two has to be 10%, so Boulder's elevation should be 5374 + 5280 (10% of ten miles) = 10,000+ feet. Yet, Boulder's elevation is supposedly only 5430 feet. How can this be? You'll immediately jump on my guess for average grade, but I rode this stretch yesterday and it seemed harder than riding Super Flag.
Anyone who reads this blog with any regularity (you ten people know who you are!) will recognize the two acronyms in the title, but the two other readers, LPP is the Longs Peak Project and means climbing Longs Peak by a different route in each calendar month of the year. LPT is the Longs Peak Triathlon, which has traditionally referred to biking from Boulder to the trailhead, hiking/running into the base of the East Face and climbing the Diamond. We're stretching it a bit to be any technical (5th class route) route on Longs Peak. That way you have cycling, running, and climbing.
|They say the camera adds ten pounds. Untrue! It apparently adds about fifty. It's amazing that my bike doesn't collapse.|
I put essentially all my climbing gear in a mesh bag and used bungy cords to strap it to my handlebars. Charlie put it all in his Ultimate Directions Peter Bakwin Adventure Vest 2.0 (I used the same pack) and wore it on the ride up there. We both wore La Sportiva scrambling shoes. Charlie in the very unfortunately discontinued Exum Ridge and me in the Mix.
|Trying to run on the slight descent towards Chasm Lake|
Some might wonder why we rode up there, making an already very difficult LPP tougher. I'm one of those people. The reason: Charlie. He's a 24-hour Leadville 100 finisher, a Hard Rock 100 finisher, an ex-near-pro adventure racer, etc. The longer and the harder, the better for him. Which makes things tough for me, as my speciality is more the shorter, easier, slower. I excel there and not on such arduous adventures. Ten days before today, I hadn't been on a bike in nine months. I did four training rides, including this one. The saving grace is that my brother gave me a ridiculously good road bike and I'm much better suited to biking than running. Mainly because I can sit on my ample backside and still make progress. I really feel that is the biggest drawback to running - you can't sit down at the same time! Plus, having a bit extra around the middle doesn't matter as much on the bike.
|Charlie heads up the bottom of Lambs Slide, just far enough to gain the rock rib (out of the photo to the left). The Diamond looms above and Kiener's traverses in from the left to follow the left edge of the Diamond.|
Charlie and I pedaled north on 28th Street (highway 36) and noted the time when we hit Broadway. We had no reason to think, given our lack of training, that we had a chance at the FKT, but we kept it in mind, at least for awhile. Reality set in once we were high on Longs Peak. We traded pulls for a bit and then spotted a group of three pulling onto 36 from Neva Road. I accelerated a bit to catch them and asked if we could sit on their wheels for a bit. They were nice guys and we chatted with them. They were headed for Old Stage via Lefthand Canyon. I tried to convince them that riding to Lyons was a much better choice, but they stuck with their plan.
|Charlie kicking steps across Lambs Slide, heading for Broadway|
I pressed the pace on the mile-long Longs Peak Road to the trailhead. Why do this? I told myself that I wanted to be sure to break three hours, but that was guaranteed. The real reason was to show Charlie that I was strong. Why do that? Insecurity, pure and simple. It seems I'm always the anchor with Charlie. He assures me that we're a pretty equal team, but I'm still more convinced that he's just being nice about it. Anyone could see that I'm no Charlie. That would be very evident later in the day.
|The spectacularly exposed and narrow Broadway|
We continued to Chasm Lake and around it and up the talus on the far side, headed for the East Face of Longs Peak. We got onto the top of Lambs Slide and were able to kick steps, in our Microspikes just high enough to gain the rock rib on the left. We scrambled up this until we were directly across from Broadway and then found a sharp rock to use as an ice axe and then carefully kicked steps across. Charlie led the first half of this until his hands went numb. He had forgotten to bring any gloves. I took over and finished the traverse. We didn't rush this. We knew a fall here could be fatal and took our time to kick a good step. The sharp rocks also work amazingly well as a good handhold.
|Heading up Kiener's Route|
|Charlie high on Longs Peak with Chasm Lake below.|
|Charlie down climbing the wet Cables Route|
|Transitioning at the Longs Peak Trailhead|
Before we got to the Jim's Grove Trail we hiked right into a mother ptarmigan and her chicks. They were so well camouflaged that I never saw them until I almost stepped on them. The chicks were so cute, so small. The mother, small and fragile herself, ran back and forth between me and her chicks, making a hissing sound almost like a rattlesnake. It might be silly, but I was inspired by this. Her bravery was noble, though probably just evolutionary genetics. She was standing up to two creatures more than 100 times her own weight. She might not be able to protect her babies, but to get to them we were going to have to go through her. Inspired by a bird...what have I become?
|An inspiring ptarmigan protecting her chicks|
|Always the fashionista. I can't help it.|
We cruised down the Longs Peak Road and out onto the Peak-to-Peak highway. I knew we had forty miles to finish in Boulder, but a good portion of that we'd already earned on the way up and would be free now, as we coasted towards Lyons. We were mentally prepared for the three or four climbs before the long, final descent to Lyons and they went well, though with considerable effort.
Then we hit highway 36 and the hell that is the ride back to Boulder after going for ten hours and facing brutal crosswinds and headwinds. Charlie did the bulk of the work here and I hung on as best I could. The first three miles out of Lyons were ridiculously hard for me. If that had continued, I'd have stuck out my thumb. We got back to Broadway after 10h43 minutes, so about an hour off the FKT. It was solidly under my predicted 11 hours, though. I was satisfied. But mostly I wanted to be out of my biking shoes and off my bike. The next three miles back to Safeway were easy, downhill miles, thankfully, and it was with great relief and satisfaction that I pulled up to my car.
The roundtrip was 91 miles (about 80 miles on the bike) and 11,000 vertical feet. Five months to go. Next up is the Casual Route on the Diamond.