Before leaving Austin to travel to Durango, CO this past weekend for the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic, my friends would ask, ?So, how long is this ride?? ?Fifty miles,? I?d answer, and almost invariably someone would respond saying that 50 miles shouldn?t be too tough. The difficulty of the Iron Horse, though, is not in the distance; it?s in the climbing and elevation. See, during the course of those 50 miles, riders climb more than 6,000 vertical feet over two mountain passes, each with a peak at more than 10,000 feet. So for this sea-level-trained rider, it wasn?t about the distance at all.
But fortunately, I wasn?t alone. I had the unique opportunity to participate in this event with 115 Team LIVESTRONG riders and fundraisers, who collectively raised more than $115,000 for LIVESTRONG and the global fight against cancer! Having the chance to ride with a group, which was connected by a larger mission than simply getting over the mountains, certainly made the hills less daunting and the air at altitude more breathable. As a team, we were able to start at the front of the pack and several of our staff members and board members participated in interviews for a future documentary about the ride. Most of us were wearing our limited edition Team LIVESTRONG/Iron Horse jerseys, so it was a pretty sweet spectacle, and I found myself riding with yellow and black clad riders for most of the day. (And my thanks go out to those on the team who pulled me up the mountain!)
The weather was unbeatable?65 degrees and sunny with a tailwind?and the atmosphere, though lacking oxygen, was full of the LIVESTRONG spirit thanks to those on our team who put so much effort into their fundraising and training. Additionally, I?d like to thank Gaige Sippy, Ed Zink, Chris Vivolo, Jamie Wienck, Marji and Howard Wilson, Susan, and everyone else up in Durango who helped make our team experience for the Iron Horse all that we could have asked for and more. I look forward to participating with many of these same wonderful individuals as members of Team LIVESTRONG at the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic next year. Registration information for the 2011 team will be up on our website in November 2010.