Final Countdown: Cramming for Switzerland

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The last (and toughest) mile up to Ward yesterday

It’s the Final Countdown. Five days ’til we arrive in Geneva. Thanks to a generous babysitter I can’t thank enough, I was able to get in about 100 miles of riding this weekend, including the long 4,000-feet-plus climb up to Ward with my panniers loaded just as they will be in Switzerland. This morning I biked the long way (38 miles) down to Denver via the Little Dry Creek path sans panniers just to keep my legs moving. I feel in shape enough to make it through a 10-day ride through Switzerland – up and down mountains steeper than anything I’ve ever seen – but am still concerned about my speed, and being a mile or two behind my riding mates, who have been hardcore cyclists for many years, while I’ve only been doing long-distance biking for about 16 months.

Last night, hauling everything I’ll need in Switzerland (including a tent, sleeping bag, etc.) up to Ward via Lee Hill, I was very slow. Most of the 10.5 miles of Lefthand Canyon after the famous left turn to Ward, I was averaging about 7mph. I’ve run faster than that in 5k and 10k races, but not while carrying camping gear and clothes/tools for a 10-day trip. But perhaps most important is that I made it all the way from Amante Coffee to Utica Street Market without stopping. That tells me I’m ready, although my speed is still a concern.

The long (and ugly, and smelly) way to Denver from Boulder by bike

I’m excited about Switzerland, and (along with my daily commute) will get a few rides in this week – probably Poor Man Road two or three times – with fully loaded panniers. There is just still this nagging fear of being a mile or two behind my riding mates in Switzerland, with no cell phone service, and then getting a flat, which would put me many miles behind them. Let’s hope I make it through with no flats, as I did on the four-day D.C.-to-Pittsburgh ride in April.

By the way, if anyone out there can recommend some good Swiss music, I’m on the hunt for some. So far I’ve only discovered Krokodil, Brain Ticket, the Evpatoria Report, etc.

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