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.
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.