Last year after the Tour of California Mount Baldy Stage, I got my wife’s permission to swear on Facebook, using an (in)appropriate word to describe how amazing that ride had been. Today I got permission from strong rider Skip to do the same thing on the blog to describe our group: “A bunch of strong motherf…rs”.
Everyone here has his/her own reason for signing up to a CTS Bucket List event such as the USA Pro Cycling Challenge CTS Race Experience. Personally I do it for two reasons. I do it for the immense physical and mental challenge it represents. I also do it because this is where I meet people who share and understand my passion (craziness…).
There is something truly magical that happens when you put together a group of twenty “A type” guys who either don’t know each other or see each other once every six months and you have them complete a seven day pro-like cycling event. My experience is that it brings out the best in people. The difficulty of such an event makes it impossible not be happy for every rider that comes across the finish line. Cycling is a team sport and everyone that shows up understand that and behave accordingly.
Today we started riding in Aspen at around 7:15 am on our way to Beaver Creek one hundred miles away. We climbed up Independence Pass, a nineteen mile beast with a summit at 12,095 feet. And everything that goes up must come down. So all of these people who didn’t know each other a few days ago get in a group and descend fifteen miles the other side at an average of 30 miles an hour and top speeds of between forty-five and fifty miles an hour. We must all trust each other with our lives and look after each other, making sure everyone gets down the mountain safely.
Once we got off the mountain we had a tough long stretch of road with head wind and continous rollers. That is when some of the riders started doubting. They let their brain f__k with their legs. That is when the teammates come into play. Those who have done events such as the one we are doing this week know the “doubt” very well: “Can I finish” or “Am I the only one suffering, everyone else seems to be doing so much better than me.” We all have our moments of doubt, we all ask ourselves at least once: “Why did I decide to do this?” But as Chris Carmichael says:”We have no option, we all have to get through it together.” No one here takes any joy in seeing a teammate suffer, get drop or have thoughts of quitting. It doesn’t matter how much money people have, what job they have we are all equally tough MOFOs getting through this as a group.
And I can tell you that people in Colorado who watch the race know who we are. I hear many many times a day:”Hey, look, these are the Carmichael riders coming.” Yeah, we are the Carmichael train. We do every stage, we climb every mountain, descend every mountain, face any cross wind nature throws at us, we ride hard and get through it as a team. And as I wrote last year, we don’t leave our wounded on the battlefield.
For map and profile of Stage 4 please click here.
To watch a video about Stage 4 please click here.
It’s not often that you start with a monster climb, but that’s what the cyclists will find at the beginning of Stage 4 when they head back over Independence Pass for a second time, getting a second look at the thousands of enthusiastic fans lining the road up and down. Then elevation is the name of the game, with much of this 97-mile course above 9000 feet. But it’s downhill from there heading for a sprint in the town of Leadville – the highest incorporated city in the US at 10,152 feet. Then they head over the Continental Divide at Tennessee Pass (10,424’) before descending into Minturn. Finally, the peloton will be faced by a stiff two and a half mile climb that rises almost 1000 feet to the ski resort of Beaver Creek, a difficult finish that could result in the fourth leader change in as many days. Total climbing: 7,740 feet.