The day wasn’t expected to be ideal for riding, but the storms weren’t expected until mid-afternoon.
Bicycling in the mountains requires respect for late afternoon storms. So I headed out at 9:20 a.m. hoping to get in a couple of good climbs by lunch time. It was about 55 degrees, mostly cloudy and windless.
Starting from our home south of downtown Evergreen , Colo. means the first two miles test only your courage as it’s two miles downhill on bumpy roads with traffic the last mile. But then comes the gentle climb along Upper Bear Creek, with gorgeous homes along it.
The climbing turns serious up Witter Gulch, but the hail storm that started at about 8600 ft. elevation and lasted almost until I reached the top at over 9,000 feet made it that much more challenging. The hail was about 1/4-inch in diameter but fortunately wasn’t too heavy.
At the top, I thought about taking a picture of the cloud enshrouded vista, but then thunder struck. What I heard in that clap was Mother Nature telling me “Get the hell off that mountain now.”
On the descent it drizzled so I had to keep feathering the brakes and taking the few switchbacks along Squaw Pass Rd. as its known carefully. Even though the temperature had dropped to the mid-40’s, the arm warmers and wind vest kept my core warm, even if my bare legs were a tad chilly.
I had planned to head south on Rt. 74 and then do one more climb up Stagecoach Rd., thinking the rain would stop at the lower elevation. But when it didn’t I decided to call it a day. Which meant holding on while I descended back into town. Normally, that drop is fun, but the road has deteriorated greatly the last two years and I had to scan for potholes all the way down, again scrubbing speed in case I hit one.
That left only the 1-3% climb up Cub Creek and the the dirt Mesa and Hermosa Roads until I got home.
Wiping the bike down I started to shiver, hoping that my numb fingers would thaw and that hypothermia wouldn’t set in.
The last time I got caught in a hail storm I couldn’t stop shivering for nearly an hour afterward. I took a hot shower, and still shivering, I looked up how to treat hypothermia. Apparently the last thing you should do is take a hot shower as the shock to the system can cause a heart attack.
But this time wasn’t so bad. The shower felt great. I lingered there awhile.