Saturday, May 6, 2023

Flèche Report: Team Dirty Francing - Rashid Khan

Hard things can be fun, but frustrating things, while hard, are almost never fun. We set out to have a good ol’ hard time on this year’s flèche by engaging in the borderline excessive climbing that everyone on the team relished, while keeping logistics to a minimum by starting somewhat near the finish.

Setting off at a fashionably late 8:10am we traded warm-up for straight-up on Olde Stage Rd headed towards Lefthand Canyon. After nabbing 700ft in the first 3 miles we would proceed to pile on another 6500ft before lunch, stopping only briefly to admire the peaks blanketed in snow, and to fill our bottles with ice cold spring water in Allenspark.

After a leisurely sit down lunch at the always fast and delicious Notch Top Cafe in Estes Park we began the tight and fast descent through Glenhaven at full speed, the road having been, surprisingly, freshly swept of grit despite the recent snow storms. We took a moment at the Glenhaven store to note that they would in fact be open for next weekend’s 300k. Maybe we’ll get there early enough for cinnamon rolls, though I wouldn’t bet a full stomach on it.

After a jaunt down a smooth dirt road we took a familiar turn past Masonville and headed up the south side of the climb to Stove Prairie, joined by herd of elk galloping through a sun kissed meadow. The elevation map hardly tells the whole story of this climb, which rolls through 2700ft with 10-15% sections every few miles. By the top we were ready the long descent; the golden hour sun turning the usual cool stone walls a warm yellow and casting long shadows through Poudre Canyon.

While tired from the climb, we were, by now, running a bit ahead of schedule. We calculated, if we hustled a bit, we could roll into Fort Collins before 8pm, in time for dinner at Tasty Harmony, a favorite of Jenn and I, and of Corinne’s son who would meet us there for a wonderful meal to guide us from day to dark. After dark we rolled slowly through the wooded bike paths of Fort Collins before popping out onto the roads east of town. 

Save for a too busy highway, a misguided attempt at gravel bike path and a skipped turn to Windsor the rest of the night was thankfully uneventful. We would make a brief stop at a closed service station to layer up, grab some late night grub from a very cheerful 24-hour Taco Johns, and swing past the Boulder home of Jenn and I’s to clean up and don street clothes before the ride to breakfast. We departed a bit later than planned, but with plenty of time to complete 25km, even if someone had a mechanical.

My tire went first and fast, a large chunk of glass embedded in the tread. Quick teamwork had us back on the road in a few minutes, still with plenty of time to spare. Jenn’s tire went next less than a mile later. Two flats in the final, time contained 25km! Again teamwork saves the day as I dealt with the old tube while Jenn prepped the new one. Finding nothing in the tire, we simply crossed our fingers it wouldn’t go flat again. Now crunched for time we picked up the pace, past the Sunday morning dog walkers, quickly through an empty downtown Louisville, and along curving neighborhood streets to the finish with 10 minutes to spare!

— Rashid

Team Dirty Francing
Rashid Khan (captain)
Jenn Moore
Corinne Warren

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