Thursday, May 9, 2024

Flèche 2024: Team Ferrous Rouleurs Day Off

- Rashid Khan (captain)
- Jenn Moore
- Maddie Fulmer
- Tim Sunset

Gray clouds hovered above our team of couples, Jenn and I with Maddie and Tim, two strong riders on their first Flechè Velocio. 

The clouds will clear up, we told ourselves, even as they hung low, shrouding the mountain peaks as we approached Boulder. Climbing Lefthand Canyon, the white snow blanketing the pines became thicker, but the road was clear and the breeze was at our backs. That breeze, however, was just above freezing, and we were looking forward to the layer of moisture burning off around mid-morning, as forecast.

That didn’t happen. We arrived in Ward to wisps of snow, and wondered how our already cold hands would fare on the fast descents that follow the punchy climbs of the Peak to Peak highway.

However, while tardy, the sun would pierce the thinning clouds by the end of the first descent. Not thirty minutes later we'd be in Raymond, basking under blue skies while making our way across the short hiking trail that cuts around the road closure.

Climbing back out of Raymond, we approached Estes Park, clearing the switchbacks and turning onto Fish Creek Rd with minimal traffic. From there we cruised into lunch at Notch Top Cafe right on schedule. After lunch we took a spin up to the gate of Rocky Mountain National Park, turned around, and headed toward Devil's Gulch for its spectacular views of the continental divide. 

Dropping from the summit, through the hairpins and into Glenhaven, we paused to regroup at the Glenhaven store. A single bicycle perched out front signaled the start of spring opening hours and who should appear to claim that bicycle but Jason Metzler, who had almost joined our team but for prior Sunday plans precluding a ride ending at 8am. Jason would then join us on the cruise down Big Thompson and over Horsetooth before splitting off on the Spring Creek path into Fort Collins.

This year we chose Avogadro's as our dinner stop, owing to their recently extended opening hours. Also recently extended were their bike racks, now plentifully arranged just in front of the windows allowing us to keep watch on our bikes while sipping beers as evening faded to night. From there we headed north to Owl Canyon and enjoyed mostly empty roads on the return south. With eyelids growing heavy, and somehow once again hungry, we pulled into Jenn & I's new residence in Fort Collins for a brief rest and shots of espresso before heading east into the night.

Turning south, the shadow of a black cat darted across the gravel road we used to connect paved segments into Windsor. The unlit road precluded checking my printed timetable, but I started to suspect I'd been ambitious in timing the segment between Fort Collins and Louisville. A quick check under a street light entering town confirmed as such. So, still fresh from our rest, we pushed past Windsor to the Love's on the outskirts of Berthoud.

As the sun rose, we hit the 22 hour control just north of Hygiene. Pushed gently along by a light tailwind, we cruised the last 30km into Downtown Louisville along familiar roads, finishing at Moxie Bread to watch the minutes tick away with warm coffee and pastries.

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