Hoosier’s Pass is certainly one of those markers that you know is there, just killing time, waiting for you. All the while you ride the Trans-Am, it’s there, waiting for you to arrive, day in and day out, getting closer, slowly, mile by mile. The reason it’s such a big deal is because it’s the first place where cyclists cross the Continental Divide. And it’s the real deal as far as mountains go. It’s at 11,539 ft, which makes us cross country cyclists feel tough, and deserving of Ooohs and Ahhhhs. At that elevation, we feel entitled to all of the bitching and moaning.
Before you get there, say about 3 days before you arrive, you are inundated by a steady barrage of east bound cyclists’ descriptions of “The Climb.” These seasoned and proven warhorses emerge in the distance, on the other side of the road, steadily pedaling, just like you. And then you meet in the middle of a country road in the middle of nowhere, solely for one purpose: they want to tell their Hoosier Pass story, like a certain type of veteran of war wants to tell a war story. And you, such a novice, are held captive to listen. And not just passively listen, but relive with them, every last one of their grunts and wheezes, and more than that, you must feel the pain of the muscle cramps they personally experienced! And when it’s all said and done, you move on, more nervous than 5 minutes before, they move on, satisfied.
So, it’s the big day! Brooke and I start out. And, then we stop about 6 miles into the ride, suspiciously, right at the base of The Climb. We stopped, using a bathroom break as a sorry excuse. Then, we both decided, hell, let’s just have a cup of coffee, this place looks cute! So, we sat there, wondering how it was going to be. Not so much wondering, as worrying, if you want the truth. We hemmed and hawed long enough, and it was time.
I was nervous enough that my throat was constricting, I was already having a tough time with breathing, and I hadn’t even begun. But, we needed to just dive in and pedal, and that’s what we did. And, to our surprise, it wasn’t nearly the monster we’d made it into in our heads.
It was just a steady climb. The type of steady climb where you get transfixed, you get into a rhythm, your breathing keeps time, and your pedaling keeps the beat. We climbed at about 5.6 MPH and it lasted for 6 miles. In the end, I almost felt like I did when I was a kid worrying about ripping off a bandaid, or pulling out a loose tooth hanging by a thread. All the gruesome imagery, all the putting it off, and the reality isn’t a fraction as bad as you thought it would be.
When we reached the top, Brooke exclaimed “we’re here, this is it!” and I, ever the pessimist, dryly wheezed, “be patient Brooke..we don’t know for sure.” But, Alas, Brooke was right! Behold! The tippy top of Hoosier Pass! And, what did we get for all the sweat and perseverance? A torrential downpour!
The way down from Hoosier Pass into Breckenridge is a downward spiral. Picture the spiral image of the galaxy, it’s that twisty and infinite in it’s turns. I Loved it. The boundless curves, the impossibly steep sections, the G-forces, and fast plummet. I loved it! And, the rain only added to my heavenly decent. Brooke, on the other hand, hated it, to the point of hyperventilation. We stopped so she could cry her eyes out, but eventually we made it down the 10 mile decent into Breckenridge. It was freezing, I believe it hailed somewhere along the way. We entered Breckenridge shivering and looking for a cup of coffee.
Brooke called her dad from the coffee shop, and her parents generously found us a hotel 9 miles down the road in Frisco. We were all set to ride to Frisco, but it was full on storming by this point, so we ducked into a designer clothing store to get out of the rain, expecting to get the boot immediately. But, the owner of the store helped us navigate Breckenridge’s free bus system. We took a bus to Frisco, and luxuriated in the hotel jacuzzi for the rest of the night, only taking a break to go to Wal-mart to buy dinner.