I was expecting the moment that I stepped off the climate controlled airplane, that flew me up to a mile high above everything else, that my chest would implode and breathing would become near impossible. It didn't feel like I was trying to breath through a straw, it didn't feel like someone was standing on my chest. Breathing, however, did feel slightly laoboured. I had to consciously think about my breathing - take deeper breaths, in & out. If I tried to breath normally I found myself getting a little anxious, as if all the oxygen around me was being sucked out by some invisible vacuum cleaner. I can almost relate it to what an anxiety attack must feel like. Also, the air was noticeably dryer than the humid nation's capital I reside in.
A very scenic drive out of Denver to the high country on Thursday morning led us to our first riding destination; Monarch Crest. "Go big or go home," is what Goat must have been thinking when he planned our rides. Monarch sits, from where we began riding, at 11, 313 feet above sea level. . . 11, 067 feet above Ottawa. Jeebus!
At this point I was slightly dizzy and my head hurt AND I hadn't begun to ride yet.
Right out of the gate we were climbing . . . and we climbed . . . and climbed. Sean and the Goat always in front. My heart rate shot through the sky and it seemed to take a long time to get it under control once I stopped or hit a flat section. Recovery was brutal.
You can see Sean and the Goat way off in the distance, above tree line on this mostly alpine ride.
Coming down Monarch Crest I bit it. Hard. It was like my mind was reacting two steps slower than what my body was experiencing. I found it difficult to concentrate and work the bike. It was a fairly smooth, straightforward section of trail.
I was headed downhill at a good clip, then the next thing I know I'm laying on the ground. I hit so hard that I didn't have time to get my hands/arms out. I landed on my chest with my right hand underneath me and heard and felt a loud "POP" in the middle of my chest. It would be a week later that I would learn that I dislocated my sternum (more on that later).
Sean at the trailhead of Greens Creek.
Towards the bottom of Greens Creek. It beat the shit out of me. It was rocky and bumpy and in my state, after my fall, being light headed, with a terrible headache and totally whipped I was glad to be almost done my first day in the mountains. Any other time, Green's Creek would have been fun as hell.
Almost dusk on the way to our campsite in a valley just outside of Crested Butte and we could this guy having an evening snack.
We had our own late night snack Hobo Style. Fire cooked beans and steak (in the tin foil).
The Gourmet Goat fixing us up some beans and steak.