On the Road: A mighty wind | AspenTimes.com
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On the Road: A mighty wind

Road bicyclists in the Roaring Fork Valley have a secret weapon when it comes time to whip themselves back into riding shape each spring. It’s called the wind.A case in point was last Sunday. Those of us who had honey-do lists to tackle in the morning and early afternoon paid a price after 2 p.m. If ever there was a headwind, it was Sunday in the Crystal Valley. Turning the corner at Carbondale to head up Highway 133 revealed the full fury of the gale. I never checked for an official wind speed, but I’m guessing a sustained wind of 25 mph and much stronger gusts.My riding partner and I took turns “pulling,” or riding out front, about every mile and should have reduced it further. Eventually it felt like we were laboring away on fat-tired mountain bikes on some trail with brutal beach sand around Moab rather than on a paved road with sleek, fast road bikes.But what the heck – on days like that, you just regard it as the ultimate training. We covered half the distance to Redstone from Carbondale quicker than I expected. The last half was tougher, though, thanks to a couple of the choke points in the canyon where we felt like peas stuck in the narrow end of a funnel, and a couple of persistent uphills.The Crystal Valley is deceptive because you never realize you’re gaining about the same elevation from ‘Bonedale to Redstone as you do from Basalt to Aspen. Both rides seem flat, but they’re not.As we approached Redstone I realized I had expended about twice as much energy as usual on that ride, thanks to the wind. I dreamed of a Snickers bar and prayed that the general store was open. It was, and I indulged my desire for sugar-fueled energy with a package of peanut M&M’s. Sometimes I’m certain my dog doesn’t even take time to chew or taste table scraps that I feed her. I was the same way with my M&M’s. (I grudgingly shared a couple with my riding partner.)The return trip was payola for the wind torture. The descent to Carbondale reminds you just how much you climbed, and we covered the 18 miles in what seemed like record time, with the wind finally at our backs.I wish I could say the same about the final leg back to El Jebel. Somehow the noodle legs kept the crankset turning.The official mileage for a ride like that would be about 52 miles. In reality, it’s much more because of the wind.


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