Riding 100 Miles from Mountains to Desert

    Biking from Mountains to Desert

    Discovering Truths While Peddling

    By Emily Shoff

    As a solitary person used to ensconcing myself in peaceful nature on hour-long trail runs, the idea of riding a road bike over 100 miles with hordes of people, on roads infested with cars, sounded about as appealing as smearing that antichafing chamois cream on my butt. But as Telluride seems to go, the things you swore you’d never do — run Imogene, buy a house, play ice hockey — have a way of coming true. Indeed, it seems the more you resist an idea, the more likely you are to do it. Here, it is probably better to follow the axiom of never saying never, especially in a valley where the ears of 2,000 people have a way of remembering those beer-infused late-night promises.

    And so it was that I found myself on the bad end of a bet, shivering in my Lycra on Main Street one September morning, about to embark on the Mountains to the Desert Bike Ride, a fundraiser for local non-profit Just For Kids. As I looked over at the man who’d convinced me to ride on skinny bikes with him all summer – a man I have loved for the last 22 years of my life and also happened to be married to – I knew that I had one chance and one chance only of completing this race: I had to stay with Andy and adopt the lessons he’d been squawking at me over his shoulder for the length of the summer.

    Lesson 1

    Find a Peloton and Stay With It

    You can think of riding with a pack a bit like having someone push start your bike when you’re first learning to ride. Lucky for me, Andy and I quickly hooked up with a crew from Houston who insisted on pulling for the bulk of the ride. I think I led five times before I realized I was cutting into their chivalry quotient. I quit trying to be tough and held on for my life.

    Lesson 2

    Time Your Outfit Changes

    Planning what to wear for M2D is a little like trying to attend a prom on a backpacking trip. At the start, it’s only about 40 degrees and you’re riding downhill. Brrrr. But then the climb starts at just about the same time the temperature starts to hit the upper 70s. Wear layers and strip them off at the base of Norwood Hill. Race workers will cart them to the finish line for you.

    Lesson 3

    Eating and Drinking Matters

    As a girl who is hungry all the time, I find it odd that I have to remind myself to eat while riding a bike. I’m so focused on keeping up, I forget. Stuff some of your favorite quick energy snacks in your back pocket and practice retrieving them, lest you end up with your face smashed into a guard rail. And wash it down with water or some of that Gatorade crap. (Don’t worry, there’s beer coming soon enough.)

    Lesson 4

    Enjoy the Scenery

    It’s easy to get locked into your handlebars and make biking, like most things in life, a reason to stress. But it’s fun. And on this course, fantastically beautiful too, with red sandstone canyon walls rising like cathedrals around you during the second half of the ride. And heck, if the scenery doesn’t do it for you, visualize the beer at the end. Yup, that’s right, this ride finishes with a keg and plates of awesome Mexican food. I knew I should never say never.