During our week in Colorado Springs, we were able to sneak away for three afternoon rides. Two of those rides were on the beautiful Air Force Academy grounds. This was especially meaningful to me. Portions of our ride took place on the same route the World Cycling Championships used when Colorado Springs hosted the world’s best cyclists in 1986.
Michael York and I took in the elite road race that year. It was a miserable day, but we still loved the opportunity to see riders such as Greg LeMond and my all-time favorite, Bernard Hinault, make long lap after lap ride around the circuit.
We left our car near the football stadium. After a short warm up, we began an immediate climb along the same road Michael and I had watched the race unfold. At my age, it takes a long time to warm up. Laura, meanwhile, simply blows out of the gate from the get go and then hangs on as long as she can. On this warm afternoon, she found a wonderful rhythm making the first three to four mile steady climb in the oxygen-thin air look way too easy. As I dragged along trying to maintain contact, I was mesmerized by the beauty of each pedal stroke and could only admire her efforts but hated every inch of the growing gap. Laura despises the short, punchy climbs around Topeka and Lawrence, but she certainly has shown she is up to the long steady climbs in Colorado.
On our second ride, with better legs, I was holding my own with the newly crowned Miss Mountain Goat. However, thunderstorms were boiling to the west in the foothills. We knew our time was limited. When a booming speaker loud enough to be heard throughout the grounds announced, “A lightening strike has been detected within five nautical miles of the Academy. Take shelter immediately, “ we realized they meant it. We raced back to our car with cloud-to-ground lightening streaking behind us. We made it just in time. We sat out the storm and got some photos of us in front of the B-52 display and the beautiful chapel just as rainbows arced across the sky.
We capped off the Colorado riding with a mountain bike route I found to be perfect despite a balky front brake that had me taking turns in exciting drifting fashion. Two wonderful weeks of riding that will long be remembered for the joy we had sharing the road and trails together in complete peace.
For Academy photos, click here.