ASC employees take to the saddle
"I want to ride my Bicycle," is more than just a song by Queen at Adams State College. It is a passion that leads over the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.
"There is just something about the thrill of coming down a pass at 40-50 mph on a bike that can only be matched by skiing really fast down a hill," said chemistry professor Dr. Marty Jones.
Jones rode nearly five hundred miles in The Denver Post Ride the Rockies this summer. Each June, the tour takes 2,000 cyclists on a six to seven day ride on paved roads through Colorado's Rocky Mountains. Dr. Frank and Ellen Novotny had a similar experience in another week-long ride, The Bicycle Tour of Colorado. They are Adams State's interim provost and an adjunct professor of English, respectively. Jones, Frank and Chris Wearner, Adams State graphic artist, recently completed the Enchanted Circle Century Bike in New Mexico ride the weekend of September 9.
"While you are going up, you have plenty of time to really enjoy the scenery and coming down can be a white knuckled, how fast can you go, thrill, or it can be a fun eight to twelve miles of downhill, little work, wind in your face, pure reward coast," Frank Novotny said, who is contemplating a bicycle tour of California wine country next year.
Jones said he enjoys the adrenaline rush as well, but Ellen prefers time to see what she is passing.
"The Colorado scenery from a bicycle is awesome. It is a totally different perspective than zooming by in a car," Ellen said. "While I know I earned the "free ride" of the downhill side, the scenery goes by too fast. I do not care for the speed. My hands, wrists, and arms were seriously sore from so much clenching and breaking after biking from Creede to Gunnison (2 passes, 100 miles). We all went to the massage tent that evening."
Jones and Frank Novotny both said they started riding about three years ago, and Ellen has ridden in one bicycle tour per year for the last two years.
"I spend a lot of time in the saddle," Frank Novotny said. "I ride pretty much year round. The rides occur at lunch with Marty and on weekends or evenings with many different people."
Jones said he rides year-round as well.
"During the spring, we get our "resistance training" by riding in the lovely SLV winds," Jones said. "When we're preparing for a century ride or a multi-day tour, we try to make one of the weekend rides a "pass" ride, either up Cumbres-La Manga Pass or Poncha Pass."
Ellen's outlook on training is different.
"In January, I start thinking about a tour, but I know I have lost all of last year's momentum," Ellen said. "So, I set up the indoor bike trainer and peddle while I watch a movie . . . once a month, whether I want to or not."
She said as spring approaches she rides ten to twenty miles in the morning with fellow bikers.
"On weekends, we may have more time, so we can seek out fresh scenery on a longer ride, or a pass, or just in a different direction," Ellen said.
It takes a motivated individual to want to pedal a bicycle up a steep mountain pass with automobiles passing you at 60 to 70 miles per hour.
Jones said five or six years ago he and his wife and another couple were 'personal sags' (support vehicles) for friends on Ride the Rockies.
"We had a lot of fun on that tour, but I thought that I would have even more fun if I rode," Jones said. "An additional motivation, quite honestly, was the thought that I might be able to get into better physical condition without further damaging my knees and ankles."
Ellen said half the game is mental when facing a mountain pass.
"It took me a few solo rides up the Salida side of Poncha Pass to find my groove," she said. "They do not really get any easier with time. I put the bike in "granny low" and just keep peddling."
Ellen was inspired by friends to gear up for a bicycle tour.
"I thought my biking girlfriends were absolutely nuts for doing the Bicycle Tour of Colorado," Ellen said. "Who in their right mind would WANT to peddle a bicycle over a mountain pass? Now, I can admit that conquering a pass is a blast of pride."