Monday, November 23, 2009

The Ward Ride

This is the ride that separates the men from the boys...or the women from the girls if we're being politically correct here.

See the road sign pictured? This is your moment of truth. You started out at Route 36 with every intention of doing the Ward ride. 5 miles up the gradual incline the road splits. Go straight and you'll be sipping hot chocolate at the Jamestown Cafe in less than 20 minutes. Hook a left and you're headed for Ward, baby. More than a few times I approached the split sure I was hooking left but opted for the easy hot chocolate instead.

Ward is tough. 10.5 more miles. About 3 times the time and distance it takes to get to Jamestown. The terrain is much the same...maybe a tad steeper in sections. But you get the feeling it takes forever since there is no let up. Just a pretty constant 4 - 8 % grind up the mountain. The Ward climb FEELS a bit different though. Not just longer. You're climbing so long you actually feel the temperature drop along the way. My guess is Ward sits around 9,000 feet and way back a week ago when you started this climb it was probably at 5,300 feet in Boulder.

Then you hit the last 1.4 miles. Forget it. Just put your head down. Look at your feet, hope the pedals are still moving and grind on. The first time I did Ward my buddy told me to watch out for the last bit. I kept waiting for it. Waiting and waiting and waiting till I was sure he was off his rocker and it was never coming. Then I rounded a corner and my wheels just about stopped moving the grade got so steep. 13 minutes later I had made it to the general store which was the size of a big closet. And I finally got my hot chocolate. By the way the "town" of Ward is a sight. Cars from the mid 70s parked all over the place. A few people who looked like extras from "Deliverance." Definitely not where you'd take the kids on summer vacation. But hey, what a ride. And then you get to fly back home on a downhill that kicks you up past 45 miles per hour if you let it...

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