Updated: Jun 12, 2020
The final registration day for The Broadmoor Pikes Peak Cycling Hill Climb- First Ever E-Bike Exhibition Ride, found my children and I traveling back home from Cortez, Colorado with three e-bikes loaded in the back of my Chevy truck. While visiting my dear family we ended up putting together three bikes for my budding e-bike rental business. I was hemming and hawing about entering the race as we hit the wide open prairie outside of Alamosa. As I made my nervous and uncertain monologue listing off all the daunting stats of the 12 mile ride up America’s Mountain...
My three kids enthusiastically exclaimed, “C’mon Mom! You can do it!”
I protested for awhile longer, hesitated briefly and then finally said, “Ah, what do I have to lose, let’s do it!”
I handed the phone to my eldest daughter and she registered me for the event scheduled a mere five days away.
I had not rode my traditional bike let alone an e-bike much all summer and so I was not in great condition. I was anxious all week and thought I might have to pack a second battery to make the climb. I rode one of my Cruiser e-bikes to and from work on Thursday. As I made the steady and then steep couple miles up to my home I was not confident this bike would summit Pikes Peak. It climbed the mountain with relative ease, but too much battery was consumed. I could not lean into the pedals to compensate for the battery use either. I had to make it up 12 MILES of uphill ascent! The next day and the day before the race I rode a Mountain Bike E-Bike, (one assembled in Cortez) and I just knew I would stand a chance on this bike.
I told Dad, “Yeah, I don’t think I will have to pack another battery. I think I can do it. If I stay low in the battery assist and low in my gear and pedal as steady as I can... I think I will make it.”
He agreed, “Fate favors the bold!” he hollered excitedly!
I smiled and told him I would see him early in the morning and headed off to continue preparations. I packed the bare essentials, which actually was an awful lot compared to the streamlined and sleek traditional cyclists.
We all woke with our alarms too excited to even consider hitting the snooze button. I made myself a couple pieces of toast slathered with almond butter, drank a liter of water with apple cider vinegar, sat and listened to my favorite inspirational YouTube video and finally dressed for the bike ride up Pikes Peak. We loaded up and arrived to Mile Marker 7 at around 5:30am. I started feeling a little out of place, because my whole damn bike was shockingly HUGE compared to the sly and svelte bikes and for that matter the cyclists too! No one looked at us four e-bikers and if they did it was a brief sideways glance. But I was all smiles. I just decided I was going to be there and there was no other place to be.
We were the first to start. We lined up and took off at exactly 6:13am. My pit crew of young children, really the only children present were so excited and waved us off with enthusiasm!
We easily started rolling. We happily smiled at each other remarking how beautiful it was as the rising sun started to illuminate our path more and more. Then the four of us started drifting apart after about only a mile. It was soon clear this was not going to be an easy race. One man pulled away ahead fast right out of the gate. The other two men were not too far ahead of me, I could still see them for another mile, but soon I was left behind. The last I saw of my fellow competitors for most of the race was when my other teammates pulled away and passed the first rider. I thought I would probably be the last one to reach the top, because of several considerations. I was the only woman, two of the four of us were in really good riding condition, (I wasn't one of them) and the others had more powerful bikes. However, I just pressed on.
I started to look around and it was just so incredibly beautiful. The wet spring and summer made it just that more exquisite. I found myself wishing I could stop to take pictures and enjoy the scenery more too, but we were in a “race.” It actually wasn’t a race, but an exhibition ride and yet you couldn’t help but feel pushed to give it all you had!
My good friend before I left for the start told me jokingly, “Now just don’t let one of these guys pass you!"
He was referring to the traditional cyclists and as I kept climbing up the mountain only 3 or 4 miles in I estimated (I had forgotten to reset my odometer to 0, and so I wasn’t entirely certain how far I had traveled), but it could be very possible for the extremely in shape, amazing athletes to catch me!
I just pedaled on, trying not to think about it though. I needed to keep my own pace and not lose my breath. If you do, you send your body and mind into unnecessary stress and you can’t keep your cadence. I believe many people probably think e-biking is easy and you can just cruise on up, similar to a motorcycle ride. This however, is not the case. All of us didn’t know what was going to happen. We didn’t even really know how to ride up the beast of a mountain. As I climbed I realized if I increased my battery assist to make it easier on me, my battery started going down too fast. So, I had to keep low in my assist and low in my gears so I could pedal the extremely heavy 80 pound e-bike up the mountain. Since the bicycle is so heavy, you have to have battery assist, especially going uphill. The e-bike I rode had 5 levels of assist I stayed in 2 and 3 the whole way, and never went into 4 and 5. I pedaled the entire time.
After awhile of riding I noticed I still hadn’t passed the treeline. I started wondering how much farther I had to go to reach just the halfway mark. Soon though I had a distraction from my worry of not even making it halfway. I saw the man who raced out in front right in the beginning and bragged about his bike at the start line.
As I passed him I asked, “Are you alright?”
He replied, “Yes, I’m just trying to catch my breath.”
I thought to myself, no kidding! This is no joke! But instead I just replied, “Yeah, hang in there!”
I kept pedaling with a renewed sense of feeling like I belonged in the race. A few more miles after passing the man I finally saw the first rest station.
I rolled up and asked the girl breathlessly, my legs and arms were shaking as I grabbed a cup of water, “So how far have I gone?”