We returned last week from our annual secret vacation. Greg chose Grand Lake and Breckenridge, Colorado, towns that proved much easier to reach than last year’s location.
We like to be a bit adventurous on vacation, so there was some hiking, some twisty mountainous driving and even a run-in with a snake (I did not scream. Please note that for your records.). All went well until our first full day in Breckenridge, when we decided that we had to go biking.
Greg and I last rode bikes two-and-a-half years ago, also when we were on vacation. I don’t even own a bike. And this time, Greg would haul Eleanor behind him in a chariot. But Breckenridge has a beautiful bike trail that runs 11 miles to the next town. How could we not go?
We rented our bikes, strapped in Eleanor and off we went. We were at nearly the end of the trail, so there was only one direction we could go. Downhill. What a fabulous way to begin. We rolled through the crisp mountain air, with Eleanor calling out “wheee!” from her seat. We passed other bikers — very serious looking bikers — who were headed in the opposite direction. I barely peddled on our trip out and often had to brake because I was terrified by the speed. After six miles, I told Greg we should turn around.
The slog began. My bike had a lot of gears, so I started in a high gear, which Greg told me I wouldn’t be able to manage. Not so. I was doing just fine, thank you very much. But the trail required steady peddling, and though I tried to focus on the mountains in the distance and the amazing golden aspens, my lungs and legs burned. Oh, right. Breckenridge elevation: 9,600 feet. Very. Little. Oxygen.
The town actually has businesses that deliver oxygen to flatlanders who don’t want the thin air to slow them. I shifted gears again and again until I was down to the lowest gear. I considered walking.
Through some miracle, we all made it back to the bike rental shop. I think the trip down took about 30 minutes and the trip back about an hour-and-a-half.
We felt a little stiff, but awesome. What athletes we were!
By afternoon, I began to feel really tired. And by evening, I had a fever. Was this the flu? I began to guzzle water, wondering if I had the dreaded altitude sickness. I climbed into bed at 7:30 p.m. and stayed there for 12 hours. The next day, I began to feel better. And by dinner, I was back to my normal self. Flu? Doubtful. Stupidity from a woman who thinks she can bike 12 miles through the mountains? Almost certainly.
The ride didn’t seem to phase Greg. As soon as we got back to Austin, he bought a bike chariot so he could start riding more with Eleanor. Showoff.