Culture

Haute Route Rockies Journal: The dream is over

Spencer Powlison reflects on the dream-like state that was a week of hard riding in Colorado at the Haute Route Rockies.

It was a fleeting state of focus, of insularity, and intense experience. And now, it’s over. The week is over, the Mavic Haute Route Rockies is over, and in a few ways, it feels like it was a dream.

To begin with, it was a dream to imagine I could handle so much riding — 600 miles in a week, three consecutive days of over 100 miles. But it happened, and really, it felt pretty good overall.

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Memories of all the small moments along the way are slowly coming back to me: the searing heat of Berthoud Pass … pacelining in our hardest gears across an expansive park bordered by high mountains … Burger King milkshakes after a five-hour 100-miler. Hopefully these recollections have more staying power than the average dream.

That’s not to say the Haute Route Rockies was entirely fleeting. For starters, I have a worn-out chain. But seriously, with a week of super-base training in the legs, I surely have ample fitness. The question we batted around was, “What’s next?” At what race can we unleash all of this fitness. I was more concerned with being fit for the Haute Route itself, but it is a tantalizing question.

Fitness isn’t forever, so I can’t say it’s the most enduring result of this week. Instead, I think the bonds we all formed together — on the road, in the hotels, sitting in mountain creeks after hard days — are the lasting outcome of this dream. And perhaps they are the best reason to embark upon an Haute Route, or any other big ride for that matter.

As a teenaged cyclist, I made the mistake of riding alone far too often. Though I learned the importance of a collective group long ago, a ride like this is a clear reminder. Without a wheel to draft, without a friendly CTS guy ready at the feed station, without capable Mavic pros following behind, without well-planned routes, or professional medical staff, it would be much harder. I’d be stretching my dream analogy to call the alternative a nightmare, but on Saturday, the morning after the final stage, I woke up happy.