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Rock/Creek co-owner Dawson Wheeler reports from his “Ride to OR” with SmartWool

Rock/Creek co-owner Dawson Wheeler and merchandiser Josh Legg are bicycling ~350 miles from Steamboat, Colorado to Park City, Utah over the next 4 days, a ride organized by SmartWool to coincide with the Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City. Here is a report from Dawson after day one of the ride!

Steamboat to Meeker (90 miles). We began the morning, in arm warmers and vests, at 6:30am. There are 30 riders.

We started, as all rides do, like we were shot out of a cannon. Josh and I had decided to not jump into the lead group, but that lasted about 10 pedal strokes and the next thing I know my heart is in my mouth and we are flying down the road. Josh missed the split in groups and remained in the group just behind… that would be the “correct group to be in”.

The first 23 miles to support went by in less than an hour. Everyone waited, and all 30 were back together when off we went again. The lead group charged out front quickly, and this time Josh and I were both in it. As with any new group of riders, everyone was a little twitchy, and there were a few near misses.

The speed began once again to ramp up, and after 20 minutes I find I am struggling to hang on. As I was wondering what the deal was, I looked down and noticed that my front tire was flat. Damn. I pulled over, and luckily Justin — a rep with Outdoor Sports Marketing, Inc — stops with me; but the group was gone (and with it my chances of a “stage victory”). I changed the tire as all of the other riders went flying by; there is no schoolyard camaraderie on the open road.

With the tire changed, off we went. Justin gets on the front and gets busy, and slowly we begin pulling riders back. At Mile 42.5 there was more support, and again all riders reformed. I was thinking that was a big effort. Off we went yet again, but this time Josh and I rolled out together and enjoyed the next leg riding at a more manageable pace. Josh has never been to Colorado, and thankfully he wanted to take pictures so we marveled at the scenery and enjoyed ourselves.

The temperatures were now hot, and and the water in the bottles was going quick. We ran out of sports drink and were looking for aid. We were lucky to find that aid is a mile away, at the bottom of the climb of the day. We rolled in, and I spent about 15 minutes of that ride looking into the pain cave. Boy I hope I can come out of this, I thought, since we are now looking at a 9-mile climb.

We grabbed water, mixed up our Nuun and then both made two independent mistakes: Josh goes for cheese and crackers, and I grab a Coke. Neither prove to be smart choices as we roll out and begin going up… my stomach is not happy, nor is Josh’s.

The climb proves to not be very steep by Chattanooga standards, so we roll along, but I was fighting a few cramps. The top comes and goes, and we have a group of 10 now heading down the mountain into Meeker.

The last 10 miles passed quickly, and we rode to a park for lunch and a cold river leg soak. Our day was over at 12:30 pm. A leg soak in the cold mountain stream, a half of sandwich and off for a shower and a nap. Tomorrow: 112 miles (!)