Tag Archives: The Incline

Pikes Peak Part II: The Bottom of the Top of the World

The base of Pikes Peak springs up from Manitou Springs, the Mecca of Colorado and well of CO spiritual life since time began. The first mile of this base is called The Incline, and I heard from several different sources that it’s the Stairmaster from Hell. Did I believe them? Nooo! and so a couple of weeks after coasting up the Peak in a motorcar, my Colorado Springs buddy Daniel showed me the local’s way up, The Incline

Of course I didn’t believe them. There was no way it could be as hard as they said. I told people I was going up The Incline for a week before I actually did it, and they were properly impressed. The guy at the gym told me the gruesome story of his divorce with his ex-wife, a tale beginning when she wimped out on a similar trail. Beverly Hills chick, pshaw.
You know what? It was every bit as hard as people said it was. I was prepared for ridiculously steep and tall steps made for people with 6’ legs, and I was even forewarned for the 68% grade. Did you know that the steepest road grade is 8%? Or 12%? Something like that. Just keep it in mind. The average Incline grade evens out at about 41%, and yes, really cracks down at 68%. But I hadn’t quite grasped exactly what a difference an extra 1,000 feet of altitude or so makes until The Incline made me feel it.

It’s hard enough to walk in straight line uninebriated on flat ground. Here, I was pretty much sauced on lack of oxygen, and I could hardly put one foot in front of the other. In fact, let’s be realistic. I was stumbling up like I’d started the day off with one too many and I nearly fell to my death from the edge of the trail and died a sad death of being trampled by the hordes of athletic old ladies and their athletic dogs. I felt ridiculous. It was ridiculous. I looked completely ridiculous. I had to stop every 15’ feet.

The Incline Club’s lack-of-oxygen tee and diagrams make me feel a little better.
As does the fact that the trail down is a cautious slope of switchbacks that covers 4 miles to The Incline’s 1 mile distance. But by the time we got to the switchbacks, I was so dizzy that I could barely walk on solid ground, and the wooden rails on the downward trail that usually seem to be crawling with germs and their offspring were a great idea.
Ah, The Incline, what a great, local, empowering thing-to-have-done. I’m even strongly considering getting the I’ve Done the Incline tee. I loved it: the top gives a panorama of the city that looks like a pen-and-ink from the 60’s.

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