Archive for the ‘Colorado’ Category

Day 19, Colorful Colorado

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

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Today we rode 84 miles, and made it out of Utah and into Colorado. Our ride was fairly easy and enjoyable with only a few short climbs and mostly rolling hills standing between us and our destination.

We left Blanding around 10am, a fairly late start due to the fact that we had stayed in a motel and stayed up late watching tv. When you’re on the road for awhile, tv can be a very reassuring thing. It’s basically the same everywhere. Anyway, we rode out of Blanding and headed for Dolores, CO. We made full use of all the towns and services along the way, stopping for a taco snack in Monticello, UT and lunch in Dove Creek, CO. Despite our stops, we were making pretty good time, the terrain has become much gentler here in CO (so far).

Then it happened, my first flat tire (Mike has had three). We patched it and were on our way, except, my second flat tire happened shortly after. I didn’t let it get me down though, especially since Mike did most of the work. I do make a lovely assistant though. Also, when we pulled over to fix the second flat, I found a $5 bill. Awesome.

So far I am much preferring Colorado to the other states we’ve been through, but, that could just be because I am sick of the desert and ready for some new terrain. One strike against Colorado, the drivers have been the rudest and least accomodating thus far. We were flipped off twice outside of Dolores, and so now Mike has taken to referring to this gesture as “the Colorado wave”.

– Sarah

Day 20, Climb interrupted

Friday, September 11th, 2009

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Today was meant to be a short day. Over the last three days we’ve ridden 101, 80, and 84 miles. We faced our second to last climb over 10,000 ft and we were ready for an easier day.

Our goal was to reach the USFS campsite just beyond Rico about two thirds the way up to Lizard Head Pass, about 44 miles away. On our way out of town we stumbled upon what we were sure was the yellow pickup truck of one of the friendly Coloradoans who gave us the finger on our way into Delores. It was parked in a high school parking lot with a “red neck” sticker on the windshield, a “no bama” sticker on the back, and a decorative grenade as the handle of the stick shift. I’m guessing he isn’t a compassionate conservative or driver.

The climb was pretty mild compared to some of the grades we faced in Utah. It was a nice change to be riding along the clear rocky Delores river, with lots of trees and vegetation. We were tempted to dip our feet in it, but it seemed that most of the accessible banks were private property and fenced off. I guess it’s not God’s country anymore.

As we continued the climb, the weather became increasingly foreboding. Clouds darkened and the occasional thunder clap was heard. Before we reached Rico we were getting nothing more than a light sprinkle. While picking up some supplies at the minimart in Rico, the sky opened up and it began to pour.

Instead of trying to wait out the rain, we opted for plan B, and booked a room at the Rico lodge. Attached to the lodge is the Argentine resturaunt, which we’re anxiously awaiting to try out.

Day 21, Rico to Montrose

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

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We made an early departure from Rico this morning, despite the chilly temperatures (in the high 30’s) and our cozy room at the Rico Inn. We didn’t realize it would be quite this cold, but, at an elevation of about 8800 ft., I guess we shouldn’t have been surprised.

We warmed up soon enough, as we started our climb to Lizard Head pass, despite it’s elevation being 10,222 ft., the climb itself was not too bad. We do feel the thin air a bit, but not too badly. We made it to the top by mid-morning, and split a sandwhich in celebration. Then began the long descent.

I have to say, the 12 miles of descent was almost as hard as the climb! We zoomed passed Telluride and coasted into Placerville, which was intended to be our mid-point and lunch stop on the way to Ridgeway. After a quick lunch, we continued to Ridgeway and plowed though our second climb of the day, the Dallas Divide pass. When we got to Ridgeway, it wasn’t even 2:30pm yet, and we were feeling energetic, so we decided to press on another 27 miles (mostly downhill) and end the day in Montrose instead. Of course, we decided to have snack first…

The last 27 miles went by quickly. We were hindered a bit by a strong head wind generated by some thunderstorms that we could see bearing down on us in the distance, but, we managed to skirt the storms and stay dry. As we pulled into Montrose (pop. 12,344) we were amazed to enter the largest city we’ve been near in awhile (Ridgeway had the first actual traffic light that I had seen in at least a week.) complete with strip malls full of Target’s and Dairy Queen’s and Applebee’s. I was a bit overwhelmed. We managed to safely find our campsite, and, with another 89 miles under our belts, we head for Gunnison in the morning.

– Sarah

Here’s a little video clip of our descent down Lizard Head Pass.

Day 22, Son of a Gunnison

Sunday, September 13th, 2009

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What we thought would be a fairly easy day turned out to be a little more challenging than we expected. It reminded me of what another experienced tourer had said to us in Utah, “easy days are rare, enjoy them when they happen”.

The ride out of Montrose was a fight. We faced a moderate climb, but on this morning we were also met with very strong head winds, probably in the 15-20 mph range. It took a lot out of us to make that 15 mile (2000 ft El.) climb.

Not long after we finished the climb we stopped for lunch at the Pleasant Valley Camp Grounds and Cabins. They had your usual combo general store / cafe. Many of the small outposts we stop at are very hunter centric. This cafe was no exception. What was an exception were the life sized western mannequins seated beside us.

After lunch we started our second climb with a rain storm close on our heels. We managed to make it up to the second pass keeping just out of reach of the rain. Of course we had a couple dips and climbs before we could start our final descent into Gunnison. Total mileage 66.

Day 23, Checkmate

Monday, September 14th, 2009

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Today our goal was Salida, 66 miles away. Before we got there we’d need to make it over Monarch Pass elevation 11,312 ft.

Before we could start our climb we had a 33 mile warmup to Sargents at the base of the mountain. Once there we had a quick lunch and started our 10 mile, 3000 ft elevation climb. Basically a football field’s worth climb every mile for 10 miles. Though exhausting, none of the grades were crushing. Two hours and several water breaks later we reached the pass, which happens to also be the continental divide.

At the pass there is a short tram ride that takes you to Monarch summit, elevation 12,000 ft . We got the opportunity to ride up to the summit the second to last day before the tram closed for the season.

Back at the pass we spent some time at the visitor’s center to gather ourselves and have a snack. We also got to checkout the “wild life” room, which was primarily a display of taxidermied local wildlife and hunting supplies.

Finally we made our 23 mile descent to Salida where we planned to take the next day off for some R&R. Of course we were joined by a cold afternoon mountain sprinkle on the way down. It didn’t slow us down, we were ready to reach our resting spot. By the way while on Monarch peak we made team Mike & Sarah official.

Newly added video from previous days:

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