Days 23 & 24: Crossing the Continental Divide
The last couple of days ended up being harder than we anticipated. These two rides were “only” 68 and 62 miles long—shorter mileage than some of our recent days. But the two days had some hard climbs—one into a stiff headwind. So the rides were tougher than I anticipated.
On Day 23 rode into Gunnison, home of Western Colorado University. It was a Sunday and I have to remember that in rural areas many stores are closed on Sundays. I planned on going to a little store about 40 miles out on that ride, but it was closed. Then I ate some of Scott’s (Bruce and Dave’s friend and SAG for a week or so) stuff and technically violated my “unsupported ride” rule (see this blog post for more on that philosophy). Scott is sagging (providing ride support) for Bruce and Dave by carrying a lot of their stuff and providing them with food along the ride. I didn’t think about it until later. Ooops! I am a purist with a second asterisk now.
On Monday, we rode from Gunnison to Salida. Salida is a neat town. I have visited here before and enjoy it a lot. We had drinks on the riverfront and dinner at a nice Italian restaurant, then grabbed ice cream after. We had planned to ride out together for Pueblo on Wednesday morning at 6:00 a.m. as it will be hot tomorrow. But I just heard they want to leave at 7 and I don’t think I want to wait. So I may be heading out early tomorrow.
Day 23: 68 miles, 4747 elevation (3 wheeeees, 0 aarrgghhs)
Today was a tough start. Bruce had a bad night’s sleep and didn’t feel as strong, so he stayed back with me. Dave, who is such a strong rider, went ahead. Bruce and I climbed the first hill together. Right out of Montrose, the climb was into a headwind, 15 miles, and took a good two hours. Ugh! It was a grind. There was a nice descent (wheeee) before we had another tough 8 mile climb, a short descent, and one more climb and descent. An ugly stretch included 4 miles of road construction. On weekdays that stretch is down to a one lane, but on weekends traffic moved in both directions. But with no shoulder, no access to the other lane, and a lot of gravel. It was NOT fun. We had a nice lunch overlooking the dammed up Gunnison River and Curecanti National Recreation area, which also provided for a scenic ride. You can see some of it in the video below.
Day 24: 62 miles, 3852 elevation (1 wheeeee, 1 aarrgghh)
Today featured a gradual incline for the first 32 miles. Along the way we experienced our first “on the road flat.” I think I previously mentioned Bruce had two and I had one “hotel room flat“ caused by a slow leak, late in the day, such that you don’t notice the tire is flat until you get into your hotel room. At that 32 mile mark we stopped for coffee and then began the challenging climb to Monarch Pass and the Continental Divide. The climb was steep, averaging about 5% grade with plenty of 6-7% areas and took me close to an hour and a half to finish. We each did the climb on our own, but rode most of the rest of the day together. There was a store up top of the pass and we had something to eat before descending.
The descent was a mix. With cliffs just off the shoulder and gusting wind buffeting us about, the initial part of the descent was not fun (aarrgghh!), but later things quieted a bit and we enjoyed a long 22 mile descent into Salida (wheeee!).
Flats lesson delayed…
I was thinking this might be the perfect day to talk about flat tires and tubes vs. tubeless tires. Especially given today’s flat—and a tubeless tire puncture from the previous day. I know this is not a topic for those of you who are experienced cyclists, but it is an interesting one for those who are not. But I decided I need to finish this blog post and get myself on the road to Pueblo. So I will defer that until later.
Stories and pictures
These two days were pretty well covered in the Relive videos. On Day 23 our hotel was just out of town. We drove into town to have dinner and pick up some groceries. I usually try to get a few Gatorades to drink the morning before and during the first part of the ride and to stock up on Clif bars. I don’t like to eat too much before or during a ride—I usually have a lighter breakfast and then bars on the ride.
I mentioned Day 24’s events earlier in this post. I was back at my hotel early. I worked on this blog post and got to bed by 9:00. I woke up early (again) and decided to finish the post and get on the road at daybreak. Today will be a long day’s ride, hot, and Chris will be meeting me in Pueblo. Tomorrow will be a rest day before I head across the plains. There are a lot of changes in store as I move ahead with my dream ride. More on those in my next post.
Here are a few pictures from the last two days…
Riding out of Montrose
Scott sagged for Bruce and Dave and also did a fair amount of riding. He grew up in this part of the state, has a lot of local knowledge and connections. Thanks Scott!
Bruce envisioned “The Three Amigos” riding across America. We made it almost halfway together.
Gunnison, home of Western Colorado University and the big “W”
After a long climb to the top of Monarch Pass, we reached our highest elevation for this trip (1,312’) and crossed the Continental Divide.
There is a store up at the top of that point full of lots of kitschy souvenirs. Sorry no room to carry them. Fortunately, the also had a Salted Nut Roll for me.
Time to roll folks. I hope you enjoy the blog. Feel free to post comments. They inspire and motivate me to write more. It is nice to know that some of you are enjoying reading. This started as a way to keep in touch with my family, to share my photos and some short stories. It is great to read comments that some of you also find it fun to follow my travels. More coming.