This ride took us along the Blue Mesa Reservoir which is the largest lake located entirely within the state. We rode over 20 miles along the banks of this reservoir.
We then had 3 substantial climbs before descending into Montrose.
Today a friend from my childhood and adult live, Neddie Legg, joined me for the ride along the Blue Mesa Reservoir and then later surprised me by riding the last 7 miles into Cimarron. As you know numerous people have visited Kye and I along our journey but Neddie is the only one to join the actual ride. We appreciated it. After leaving Cimarron we had our final 4+ mile climb of the day. It was one of those climbs that just kept giving and giving.
Tonight most are camping at Rotary Park but Kye and I opted for a hotel room tonight. We needed WiFi access in the worst way as each of you can attest to since I have not posted in a while.
Today we were challenged with a climb to the top of Monarch pass at 11,312 feet on the continental divide. This was 19 miles of climbing from our camp in Salida to the crest of Monarch Pass. The climb seemed to go on forever and in many places the road had little if any shoulder, but everyone made it in good shape.
We spent a lot of time at the top and even took a gondola ride to the top of the mountain. From that vantage point you could see Pike Peak to the south and two other 14,000 peaks. It was a beautiful site.
Then downhill at a high rate for speed. We seemed to fly until reaching Sargents CO. 10.5 miles from the summit. Speeds in the upper 30s were noted by most of the riders. Even after Sargents we had gradual downhill but as we got closer to Gunnison we hit a headwind which slowed our progress.
In Gunnison the alumni provided us with a B-B-Q lunch and then yet another open his house and backyard to us for camping and lasagna dinner. Great day.
Even though this was a short day with no real climbs we took the opportunity to have a hearty breakfast at Willies Café. Almost all of the team made the 1 ½ mile back track for this meal. Everything as very good but the most impressive item had to be the pancakes. The plates the pancakes came on were close to one foot in diameter and the pancakes covered the whole plate. A few hardy souls tried the short stake which came with 2 pancakes. No one to my knowledge was able to finish the short stake.
The ride was uneventful and the only issue we faced was the narrow roads with no shoulders and in some areas of heavy traffic. Today was a special day for our senior rider, Ron Pinkerton, we celebrated his 70th birthday one month early. Ron wears a scarf to keep his neck from burning so everyone made one out of paper towels and wrote birthday wishes to Ron. Then Ron, Ed and I (part of the triple elders) rode together the rest of the day.
Once again an alumni of BiketheUSofMS TransAM route stepped up and bought us pizza and beer in Salida. He knew the schedule since the ride arrive on the same date each year. He shared his experiences and we told him how the trip has been going for us.
We camped at the Salida Chaffee County Fairgrounds. The camp area was dirty so Kye and I slept for the second time in our vehicle. We were pleased with the showers since they were hot and the shower room was clean. We had a slight rain which produced a beautiful double rainbow.
Today was our first full day of riding in Colorado and we experience climbing at elevation. Although we had steeper climbs, we have never been at 9200 feet or climb for over 20 miles. A number of us felt the altitude and we even had to stop a few times to let our legs rid themselves of lactic acid build up. We were fortunate that most of the last 9 miles were downhill into Westcliffe. We will get more acclimated to the altitude tomorrow since it will be a short day with very little climbing and above 6800 feet.
Westcliffe is a nice town with a population of 568. They have a nice city park where we camped for the night. The only shower was the garden hose variety. With the water being extra cold due to the mountain water source and the air temperature in the low 70s, it didn’t take long to shower.
This is a tourist community but it has been inundated with a festival, bluegrass concert and our 20 people. Many of our team went to listen to the live music in the evening.
But before everyone went in their different directions most participated in out secret Santa gift exchange. There was a $5 limit on the gifts so everyone was very creative. This is a great example of how everyone works together to build a stronger team.