Month: July 2009

Actually got off to an early start today.  Up before 6am and on the road before 6:30.  We woke to a crystal clear morning with light winds, 45 degrees and beautiful views all around.  The river was steaming and the flow of the water was the only sound to be heard.  It was so quiet we could hear the rocks tumble in the bed of the river from time to time.  What a wonderful place to wake to.

Princeton to Vallie Bridge, CO 007

Winds on the road were calm and we shoved off to our first stop for the day to get breakfast in Cotopaxi.  We arrived a little before they opened so we waited patiently eating granola bars and planning the day.  Should we go river rafting or continue on?  The lady opened right on time and before we knew it we Vallie Bridge to Pueblo, CO 009were eating bacon and eggs amongst the hardware and musical instruments.  Grabbed some bananas on the way out.  Now all we had to do is decide which way to go.

We could continue on route 50 and enjoy a mostly downhill ride to Pueblo (73 miles) and have to deal with Colorado drivers or we could take 1A, the road right behind the restaurant/hardware   store/deli/gas station/grocery store and enjoy a quiet road with 3,500 feet of climbing.  There will be plenty of flats coming so we chose the climbing and quiet.

As usual the small side roads yield the best experience.  Vallie Bridge to Pueblo, CO 015 Quiet roads with a mixture of pasture, forest and mountains.  We passed at least 6 four point (8 point depending on the coast you’re reading from) bucks feeding in the meadows.  We have also been stunned by the number of hummingbirds in the area and their habit of hovering within a couple of feet of us.   They are well trained to use feeders and our plunger on the stove looks just like one, so they come in and poke at it.  It’s happening so much we’re starting to feel bad about it. As we ride we can also tell they’re around because they sound like George Jettson’s car (a cartoon look it up) when they fly.

Stopped in Westcliffe to grab a bite.  Vallie Bridge to Pueblo, CO 017 Ended up getting pizza at Pizza Express.  Nice people and good food.  The owner, Mark, served us and we got to talking about the trip.  Turns out he has done some touring and we chatted about the various trials and tribulations of making this all happen.  The place is for sale if you have a burning desire to live in a nice section of Colorado.

When we were pulling out from lunch a lady in a pickup stopped us and wanted to know if she could do anything for us.  She was from New Mexico and a biker, but wow, right off the street, such generosity from complete strangers.

We headed out of Westcliffe on rt 96 a 16 mile climb up Vallie Bridge to Pueblo, CO 024 1400 feet, the wind was at our back and the clouds came in cooling the day from 84 to 62.  Most enjoyable.   When we were out about 5 miles from the top the same pickup lady stopped by again to make sure we had everything we needed.  Again, WOW.

We reached the summit, where the wind had picked up to +20 MPH.  Stopped to enjoy the view and call Steve’s parents to say hello.  Now our descent to Pueblo through the San Isabel Mountain area.  This took us through an amazingly beautiful valley that stretched for miles.  Unfortunately we were going to fast to really appreciate it.  Check out the video of a portion of the descent.

At one point in the descent, after the video was taken, the valley narrowed and the turn radii became much shorter to the point that warning signs were posted for motorcyclists.  Stunningly enough, on the turn right after the first sign there was a motorcyclist down.  It had happened long enough ago that people had stopped and some first aid had been offered.  We stopped and Steve offered his first responder talents but was waived off.  These folks were a little bloody and scraped up and had not been wearing helmets.   Unfortunately, no one looked trained but the patients said they didn’t want help.  I took no for an answer and we continued.  Within fifteen minutes two ambulances passed us, Steve wondered what had changed.

Shortly after we encountered two west bound riders pulling trailers.  The first guy had no interest in talking never mind stopping.  The second guy and Steve exchanged some info but only what could be accomplished while still riding.  It was a short conversation.  Can’t say we blame them.  This was there first taste of the mountains and they had a long way to go this evening.  Oh, and they were on the up hill.Vallie Bridge to Pueblo, CO 031

As we continued our descent the pitch flattened and the valley widened, revealing a panorama of the great plains.  This was our first exposure to what lie a head and there was some anxiety.  We had been so concerned during the planning process about the climbs and making the schedule to this point.  In reality the execution of this part went far better than planned with us arriving 7 days ahead of schedule even with two play days.  Now it was on to the flats with the possibility of wind and heavy weather.  Entirely new variables.  But we were here, so be it.

The wind continued to push us along the valley floor (I guess they’re called plains now) then we ran into another couple riding east a number of miles into the flats.  They had left the east coast some number of weeks (months) earlier and looked haggard.  They said they had been buffeted by head winds most of the way and they looked tired.  They have our thoughts and best wishes as we enjoy the tailwinds.  We had the advantage most of the way into Pueblo. 

Arriving in Pueblo we were a little concerned about the appearance and the stories of gang problems here. So instead of camping we were heading for a name brand hotel, just to be sure, when we passed a well kept Bed & Breakfast, the Abriendo Inn.  We made few calls and decided to try out the Inn.  Once again we were greeted with open arms and welcomed by the owner, Pam and her assistant.

While chatting with Pam, another couple, Ben and Liz who were staying at the house, came to chat.  They are cyclists doing the same route east to west.  After sharing stories for a while we ended up going out to dinner with them and Pam.  Pam drove us, it was the first time we have been in a car in 3 weeks.  Very pleasant evening with everyone. And we finally had that post ride sushi dinner!

Once again we have found a business that truly values their customers and we highly recommend the Abriendo Inn if you happen to be in the Pueblo, CO area.

After zig-zaging across Colorado, we made it to our original first destination stop.  It looks like we will be continuing on, heading East together for the next week.  Tomorrow we will need to do some homework researching areas to pick up a rental car in the next few hundred miles (to bring Cyndy back to the airport in a week).

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Yup, a whopping 40 miles today.  We got up late, had a nice breakfast at the resort lodge and went back to the hot springs upper pool that has a 300 foot slide.  Then slid right into a “day off” mode that was hard to shake.

After dragging ourselves out of the pool a nice gent from Ohio stopped Steve outside of the pool gate and they proceeded to chat about the ride for a half hour or so.  Time was ticking.  We stopped over at the little grocer, down by the main office, to grab some stuff for lunch.  Of course we had to sit by the river and enjoy whilePrinceton to Vallie Bridge, CO 002 we ate and now it was 1:45.

When we finally did get going the return trip to Salida was much easier than riding to Princeton.  Turns out it was all uphill to the crazy place.  We did the 22 miles to Salida in a little over an hour, very refreshing.  Getting out of Salida proved a little more tricky.

We stopped at the Laughing Ladies Cafe for lunch but they were closed.  Then the hunt was on.  Back to the river front to watch the goings on.  They had a kayak slalom course and plenty of swimmers and rafters.  Then we found a little sandwich shop on the river and proceeded to have a leisurely lunch then chatted with some local riders for inside info on the area.  Oh what time was it now, having only ridden 22 miles, Hmmmm… 5pm!! and we hadn’t gone anywhere.

Finally started making our way to route 50 and our departure.  We arrived at the intersection to find a 15-20 MPH wind blowing right up the valley.  It was very clear that the ride “down hill” was going to be less enjoyable so we negotiated whether to stay or go.  In the end we went. Princeton to Vallie Bridge, CO 006 50 followed the Arkansas River for our entire evening providing great views, but again we were pedaling downhill going 11 or so.  Argh.  Even with the wind we managed to check off another 20 and get to a little river front camp spot just short of Coaldale, CO outside of Cotopaxi.

While writing this we watched the sun go down as the clouds parted a little. Nice cool breeze from the east kept the jacket on for a few minutes while we finished our picnic dinner.  Couldn’t wait to enjoy the benefits of our sleeping bags. The full moon makes for a very nice evening and the lull of the river should make a nice background noise to sleep to.

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For those of you that have been actively watching our ride progress via this blog and our other web resources, we’re sure you have noticed a slight reduction in forward progress.  Like our side trip two days ago, today we have taken another turn north to do some sight seeing and maybe a bit of indulging.

Last nights’ stop just short of the top of Monarch pass turned outride 015 to be one of the best nights of camping so far.  We pitched the tent on a spot literally in the middle of nowhere (although we did have cell service to post).  It was quiet most of the night and we awoke to a spectacularly clear morning with calm winds.  We could see every valley around. Steve enjoyed the 39 degree morning a bit more than Cyndy, but we were up and taking it all in.  Steve took a couple of little hikes around to see what there was to see.  Cyndy made breakfast that came in the form of rehydrated goodies.  It was peaceful and beautiful.

With only 1.5 miles left to climb we headed off about 9am and ride 016 were at the top in no time.  We stopped at the tourist haven, perched right on the peak, to fill water and grab some goodies.  Couldn’t pass on some photos at the sign documenting our highest ascent.  Then it was off to enjoy 10 miles of a 6 percent down hill.  To our benefit, the wind was blowing uphill so little brake application was required.  We wound around and through the valley following the river and enjoyed 360 degree forest and mountain vistas changing with every turn.  With little effort we had gone 19 miles and had arrived at Poncha Springs.  Time for a snack and a little negotiation.

Back in Montrose it was recommended that we stop in Mt. Princeton ride 021 if we have the time.  Well, it turns we have the time and we took the 21 mile diversion.  The place has natural hot springs that provide heat and hot water for the entire facility and keeps a couple of pools at temperatures above 90 degrees. Down at the rivers edge you can just sit in the river to enjoy 130 degree water percolating up through the sand.  A bit cushy and enjoyable.  Of course the place wouldn’t be complete without a first class restaurant too, so we dropped in there as well.

When we first arrived we met Joyce at the front desk.  She was full of energy and a joy to deal with.  Hearing of our adventure she told us all about the facility, then gave us passes for the day cost free and invited us to store our bags in the office.  This was the first place in Colorado where the folks were openly nice and we enjoyed every minute of it.  Unfortunately when we asked for a room all was not as bright.  Who would have thought the place would be sold out on a Wednesday night.  So we went off to the pools and enjoyed the soothingly warm water as Cyndy eyed the massage facility.  

The lower pool area consisted of two large pools one hotter than the other and the adjacent river with the hot springs percolating up through the bed.  There was also a steam room.  After some time in the pools we headed down to the river to enjoy.  It was odd.  The water flowing by was cold and water/sand under the behind was hot.  We decided we liked the pools better.  Unlike other places these hot springs pools are surprisingly smell free!

Cyndy never did get her massage but when we went back up to the front desk to collect our bags, she inquired once more about a room and sure enough there had been a cancelation.  Didn’t really think to negotiate the price given the prospect of having to ride 10 miles or so with no guarantee of a room.

Headed up to the room to unpack then we cleaned up everything ride 028as usual then we were off to dinner.  It was a grand room with wonderful views and helpful staff.  We enjoyed just sitting and basking in the luxury.  It’s fun to be dirty and live out doors and it’s nice to have refined accommodations too.  After dinner we walked through the grounds at the back of the facility along the same stream we had been bathing in earlier.  Part of the creek bank was held up by old cars, another strange thing to observe.  It was surprising to feel some of the flowing ground water around the site, it was warm! However the other creek was snow melt cold. 

So as we write this we are sitting on the pleasantly cool ride 019 patio of our room overlooking the 14,000 foot tall Mt. Princeton as well as a number of other towering peaks.  A little lightening to the east, cloud shrouded tops to the south and clear overhead.  Bellies are full from a fabulous meal at the restaurant and legs pleasantly stretched with an after dinner walk around the creek and back up the 25% GRADE HILL TO OUR CLIFFSIDE ROOM.

Our last observation of the day is that Colorado drivers have been the most ungenerous, the really considerate ones moved over to the left edge of their lane.  We also have generally found the people to be overtly rude.  Overall, another wonderful day!

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This is coming to you from the wilderness on top of Monarch Pass at an altitude somewhere above 10,000 feet.  We ducked off the road in the late afternoon in a gorgeous plateau a mile short of the summit.  We avoided one shower and a second was coming with lightning.  So here we are, on top of the world just short of our highest pass of 11,300 feet.

It was another casual riding day, getting a full nights sleep at the International Hostel (much more posh than Cyndy remembers fromride 001 college days) and a filling breakfast in town  at the Paradise Cafe: buckwheat pancakes with blueberries, bananas, almonds, walnuts & sesame seeds for guess who and corned beef hash for the other half of our party. We headed out around 10:40 to take the easy 28 mile downhill back to Gunnison.  It was a bluebird skies day and neither of us really wanted to leave such a peaceful setting.  But we did and slipped down the hill arriving in Gunnison about 1.30 hours later to a yummy chocolate milkshake and peach by the river, then grabbed some groceries to make lunch and we were back on the road.

When we turned onto route 50 the wind was with us at about 20 MPH and my did we enjoy the ride.  Stopped once for a snack on our way to Sarge nts where we planned to camp the night.  ride 006When we arrived we still felt strong and the wind was flowing up the canyon, so after an eternity of negotiations we decided to enjoy the wind and tackle the pass.

We rode about 3 miles up when a bit of a storm set in so we  took shelter under a big pine and waited out the storm.  30 minutes or less ride 007passed and we were on our way again.  Making good time up the 6 percent grade we were in sight of the summit but also in sight of a huge black cloud to the north and east.  Steve was confident the huge dark cloud would slip by to the north but it began lightning and we certainly didn’t want to  descend the other side into its grip, so we stopped just short of the top.  Harriet & ride 010Cyndy made good progress up the hill at a cruising speed of 4.4 mph to keep the heart rate low, still surprised we stayed upright.

Our stopping point was at a switch back that provided a number of small areas of flat for us to pitch on.  It was forested with wonderful views off both sides of the ridge.  There was a fire pit, so we certainly weren’t the first to camp there.  Would have been nice of the previous campers to leave us some wood for a fire. 

We found a nice spot for the tent, pitched then filled it with all the usual gear plus a bit more attempting to keep as much stuff out of the passing showers as possible.  We even rolled out the fly and staked it down to give us more cover.  Next was dinner. Cyndy whipped up some camp food, you know one of those freeze dried meals (beef stroganoff was pretty good with fresh baby carrots) that we have carried 1000 miles.

Then it was on to hanging the food.  You would think this was easy right?  Just throw the rope over a branch, tie the bags on and hoist up, right? Well, apparently we are carrying too much.  Steve started hoisting and it wouldn’t move, so Cyndy took over and Steve ride 013 pushed the bags up from below.  That worked until he couldn’t reach the bags anymore.  They were still too low so Steve grabbed the rope and gave it a yank.  That’s when the rope broke and nearly took Steve out.  Perhaps we need to walk around with our bike helmets on or does Cyndy have too many snacks that shouldn’t be hanging from a limb?  We retied the bags and settled for the lower position.  Both of us laughed as we walked away knowing that they were well positioned for a bear hors d’oeuvre.

Sun was long gone by the time we finished, the long pants were out and it was time to call it a day.  Finally the sleeping bags feel good  as the temps are in the 40’s. Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the mosquitoes bite.

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This is coming to you from the wilderness on top of Monarch Pass at an altitude somewhere above 10,000 feet.  We ducked off the road in the late afternoon in a gorgeous plateau a mile short of the summit.  We avoided one shower and a second was coming with lightning.  So here we are, on top of the world just short of our highest pass of 11,300 feet.

It was another casual riding day, getting a full nights sleep at the International Hostel (much posher than Cyndy remembers from college days) and a filling breakfast in town  at the Paradise Cafe: buckwheat pancakes with blueberries, bananas, almonds, walnuts & sesame seeds for guess who and corned beef hash for the other half of our party. We headed out around 10:40 to take the easy 28 mile downhill back to Gunnison.  It was a bluebird skies day and neither of us really wanted to leave the setting was that peaceful.  But we did and slipped down the hill arriving in Gunnison about 1.30 hours later to a yummy chocolate milkshake and peach by the river, then grabbed some groceries to make lunch and we were back on the road. 

When we turned onto route 50 the wind was with us at about 20 MPH and my did we enjoy the ride.  Stopped once for a snack on our way to Sargents where we planned to camp the night.  When we arrived we still felt strong and the wind was flowing up the canyon, so after an eternity of negotiations we decided to use the wind and tackle the pass.

We rode about 3 miles up when a bit of a storm set in so we took shelter under a big pine and waited out the storm.  30 minutes or less passed and we were on our way again.  Making good time up the 6 percent grade we were in sight of the summit but also in sight of a huge black cloud to the north and east.  Steve was confident the huge dark cloud would slip by to the north but it began lightning and we certainly didn’t want to descend the other side into its grip, so we stopped just short of the top.  Harriet & Cyndy made good progress up the hill at a cruising speed of 4.4 mph to keep the heart rate low, still surprised we stayed upright.

 

Our camp is level and forested and wonderful.  We whipped up some camp food, pitched the tent and hung our food for the night.  Finally we ate one of those freeze dried meals (beef stroganoff was pretty good with fresh baby carrots).  It wasn’t so easy hanging the food, apparently we are carrying too much as the rope broke and nearly took Steve out. Perhaps we need to walk around with our bike helmets on or does Cyndy have too many snacks that shouldn’t be hanging from a limb?

Finally the sleeping bags feel good  as the temps are in the 40’s. Good night, sleep tight, don;t let the mosquitoes bite.

Today we woke in beautiful setting.  A little cold for Cyndy and IMGP3413 just right for Steve.  The scenery was great we’re actually relaxing and enjoying our environment and looking forward to our ride demands since we have 13 days to cover only 200 miles.

We have reached this point about 10 days ahead of schedule and have been talking about how we will enjoy the bonus.  Several options are on the table: rent a car and go touring and visit friends in Denver, enjoy the terrain we are in by slowing the pace or we can ride together past Pueblo, the original destination for Cyndy, and see where we can get to.  Of course, any blending would also work.

After about a half hour chat with the fish & IMGP3414 game inspector at the campground gate, we finally got rolling.  Our departure this morning took us along the Blue Mesa Reservoir and the Gunnison river for 16 miles into Gunnison.  The valleys were lush and green with forest and grasses and the hillsides were just as colorful.  Mile after mile we were greeted with views of the river and dramatic landscapes the photos just don’t do justice.

We arrived in Gunnison and found a place (or two) for breakfast.  IMGP3423 That is Cyndy found a coffee shop (think sprouted grain bread) and next door was Steve’s “coffee shop” complete with chicken fried steak and eggs. We did eat together; then spent a half hour speaking with a couple on the sidewalk about the trip.  They have been wanting to do the same thing but always found an excuse not to go.  Hopefully our excitement and candor helps them make their decision.

We took an unscheduled left turn today and headed for Crested Butte from Gunnison.  It was a nice 28 mile ride along several rivers IMGP3435 and streams, one of which we took the time to wade around in for a couple of minutes.  Lots of rafters and kayakers.

Further up the road was surrounded by lush fields and the wildflowers the view was such a treat.  It was hard not to stop every 5 feet to take a photo in hopes that just one would capture the true beauty of the scene.  There were deer, prairie dogs, chipmunks, surface water gurgling everywhere, log homes, mountain peaks, what a lovely day!

Arrived in CB as the locals call it, around 4 pm and found IMGP3437 a room at the local hostel; a private room no less, very comfy.  We showered and went out to see the downtown.  Flowers everywhere, Victorian style homes, lots of shops and restaurants. Very quaint with people going every which way and unsupervised kids riding bikes around.  A glimpse of how it should be.  We missed the concert in the park while we were eating.  You would all have lovedIMGP3443 it, country music.

A quick run to the grocery store and we had an indulgent ice cream desert.  What a way to finish off the day.  Now to the fridge for a big glass of milk, mmmm.  If only the slopes were open and we had our skies.

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Today was a true touring day.  There was no rushing but it was lot of chatting with locals and ducking rain showers.

We got up at 8 am or so ran down to the coffee shop to getIMGP3342 breakfast so Cyndy could have her precious coffee. (by the way it was a very cute place with good coffee & tasty cinnamon rolls) There we met Dave and Darlene.  They were locals and bike riders, at least he was.  So we proceeded to sit with them and chat until 10:15 when they had to go and we realized we only had 15 minutes to clear out the motel room.  When they heard we may be touring back through by car IMGP3352next week they invited us to stay with them and offered to show us the area.  Again a very nice couple .

We rushed back to the  hotel and frantically loaded our bags and mounted them and ran out of the motel with the proprietor and house keeper chasing us with a broom.  Ok, they didn’t actually have a broom.

While we were IMGP3384heading up to Blue Mesa reservoir a two peak, 4k foot climb, the weather took a turn and we could see darkening  clouds behind.  As it started to sprinkle a lunch stop miraculously appeared and we stopped in to have a bite and wait out the little squall.

While we were eating another rider arrived from the east and had just beaten the storm, his female companion wasn’t so lucky.  She was just behind him on the descent and got caught in a hail storm which forced her to take refuge under a rock overhang.  She seemed to take it all in stride, IMGP3363 although she appeared quite cold despite her jacket and rain pants.  We chatted with them for quite a while, although we never exchanged any names.  As usual we shared tips about the upcoming terrain and conditions.  We from the desert looking forward to cold and they from the cold looking forward to the desert.

Once again we were off and a couple of hours later we were descending into the reservoir area only to run into a shower again. IMGP3390 Luckily there was another little shop for us to hide from the rain in.   We chatted with the owner there for another hour, discovering all sorts of info about them and the area, like the Blue Mesa reservoir is the largest lake in CO.  Didn’t know that.  If you remember from three days ago in Grand Junction the temp was 135 in the sun, today it was 62 at mid afternoon.  That’s a 73 degree change for those of you who care.

By the time we left her store it was already 6 pm and we had still had 11 miles to go.  Wow, where did the day go.  It continued to sprinkle on us until we got to the Elk Creek Campground when the skies started to clear.

In a big rush we grabbed a shower, IMGP3406 ordered some dinner and made camp.  Of course it didn’t go that smoothly.  The restaurant was out of a lot of stuff so I got fish and chips.  This against Steve’s rule of not ordering seafood outside of New England.  But to their credit it was great.  The shower only took quarters and no one had any to share, so we used the leaky shower valve and the sink to bath.  But in the end we’re clean, fed and camp is set up IMGP3411 in a spot with a stunningly beautiful view. (So much for using up the freeze dried food from California, guess it will have to travel a few more miles).

Today included lots of valleys that were green with streams, wildflowers, rocky mountains & mesa tops.  We actually had goose bumps, our overall temp has dropped 54 degrees from our prior afternoon high temps.

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Set the alarm for 5:30 this morning but that didn’t stop us from delaying our departure until 7:30.  The morning was warm but as we move away from the desert, warm becomes relative.  Left town via a published bike route and got a new view of the city.  Very nice section with classic architecture that has been well maintained.Grand Junction to Montrose, Co 002   Being a Saturday, traffic was vastly reduced.  Happened by the Buffalo made of chrome bumpers and got a couple of nice photos.

Riding out of town to the south we were shown another part of town, more of the rural residential area, the road was a pleasant series of rollers.  We started off slow, taking our time getting back to the morning pedaling push, then we picked up a nice tail wind.  This has been the first morning in quite a while that we have enjoyed this advantage.  The speeds began to pick up and we went back to flying down the road in grand style.  The Grand Mesa area was to our left. Started to pick up a little rain, but it went away as quickly as it arrived.

Before we knew it we had logged 44 miles as we entered Delta.  Grand Junction to Montrose, Co 005 This one was a bit different in that there was the Gunnison river flowing through and plenty of trees.  We pulled into Confluence Park and enjoyed a moment at the boat ramp watching the water go by while some tubers/rafters measured the days fun against the temperature of the water.

Grand Junction to Montrose, Co 008The town provided a good opportunity to grab some lunch.  Steve wanted pizza so we went on a mission.  The best we could do is Pizza Hut on the south side of town. We sat down and ordered lunch and a couple of drinks.  After the second refill for Steve the waitress just brought over a pitcher of soda and told us to have fun.

When we had walked in Steve’s eyes went immediately to a gent wearing a Cabo Yachts t-shirt after we were seated we ended up right beside the couple.  By the look on the man’s face he wasn’t ready for the barrage of questions that such a simple shirt could impart.  The initial shock wore off the gent and we went on to chat about other subjects.  They were pleasant folks from the region and didn’t mind promoting it either. 

Steve started making some phone calls while Cyndy finished lunch and got a little carried away when he was chatting with his parents… so there went another hour.  But remember we’re suppose to be touring not racing.

Shortly after leaving the hut Steve had another flat, piece of glass in the new tire from yesterday.  Grand Junction to Montrose, Co 011That’s two flats for that tire in less than 24 hours.  Wrapped up the repair in a few minutes and we were back on the road, until Cyndy spied the Buffalo & vegetable stand.  We had to go in.

Down the gravel road to “the first house on the right”.  They had a little two stall garage going with all sorts of home/farm grown veggies.  But the best part was the cherries, why you ask… because we had to go in to the walk in cooler to get them.  That’s right, we stood in a 40 degree refer and didn’t want to get out.  Steve suggested that we just pitch the tent right there on the floor.  Mmmm, so tempting.  But we had to get going once again so down gravel road we went.  Until… Steve heard an exclamation from Cyndy.

Grand Junction to Montrose, Co 017 Steve looked back in time to see Cyndy’s front tire skidding (very low speed) and a look of horror as she went down on her right side.  As you can guess this wasn’t received well.  In the end there was little damage to both bike and rider, just elbow & ego bruising. (Man, Harriet my chariot has put on some pounds as I tried to peel her off of me!)  After a moment we were off again, not too worse for the wear.

Took the “business route” through Olathe.  Another very small town on the route.  Lots of farm land, this area is supposed to be known for it’s corn.  We’ve begun to appreciate the little quiet towns after Grand Junction.  At first the idea of being back in the larger town had appeal because of the services available, but you just can’t beat the lack of traffic and home town spirit in the towns.

On the other end of town we found a frontage road that gave a little relief from the traffic of Highway 50.  Since leaving GJ it has become abundantly clear that we have left the section of 50 that is considered the “loneliest road in America”.  Traffic load is up dramatically from west of Salina, UT were we joined I-70.  At least we have had a nice wide shoulder and the rumble strip didn’t have divots the size of a loaf of bread.

Arriving in Montrose around 4 pm, we detoured a little to get a feeling for this area.  Very quaint historical downtown.  A lot of original architecture and well kept buildings.  We headed east on Main St through the commercial section to get to the lodging section.  We looked at the campgrounds again and decided to motel it one more time.  Hey, it was still warm out!!

Pre dinner snack of fresh tomatoes and corn for Cyndy, leftover pizza for Steve, then dinner at the Red Barn.

So in 2 weeks, ~1000 miles, out of the barren desert, perhaps we can slow our pace and enjoy the towns, see what is here in Colorado.  Although we are close, we will miss the area’s “most challenging” climb to see the Black Canyon of Gunnison Wilderness (pictures looked great though!)  And opt for the river and reservoir ahead.

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Today was a rest, errand and eat day.  Haven’t done much of the rest part.  But we have some time reserved when we’re done writing this to lounge.

Just after leaving Ely, NV Steve discovered that the click in his pedal that he thought was a loose cleat was actually a loose bottom bracket (the axle assembly that crank arms connect to).  At first there was a bit of panic not knowing how bad it would get and when another bike shop would be available.  It never got really bad, loosening and tightening at its whim, always remaining functional.  Very good for us because we hadn’t encountered another bike shop until today.

We dragged our tired butts down to the shop this morning.  Grand Juction, CO 002 Cyndy had pointed us towards “The Bike Shop”. You guessed it, they are a Raleigh dealer.  We walked into the door and explained our situation and they were right on it.

The mechanic found the problem right away, a loose mounting cup,  but there was more.  The bearings in the bracket were also bad.  So we had them look at Cyndy’s too and that BB was bad as well.  I let the owner know that the bikes were only 2 months old and asked if the warranty would cover the repair? No problem.  I  also had them put a new tire on the rear, yup already rotated and now worn out.  At that point we figured it was best to run to REI a block over while they sorted out the situation.

When we returned everything was back in order.  Between inventory and cannibalizing another bike on their floor they got the problem solved.  Tires changed and rotated, drive train cleaned and oiled, bikes completely cleaned and adjusted.  They took care of everything under warranty except the tire.

We want to emphasize how well we were treated by the people in this organization.  We walked in off the streets, interrupted their day, they knew they would never see us again and they treated us like kings.  Keith and Nate were the mechanics and they did a great job, you could tell they knew their job. The owner, whose name escapes us, was so accommodating and helpful.  He provided us with a Colorado Cycling Map with the detailed information on road/bicycle lane widths, traffic volume, etc.   If any of you happen to be in the area and need bike stuff this is the place you want to go!!Grand Juction, CO 004

We pedaled off to Main Street on our newly cleaned and oiled rides enjoying the smooth operation of a properly completed tune up.  Stopped at the Rockslide Pub for some lunch and wandered around doing a little window shopping.  The area very reminiscent of K Street Mall, lots of fun stores, clothing, antiques, breweries, bistros, art & bike shops.  There were all sorts of artistic displays all along the street.  Even a bull made entirely of chrome bumpers (forgot to take a picture).  Grand Juction, CO 007 No we didn’t buy anything, but a tasty lunch, then found the Gelato store.  It was MUCH better than Dairy Queen, is Cyndy an ice cream snob?  One of the shirts she has been wearing is the Ben & Jerry’s jersey, “if it’s not fun, why do it?”

Cyndy is enjoying the fresh peaches purchased yesterday and is quite surprised they didn’t cook up inside the pannier arriving to our destination.  This part of Colorado has orchards & vineyards.  Was suggested that we visit the wineries “Just 10 miles away”…and “Just a mere 38 mile loop” we would have seen the “crown jewel of road riding in the Grand Valley” around the Colorado National Monument.  Well, perhaps another time.  After reading through one of the local cycling magazines, it sounds like there are tons of rides during the summer, as well as trail runs too!

After dinner here in our room (ice bins work great as salad bowls) Steve realized he has ANOTHER flat rear tire, on the brand new tire.  This may be known as the city of holes.  Is the air so thin it escapes through the tubes for us Californians (‘us’ is a euphemism Steve claims no such membership)? In the time it took for Cyndy to add a few sentences, Steve has already changed that flat.

We realized that we might have been a bit tired as we probably didn’t quite drink enough fluids during the day. 

Grand Juction, CO 012

We had thought it to be a low mileage day but the entire day took an eternity & it was hot, hot, hot.  Of course our traditional Champagne Friday had been moved to Thursday…but we didn’t even finish the one whole bottle!

Speaking of bottles, we are about to have a funeral for Steve’s Chico Wildflower water bottle, circa 2003.  He had to duct tape it together at the rest stop “papa’s place” before entering a long desert stretch from green river.  A moment of silence please.

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Up at dawn… then we turned over and ignored it.  So much for a 6am start.

This was our first night of wild land camping so we crawled out ofIMGP3288 the tent and got to feeding ourselves and packing up.  The landscape was Utah’s’ usual sand and brush. We shook the fine powder off our things and shooed the flies away from our oatmeal as we tried  to muster a start to the day.  The sun was well into it’s morning arc when we finally pulled out on to the road.  It was such a pleasant surprise to find the breeze had freshened and it was dead ahead.

We lumbered down the 10 or so miles of back road leading ahead to the intersection of I-70.  This was executed with no particular commitment to forward progress and set a tone for the day.  We had only 50 miles to check off and all day to do it.  Shortly after leaving or camp site we entered Cisco. It is really just a scary looking ghost town of dead cars and ruined buildings in the middle of nowhere.  I wish we had taken some pictures of it.  Thank goodness we didn’t try to make that a destination spot!

At the on ramp to I-70 we stopped for a second breakfast of mountain dew, potato chips, an apple and probably something else we shouldn’t have been eating and just can’t remember (ok, at least breakfast was healthy with oatmeal!).  One major pleasantry of Utah, they have trash cans at the rural onramps.  Oh, and the drivers have been VERY nice.

We plodded our way down the highway looking for a reason to stop and eat some more, rest stop ahead, cell tower IMGP3298right here.  We crossed the Colorado border around 12pm said our farewells to Utah and relished in the idea of the surface water that would again come our way.  The “bike lane” was beautiful and smooth and clean.

Steve stopped where there was cell tower to call his parents, then took a photo and uploaded it to facebook and generally lacked a riding focus.  Cyndy went ahead.  When Steve finally got back on the road he almost fell off the bike, a flat.  With Cyndy so far ahead he just pumped it up and continued, making sure Cyndy didn’t get too far ahead.

About 20 miles out of Fruita (pronounced just as spelled, Fruit UH) is when the wheels literally fell off the day.  The beautiful lane had turned to a gravel and tire chunk mess and we had to ride right through it.  About two miles from our lunch stop Steve had to stop and repair a flat.  Cyndy went ahead at this point to scout the lunch stop and do what needed to be done.  It was hard to ignore the river on the other side of the trees.

Cyndy stopped at the first exit and got a sandwich and made herself comfortable while Steve make his way there.  A quick phone call between us and Steve was pulling into the parking lot.  It may have been the heat or something else, but as he rode up to the bike rack he misjudged the front pannier clearance and got knocked off the bike.  A slow speed dump that hurt the ego far more than the body.  900 miles traveled only to fall over at the bike rack, jeez!IMGP3302

About 4 sodas and a little A/C cooled our bodies while we sat in the middle of the hustle and bustle of a very popular truck stop.    Boy, did we need that cold drink.   Once we went back outside, about an hour later, Steve’s bike thermometer read 132 degrees.  UGH.

While we were inside we realized there was a  park with access IMGP3306to the Colorado river right next door so we high tailed it over there.  Walked down the boat ramp into the cool, wonderful water.  After too short of a visit with the water we had to start thinking about reality.  Steve ran up to fix another flat and after finally agreeing to move on, Cyndy had a flat.  Two more would plague us in the following 10 miles.  This situation was not all road debris.  We had a bit of trouble with Slimes’ scab tube patches.  Going to REI tomorrow to find some Park Tool patches.  During 880 miles of riding we had two flats in the last 25 miles of today we had… Way to many.

Stopped at Wal-Mart to see if they had tubes and they did.  Just needed the piece of mind.  Fortunately and unfortunately Cyndy chatted with the greeter while I was hunting and gathering and found out we had gone to the wrong section of town for a room.  IMGP3311 Last words out of his mouth was “safe travels” and out of Cyndy’s was “ no more flats” only to find her back tire was flat again!

Off to north east corner of Grand Junction for a hotel.  Turns out to be a very nice ride through a nice part of town, more residential and found the hospital, not that we needed it.

Checked in and fell right into the pool.  Ahhhh!! all we need is some dinner and sleep.  Tomorrow is a rest day so we’ll be staying two nights in the area.  We’ll run down to Main St. to join in the fun tomorrow.

Note: Nevada has the best roads thus far!  Another fun thing the other day was counting the number of people who tooted their horns for us, we had 14.  Today only 4.  The number of cars on the road jumped too though.

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