Tuesday, July 19, 2016

COLORADO, part 3...flowers

And just to cap it off. My last alpine camping on Molas Lake, elevation over 10,000'.

COLORADO, part 2

I have been on the road for 45 days now with only 9 off-days. Colorado has absorbed my interest for 27 of those days and all but one of the off-days. It is a beautiful state with awesome mountains, scenery, and activities. With California and Washington state, Colorado is a state where more of its population are physically active than any other US state. It's easy to see why with such majestic outdoor settings.    Colorado is rugged and beautiful. My stats give a sense of this...
     990 miles @ 19 ride days @ 52.1 mpd @ 86 hours in the saddle @11.5 mph 
     @ 50,625 feet of climbing
Accumulative total...
     2,210 miles @ 36 ride days @ 61.4 mpd @ 184 hours in the saddle @ 12.0 mph
     @ 89,593 feet of climbing
  The journey has taken me over many of Colorado's passes and summits in this order...      Currant Creek Pass @ 9,482'       Hoosier Pass @ 11,539' Continental Divide above Breckinridge      Milner Pass @ 10,759' Continental Divide at Rocky Mountain National Park      Trail Ridge Summit @ 12,183' in Rocky Mountain National Park; the highest I will ever likely ride a bicycle      Cottonwood Pass @ 12,126' west of Buena Vista      West Maroon Pass @ 12,500' by foot outside Crested Butte      Kebler Pass @ 10,007' west of Crested Butte      Blue Mesa Summit @ 8,704' near Black Canyon of the Gunnison River      Owl Creek Pass @ 10,114' before Ouray      Red Mountain Pass @ 10,910' after Ouray      Molas Pass @ 10,910' after Silverton      Coal Bank Pass @ 10,640' after Silverton   There are many stories to share, but few will have to suffice.  
  Before leaving Asheville,I stopped into Youngblood's Bicycle Shop on Merrimon Avenue to purchase the last item on my "to do list"...one more air canister to pressure a bike tire. I noticed a woman being assisted by Youngblood staff unpacking a road bike travel case and overheard that she was from Colorado. "I'll be going through Colorado later this summer on a cross country bike tour" I say. Without any hesitation she writes out her name and contact info in Crested Butte, and states she and her husband like to host bicyclists when they are in the area.   Sue Schulman grew up in western North Carolina, got married on the shores of Lake Lure, and settled in Crested Butte where, until they recently sold it, she and her husband operated a medical clinic. She was in Asheville for her yearly visit with her father in Hendersonville, bringing her road bike for outdoor enjoyment in the surrounding mountains.   Robbie arrived in Crested Butte on July 11. Sue's son, Kai, had recently undergone leg surgery from a skate board accident while traveling in Europe. It was not convenient for me to stay at the house while Kai recuperated. Instead Sue arranged for me to stay at her stored pickup-style camper in the rear yard of her in-town friend Chris Poggloff. While meeting Kai and sharing with him the cross country bike adventure I am on, Sue mentioned she did an east coast bike ride when she was 19. This was news to Kai. A look of newfound wonder passed from Kai's eyes toward his mother. After the always wonderfully satisfying afternoon shower following a day's bike ride, I followed Sue on her bike and she introduced me to Chris and his wife Bonnie, and got me set in the camper.   Here's the interesting connection that developed during casual conversations... Sue is a long time friend and bicycling buddy with Roger Derrough of Asheville. Roger founded the first Asheville natural food store Dinner for the Earth in 1975. This store eventually became Earth Fare. Chris worked with Roger during those very early years in Asheville before moving to Colorado and is a bicycling buddy with Roger. Robbie meet Roger many years ago on local bike rides and is a bicycling buddy with Roger, though recently Roger and wife Janese have been traveling a lot and our bike schedules haven't matched up.   So after 2,000 mikes crossing this country by bicycle, my common thread in central Colorado is a guy born in Bryson City, and with whom I have shared bike rides through our North Carolina mountains. I trust I represented Roger well.     WarmShowers is an internet-based long distance bicycle service where one can be a host or a guest. You are only assured a warm shower (I believe everyone acknowledges this is perhaps the best part of the day) but usually there is a bed and frequently a shared meal offered by the host...and lots of shared stories. When traveling into new territory it has been most beneficial to seek a WarmShower host. The host's knowledge of local roads and routes has been very helpful.   I stayed with Pueblo based Jeff Helms as I left the Front Range of Colorado and began the entrance to the mountain uplift. Pueblo is located on the Arkansas River...there's a lot more water flowing in the Arkansas River here in Pueblo than I witnessed many miles downstream in Kansas. I suspect there have been years of water disputes about this between the different states and regional jurisdictions.    Jeff shared his biking experience in the southeast Colorado area and suggested routes that, while incorporating high climbs, would showcase the high mountains. Thus I undertook the over 12,000 foot elevation of Cottonwood Pass that converted from asphalt to dirt surface on the western descent. It was worth it...and eventually took me into Crested Butte. To my knowledge Jeff has never meet Roger, but that topic never came up in our conversation. I will have to ask Roger.   Another aspect of WarmShowers is to be able to find a host in some rather isolated areas. I left Crested Butte to ride along the eastern edge of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison River. This is a narrow 200+ foot deep canyon carved by the force of the river cutting through ancient volcanic depositions. Mid way I pass through the acclaimed peach and fruit groves known for its Palisade peaches. They are juicy and delicious, not easily transported via bicycle so eaten on the spot. Gary Dotzler and his wife Kiki (who I did not meet since she had left to visit friends in Crested Butte that I had just recently left) rent a well designed small cabin of 420 square feet outside of the small and somewhat depressed looking town of Crawford.  
Gary and Kiki worked for Intel in California for ten years. They are early proponents of living small. After only ten years of work at Intel they decide to retire at an early age and orchestrate their budget to live full and satisfying lives on $20,000 per year. They have been doing this for over twenty years. During that time they have biked cross country, hiked the Appalachian Trail in its entirety...twice, biked several European countries, just recently returning from Iceland. Gary is a computer engineer and that training has equipped him to make some rather unique on-road bike repairs. He is thrilled when I accept to soak in his over-sized-claw-foot-cast-iron bath tub converted to hot tub...104 degrees for thirty minutes...with the required hot shower in the outdoor stall open to the far distant view of mountains to the east.
Other Colorado scenes...
This image is for Mark Boyd, who on his many long distance rides likes to photograph the road shoulder condition. This next photo is during the ride between Ouray and Silverton on the Million Dollar 1880s Highway and the rather steep incline off the limited shoulder. It needn't be said that I rode in the middle of the traffic lane at these spots.
...and more...
Blackie is in each of these, just hanging around. "How many more of these climbs are there?" he wonders.
And the family of Marty and Kim from Cincinnati who shared their dinner with me on the shore of Molas Lake. The family was resting up from their six day back country hike below the 14,158' peak of Mt. Sheffield, before heading to Taos, NM.
And ending with the entrance outside Durago, CO.