Day 45. Rest day in Salida to eat. Beautiful weather in Salida today. Tara wants to move to this beautiful mountain town, which is very unpretentious, and surrounded by tall mountains. Started the day with coffee in the hotel room. I may have had a snack or some cookies before going to breakfast. They had an automatic pancake machine with a one button push and it would make two pancakes! Mimi and I each had a pancake. Then I had Coffee, OJ, 2 cinnamon raisin toast with butter, jam, and cream cheese. Some scrambled eggs. A yogurt. Shortly after breakfast we went to town to a great coffee pastry shop and we had spiced sweet chai and Mimi and I split a cinnamon roll. Then we went grocery shopping and I broke into the chips on the way home. We then went back to the room and I grazed, eating only half a carton of peanut butter chocolate Oreos, A banana, peanuts and raisins. I had a couple of glasses of Gatorade and then I finished my calzone that was left over from dinner last night. We repacked the bikes this afternoon and then went and walked around the town. I started with a pre-dinner ice cream. Then we had Mexican dinner and after dinner we had another ice cream. Finished the night with a sparkling water and brushed my teeth hoping I will be well fueled to get back on the bicycle tomorrow. We have reunited with John and Lois and will be heading out together at 8 AM to ride the next three or four days with a destination of Dell Norte. We have a couple of really high passes to climb and some iffy weather so we’re hoping to stay dry and warm! We are hoping to get out of Colorado and into New Mexico before the snow flies.
Day 44 to Salina, Colorado. 51.44 miles. Sun rise at the Hartsel Lodge was pink and beautiful. Lots of hides on the floor and taxidermy trophy mounts on the walls. We had breakfast among the heads. We left around 8 am and planned to meet Mimi and Larry mid afternoon in Salida. We saw buffalo in a fenced in field with a baby buffalo. Todays ride had a lot of washboards in the road. We bumped along for miles, sometimes resting our butts and other times stopping to give our wrists a break. There are a lot of undeveloped developments, with road signs, dirt tracks, grids on our maps and nothing developed. The high point today was near Cameron Mountain. Then we ended with a fast downhill on good road with an expansive view of the Collegiate Range that had at least 4 - 4,000 footers: Princeton, Harvard, Yale, and Columbia. In Salida we Met up with Mimi and Larry at the brown dog café for ice cream. And we reunited with Jon and Lois. Yay!!! It is so interesting to hear how our paths diverged, the different accommodations and experiences we had. On a recommendation from HollyAnna we got pizza, salads and calzones from Amica and then met Jon and Lois for a beer at the brewery. Rest day tomorrow, we plan to eat. Then we plan eat and after that eat. Then have snacks, get groceries and eat. PS - the moose photo was from Mimi’s hiking adventure in Breckenridge.
Day 43. 48 miles for 1713 total. Great breakfast of sausages and eggs. Thank you HollyAnna and Woody! We packed a bit lighter, Larry and Mimi carried a bit of our gear today. We are ditching one tent, for trying to keep warm, not to reduce weight! We rode up Boreas pass, not boring at all Tara says. The incline was actually moderate due to the old railroad that went through there. The pass was 11,482 feet and ta dah(!), no puking!!!! Drugs are great. Beautiful trees glowing in their fall yellow. Lots of dark rain clouds surrounding us as we dodged them this way and that. We were lucky today to stay dry! A couple of talking burrows were fun to see in the afternoon and we arrived at this decadent ranch lodge in Hartsel, Colorado. They are in the middle of a renovation, are not yet open and have still rented out two rooms to us. Great people- decadent sleep! Larry and Mimi arrived shortly with great Thai. Larry cut Tara’s hair and Tara gave me a haircut. We lounged in the great room until an early bed.
Day 42. 46.3 miles. Made it to Breckenridge! Stayed near Ute pass last night and met our good friend Maggie at 8 am to ride over Ute pass with us. It was five or 6 miles up and then five or 6 miles down to a crazy busy route nine. Maggie rode up and down and up and down again to get back to her car. It was awesome to catch up and we were amazed we could meet up and ride together. Tara and I kept going towards Silverthorne, Frisco and Breckenridge. We stopped at REI in Silverthorne to see if they could repair Tara‘s brakes. We also needed a few more toe warmers. They couldn’t do it but we called around and found a shop in Breckenridge that said they would do it this afternoon. We rode up the switch backs to the top of this crazy dam (Dillon Reservoir) pretty much on the bike path all the way to Breckenridge. The weather was variable and we put our rain gear on once but we made it to the shop a little after 3 PM and the bike shop was great. The weekend before I left home for this crazy adventure I met Hollyanna Bates at the Southport “don’t rock the boat” road race. She was the race Director and hosted a great race where the prizes were freshly baked pies! As we were talking she said she does warm showers and was on the great divide trail in Breckenridge. And here we are! She and her husband Woody and dog, Sugar hosted all 4 of us for the night. Tara’s husband Larry and Mimi also flew into Denver and met us. HollyAnna and Woody made awesome carnitas and lemon mousse to die for. We slept well in their beautiful mountain home close to 10,000 feet! Larry and Mimi will meet us in Hartsell tonight. And I am sooooo excited for them to carry some of my gear! It is 34 degrees and we are headed out!
Day 41. September 26th. 48.6 miles today for 1,619 miles in total. We climbed 4,436 feet today for a total 118,849 feet of elevation gain to date. We just calculated what we estimated to be our total feet climbing and are amazed it is so much. We’ve also across the continental divide about 16 times by our estimate. We slept in Radium last night and just as we went to bed a very loud, very long train proceeded to pass very close to us. About an hour later another very long very loud train passed but we were fortunate those were the only two all night. We woke up to a heavy frost and lots and lots of magpies on our table. Nothing lost to the beautiful crows of the west, just some holes packed into a couple baggies. We left camp around 8:30 AM and started with a couple of good climbs up to inspiration point. Saw red tail hawks, horses, cattle and passed a few log trucks. We saw one cyclist who commented (these are his words) that his perineum hurt. We talked to him for about three minutes in total and learned about the most intimate part of his body. Tara, as a nurse, offered to help (with ibuprofen) but he declined. Rode down to Kremmling, about 2 miles off route and we failed in our quest for more fuel for our stove. We’ll have to be careful tonight to save fuel for breakfast. We did have great coffees at shooters café. I attempted to have an ice cream but dropped it in the parking lot, and we chatted with a woman who did the first trans American ride in 1976. We also met a young woman, Mandy, who is doing the Transamerica ride now, pulling a BOB (beast of burden) trailer. We also picked up a few groceries for tonight and tomorrow. We made phone calls to make a new plan to meet Maggie, as we did extra miles yesterday and messed up the original plan. We also made a plan to meet a new friend Hollyanna in Breckenridge. (After first declining because we did not originally think we could make it that far……and stay on schedule.) Our friends must think we’ve lost our minds out here but it is really difficult to estimate mileage with the unpredictability of this adventure. Yesterday we added 20 extra miles because we did not want to sleep close to 10,000 feet and freeze our perineums off. We were at about 20 miles in Kremmling. About 10 miles later we passed a very low level reservoir, the Williams Fork Reservoir where we stopped for lunch. We wrote a book about the great GM on that climb up to the reservoir. For those of you who are wondering what the great GM is, go back to anatomy class, gluteus maximus. We must keep our GM happy just as you would your general manager. After lunch we had to pass by a grader and road watering truck and we wondered about……noooooo, not mud! Thankful for road maintenance that doesn’t generate mud with a little watering, but keeps the dust down. Before approaching the campground we passed a no trespassing section of fencing that had cowboy boots upside down on each post. There was also a rather phallic looking stone monolith in the field with a fence around it. We didn’t dare approach it afraid we might lose our biking shoes to the fence! We arrived at the (closed!?!) horseshoe campground around 4:30 PM. Needless to say, we are the only ones here because the campground is closed. There is a pit toilet but with no TP. There’s a beautiful river where we bathed and lots of lovely aspens all around in their fall color of golden yellow. We enjoyed our best dinner yet, of rice and beans and veggies in the last rays of evening sunshine as the sun disappeared behind the ridge. A good day.
Day 40. 60.3 miles and 6,019 feet of elevation gain! We left around 8 am after saying goodbye to Ed and Donna who were great hosts. we enjoyed our day off in their home and use the hose to clean our bikes in the backyard with the chickens. Goodbye Ollie. You are a great dog! Started on the bike path out of Steamboat Springs. It meandered along the Yampa river. Fairly quickly the houses were further apart and we were in Ranch country again. Horses and cows, fences and fields, pick up trucks and magpies. We passed a pretty lake and continued on the flats for a few miles. We then climbed up to the Stage Coach Reservoir and crossed the dam. There was a large sign just before the dam that warned of a mountain lion in the area. The lake had a low water level as it was generating electricity and it’s been dry out here. We skirted the reservoir and started to climb eventually reaching Lynx Pass, over 9,000 feet. After you go up, you get to come down. We passed an historic building from a stage coach stop and then we had to take our shed off to ford a small, cold river. Then we climbed again and rode along the “eyebrow” - as we called it, a fairly level section at the top of a ridge, with a few ups/downs as it followed the contours of the mountain. Tara’s brakes are flat again and we don’t know if there is an adjustment….and we started the down, supposedly one of the best downhill sections on the entire great divide trail. It was awesome, even with soft brakes. We dropped down 2500 feet to the Colorado River in the “town” of Radium. There is no town, just a boat launch for those rafting on the Colorado river. And a small campground with pit toilets. We arrived before six pm and filter drinking water out of the Colorado river for dinner and tea. Set up our tent and had dinner and by the time we were cleaned up and ready for bed it was past the Marsha rule time of 8 pm. The weather was spectacular today - frost this morning but soon in the 60’s or close to 70 with blue sky and sunshine. Because we rode 20 miles beyond our planned mileage, we mapped out a new plan for the next few days to connect and ride with Maggie, stay with Hollyanna in Breckenridge, and meet up with Larry and Mimi for three nights. We will ride 40+ each day for 4 days and take Friday off in Salida.
Day 39. 0 miles on our butts but a few miles on our feet. We stayed with Donna and Ed at their Home/Airbnb with Ollie the Newfoundland last night. Woke up to great coffee - thank you Ed. Tara and I went out to The Shack in Steamboat Springs for a large breakfast. Sigh. No scraps on these plates! We got groceries, cleaned our bikes with our toothbrushes , (there was mud in every crack cranny and crevice) and then had to go get new toothbrushes. Made phone calls purchased a few things like a new notepad, some new butt cream, new toothbrushes, and then went to Clydes pizza for dinner. We bought a pint of ice cream on the way back. Our bikes are re-pack and we are ready to go fresh tomorrow after a nice zero mileage rest day in Steamboat Springs!
Day 38. September 23rd. 39.6 miles. 1510 miles total! We were up with the cows wandering past our campsite, mooing, and headed to the beautiful sunlit field across the road. We had a steep mountain to climb and the first 4 miles were uphill. We will take hills over mud, any day! The last 1.6 miles we were pushing up a steep gravel and rough Rocky slope. It took us a little under two hours to reach the summit. Going down was chilly even though the sun was shining, because after yesterday’s storm, the temperatures have dropped a bit. Going down was slow because the backside was also very steep and very rocky. We stopped a few times to adjust clothing and eat snacks. In about 15 miles we passed one truck coming up the road, one motorbike coming up the road and one man on horseback with three dogs. Early afternoon we reached the pavement and stopped in the town of Clark for lunch. One building, a deli. Yeah! As we were pumping up our tires to finish the last 20 miles on pavement I bent over the core of my valve stem. I crossed my fingers and prayed that my tire would stay inflated for 20 miles into steamboat springs. It did. Phew. Tara pulled us through the headwind for 20 miles. Grateful for her strength! We had a couple of gravel bumps to go over but it was fairly uneventful. Steamboat Springs is a Town full of athletes and cyclists. Tara commented that we would hardly be noticed in this town with our loaded bikes, but right away a middle-aged man on a bicycle asked if we would talk with him, and his wife and friends about our trip. We feel like what we’re doing is very normal for us, even though it is a BIG adventure and we are continually surprised that people are a bit fascinated. During lunch we tried to find a place (scrolling on our phones….) to stay and were fortunate, on a Friday night, to book a bedroom in an Airbnb with a lovely couple. She (Donna) and her daughter both work for United. Her daughter was responsible for United Airline services in Portland, Maine for a couple years and just moved back to Colorado. After arriving and dropping all my gear, I stopped at a local bike shop to see if they could repair my valve stem and check my brakes. literally three minutes later I was back on the road! Thank you! We had fantastic beds and there’s a great large black Newfoundland named Ollie here. We showered and went out for some Thai dinner. Let’s just say we were in bed very early!
Day 37. September 22nd. Most challenging day yet! 12.5 miles (yes, only 12.5…….. and we biked most of the day, or really pushed bikes through sagebrush….) for a total of 1470.5. To FR #42 remote site. MUD. Mud. MUD. Rain. MUD. We packed up from Kirsten’s land early, hoping to get to Steamboat today. Alas, the best laid plans sometimes go awry! Mud. Right before leaving the wet site, we saw a nice rainbow and hoped it was a good sign. Quickly we ran into the infamous peanut butter mud we had read about. It encases your tires and literally stops your bike, there is no moving forward when the wheels won’t rotate. We made 5.9 miles of progress in just under five hours!!!! We need our friends back! We used sticks and a bike tool we had with us to clear the mud every 3-5 minutes. SLOW progress but we just got into the routine of push a few feet, scrape the mud, push a bit more. We went off the road and pushed through the sagebrush, sometimes on cattle trails, other times just pushing through the brush and cow Pattie’s. The mud was on a section of road that we believe was private. Once we got back onto the county maintained road, it was more sandy and not sticky. We stopped and scraped as much as we could and rode 2-3 miles, which felt fast, but was really creeping along. Then a storm blew over us and we went under the emergency shelter again. We were quite tired from the pushing. A few miles further we missed a turn and rode down hill about a mile out of our way. We turned around, Went back up the hill, and the rain came down. We called it a day about 2 pm, it was not meant to be for us to arrive in Steamboat today. We set up camp in the rain, then the sun came out and we spent the afternoon drying gear, cleaning the bikes as best we could, and then we went back out on the bikes looking for a creek to get water. Another round trip of about 4 miles and we had water for dinner and breakfast. Thankful for water tonight.
Day 36. Wednesday September 21. 39.7 miles for a total of 1458. We climbed 3,789 feet. We had packed and left before breakfast because we had no water. A mile or two up the road we found a creek where we stopped to pump water, and we rode up until we were in the sunshine and stopped to cook breakfast. The riding was varied and the same. The dirt road was well packed and we went down a great paved hill - the steepest down yet, or perhaps it just seemed that way because we had no wind pushing back on us! We left Wyoming and entered Colorado, the first town and post office in a trailer was just over the border in the town of Slater. As we climbed the dirt road we passed two snakes basking in the sun and then saw a couple more as we climbed. Two good sized rattlers and two smaller unidentified slitherers. Ended our day Just after Brush Mountain lodge shortly after seeing the two rattlesnakes in the road! Are we camping near here?! Yikes! We also met Kirsten, the lodge keeper, on her way to Phoenix in her camper truck after her season at the lodge ended. She gave us two Mountain Dews, directions to get water at the lodge and directions to camp on her land. People are so kind! We filled up with water at the brush mountain lodge and talked with the elk hunters, hunting with bows. Then we biked another mile or so and found a tenting spot on Kirsten‘s land. It was going to rain so we had an early dinner at 4:30 PM and we’re in the tent and it was raining by 5 PM. It’s been a long evening but Tara sewed up her vest (Frankenstein like)that was caught in her bicycle brake and a bit shredded. I took notes for the blog and sorted photos. Also ate about 8 powdered donuts after dinner. Tonight we are sticky and stinky in the tent together now due to the cold temperatures. We just had a nice cup of tea and are waiting for the Marsha rule to kick in, which means we can go to bed, but not until after 8 PM.