This is a riders bike a few days ahead of us……
Day 51. 43 miles today, over 2 passes. That means we went UP and DOWN, like most days on the great divide mountain bike route. We woke up in our tent in a “building”. We moved into the building last night after storing our bikes in it and cooking our dinner. It was a campground community building and had a woodstove. We couldn’t bring ourselves to go back out and sleep in the wet grass in damp tents. It was nice to wake up dry, if not actually warm. It was near freezing this morning but sunny. Before leaving we looked for Tara’s sunglasses which are MIA, to no avail and then replaced her shoe clip that had gone missing somewhere, somehow. We rode about 17 miles and then began the 5 mile climb up the pass, (yes, UP) on the winding, twisting road. The aspens were beautiful and vibrant and the narrow gauge railroad tourist train came through this area. Apparently it is very popular for train enthusiasts. We stopped for lunch on the first summit (Manga). The second pass was Cumbres at 10,022 feet . The cumbres and Toltec RR is an authentic steam train for tourists crossing the New Mexico and Colorado border many times. Hence, in this peak foliage time, accommodations are difficult to find. As we pulled onto Chama (off route….) we stopped at the Boxcar cafe for wifi and a mid afternoon “snack”. Jon and Lois had a full breakfast and Tara and I had soup and fries and coffee. Just snacks before dinner. We were lucky to find a room that Tara negotiated for us. We called about 8 places and all were booked. When we arrived, I had a sandwich, my second pre-dinner snack, some cookies and grazed on the bag of candy, nuts and raisins that is always at hand. Then we made dinner (spinach, broccoli, beans, rice, cheese in tortillas). Jon and Lois went to the store and returned with a bag of chips……your hand gets sucked into the bag whenever you walk past! Then I had some junior mints, and cookies and tea before bed. We mapped out a re-route for 2 days to get us to Abiquiu to avoid MUD. Fingers crossed we get there in 2 days.
Day 50. Detours and Dogs. 70.6 miles for 2023 miles in total. We awoke to drizzle and it had rained quite a bit in the night. The high mountains had snow but most were obscured by low clouds. We deliberated for a long time discussing the pros and cons of going over the high pass called Indiana Pass or creating a detour route. We made breakfast and packed our bikes at the pavilion. We all wanted to go over the pass but with the snow up high and forecast for rain off and on all day we felt it was prudent to find a detour. We rode into town for last minute batteries before heading out on the detour. All day we watched the rain clouds surrounding us and could rain clouds all about on the mountains when the clouds lifted. Today there were no hills. 70 miles, our longest day and no hills. We didn’t go up or down. Just rode flat roads alternating between pavement and dirt. Didi Menton there were no hills? It was really odd and enjoyable! We passed a lot of cattle farms, hay bales and straw bales stacked to the sky. We saw goats, and sheep, cows, and lots of horses, and an elk farm. And dogs….,fenced in dogs, free running dogs, big dogs, little dogs, all colors and breeds….lots of dogs today. There were also a few dead critters in the road but we try not to look-Jack rabbit, porcupine. Once we reached Antonio we popped into the grocers for bananas, bars and Gatorade. We got on our phones to try to find a place to camp or stay with no luck in town so we rode another 5 miles to the Twin Rivers campground. It rained as we were checking in and we all were a bit chilly. There was a communal building r used for dinner and it had a wood stove so we were warm. Yeah! We moved our tents inside the building……(they were still a bit damp from last night) and planned tomorrows route. At least we will be dry tonight.
Day 49. 44.7 miles to Del Norte, Colorado. We should be in New Mexico in 2 days. We awoke with a nice view of the sun on the mountain with snow. We didn’t set alarms but we were up when it was light, which is later every day we travel further south. Our tents were wet but as the sun rose and compressed the cold air down, everything froze or turned to frost. The first two and a half miles today were up Cameron Pass and we were at the high point of the day before 9 am. We did a happy dance at the top of the pass. On the 18 mile downhill we caught up to the New Zealand couple (in their 70’s). They took a day off and we road to Gunnison and we ended up in the same place a day later.??? (We can’t keep up with them!) I can’t wait to be 70 and faster! They rested a day and we rode - we should have listened to Jon when he said there was no benefit to ride that day!! After the downhill we had lunch on the next climb and put on our rain gear as there were big storm clouds and it was raining ahead. A bit later we took off the rain gear as it was too hot to ride with it. I think we did that twice more….. the weather is fickle. Eventually we turned down a dirt track with a fast mountain bike downhill and we were having so much fun going down and dodging puddles that we missed a turn and had to climb back up a bit. We were glad to have missed the turn because the riding was fun. We passed a lot of rock formations, with one called elephant rock. We climbed up through a very short notch around a rock formation and dropped down to circumnavigate the airport. The signs indicated “the great divide route” to keep people from cutting through the field that was the airport. We dodged all the storms and rode into Del Norte and checked out the free camping in the town park. We decided to go to the campground because it had showers, a laundary and covered pavilion. Tara and I got coffee before heading to the campground, I needed it to get through all the chores! We got back from grocery shopping to the site just as a thunder and lightning storm was skirting around us. We cooked under the pavilion. Tara and I had fresh spinach, with scrambled eggs, salsa, and cheese. We boiled up the extra eggs to take for lunches, copying Lois and Jon. We sorted food and unpackaged everything to get rid of weight and trash. It rained and was a bit windy and we were glad to be under the roof. As we arrived back at our tent, our Alabama neighbors, a father/son here to do some fly fishing, shared s’mores with us but don’t tell Lois and Jon as they were off showering and missed out. Tomorrow is our biggest climb of 4,000+ feet in one push, the peak (Indiana Pass) around 24 miles into the day and over 11,000 feet. We have 5 days of food (the most yet) and will have a lot of water. We may not have service for quite a few days - New Mexico is going to bring some new challenges as it use very remote, dry and with few services.
Day 48. 64.6 miles, all but 9 on pavement. Gunnison to middle of nowhere. Informal campground 6, On the edge of a forest near a field with a beautiful view of a dusted snowcapped mountain. Said goodbye to our hosts and rode back the way we had come into town, about 8 miles and turned onto PAVED route 114. We cruised to 114 and up the canyon enjoying the pavement. Lois is disappointed that Jarral said we would see big horn sheep, moose and elk and we saw a herd of pronghorn when the sheriff stopped us on the road. We had been cruising down from North Cochetopa pass at 10,135 feet. He pulled across the road, turned in our direction and jumped out of his unmarked blazer. Did we go too fast? Not stop at the stop sign? Or was he after Lois and Jon for trespassing across a field (shortcut) a few days ago?! He only wanted to offer us Gatorade (orange flavored, a bottle for each of us with full calories, none of that diet crap…..) and we happily accepted following Jon’s rule to accept all offerings of food and drink. The sheriff was very friendly, we drank our Gatorade and continued on our way. We turned back onto the trail with about 9 miles to go and climbed up a moderate grade on a solid dirt road. It was overcast and chilly most of the day but as we passed through a mile or so of meadow, approaching the campsite, the sun came out a bit. We camped in a remote spot and had a fire for the first time. It was nice to take the chill off. We all contributed to Jon’s efforts to start it as the woods wet and it took some effort.
Jon and Lois scraping mud.
Day 47. 38 miles. 1844 total. Happy Birthday to my husband John! Sorry I’m not there to celebrate. From Sargents to Gunnison. We are off route. Thwarted by mud. It rained quite hard in the night and we were glad to have the tiny cabin. Drizzling in the morning but we had breakfast and packed our bikes. Chatting with the New Zealand couple next door (in their 70’s) and also riding the Great Divide, they decided to stay and extra day in the cabin and wait out the weather. About 8:30 the rain stopped and their was a brief ray of sunshine. It did illuminate the new, brilliant white snow on the 14,000 foot mountain peak we could see. We set off. First mailed some postcards and then rode 13 miles on pavement. Then we turned into a dirt road and after 2-3 miles ran into MUD. A young man in a truck had suggested we stay on the lower road to avoid the mud on the upper road that was our route. We took the lower road but quickly Ran into MUD. Tara yelled “turn back! “Go back!” as she has had enough mud scraping fora lifetime! We pulled out the maps and detoured on pavement to Gunnison. It was the nearest large town where we thought we could get out of the weather. We had all our rain gear on and it rained. Not much fun in the rain but no sense to deploy the emergency shelter as the forecast called for steady rain. We arrived in Gunnison (McD’s Parking Lot) and started looking for accommodations: tenting (ugh, wet), cabins, cheap hotel…. And Jon found a Warm Showers host who would accommodate 4 people. Warm showers is a biking resource where people offer you to stay with them in their home. Most of them are cyclists and paying back a service they used at some time or just want to support the cycling community. Jarrall said to bring wine as his wife won’t be expecting four guests…… The husband/wife both teach chemistry at the local university and have a daughter in college and a teen son at home. They are cyclists and the dad has raced this route in 21 days!!! We expect to take 70 or more days. We washed our bikes and had a delicious apple dessert that a neighbor had made with fresh apples. I’m missing apple season in Maine this year. The forecast has improved and we expect to stay on the paved road tomorrow, hoping to get in 60 miles and back on route. Our goal is a forest service campsite. Hope the weather holds off until New Mexico where we expect to be warm again! Larry and Mimi arrived back in Boston and are working on plans to pick us up in New Mexico at the finish. We hope to fly home around the 28th……. Best laid plans……..
Day 46. 41 miles today up and over Marshall Pass. Reunited with Lois and Jon. Yeah! We also got to see Mo and Harry yesterday, the young folks who are fast but unfortunately Mo contracted giardia and is being treated and doesn’t feel so great. Hopefully the medication will help quickly. We are not sure is they set off today or not. Lois and Jon met us at our hotel promptly at 8 am. We had had breakfast, said goodbye to Larry and Mimi, and rode off. No toe warmers to begin and only a couple of layers of clothes. The forecast was for afternoon showers and we hoped to get to the “town” of Sargent. Marshall Pass was 10,842 feet in elevation. The sky was overcast with clouds most of the way but when the sun peaked out, the aspens were brilliant. There were lots of four wheelers on the road and campers at the pull out spots. (It is Saturday.) We topped out at the top of the pass around 1 pm and then it was……. Down….. to Sargent. From the photo you can see it was chilly. We were all wearing most of our clothes and Jon and Lois had new waterproof mitts from REI. We were jealous and I was wearing doggie bags on my hands. We arrived at the Tomichi Creek Trading Post and it started to mist/sprinkle. We inquired about a teeny tiny cabin with double bunk beds and the cost was not a lot more than camping. So we are cozied up with Jon and Lois tonight. If the cabins get any smaller we will all be in the same bed eventually! Tara and I had coffees and Jon and Lois went for the ice cream cones. I had the bar add a splash of Bailey’s to my coffee and I’m clean, warm and happy! We are in close quarters but have had showers (so we are not smelly!) and we are nice and warm. (The mini cabin has a heater!) It is wet and drizzling out so the cabin was justified and we won’t have to pack up wet tents tomorrow. On a final note tonight to Jon and Lois’s Mums, they both look well. Their pants are still falling down but they are trying hard to eat a lot. I’m convinced Lois had hollow legs. They are in great spirits and we are happy to be reunited!
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!