Thursday July 16
This was the best of days and this was the worst of days. Lets start at the beginning. Our night at The Lodge, in Breckenridge was a treat. I have to admit that I enjoyed the place. And at less than half of what someone would pay in January. I was awake by 7:00 and immediately went to find the continental breakfast, accompanied by my trusty computer. Donna and Lewis joined me in the food celebration that lasted off and on for about 2 hours. It wasn’t that the food was that good, it was that it was already paid for. I made sure that I got my money’s worth! This would have been multiple glasses of orange, grapefruit, and tomato juice followed by multiple cups of coffee with multiples of real half and half. The little pastries were not to filling so I was required to eat almost a dozen. That only left room for a couple of bagels with peanut butter and cream cheese. Donna and Lewis ate just a bit less. We took our time leaving The lodge as I could hardly move.
Shortly before 11:00 we mounted our bikes and pedaled away from The Lodge. The first 3 miles no pedaling was required as we screamed down the mountain that we had struggled to climb the evening before. What had taken us nearly 40 minutes to ascend, took only 5 minutes to descend. The beauty of riding uphill is the payoff when you get to go down. Once we returned to Breckenridge, the real riding of the day was to begin. This would be Hoosier Pass. I’ve been anticipating and dreading this pass since the first day of this trip. We had to pedal 11 miles and gain a bit over 1500 feet elevation before we could say we had licked the beast. The beast did not live up to my expectations this time. With the aid of a good tailwind, we were able to ride the first 7 miles without having to stop. From this point on we intermittently walked and rode (especially the wicked switchbacks). Just a bit over 2 hours from when we left The Lodge, we had reached the highest elevation of our trip; 11,542 feet. (photo)
We celebrated for 15 minutes before continuing our record setting day. The downhill ride from our highest elevation made everyone extremely exuberant. The first community we hit on our screaming ride down the mountain (still had great tailwinds) was a town called Alma. We stopped for a few minutes to wipe the tears from our eyes as the 40+ mph ride had each of us crying. I was particularly touched when I noticed the General Mercantile store in Alma was called ‘AlMart’ (photo). At this point we had 17 miles in and had possibly only another 7 miles before the end of our day. So we headed off.
The next community (Fairplay) was just another 15 minutes down the hill. We had lunch at a second rate café and since the wind was still pushing us downhill, we decided (collectively) to pull out the stops and push on. The next place where we might legally camp, was another 45 miles down the road. The remainder of the afternoon was spent flying along at 15 to 20 (and occassionally 30) mph due to the combined effects of the downhill and the wind. Groceries were purchased in the town of Hartsel (Rainier Cherries, canned tuna, canned chicken, Fritos, some really good plums, our 4th jar of Peanut Butter, and a package of flour torillas). We were now set for whatever would come our way.
The small community of Guffey Colorado was where we expected to camp. The small community of Guffey Colorado is where we should have stopped to camp. We bypassed the small communtiy of Guffy Colorado because I saw the possibility of a new record for miles in one day. What I failed to tell you is that the favorable tailwinds, shifted 180 degrees just minutes before we approached the intersection that would take us to Guffey. What had previously been pushing us along, was now right in our faces. But I was certain that this was just an anomoly. Surely the wind which had been blowing from the north all day long would go right back to blowing from the the north. Didn’t happen. Too late! We set our sights on an intersection of Highway 9 and Highway 50 (just 10 miles before Canon City: pronounced canyon). This was a piddly 20 miles further down the road.
I had assured everyone involved that we would continue to ride downhill. And a fair amount of that 20 miles was downhill. But the portions that weren’t meant we struggled mightly and very slowly as the wind had strangely intensified against us. The downhills we now rode at barely 12 mph and the flats and uphills were half that or less. It’s almost like someone or something was trying to prevent us from reaching new milestones! But we would not be deterred! However, the euphoric highs that we had experienced earlier, now were replaced with doubt concerning my sanity. That’s OK though as my sanity has been questioned on multiple times and found to be lacking!
At 8:00 we pulled into Yogi Bears JellyStone Campground, got a site, missed the pool as it closed at 8:00, took a shower, set up the tent and ran out of daylight before a meal could be prepared. So we ate peanut butter and jelly burritos and fritos and fruit in the cozy comfort of our tent. Everyone was exhausted as well they should be. The day which had started out by conquering Hoosier Pass, ended with us dragging our tails between our legs when pulling into Yogi’s place. But we did ride 90 miles!