Sunday, September 14, 2014

6 people, 5 days, 4 mountain passes, 3 rainy days, 2 campsites, 1 amazing adventure!!!

Judy, a nurse practioner I worked with in Colorado Springs, plans a bike trip every year with her friends. Its a loop and usually takes 4-5 days. I went with her last year and we road around through Frisco, Leadville, Aspen, Glenwood Springs, and Vail. It was an amazing experience and I was so excited she invited me again. I couldn't wait to share the experience with Zach. Neither of us are avid cycleists, but we do enjoy riding our bikes and had prepared both of our bikes for this tour. The plan was to ride from Ridgeway back to Ridgeway going through Silverton, Durango, Doloras, and Telluride. Zach and I had just driven most of the route backwards, so we had some idea how steep the mountain passes could get. Every time our car started going downhill, we both got a little more nervous and worried about being able to ride up on our bikes. The area we drove through was beautiful and we were excited to be able to ride through and experience it at a different, and much slower, pace.
We all met at a hotel in Ridgeway. Vicki, Jill, Judy, and Scott were our group members and I enjoyed introducing Zach to my cycling buddies. Dinner was our first priority and we ate at a restaurant called True Grit. Apparently, John Wayne's True Grit movie had been filled in Ridgeway and the restaurant had a lot of memorabilia and fun facts. I enjoyed being there and thinking about the Duke hanging out in the same town we were in:) 
It was off to bed after that. Zach and I got permission from the motel to sleep in our van in the parking lot. She offered us towels and blankets and anything we needed! It was a great and we felt much more at ease sleeping. We never woke up thinking we were getting towed there:)
We set out in the morning for a 33 mile long day to Silverton over Red Mountain Pass. I did a quick post about this pass during the ride, but here are some pictures! We had a blast testing our biking abilities and climbing the steepest pass of our trip! For Zach and I, it was tough, but not as bad as we had thought. It was a pretty ride and rained on us a little going up. Zach had an admiring fan in Ouray who was impressed by Zach's older bike. He even took a picture. Maybe its more of a relic then we originally thought! It did make it to the top of the pass and even survived the heavy rain and hail on the way back down.
The rocket pack is ready!

Our group getting ready!

Quick break in Ouray!

Group picture!!

The open road!

5 miles from the top!

An old mine.

We made it to the top of Red Mountain Pass!!!

The waterfall was so pretty!

A rainbow over Silverton after the storm!
We woke up early to get a head start of the weather. Zach and I left first in the group and headed up Molas Pass which was 6 miles up. It felt considerably easier then the 13 mile pass from the day before, but we still worked hard. The rain was moving in so we kept going and zoomed downhill towards our second pass for the day. Coal Bank Pass was only 3 miles up and Zach and I cheered when we saw the mileage sign! 3 miles seemed so doable and we were happy to be making such great time. We took a longer break at the top and met some motorcyclists from Kentucky who were putting on their rain gear. It was fun chatting with other members of our two wheels club:)
The next 21 miles were all down hill and it was wonderful! We found a Cafe to eat at for lunch and really enjoyed sitting down. We finished the 8 more miles to get to our campground and happily checked into United Campground of Durango just outside of town. To our surprise, there was a free shuttle that ran from the campground to downtown Durango. It was perfect because neither us wanted to jump back on our bikes to meet the rest of the crew at their hotel.
Our trolly driver was named Roger and he ended up picking us up several times that evening as we ran some errands. It was so fun getting to know him in quick spurts. He is a fellow pilot from Colorado Springs and he recently has started getting involved in motorized parachutes. There was also a couple on the trolly who had previouly done tours on bicycles and also had lived out of a Eurovan for a time. They loved our plan for the year and were great fun to talk to. I just love meeting new people who have similar adventerous spirits:)
We ate dinner with everyone and then headed back to the campsite to sleep. Everyone thought we were crazy for camping, but Zach and I were so excited. It rained a little through the night, but our tent kept us dry and the gently rain lulled me right to sleep.
Getting started on the road again!

Some beautiful wildflowers hanging on.

The Colorado Trail goes through this area!

Top of Molas Pass!

Rain layers back on:)

Hiding from the rain at the top of Coal Bank Pass

Our second pass of the day!

Great place to take a rest!

These horses had a beautiful home!

Eat, eat, eat:)

I loved this lake and the houses on it!

What a cute pair:)

Break time! Almost there.

Home sweet home, for the night:)
Our third day was started in Durango where we were awoken by the warm sun! We had missed it so much and were so thankful for the warm rays! Drying out didn't take too long with the high alitidude and intense sun! We knew the sun was short lived because the reminents of hurrican Norbert were headed our way. The forecast called for 80% chance of rain all day! We packed our rain layers on top and headed out to meet the group. Staying together was fun on our ride to Doloras. We had intermittent rain and then it started raining pretty hard and consistnetly. We passed by another couple who were touring and headed in the same direction as us. Turns out we saw them everyday until the end and enjoyed our brief chats. 
With 5 miles left to our lunch destination of Mancos, we heard a loud thunder clap and the rains of Norbert came upon us. Norbert was not finished apparently and drenched us all from head to toe, dispite our fancy rain gear. Six drown rats pulled up on our bikes to a lovely little lunch spot in downtown Mancos and parked outside. You couldn't keep the warm drinks coming fast enough! All of us had to warm up and were so happy to be out of the rain. We all had such a blast that day and really enjoyed dealing with the elements! 
Zach and I did camp again that night. It was raining the entire time we set up camp and then stopped abruptly as we set out to meet the the crew for dinner. It was and extra 2 miles back into town for dinner, but we were hungry and decided our little butts could handle a few more miles on the bike seats. Dinner was lovely, but we wanted to head back before dark. It was getting close as we set out for our tent. There were two deer running beside the road as we rode home. I realized how big they really were being on my bike. I did not want to hit one of those suckers while cycling. They gingerly hopped across the street in front of me and carried on their way. We safely returned to our campsite and settled in for the night.
I don't have too many pictures from this day because it was so rainy, but here are a few.
Drying off inside:)

We rode through a hurricane!!

Hot drinks all around!

One of the few times without rain.

Drying out at the campsite in Doloras.
The day was beautiful! It was going to be our longest day (70 miles), so the sun was a welcomed partner to our journey! Doloras to Telluride crosses over Lizard Head Pass. It was not a steep ascent, which helped the mile markers pass by a little faster. Mile 56 was the steepest and we all shifted down quite a few gears! It was exciting to once again get to the top! My shifter cable wasn't worker right, so I couldn't get down to the lowest gears, but I survived. We arrived in Telluride tired and ready to find our motel. Zach and I were lucky enough to recieve a free hotel room from another couple who had to cancel on coming for the bike trip. The king sized bed and TV were luxuries we had not had in quite awhile, so we were pretty happy that night. 
Our dinner was a delicious Thai restaurant a block from the motel. Zach likes his food hot hot hot and happily ate the hottest dish they offered. I tried somebody's meal who ordered mild spice and thought my mouth was going to burn off, so I stuck with the no spice option:) It was then off to bed to rest up for our final day of riding!!
Vicki enjoying a break by the river.

Zach enjoying the view.

Our beautiful blue skies!!

Sweet Jill hanging out with us.

Jill finishing up the last mile up the pass!

Cross looks more like bird flying straight out of the ground to me.

Scott, Judy, Vicki, Jill, Sarah, and Zach at the top of Lizard Head Pass

Making our way down into Telluride.
We had to get up and go to a bike shop to fix my shifter cable. Judy and Scott went with us to get their tires aired up. Jill and Vicki bravely set out to conquer the final day! After the bike tune ups and repairs, we set out to leave Telluride! It was an amazing first 16 miles of down hill! We had blast with only one mishap of Zach dropping his MP3 player. It survived the fall and still played his music as we coasted downhill. What goes down always goes back up in Colorado, so we eventually had to climb up our last uphill. It wasn't too bad but our bodies were tired. We thought we were climbing the final hill of our trip so we pushed hard and rode as fast as we could. As we crested to top of the hill, we realized this wasn't the top...we slowed back down and kept climbing. Finally, we got to go down! We were flying down when a bee struck me in between the eyes. It got stuck behind my sunglasses and freaked out! I got stung before I could flick him away. I was able to keep control of the bike and pull over. Zach came in and saved the day by getting the stinger plucked out. It wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be, but it did hurt pretty bad. I had 4 miles to go at this point and so we hopped on our bikes and kept going. 
Pulling into the parking lot and seeing our van was so exciting! We were home!!! Thanks for an amazing ride Judy, Scott, Vicki, and Jill! Its something we will never forget:)

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