Wednesday, July 15: Kind of a Roman food orgy last night. That pizza just didn’t do it for me so I ended up firing that microwave up and cooked some spicy dogs, three of them to be precise, with buns, and then I had a couple Newcastle Ales. To top it off Bill went next door to Sonics and got a shake, so I had him get one for Judy and I. We split it. And that was the deal. I can’t fathom how many calories I consumed yesterday, but hopefully that climb up Marshall Pass made the calories in/out equation equal out. 

This morning was a bit casual, as I really didn’t need to do a big ride or worry about any passes and the weather, so I kind of dilly-dallied a bit. The max amount to ride today was about 30 miles, so that all weighed on when we got going. Now the riding is kind of shorter and broken up because the support is so darned complicated. If I were to do several of those 30-40 miles segments in a day, that would mean that Judy would have to do nearly 200 miles to go up and around the mt ranges to meet up where the my gravel backroad routes come out and junction with the asphalt main roads that Judy’s driving on. So these next several days have to be shorter to accommodate the support driving. Plus, all the upcoming rides after today have a pass or two to surmount, and that takes more time and more energy, so breaking the rides down into smaller chunks works ok. 

Anyway, while I worked Judy did her morning walk and went to a cafe to pick up some pastry for our road breakfast. Got on the road at around 8:15 AM and headed back east on Rt 50 to our end point from yesterday, junction of Rt 50 and CR 45. Had to endure some road stoppage on the way due to construction, and that took some wind out of our sails for getting off earlier. Finally got to our start point right exactly where the construction ended. Bill and I headed south on CR 45 to the junction with Rd 14PP to begin our climbing on this big, wide, wonderful gravel road. Bill and I were both pretty blown away by how beautiful the table top topography is out here near Gunnison, just rolling hills and small canyons for miles on end, and then there’s this stunning backdrop of a snow-capped mt range just to the southeast. I’m telling you….you ride across CO on stuff like this and you’ll NEVER go back to pavement! My only regret is that I could have had Judy drive the van on this route rather than having her go back around to Rt 50 east, and then south on Rt 149. 

The scenery was so awesome that I had to stop to put on my GoPro to take a bit of video of Bill riding in front of me. This segment was just pure enjoyment. We ended up rolling through this 18 mile segment in around 1.5 hrs with a total elevation gain of app. 2K ft - there was a LOT of up and downs. Met Judy at the junction with Rt 149 and Rd 14PP. Judy did a quick ride up to the top of one of the higher elevation climbs while I waited for Bill and checked out our next segment for the day. 

Jude and Bill got back and Jude was complaining of headaches, and I’m guessing that part of this is the altitude. Now we were planning on having her ride the next segment with me, but she really didn’t feel up to it. Thus, I rode solo. So I went L, south, on the berm of Rt 149 - loose gravel, angled and full of weeds - for about a mile, then took a R, south, on Rd NN14. This gravel road was as wide and wonderful as was 14PP. I had Jude and Bill drive ahead every couple of miles in front of me, know that at any moment they could be stopped dead in their tracks by a section of horrible gravel road. I was really hoping that I could have them drive to the junction of FR 788 where I wanted to begin tomorrow’s ride. If not, then we’d have to add the mileage from where they stopped up to FR 788, to tomorrow’s trip mileage. But all was good on NN14, and so we continued with a R, west, on KK14. And again, great wide and wonderful gravel road that the van could drive on.  

Had a bit of fun on this section because there were some ranchers on horses who were herding cattle down the road. So we, the van and me on the bike, and this logging truck coming from the opposite direction, we all had to stop while the ranchers kind of herded all the cattle to our left in order for everyone to get through. Bill got several cool shots of this including me riding in the midst of cattle, and a shot of this cowboy with the lasso in mid air. Got through that and made it all the way to the junction with FR 788. And that was it. Made it A-Ok, such that Judy can drop us off there quite safely for tomorrow, and we’re in great shape for that ride to Lake City and the big mts. We have two mt passes tomorrow. 

So we loaded up and headed back to Gunnison to the same motel as yesterday. I ended up with about 30 miles of cycling with just over 2K in elevation gain. Had to go through the cattle herd again, and then took a great drive down canyon on Rt 149 south back to Gunnison. Stopped at Sonics for lunch, and then the rain came right on time, at app. 2 PM. It’s been raining for 1.5 solid hrs since. You really have to time your recreation out here during the monsoon. If you’re going long, then you’d better start early. Two PM is usually the safe cut-off time for cycling and hiking right now. Anything after that and you’re toying with riding/hiking in storms. And some of the storms out here are just ferocious. Add riding on gravel/dirt to the mix and there’s even more impetus NOT to get caught in the storms. It could be a really messy affair. 

6 PM: Storms cleared and the temps are really nice, like in the low-mid 60’s. We’ll be heading to Subway for some din-din. Tried to pack up a lot of gear and I readied my GoPros and cameras for tomorrow’s ride to Lake City. Should be really amazing. My only regret is that I can’t share this segment with Judy. She’ll be driving the van on a long route on 50 west to 149 south to Lake City to meet up with us. I’m sure she’ll see some great sights, but to experience it on the mt bike, that’s a whole different kind of thing. 

I’ll sign out now. Until tomorrow.