To Bluff Utah 130km
To Kane Gulch 82km
Dolores, reminds me of a big pink pig from Wal Footrot's farm. I'm tired, and I'm really missing my involvement in community stuff at home. I'm very close to finishing this epic adventure, yet still have many kms to cycle, and once again, I'm cycling away from a place where I was treated so well, where I felt comfortable, and could have stayed a lot longer.
Ted and Moira cycled with me for 10km out of the city. That was really nice. But it was a little sad, when they turned back towards home, and it was very sad that I had to climb a hill alone as soon as they left. Bother. But things looked up, as I headed down the other side. The scenery was really pleasant, and the traffic not too heavy.
I cycled into the small town of Mancos, where I found a Cafe/Bakery, that served a very nice tomato soup, with fresh bread and butter. Yum. Just what I needed. People in Colorado are very interested in my journey, and it's really nice to talk to them. Often, when the cycling is tough, these contacts are the high point of a day. It's really encouraging when these folk "Wow" at my achievement, and wish me luck for the continuation of the journey. It happened twice, here in Mancos.Thank you all.
So I turned right into Dolores. I needed to find some supplies. I have been here before, way back in 1995, when on a Staff Training Rafting trip. The town looks different today. The first person I meet is Jerry. He's riding a tricycle across the USA. Really interesting to chat, and as we are heading in the same direction, we may meet again. He tells me to visit Lizardhead Cyclery, and chat to the owner.
"Hi. Do you want some free food? Do you need water? Can I help you with your bike?" This is Lindsay from Lizardhead, an amazingly generous and amenable young man. I eat, refill water, and we chat. He introduces me to one of his customers, Alex. She asks, "Would you like to come and stay at our house. We have a small studio you can use. My husband loves to chat to cyclists....?"
I've only done 80km, but it sounds like a great offer. Alex, once trained at Dvoraks. Now she is the mother of six year old twins. She also helps organise the "Dolores River Festival", a music festival based around river activities. Chris, her husband, is an EMT and Firefighter, and a Massage Therapist. Seems as if there might be enough common interests to keep a conversation going. I had a lovely evening, staying up far too late. Heaps of ideas exchanged, and subjects discussed. Thank you heaps, you wonderful people.
Chris is keen to do a job and house exchange for three, six, or twelve months. Any of you EMT's in NZ keen on spending sometime in Colorado?
7.45am, and I'm outside the Dolores Grocery. The owner comes out to tell me he will be open in 15 minutes. Inside I stock up on food. I'm going to be a little remote over the next week or so. As I'm packing, the owner comes out to chat. "Which way are you going? Have you considered this route?" He produces some maps, and advises me to head towards Bluff, instead of the regular "Western Express" route. Funnily enough, Chris had suggested this last night. I decide to take their advice.
Downhill to Cortez, and along beside the San Juan river. The route is very scenic, and very quiet. I've done 80km before I see my first "Service Area". The Trading Post, which should have been open just near the Colorado/Utah border, was closed. I rest. Icecream, lollies, and three litres of juice, and a power nap, and I'm ready to try for Bluff. The "bluff" is one of many huge red rock formations. They are stunning, but I'm exhausted. I crawl into the very small town, find a campsite, and a steakhouse, (barbecue chicken), and sleep, despite the windstorm
. My advisers have sent me north, via Moki Dugway. This is a spot near the top of one of these amazing bluffs. Trouble is, when listening to their directions, I'm not sure I registered just how much a climb I was expected to cycle...... I reckon 1500 feet, mostly on gravel (which I got), with huge drop offs (which I saw). Hmmmm. Lots of passerbys tooted or yelled encouragement. Some stopped to offer water. Many voiced amazement at the crazy old man from NZ, attempting such a horrific feat. Some stopped to ensure I was okay, when they saw me "power napping" at the side of the road. None offered a lift. In truth, it wasn't as hard as some of the climbs I've tackled in the last couple of years, but it was challenging, and the scenery was amazing...... but....
But, I need to do some more kms, and my legs are shot. The next 40km were really hard. Initially it was very hot, then it rained, well poured really. Lots of thunder and lightening, and heavy, drenching rain. Then it got hot again, and the road just went up and down like a roller coaster. Eventually, I could go no more. I found a small side road, and camped above a "Gulch", on a rock shelf, above a canyon. I reckon I will sleep well yet again.