To Loveland Ski Resort 50km
To Dvoraks Centreville 169km
It was a long night trying to get comfortable enough to sleep in the bus seat, and even more difficult when the seat next to me was occupied at about 1am, but the 14 hours and 1100km were definitely worth it. Stretching our legs in Trinidad Colorado at 6am, for the first time in weeks, the air was fresh and cool. Oh Colorado, I love you.
Unpacking Fiona and the trailer took only a short while, and we were off navigating through Denver to the home of my wonderful Denver family, Scott, Sarah, and Mira. How wonderful to be able to kick back and relax in a family atmosphere again. So many little things that you miss while touring on a bicycle..... running water, electricity, food in the fridge, lounging on a couch, the same bed more than one night in a row, and lots and lots of catching up, and frank discussions, and the chance to cook a couple of meals. All things that most of us take for granted, but have been denied to me for what seems an awfully long time. We even managed a couple of family hikes in surrounding mountain parks, and I got to share a 4th of July family barbecue. I truly did not want to leave........
But I did, heading towards the Rockies. For the next 200km I cycled on sealed cycle paths, or very seldom used "frontage roads", the old highways that parallel the motorways. Really pleasant cycling. Crossing Texas I took maybe 30 photos. Here in Colorado, in three days, I've taken almost 150 photos. There is scenery to die for..... and I needed lots of breaks, as the climbing had started. Remembering Denver is "a mile high", and I was heading towards the Continental Divide, you can imagine that sometimes the going was tough. I was back to cycling 100m, and sometimes only 50m, before having to stop to catch my breath, and let my heart rate slow. I'm at altitude again, but the scenery is stunning, and there are plenty of other cyclists about, many who ignore me, but many others who chat, and give encouragement, but none pulling a load like Fiona carries.
My legs were pretty shot by the time I got to Idaho Springs, and I had to squeeze in between the crowds of holidaying families to get a pretty yummy pizza. So it seemed like a good place to find somewhere to camp, and recoup before the climb tomorrow. I found a spot just out of town, just off the cycle track, and slept..... soundly.
Juliet and I had driven through this way three years ago, on our Mtb trip, and I wanted to cycle through here as soon as I saw the terrain, so it became part of my "must do" route, and it took me from the home of my Denver family to the home of my Rockies family, over a couple of hills that excited me. But I had some tough climbing to do before I got close enough to challenge the passes. Day two was slow. 50km and I was exhausted. I begged some water from a closed ski area, and pitched my tent in a small patch of bush opposite their carpark. Loveland Pass.
11,990 feet (3600m). It's back to basics..... Small steps...... but the scenery and colours early in the morning were stunning, so the breaks were used for more than just catching my breath. Did I tell you I love Colorado? The elation on reaching the top was pretty special. I haven't climbed like this since Andorra. And the downhill, and breakfast in Keystone were pretty good too. It's amazing how a win raises your spirits. I'm back on sealed cycle paths, all the way into Frisco, for a smoothie, and then climbing again towards Copper Mountain. I meet several cyclists who are very encouraging, while dodging hundreds of out of control families of cyclists, who have been set loose by bike companies at the top of the hill. I know they haven't cycled up this path. And then I turn left, away from the crowds. I'm the only cyclist heading up Freemont Pass. More tiny steps......
Freemont Pass (11,383 feet) and the "town" of Climax, where a very special mineral, that I can't spell or pronounce, is mined. It is used to harden steel. I've climbed my two hills for the day, and am feeling pretty chuffed. It's downhill to Leadville, a very cool little town on the side of a mountain. It's 5pm, as I sup a smoothie. Where to stay? Damn it. It's 65km to Dvoraks, and it's downhill, and I've got three hours daylight. Let's do it.
169km, two 11,000 foot passes, and I'm welcomed by big hugs and smiles. What could be a better way to end an amazing day. The next two days I get to mix with the rafting crew, help with shuttles, help Bill put up signs for his election campaign, to become Chaffee County Commissioner, and go out for an amazing Mexican meal. I'm at home again, with my Rockies Family. Did I mention that I love Colorado.