To Stevens Creek 64km
To Montrose 90km
Once again, I didn't really want to leave somewhere I feel really comfortable, but Jaci and Bill were off on a Gunnison Fishing trip with clients, and I could have stayed around and helped with shuttles, but I've still got a few kms to go, and time is getting short....... only five weeks until Ju arrives..... so......
Downhill for 15km to start the day, yippee, and then the climb started. Hmmmm. I've linked up a very interesting route, but who knew it would have me crossing the Continental Divide three times. Monach Pass (11,312'). I can't tell a lie. It was tough. So much for being acclimated (acclimatized). A slow painful grind, and with very little shoulder, and lots of speeding traffic. But...... I made it, and was grinning widely, so much so, that quite a few people spoke to me. In 2013, Ju and I had come here to ride the Monach Crest Trail, and had been chased by a huge thunder storm. No storm today, but it felt great to be in a familiar place. So familiar, that I was able to advice a small group of very pleasant people from Denver on good local places to Mtb and eat. (Once a "guide" always a guide).
Just over the top, after a huge ice cream, I met a young lady cyclist, from Hildenborough, Kent. She was five years older than my kids, so we figured she must have gone to the same school as Lisa and Paul, when they were 5 and 6 years old. Small world. She was cycling the Western Express, the route I'm about to join, and had taken about three weeks to get to the top of Monach Pass. Oh my goodness. In three weeks, I could be on the Pacific Coast. I will have all but,( just got to get to Hanmer Springs), made a complete circuit of the globe. Wow. We chatted for sometime, and then I enjoyed a mighty fine downhill. But what's this? A very, very strong head wind. I find a sheltered spot and make camp. I'm knackered.
The wind is supposed to only blow in the afternoon..... but not today. I struggle into it for six hours, and make 60kms. I find a State Camping area, and try to find a sheltered spot. I pitch the tent. Inside the tent it's sweltering hot. Outside, it's blowing a gale, and nasty Red Ants are all over my feet.... and biting. I decide on a luggage free cycle down to the lake edge. Oh heck!!! The Red Ants are all over my helmet, in my hair, down my neck, into my arm pits..... looking for moisture..... aaaarrrhhhh. The lake is too far away. It's a sprint to the fresh water tap, and lots of rapid splashing and slapping. Nasty, nasty, nasty. Once again, I sleep really well.
I awake at 3am. There's no wind. Shall I pack up and ride? Hmmmm. Memories of the scorpions, rattle snakes, and feral dogs that inhabited the highways of Texas at night..... I think I'll sleep another couple of hours. 6am and I'm away. It's very cool. Last night it was necessary to dig out my sleeping bag. I could really do with finding my full finger gloves, but there's no wind. I want to get as far as possible before it begins to blow about noon. The scenery is still spectacular, and I meet two female cyclists from Ireland. They've taken 19 days from San Franscisco. Then I meet a guy from San Franscisco. He's taken 28 days. I'm confused, but I'm on track. I stop at a cute General Store for eggs on toast. I climb two long hills, and then it's a long downhill of about 20kms into Montrose. It's only midday, but I'm happy to stop. I've beaten the wind, just. It's a struggle putting the tent up, as it's blowing hard. Yes. A good decision. Recharging myself and electronics. Washing clothes and my smelly body. Shopping, eating, and chatting to a family from Quebec. A great afternoon.
I chose the route. It was tough, but every day on this adventure has been a challenge. Let it continue.... for about another month........