Wednesday, July 1, 2009

on the road

We started out Sunday morning, June 21, from Glenwood Springs at 5746' altitude, riding the West Elk Loop of the Colorado Scenic Route. It had rained Saturday night, and though there were still plenty of clouds around, there was abundant sunshine to warm the day. I passed a few riders, and was passed by many more before reaching the first aid station. BTC does a great job with their aid stations; water and powdered gatorade for your bottles, lots of fruit, and sweet and salty snacks for energy to keep you rolling. The first stop had cut up pastries, as well as the ever-present, and ever-popular, peanut butter and jelly.

Most of the day was gentle rollers, trending slightly upwards. I rode along with various riders along the way including a guy from New York, a couple from Minneapolis, and a woman from Pagosa Springs, Colorado, who has a daughter living in Ottawa, Kansas, just down the freeway from Olathe.

About mid-morning we passed Redstone. I stopped for pictures of these beehive coke ovens, which at one time were used to transform raw coal into high grade "coke" used in steel production.

About 3 miles from the summit the grades grew considerably steeper. Personally my speed went from the low teens on the rollers to about 4-5 mph. For the better part of an hour I was happy to stay in motion and upright. A handful of souls were walking their bikes along the shoulder. It looked like even that was a good workout. A couple stops for pictures (and to catch my breath, drink some water) and the summit of McClure Pass was in sight. Just before arrival I was greeted by a woman that would become a welcome sight throughout the tour. She greeted cyclists with a cowbell and a woohoo!

The way down form McClure took us by the Paonia Reservoir, and although these pictures don't do it justice, the evergreens, hills and water are an absolutely beautiful sight. The first time I ever saw this I couldn't help but thinking of Andy and Opie grabbing a fishing pole and heading out of Mayberry for a day at the lake.

The rest of the ride passed working mines, farm fields and orchards, in between sage-covered hills. The temperatures went up as we went down, and it felt good to get to Hotchkiss and set up camp. I walked across the street to the grocery store for some pasta salad for dinner, and treated myself to a huge ice cream cone from a vendor set up at the school. Tired but satisfied, I slept good in the cool air, and was ready for a long day on the bike on Monday.


  1. Thanks for taking the time for posting during your journey. I like the way you present your story and the scenery in your photos is magnificent!

  2. This is so beautiful - I grew up in the Austrian Alps and looking at the scenery made my mind wander to times when running through tall meadow grasses and jumping into green lakes was all there was to do. Thanks for bringing out those memories.