Wednesday, August 19, 2009

crmbt - creede to pagosa springs

The prior day was tough. We were hoping for a better day, and we would not be disappointed! Alison and her team from Cyprus Cafe had blueberry pancakes for our breakfast, and they were delicious. We packed up and got our bags to Hugh at the luggage truck and were ready to roll. Teri had gotten over some of her disappointment from SAGing in and wanted to ride with us again. We couldn't ask for a better start; overcast, but comfortable temperatures, downhill , smooth road all the way to South Fork. There were a few treacherous railroad tracks to cross, and some learned the hard way how treacherous they were. At least a couple riders went down, and when we saw one of them with the medical SAG at the aid station he told us they thought it was his rotator cuff. We had slowed sufficiently for the crossings and still made great time to South Fork, where we headed southwest on highway 160 to the first aid station at mile 26. It's great to take a 26 mile bite out of the day with little effort when you know you have another 49 miles to go with about 10 miles of slow, steep climbing over Wolf Creek Pass directly ahead of you.

Out of South Fork and past the aid station there were a few miles of rollers through some beautiful country. We came upon some road construction that had the road down to one lane for a few miles, but when we reached the flagman stopping/starting traffic he instructed cyclists to ride in the closed lane. Very nice! We had an entire lane all to ourselves. By the time we were back on the shoulder of this scenic drive, the climbing had commenced. The last 10 miles include about 2300' of elevation gain. It was work climbing Wolf Creek Pass, but the day was so nice, the scenery so incredible, and the distance for the day so much more promising than the day before, that it didn't seem that hard.

I stopped for pictures several times. Many times there were other riders taking pictures, drinking water, getting some calories, or just getting out of the saddle for a few minutes. It was easy to find someone to snap a picture of you if you wanted it. I used several cameras over the course of the week snapping photos for other riders too. Mostly it was inspiring to see a part of the country I hadn't seen before, and everyday seemed to offer scenery more stunning than the day before!

Eventually, at one of my stops, I was joined by Teri and Rick, who were pacing each other up the mountain. Pat wasn't far behind, despite having left Crede quite a bit later than the rest of us. I think the altitude affected him somewhat, but all the California climbing still had him riding stronger than the rest of our group. He gave me his sprint look as I snapped a shot of him approaching. Teri took some pictures of Pat, Rick, and me near the Wolf Creek ski area. We had a few switchbacks ahead of us, but we were nearing the top.

The summit was terrific! The 2nd aid station was right there, so we filled our water bottles, snacked, and visited with other riders. One told me to be sure to stop at the scenic overlook on the way down. He told me the whole valley was visible from there, and it would be worth the time. We all reached the summit within five minutes of each other and soon headed across the road for photos at the Great Divide sign. I snapped this shot of some people hiking through an enormous mountain meadow just south of the summit.

In the center of this picture is one of my favorite road signs: a truck on a steep hill warning drivers to use a low gear. In this case because there are about 9 miles ahead of us at grades of 7 to 9 degrees. Woohoo!

Bruce and I posed for a shot before adding some layers for a fast descent.

A couple times, as I'm screaming down the mountain, I thought I had missed the overlook when I went by a wide spot in the road. It would be hard to stop because of the easy speed and the unoccupied passing lane we were taking advantage of on our descent. When I had slowed for one of only a couple tight turns, the overlook was clearly marked and I rolled right in. It didn't disappoint!

Eventually we headed down again, enjoying a great descent on a smooth road, through scenery too pretty to be believed. I took some shots back toward where we had been, and it's tough to see it in the pictures, but if you looked hard enough that day, you could make out the over look that we had taken pictures from a few minutes earlier. With a great day and a downhill run into Pagosa Springs, the only thing slowing me down was my need to stop and take pictures. I could have stopped several more times, I could still be in that road, but I had to stop once in a while just to snap a shot of this awesome place.

Teri and I stopped a few more times to snap pictures as Pat, Rick, and Bruce kept riding toward Pagosa Springs. By the time we neared town it was getting hot and we were ready to relax. We saw a funky little store on the edge of town that offered things like "moose droppings". We had to check it out. Not much to see but I did by a paper bag of caramels with nuts that we had sampled, and we were back on our way. As we were looking for a sign for where to turn to get to the high school we saw Bruce waving us into a parking lot. Apparently Pat had seen a sign that said "malt shop" and his bike immediately swerved in that direction. By the time I had placed my helmet and paper bag of caramels on top of a trash can next to my bike, Rick was coming out with 3 huge soft-serve cones. I thought they looked great, but I told them I thought a cheeseburger and fries sounded good too! They all looked like I had just had the best idea ever, and all agreed that lunch was in order, even if they had eaten dessert first. Burger, fries, and chocolate malt later we were back on our way. A short ride and one crazy hill later we were at the beautiful new Pagosa Springs High School. We found a great place to set up tents, with a corner in the shade to place our camp chairs. Sometime in the afternoon I realized that I had left the caramels on the trash can. Found treasure for someone else, I hope. After showers and some time relaxing we got back on the bikes and headed downtown looking for a place to take Rick, who was celebrating his 42nd birthday, for dinner. We found a great Mexican restaurant and had a wonderful meal. We sat on the patio and could see the hot springs and spas behind us. Our server even brought Rick a complimentary dessert to celebrate. Overall, an excellent day!


  1. Is it that you are a fantastic photographer, or is it that you have such great material to work with? Maybe a little of both? I love the views looking down on the lake from above. Breathtaking.

  2. Lizzylou, Honestly, the credit has to go to the material. I bought a new Canon SD1100 elph camera this spring which takes a pretty good picture, but the views every day in CO were too good to be true! It's fun reviewing the pics from each day for the blog and remembering again what we saw and did.

  3. Thanks for the pics and narrative! I was on the ride and always enjoy reading someone elses perspective.
    The Creede to Pagosa day was FUN compared to the previous day!
    We also enjoyed the Mexican food place and also the coffee shop that was ground level nearby. Merlin.