It was another beautiful morning as we rode out of Pagosa Springs. With only 66 miles and 2 small climbs ahead of us we took our time getting up and out of camp. After coasting down into town the day before we had to climb just a little to get out of town. But it was a nice ride past several sites that added to my good impression of Pagosa Springs. After a few miles we were trending down again, and even with stops for pictures, made good time to the first of two aid stations at mile 22.
Once out of town I spotted Chimney Rock in the distance and stopped for the first of several photos of this landmark. I don't know what the flowers are; black-eyed susan, sunflower, or something else, but they were growing wild along the road brightening our morning.
We all arrived at the first aid station within several minutes of each other and posed for a few pictures. While we were standing there someone pointed out that Pat's rear tire was almost flat. I guess the aid station is about as good a place to have a flat as you could want. I joked that Pat's flat would give the rest of us a head start. Bike karma caught up to me a few miles down the road when my rear tire seemed to be a little low. I pumped some air into it and rode a little further with predictable results. Bruce pulled over with me as I dug out everything I would need to change the tire. Rick and Teri kept riding toward Yellow Jacket Pass. Pat soon caught up to us and stopped to offer his advice. That consisted mainly of mocking me and my tire changing skills, so I told him to ride on and we would see him later. With Bruce's help I got everything back together and Kevin and the SAG van stopped to let me use a real pump and give me another spare tube to replace the one I just used. Then we had another 7 or 8 miles and 1500 feet to the top.
Not a lot of fanfare at Yellow Jacket Pass, but at 7,980 feet it was nothing compared to the summits we had already seen, and still had to see later in the week. Bruce and I headed down at a quick pace toward Bayfield, where the 2nd aid station was located at mile 42, and a right turn off of highway 160 onto some less busy roads through the backwoods toward Vallecito Reservoir. Rick, Teri and Pat waited for us at the aid station, and after a snack and bottle refill we were off to Durango. The scenery near the reservoir warranted more pictures, but as the temperatures rose, so did my anticipation of Durango and a rest day. I kept pedaling at a good pace and put some distance between myself and the others. I stopped with a large group of riders under a shade tree to rest and see if my group was close behind. When I hadn't seen them after a few minutes I got back on the road.
After a short, steep climb Vallecito Summit at 8,060' was behind me and I had a downhill run into Durango. I was cruising down curvy roads through rocky canyons enjoying the wind in my face, ready for something cool to drink. I still had water in my bottles, but it was warm. I was certain every time I went around a corner that I would see Durango laid out in front of me, but was satisfied to at least be going down....when I turned a corner and the road went up! It was really disheartening to have to climb again so close to the end. Eventually the road went down and levelled out and I was in Durango.
There were marshals at a corner yelling directions to riders. Something about going to the school or going to a hotel, turning right and going 1.5 miles. I should have stopped and gotten clarification, but rolling by at 20mph I heard what I thought I needed and kept going. There was another rider in front of me giving me confidence. When we rolled to a stop at a light I asked him if I was on the right route for the school. No, he was heading to a motel, but if I stayed on the same road it curved back around to the turn for the school. I stayed on the road until I was almost back to where I should have turned and realized I had gone too far. I stopped at the Hampton Inn and asked for directions. I had about 6 blocks back to the turn and a few more to the school when I saw the Dairy Queen on the right.
I pulled in, ordered a cheeseburger, fries, Diet Pepsi, and a peanut buster parfait, to go. I took my food out and sat on the sidewalk so I could see if the rest of the group rode by. I pulled out my cell phone to call Bruce and let him know where I was, in case they were already at the school. I hadn't finished dialing when I heard a squeal and the rest of them pulled into the DQ. We finished eating inside and headed for the high school. There was a quiet shaded area around the back of the school and we set up our tents and made plans for the rest of the evening. A few of us scheduled massages and we planned to eat at an Italian place near where we had turned off main to find the school.
Jody from Rocky Mountain Sports Massage gave me a wonderful massage and introduced me to her black lab, Gypsy. She told me she brought Gypsy with on the tour because she had been diagnosed with lymphoma and wasn't expected to be around much longer. Gypsy was a sweet old black lab with a gray face. She laid on her bed near the massage tables, unless she was out on the sidewalk looking for a handout. Missing my dogs at home, I need to borrow other people's dogs to spend time with, and Gypsy patiently let me scratch her ears.
After we walked to dinner and back we sat and watched a full moon as clouds floated low over the mountains to our east. We talked about what we might want to do the next day, including sleeping in, and I smoked a victory cigar to celebrate the first four days of the CRMBT. A rest day and two more big days to go.