Friday, August 17, 2012

crmbt-creede to gunnison

Monday 8-6-12

I was up early and ready to roll out of Creede by 6:00am. This was going to be a long day. 105 miles and 4 climbs. We were set to climb Spring Creek Pass at 10,991 feet, and Slumgullion (there, I said it) at 11, 350 feet. Then after 70 miles on the road we would have to contend with No Name Hill and Nine Mile Hill. From Gunnison, early in a ride, neither of these is a big deal, but I had been warned that they would pack a punch at the end of the ride.
 I turned on my headlight and blinking tail light and hit the road with Bill, whose setup, lights-wise, had mine beat to heck. Eventually I pulled ahead, knowing that this day would be long, so I'd best ride fast while I could. I was caught by Paul, Steve, and Matt, and when Matt pulled away, I stayed with him to the first aid station of the day. I've never been to an aid station while they were still setting up! I hoped that would bode well. The ride had been nice, with fog coming off the river, and some great ranches off in the distance, one of which used to belong to John Wayne.
 As I climbed with "Team Pittsburgh" I told Paul and Steve about the Headwaters of the Rio Grande. I was looking forward to a stop there because it's a fantastic view, and it would mean we were nearing the summit of the first climb.
The views were so incredible that if we saw an overlook or pull-off, we took it. Eventually we were at the top of Spring Creek Pass.
 After a short descent of maybe 3 miles we were left with about 5 miles of, not brutal, but hard climbing to reach the summit of Slumgullion Pass. It's really pretty near the top, but you're surrounded by trees, so being at 11,350 feet doesn't afford you the kind of views you might think you've earned with all that climbing.
It was a great descent down to Lake City. You were able to get some good speed in stretches, but had to pull back in the hairpin turns. Basically we gave back all the elevation we had gained over the first 40 miles from Creede to the top of Slumgullion, in the 8 miles down to Lake City. We did manage to stop and enjoy the view along the way.
We decided lunch in Lake City would be good. It took longer than we had expected, but the rest, and the food, was good. An hour later, high noon, we're back on the road for the last 55 miles.
 The afternoon started out pleasant enough. Great terrain, rivers, and trees were everywhere. After about 70 miles we ran into what we knew we would; two hills about 3 miles long gaining about 1,000 feet, with some heat, a little wind, and a few false summits thrown in. Other than the last few miles into town, the last climb was the most challenging part of the day. The scenery grew much more stark, but I have an appreciation for it's beauty. As we neared the Curecanti National Recreation Area the mesas were visible in the distance, with the clouds just above them.
I was glad to roll into Gunnison once again. Rain was imminent, but we beat it there. We had the "Queen Stage" of the tour over, and a lot of great rides ahead.

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic pictures!I can't even imagine climbing 11,000 feet on my bike.