Monday, August 19, 2013

the morning after

I had faced Tuesday's defeat like a man, with a foot-long veggie sub, a schvitz (Sopranos reference), and a massage. I didn't set an alarm, but was still up early, feeling much better than the prior day. Our route would have us on Highway 40 again all day, all the way to Steamboat Springs. The stretch from Granby to Kremmling I remembered from a few years back when we got off of 40 at Kremmling to climb Gore Pass. Between aid stations in those towns, we had a slightly downhill run that would have been faster save for the headwind, but fun still the same. I guess when you ride by the Windy Gap Reservoir.....

I stopped often for pictures even though I had been down this road before. It was a beautiful, cool morning, and the road seemed to stretch on forever, over one rise, then the next. Good to be back on the bike.

When we left Kremmling, the views got even better. It's a stark, rough beauty that I would not want to cross in a wagon train, but other than too many trucks, and too little shoulder, a bike was the perfect vehicle.

Eventually Team Pittsburgh rolled by while I was snapping photos. And the FM Light "billboard" was one of hundreds that you see on the way to Steamboat. Endearingly redundant.

We had left the part of the road that trended downward miles ago and were slowly, but surely gaining altitude as we headed for the 2 passes of the day. It was good to see this non-mirage of an aid station in the middle of nowhere.

Don Henley sang in "The End Of The Innocence",  "O' beautiful, for spacious skies
But now those skies are threatening". That was what I thought as some dark clouds appeared to the west of us. But we seemed to be going around them, and I don't think they ever really affected us.

This was not the toughest climb of the tour, not even close. For one thing we would be climbing the shorter side of Rabbit Ears Pass, with the longer, steeper side saved for later in the week. But it was a little challenging towards the end of the ride because of several summits. First you reach Muddy Pass.
Then a few miles later you reach Rabbit Ears Pass, but wait, there's more. Another 7 miles on there's the "west summit" of Rabbit Ears Pass. What?

But then, finally, there's an honest-to-goodness descent with a runaway truck ramp and everything. And the views as you near Steamboat are spectacular. I spotted a lake off to the left and briefly considered stopping for a photo op. But I didn't want to give up the speed I had earned, and I remembered that I would be back this way on Friday, with plenty of chances to document the scene on my way back up this hill.

Next stop, rest day in Steamboat Springs!

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