Saturday, August 16, 2014

crmbt day 3 - salida to gunnison

Tuesday, 8-5

I woke up without an alarm and found a cool, sunny Salida morning. There were clouds over the peaks in the distance, but I was hopeful they would burn off before we reached our summit. We were back on US50 for the whole day, but the shoulder seemed a little wider and cleaner than the day before. I had arm warmers, a vest, and a light rain jacket with me. It's actually more of a windbreaker, water-resistant rather than waterproof. More on that later.
 The route called for 60-some miles to Gunnison, but I swear I saw a sign that stated Gunnison was 60 miles away, and shortly after one that called for more like 66 miles. I was a little confused. I stopped a few times to take off or put on an item of clothing as the temps were cool as we got higher, but the climbing was warming me up.
 The summit was about 22 miles into our ride, and the first aid station was 5 miles before that. When we saw this sign we knew we only had a mile to go before a rest, snack, and a place to refill bottles. Then another 5 miles to the top.
 When I saw this rainbow I didn't know if that was a good sign, or a bad sign. There was still some blue sky behind us, but ahead looked increasingly cloudy.
This is where my uncanny ability to climb a mountain pass very slowly paid off. I would find out later that some riders were rained on for a good part of the climb, and the descent, and even a large part of the way into Gunnison. My day was a little better. I rode about 3/4 of a mile to the summit in the rain. It would have been fine but I was getting cold. My jacket had resisted water for as long as it could. I pulled up to the second aid station and parked my bike, then realized there was a gift shop and cafe at the summit. I slowly drank a large coffee and ate a hot pretzel. Several riders were there also, as well as a couple of young men hiking the Colorado Trail from Denver to Durango. Thom and I visited with them and relaxed for the better part on an hour. I bought an emergency poncho for $1.99, tucked it into the front of my bike shorts, tied it in back, and put my helmet on over it. At least it would keep some body heat from escaping.
By the time I left it had quit raining, the sun was breaking through, and the road we were descending was mostly dry! I was still chilled, but the poncho helped, and where I could, I pedaled hard on the way down to keep warm. The lower I got, the sunnier and warmer it was, and I started to remove layers until my jersey pockets gave me a look like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. The last of the layers came off at a convenience store/cafe in the middle of nowhere, where I had a Coke before heading on to Gunnison.
 I reached Gunnison by 2:00pm and stopped at the Subway for a sandwich to take to the school. Sun and a breeze kept the afternoon comfortable for sitting around Sherpa Ville and visiting.
 I had noticed a place called Sherpa Cafe as I rolled into town, and when Glenn, Thom, and Dwight were talking about enjoying some Nepalese cuisine, I joined them, and enjoyed the company, and the Sherpa stew. I planned on another early night to get ready for another high altitude day.


  1. I am glad it worked out for you in waiting out rain. It reminded me of a 5 day bicycle camp I once made. It rained. I took shelter for about an hour. I finally just headed out in the rain riding on a limestone packed trail. Thirty minutes later it quit. The bike and gear was a mess. I think it took me longer to clean the mess than if I waited it out. Of course, in my defense, I had no idea when it was going to quit. Never will forget it though.

  2. Who wudda thunk biking towards a rainbow could be a bad sign??? The bike wobbles descending Monarch pass are something I have added to my "to don't" list for future rides. Brrr!! . . . I prefer to bank on the memories of the hot coffee and fudge at the summit restaurant.