Journal May 29-June 7--Colorado
May 29 Colorado Springs, CO
If dinner in a natural-foods restaurant wasn't enough to remind us we were in Colorado, a midnight hot tub at Dr. Beyers (Dave by now), complete with stories and philosophy, did it.
May 30 Woodland Park, CO
Spending time with Steve Below, whose organization, Preferred Chiropractic Doctor, is our main sponsor, was valuable. He is a guy who knows how to have fun, and has plenty of great ideas for the trip. Since we are not raising money for a charity or campaigning for a cause, it is sometimes hard to make our message clear to the media or to an individual without a long explanation. Steve helped us to put our message into focus:
WIND IN THE FACE IS A CELEBRATION OF THE FAMILY, PROOF THAT WITH HEALTHY BODIES, CLEAR MINDS, AND FREE SPIRITS, FAMILIES CAN ACHIEVE THEIR DREAMS. ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!
May 31 Up To The Continental Divide
After shopping and waiting out a rainstorm, we started climbing shortly after noon, planning to camp part way to the top, maybe even at the top. The approach was not too steep, but was full of Memorial Day traffic, much of which included trailers and campers. The highest winds we have encountered so far swept off of the snowy slopes above and slowed our progress to a crawl. About halfway to the summit, before the really steep part, we stopped at Monarch Shadows, a ski-condo and lodge establishment. After hearing our story, Dave, the owner, decided that we should stay, no charge. That is how we found ourselves in luxurious accommodations once again, while our tent and sleeping bags remained packed. It was good to have another night at these altitudes to acclimate to the thin air. Brother-in-law Scott drove over from Gunnison to see us and take our heavy gear back in his car so we could climb more easily tomorrow.
June 1 Down the Continental Divide to Gunnison, CO
Donning tights and wind jackets for the descent, we posed for a picture at 11,318 feet and started down. Too windy and too many sharp curves to break any speed records, we nonetheless had a thrilling 9 mile descent, with several stops to cool the brakes and climb on rocks for spectacular views. Even after the main descent, the road sloped gently down toward Gunnison, and the next 30 miles went fast despite the still-stiff headwind. Scott and Marie served us elk for dinner, and we had no trouble sleeping that night!
Scott is an artist and outdoorsman, a guide and outfitter. His artwork graced the room where we slept, and the kids learned a lot about the techniques of fine art in his studio. Although they have made their home in Colorado for ten years, Scott and Marie are planning to move back east, to be near family and enjoy (and paint) the outdoors in New England and the Seacoast.
June 2 Layover in Gunnison, CO
I spent the afternoon at a neighbor's house using his computer to catch up on the website updates and write a newspaper article. I am still without a laptop computer since we decided that mine was too heavy for a trip like this, way back in Virginia. The afternoon and evening was spent in our now-familiar routine of laundry, packing, talking, eating, and poring over maps, getting information on the following day's route and topography. We have found that bicycle enthusiasts are the only reliable source of information on the hills; motorists who sincerely believe that the road to the next town is dead flat are often wildly mistaken.
Uncle Scott gave Henry a short, short haircut out in the garage, but it was still longer than he had hoped. So Dad took his razor and shaved Henry's head so close it was shiny. He looks like a little Buddha.
June 3 Gunnison, CO to Cimmaron, CO
June 4 Cimmaron, CO to Delta, CO
After breakfast we took a one-mile detour down a canyon to a huge dam that makes a lake out of the Gunnison River. Then a climb, just five miles (but steep ones) brought us to Cerro Summit, at about 8100 feet. Fifteen miles away lay Montrose, at 5700 feet. No uphills blocked our way, and only a headwind made us work up a sweat. In Montrose we shopped for lunch, and decided to head out of town to eat it. Our route brought us to the north, and the wind shifted and rose, so we found ourselves with a 25mph tailwind on the gradually downhill road to Delta. Forty-five minutes later we were 20 miles down the road, where the tailwind turned to a side wind that nearly forced us into the weeds a few times. In Delta we found complimentary accommodations at a classic, old-style motel, knotty pine and all.
June 5 Delta, CO to Grand Junction, CO
Ten miles out we all donned our windbreakers and tights, and by lunch we were wet with sweat and COLD. We were between towns, 30 miles without a store, ranch, house or tree. We huddled at a roadside picnic table and ate a hasty lunch, then beat it down the road, which was a series of long descents and long climbs through a beautiful desert. We could see rain to the west, and rain again as the clouds hit the hills to the east, but no rain fell in the valley we were riding in until ten miles from our destination. We took shelter in a garage and enjoyed the company of a pair of retired "snow-birds," (full-time RV dwellers) on an old ranch, the first building we had seen in more than 30 miles.
The last ten miles into Grand Junction (so called because the Gunnison and Colorado rivers meet here) were downhill, and the wind had changed to our favor. Rain suits raised our temperatures, and we arrived at the home of John and JJ Rizzo with plenty of time for showers, laundry, health food store shopping and a great barbecue with neighbors and friends.
June 6 Layover in Grand Junction, Colorado
June 7 Grand Junction, CO to Moab, UT
What we did was load into John's van and drive to Fruita, where we visited the bike shop where he works. Then we drove across the desert to Cisco, where John dropped us off. He then drove to Moab and rode his bike back to meet us and ride with us. The road followed the Colorado River (muddy, debris laden flood-stage water, possibly drinkable if we had a good filter), through the most gorgeous and dramatic terrain we have encountered. Huge sandstone cliffs and bluffs and mesas and canyons. One problem: the headwind. It took us all day to negotiate the 35 mostly rolling miles to Moab.
Moab is the fabled cycling Mecca. We enjoyed the atmosphere from our outdoor table at a Main Street restaurant, and met a few fine people. The town was full of vacationers, some here to see the nearby Arches National Park, others to ride mountain bikes or run river rapids. We said goodbye to John, and stayed at a little lodge that had heard our story and offered us complimentary accommodations.