Range Roaming – Colorado 2013 – Day 119

Because I never really wanted to ride Monarch… TWICE: Gunnison to Salida

Sunday August 11, 2013, 66 miles (107 km) – Total so far: 3,863 miles (6,217 km)

I make Jenny get up in the dark. We are on the road at first light. It is slightly humorous because she is a morning person, and I am not. She is also addicted to coffee, and I am not. She has to ride 35 miles before her coffee fix. I’m under the impression that this is a pretty rough thing to have to do. She also has several body parts that hurt today. But, she’s one tough chick and doesn’t complain about any of it.

There are about 35 miles of flat and undulating road to cover between Gunnison and Sargents before you begin the climb to Monarch Pass. Jenny has body parts that hurt today, but she is a real trooper and carries on without complaint.

At the base of the climb to Monarch, we stop at Sargents. Jen gets her coffee fix. I get some junk food. They still have no blue gatorade. I do not make the mistake of getting grape this time. I buy a snack called “Bugles”. I can’t remember if I like them or not. I think the last time I had them I was about 12-years-old. They are acceptable.

I inhaled (and that is the proper term – Jen says she has never seen anyone eat a banana as fast as me) two bananas some time ago, so I’m ready for this climb. AGAIN. I can’t believe I’m going to ride this pass twice in one week, and I never desired to climb it in the first place. Originally, I thought Jen had an extra day available to ride, so I thought we’d be able to ride North Pass instead. Alas, she needs to be back tomorrow, so this is the shorter option.

Once we get back on the road, I tell Jen I will just meet her at the top. She agrees. I could stop to wait for her along the way, but I want to get in a groove and just go. I also want to see if I can beat my ascent time from the other day.

So up we go. There is more traffic today, and it is overall, not as considerate as it was the other day. I do really well on the climb. I beat my previous ascent time by 10-12 minutes. However, I’m sure the time is aided by my ‘sprint’ up the final 1.5 miles. A flat-bed tow truck has intentionally skimmed me extremely closely and then driven into the dirt shoulder to kick up the gravel. I watched him coming in my mirror, but I just held my line (in the tiny paved shoulder) since I knew he saw me and was just being an asshole. It was very close, and now I’m pissed. If that guy has stopped at the top, I WILL be getting a photo of his vehicle and license plate number. Alas, he’s not there when I get up top, but it did make the final 1.5 miles go by very quickly! (I ask Jenny about him later, and he had tried to run her off the road, too.)

Jenny arrives about 30 minutes later. We get the requisite photos on top. The motorcyclist who takes our photo rode his bike across America a couple times in the 1970s. You’d never know this guy was turning 70-years-old today. He’s got a fantastic attitude and spirit. All the best to him!

We made it! The 70-yr-old motorcyclist who took this picture for us had ridden across the U.S. on a bicycle a couple times in the 1970s. It was a lot of fun to chat with him.

I give Jenny a 5-minute head start down the hill so that we are spaced well apart. This staggered start should make it easier for the cars to get by us than if we were somewhat close together.

I head down. The traffic today is thick. I don’t hold any of it up, but I’m conscious about getting over where I can (the shoulder is not always ride-able) and knowing what’s going on behind me. One line of cars that passes me is 18 cars long! Oh Wyoming, how I miss your low-traffic highways! I just can’t believe Jenny rides without a mirror and has no idea what’s coming up behind her. She has so much more faith in drivers than me.

After we both successfully make it down the hill, we head out for drinks and Mexican food with my mom. Kudos to Jenny, since she doesn’t really like Mexican food or margaritas. After the food and alcohol, plus the exertion of the past four days, a long nap is required in the afternoon.

After zipping down the pass with tons of traffic and making it back to my Mom’s place, we head out for end-of-ride celebration drinks and food. It is always so much fun to do outdoorsy stuff with Jen and catch up on each other’s stories. I always look forward to our next adventure.
After 4 passes in 4 days (two over 11,000 ft) and long days with pretty decent mileage, a nap is required on my mom’s living room floor.

As always, we’ve had a great adventure that verged on misadventure. We always have a lot of fun, but it is never a straightforward excursion with Jen. There is always some mishap or near mishap that lends itself to a good story which becomes sort of ‘legend’ over time. I can’t wait for the next adventure and our next ‘big fish’ story!

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