Range Roaming – Colorado 2013 – Day 113

I never really wanted to ride Monarch Pass, but here we are: Gunnison to Salida

Monday August 5, 2013, 65 miles (105 km) – Total so far: 3,571 miles (5,747 km)

There are a lot of things I don’t like about camping in developed campgrounds: the expense, the large numbers of kiddos and pets, the noise, those few RV campers who talk to me like I’m a homeless tramp, and the fact that the tent sites are usually in the least desirable section of any commercial park.

But the one thing I hate the most about developed campgrounds: CAMPFIRES, particularly campfires that aren’t put out at night and therefore continue to smoke all through the early hours. As an asthmatic, this is worse than sitting around a smoky bar. At least in a smoky bar, you might get to hear some good music or hear some unbelievable story. Read more

Range Roaming – Colorado 2013 – Days 114/115

Resting up with Mom: Salida – Aug 6 and 7

Tuesday August 6, 2013

My old Colorado State friend, Jen, is coming down on Wednesday night to ride the Silver Thread Scenic Byway with me. Originally, she was going to leave her car in Salida and my mom was going to drive her to Gunnison to meet me. We were then going to ride back to Salida.

However, Slumgullion Pass is freaking me out a bit. The grades heading south top 9 percent for many miles. I will be walking that for sure. Jen probably will be, too. Plus, I’m ahead of schedule, so I’m now in Salida instead of Gunnison. My mom can’t fit both Jen and me and all of our gear in her CRV to get to Gunnison. So, I spend some time on Tuesday looking to see if doing the route “backward” from Salida will work. It looks good. Read more

Range Roaming – Colorado 2013 – Day 116

On the road again with Jen: Salida to Del Norte

Thursday August 8, 2013, 82 miles (132 km) – Total so far: 3,653 miles (5,879 km)

Back in 1996, two young women aged 20 (Em) and 21 (Jen), went for an overnight backpacking trip. After an ascent and traverse of the Mummy Range, they ran, slid and precariously picked their way down an impossibly steep slope into the glacial cirque containing Mirror Lake in the far reaches of Rocky Mountain National Park. For dinner that night they ate two packets of Lipton Instant Noodles and Sauce. Over dinner, with little metal spoons raised high, they toasted to living their lives in the pursuit of ‘truth, freedom and happiness’. They pledged to meet every year in a different state for some sort of outdoor adventure after they left college. Their lives were full and happy. They were both clever and capable young women with their whole lives ahead of them. Read more

Range Roaming – Colorado 2013 – Day 117

The monsoon season is upon us: Del Norte to Silver Thread campground

Friday August 9, 2013, 62 miles (100 km) – Total so far: 3,715 miles (5,979 km)

First thing this morning Jenny is treated to the first law of Em’s 2013 ride: whatever direction I’m heading is the direction the wind will be from.

It’s only dawn, and the wind is blowing gently out of the west, our direction for the day. On my 2010 tour, I ended up with a pretty even number of tailwinds and headwinds. On this trip, it is rare that I’ve had a tailwind. I’m just used to riding into the wind whatever direction I ride. North, south, east or west – I’ve ridden them all, and pretty much all into headwinds. Read more

Range Roaming – Colorado 2013 – Day 118

Hearts in our throats: Silver Thread campground to Gunnison

Saturday August 10, 2013, 82 miles (131 km) – Total so far: 3,797 miles (6,110 km)

Oh, no! Oh, no! Oh, no! This can’t be happening!

I’m standing in the dirt at the side of the road. Tears well into the corner of my eyes. My heart rises to strangle my throat. I raise my hands to cover my nose and gaping mouth.

The ambulance screams past, sirens on and lights flashing. It is closely followed by a sheriff’s SUV and two first responder SUVs.

Oh, crap! What do I do? I have not seen Jenny for 25 minutes since we started to roll down from the Slumgullion Pass summit. I started ahead of her, since she would likely pass me on the way down. She does downhill faster than me.

But then, I pulled off at the Windy Point overlook, where we had agreed to meet, and she never showed. That seemed really odd. I waited there for 15 minutes. It had only taken me 5 minutes to get there. A man showed up at the overlook. He’d come from the top. He hadn’t seen her. So I just assumed she would be waiting for me somewhere downhill. Read more

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. Read more

Range Roaming – Colorado 2013 – Day 120

Planning the Sangres route: Salida to Salida

Monday August 12, 2013

I have been a bad, bad girl.

I replaced my chain at the 800 mile mark. I should have replaced it again in Laramie at the 3000 mile mark. I did not. I am now closing in on 4000 miles. Shame on me.

I take the bike down to Absolute Bikes to get a new chain. The guy measures it. Yes, definitely ready for a new chain. “How many miles have you done on it”?

I look at the floor and meekly say, “um, about 3000”. Read more

Range Roaming – Colorado 2013 – Day 121

Of artists and cowboys: Salida to Westcliffe

Tuesday August 13, 2013, 60 miles (96 km) – Total so far: 3,923 miles (6,313 km)

The road drops at a similar rate as the river. Consequently, I don’t have to do too much pedaling in the first 32 miles.

The river tumbles downstream. It’s August, so there are numerous rocks exposed and the river is reduced to channels in places. However, it’s been a wet, late summer, so there is still a decent amount of water heading down towards Kansas. How much will get there I do not know. The water agreements for the Arkansas River are complex, and Kansas tends to sue Colorado a lot for not meeting agreement terms. Kansas doesn’t just get shafted with the amount of water in the Arkansas River; I think they get a bit shafted on the grandeur of scenery, too. Read more

Range Roaming – Colorado 2013 – Day 122

A spiritual place: Westcliffe to Walsenburg

Wednesday August 14, 2013, 68 miles (110 km) – Total so far: 3,991 miles (6,423 km)

The mountain peaks glow pink in the first rays of dawn. From this viewpoint, much of the range can be seen rising steeply from the valley from north to south, the peaks throwing jagged edges into the air like an incomplete jigsaw puzzle.

The Spanish, who were the first Europeans to settle in this area, called these peaks the Sangre de Cristos because of the pink of the peaks at sunrise and sunset. The name means “Blood of Christ”. While I am definitely not a Christian, I definitely do pick up a very spiritual vibe as I head south today. Read more

Range Roaming – Colorado 2013 – Day 123

The layers of history: Walsenburg to Trinidad

Thursday August 15, 2013, 50 miles (80 km) – Total so far: 4,041 miles (6,503 km)

The story goes something like this.

In the early 1900s, the death rate in Colorado coal mines was more than twice the national average. In the coal mines of southeastern Colorado, in the mountains to the west of Trinidad and Walsenburg, the death rate was even higher. In a quest for better pay and conditions, the coal miners here unionized, and 1200 miners went on strike in 1913.

Striking miners were forced out of their homes in company towns. The union set up tent camps for them to live in. The mining companies hired a militia to harass the striking miners. On April 20, 1914, the conflict came to a head at Ludlow, a tent camp about 10 miles north of Trinidad. Read more