Tuesday, August 9, 2011

(Day 57) On curves and distance and climbing passes...

Last night (Sunday) I stayed up too late reading a book that was given to me by Tom O'Connor, The Crying Tree.  A powerful book about grief, loss, relationships and restoration.  I will finish it tonight.  I read as I watched the light change on the mountains to the east as the sun set in the west - out of sight, but still affecting all of what filled my eyes, as Mia slept at my feet.  Unfortunately my CouchSurfing host had to work so I was on my own.  I confess, I missed the company.  I have enjoyed conversing with people at the end of the day.

I was up far too early - but being up I sat and drank my coffee as I watched the sun rise over those same mountains in the east.  Today I would pass through them and go over them and be truly eastward bound - but not before I rode the "Million Dolalr Highway", Highway 50 which runs from Durango through Silverton to Ouray and onto Montrose.

As I set out east of Cortez finally I began to see the Colorado that I imagined I would see.  Mountains and trees began to form the landscape.

At Durango I stopped at McDonalds and had a McMuffin and coffee and used their WiFi and got to chat with Zack for  a bit.  He had the day off because it was raining.  I hated to tell him what a nice day it was here...

The ride from Durango to Ouray was everything I had hoped it would be.  Lots to look at.  Technical turns.  Mountain passes.  Roads hanging on the sides of sheer cliffs!  Wow!!






At Molas Pass the elevation was 10,899 ft.  Awesome!  Even more awesome were the folk on bicycles peddling up the same incline I had just come!!


Through the historic town of Silverton, CO.  It would have been a neat place to hang out... rent a jeep or a 4 Wheeler and go exploring off road... but the twisties were calling my name!

Onward and upward.

It just kept getting better and better.  Through canyons.  Around knolls of rock.  Across rivers and through arches!  Unfortunately the roads were so narrow there were very few places to stop and take pictures.  Besides... I was having too much fun to stop!!




And then it seemed as if it was over.  Entering the valley past Dallas Creek I entered farm land and the fun was over.  I stopped for gas in Montrose and an older man at the gas station asked me where New Brunswick was.  I tried to explain but he just didn't get it.  Finally I said, "North of Maine..."  He nodded and said solemnly... "You's a long way from home..."

So I was, but I was getting closer!

Valley conditions continued as I turned east on Hwy #50.  The road, for the most part followed the valley floor and found it was to Blue Mesa.  I must confess, I was disappointed with the Rockies at this point.  There was little vegetation and I was beginning to feel like I was back in desert conditions.  I missed trees!!

Blue Mesa is a recreational paradise.  Camp grounds and lake that just keeps on going and going - as did the road, rather straight and boring...

And then things changed again!  There were more mountains ahead.  The Continental Divide - Monarch Pass was yet to come!


.Driving to the top of Monarch Pass was exhilarating.  The excitement was added to by the work crews that were busy clearing off a recent slide and opposing traffic that did not know which land to be in.  Sorry there are not more pictures... of a better quality... but I hope you get the idea.



Eventually after a 7 mile climb I was at the Continental Divide.

Here at the summit I met Susan - riding a Kawasaki Concours she has been on the road for five weeks.

We had a great chat about the joys of travelling and she confessed that she gets the old farts' discount for the National Park pass so it only cost her $10 to camp each night.   She was travelling with her Sax and had spent a week at a Jazz camp someplace in California.  She was now on her way home to Harper's Ferry, VA.  Have a safe ride Susan!  Nice to meet you.

All things flow down from the Continental Divide... and the same was true with the spirit of my ride.  I missed the grandeur of the rockies.  There was no majesty here.  I now understood why so many of my american rider friends were so enthralled with the Canadian Rockies... they are glorious compared to Colorado... sorry John Dever... no Colorado Rocky Mountain High for me!

From Monarch Pass the road falls into the Gunninson River Valley and follows the winding bank of the  Arkansas River where at every turn there is either a company offering river rafting or a bus load of tourist on their way to rafting trip.

The riding was quite enjoyable as the road was winding and twisting as it followed the river bank... but again I was missing trees and flora and fona...

At Canon City the heat had done me in and I needed a break.  I stopped at McDonalds for one of the $1 drinks and made use of the WiFi as I rested in air conditioned comfort.  Two hours to go and I would be in Limon.

I drug my tired butt out to the bike realizing that the twists and turns, distance and heat had taken its toll on me.  I was anxious to be somewhere off the bike.

As I turned northward off of Hwy #50 I looked back in the direction from whence I had come.  I was still not impressed.


While I enjoyed the twists on the 550 from Durango to Ouray and the various passes I had come over... give me Kananaskis any day!  Banff, Jasper, Lake Louise... bring it on!

Sorry Colorado, no disrespect intended - I guess sometimes you just have to see what is on the other side in order to appreciate what you have at home...

For the next day and a half I will enjoy the grasslands of the mid-west.  Hopefully there are a few horses around to give me something to look at.


Stats for the day:
735 KM  at an average speed of 68 KM/H


Hoping to finish my book now... not likely... but I'll try.  Tomorrow my birthday gift to myself is no blog post...

...on the Sabbath Road...


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