Royal Gorge, Colorado to Fairplay, Colorado

Day 48.  Today's sixty-five mile bike ride can be divided into four neat little sections.

Bill and I biking up toward Currant Creek Pass

Bill and I biking up toward Currant Creek Pass

First Section- I had to cook tonight so I needed to make speed so I stuck with Bill.  We started out at 7AM, confident that while we had to ascend nearly 3,500 feet - that today at least the weather would be much cooler.  While there was a 20% chance of rain we could console ourselves that it would be refreshing and brief.  So we headed north into the mountains, starting with one dramatic decline that was only tempered by the fact that we would have to make up every foot we coasted down.

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Second Section- We're going through sparsely populated country.  There was - at mile 21 or so - a turn off to a little burg of Guffy which might have a cafe - but Bill and I pressed on to mile marker 24 where Chris was to have put out extra water bottle across the street from a Schechter Ranch which also was known to host cyclists.

We got there in good time and decided to park our bikes, and walk across the highway to the ranch entrance.  I plopped down on the grass and savored my peanut butter sandwich.  Three-quarters of the way done, it began to rain.  So resigned, we got back up and crossed the street to get our bikes and put on our rain jackets.  By then the wind came up and the rain was cold.  My watch said it was 45° and it was getting bone chilling cold.  So I suggested to Bill that we head up the driveway to seek shelter.  We stood behind a cabin out of the wind and rain and waited.  And waited.

Looking toward the road I saw a massive cloud and fog bank till up the valley reducing visibility exponentially.  So we checked the cabin, found it unlocked, and crashed there.

By this time we got in touch with John, Barry, Lew and Tom who had taken refuge in Guffy.  We found out that Chris was on the way with the van to pick us up because it just wasn’t safe to ride when cars can’t see what’s five feet ahead of them.

Third Section- So Chris picked Bill and I up and then we headed South to pick up John, Tom, Lew, Barry and another self-contained cyclist.  Jim had managed to make good speed and get up to the pass before the cloud bank. Norm and Christine powered through the fog which, I thought, was too big a risk.

Chris said the weather was great north of Currant Pass so Tom, Lee, and I got out at the Summit to continue the ride.  The change in the weather was amazing- blue skies, puffy clouds and sun.

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The road and terrain were made for me.  It was just a long downward slope from the Pass all the way north to Hartsel along with the wind I blasted past Norm and Christine. It was one of the few times ever where I  able to pass them.

I would pause at the crest of a hill, wrap up my rain gear and Christine would finally catch up and then I would get back on the bike and blast pass her.  Too fun and way too rare since she and Norm are much better cyclists then I am.

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Then we stopped briefly in Hartsel with only eighteen miles to go. We had been doing close to thirty miles an hour after the Pass so I was hopeful to get into Fairplay and Jason’s house by 4:30.

Then the wind turned and it was a constant in-your-face and just unrelenting and kept us to a crawl.

I was down to maybe seven miles an hour.  I eventually caught up to Tom who was at five miles an hour. Lew fell behind at three to four miles per hour.

“Did you see that damn flag,” Lew asked me much later after food and drinks.  One of the ranches has a Rolling Stones Logo flag on a pole and it was just ramrod straight in the wind. “When I saw that’” Lew said, “I regretted having got out of the van.”

It took me two hours to get to Fairplay. One of the most miserable sections of road because of the wind. 

I pulled in nearly at six pm.

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Jason's house is fortuitously on the ACA TransAmerica Route although we had to (a first for this trip) turn left at the Marijuana Shop called Wise Cannabis. He has opened his house and kitchen to us and even helped cook, adding three trout that he caught across the street.  The fish, combined with the pork ribs, made for an excellent recharging meal.

Great and surreal to be able to see family along the route and Jason had a fun time hosting us at “Chez Lord.”