May 20 - 30: Colorado

5/26 - Fairplay (45 miles 2160.5 total)
what a grueling day. we pedalled 45 miles, mostly uphill, mostly into headwinds. a couple of riders who've ridden the whole trip say it was our hardest day yet. i think we've endured worse, but today wasn't easy. 2 riders didn't ride at all & probably another 6-8 sagged from different points on the route.
it was a beautiful morning at tiny guffey, but ohhhh so chilly--probably low 40's. karen & JoAnn of "our place" arrived at their place of business just as we finished converting it back from a dorm room to a restaurant. they brought a big panful of delicious scrambled eggs & made toast. we all had breakfast, made our sandwiches from the fixings out front by the trailer, then started riding off between 7:15-7:30.
people had bundled up pretty warmly to start off, but as soon as we got out on the road the sun hit us, & it was off with some of our layers. the scenery was lovely as we pedalled slowly upward to current creek pass (elev 9440) 10 miles into our route. again today i noticed beautiful wildflowers along the roadside--bunches of fragile little purple iris, bright orange indian paintbrush, & lots of bright yellow flowers, sort of like miniature coreopsis. the aspen trees are just starting to leaf out; they're a dainty lime green.
that's debby, today's sag driver, wielding her bottle of drinking water as she greets & encourages riders atop current creek pass.
starting down the other side of the pass we met the strong headwinds that would plague us the rest of the day. fighting those winds even made sightseeing tougher than usual. tho' i did look up in time to see a herd of buffalo out to my right. there were some pens nearby with baby buffalo inside. as i rode closer i saw a sign on the edge of the pasture...& it made me angry. i was sad to think these buffalo were being raised for people to hunt down as trophies.
the winds were unrelenting, especially for the last 17 miles from hartsel to fairplay. a few riders stopped at the saloon in hartsel. up 'til then we'd had pretty good shoulders on the road. after hartsel we remained on hwy 9 as it turned northward. the shoulders shrunk to about 5 inches wide but the traffic increased. there were lots of folks with bikes, boats, kayaks, & other holiday gear on their SUV's heading to the mountains for memorial day outings. many of them were in a big hurry; it seemed so many of the drivers went past us too fast & too close.
it was so hard to decide which vistas to photograph. biking in this part of colorado leaves one oooohhing & ahhhhing almost constantly.
here you see a whole horizon full of snow-covered mountains. low-lying clouds rest on the tops of some of them.
i love watching the clouds move across the sky skimming the mountaintops. it was especially nice today to be distracted by such beauty when the bikiing itself was so miserable.
we're at the western inn in fairplay. our rooms are spacious & very nice; we even have a little kitchenette, which we won't use. we hiked down the highway to "the ranch" for supper; it was so so.
at tonight's map meeting gloria reminded us that it will likely be very cold at the summit of hoosier pass tomorrow, so she suggests we not plan to arrive there 'til 11 or so, when there's a chance it will have warmed up a bit. we'll just be glad if it's not snowing. patty the chef rode up to hoosier pass this afternoon. she told us about a very nice bike path we can follow along the roadway the first 6 miles tomorrow to alma. after that it's another 6 miles out on the busy highway with no shoulder to the top of the pass; we'll gain 1000 feet in those 6 miles. then the last 10 miles will be a quick downhill into breckenridge. breckenridge will look VERY good!
Higher quality versions of the pictures from my trip are available here. If you would like copies of the original, full-size photos, or if you would like text-only versions of these daily reports e-mailed to you, feel free to e-mail my son Mark with your request. Stay tuned....

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