I wasn’t sure if I wanted to take one or two days to get to Boulder. Colorado was going to be some of the most technical but rewarding parts of the trip. Montrose sits at 5500 feet and Monarch Pass is just over 11,000 feet. Given the height of the pass, I decided to take a leisurely morning so the pass could warm up a bit. The hotel breakfast (bagged doughnuts) didn’t cut it for me. I was lucky to be next to a Safeway, so I got some food for breakfast and lunch. Mmmm fresh, basic ingredients.
Hitting the road I passed the Black Canyon which the hotel recommended. Given that I was 6 miles out of town I didn’t want to stop. The ride along US 50 was incredible. The road was like that in California, but just grander. I had some challenges of consuming so much open spaces. That was just going over the first few “minor” summits of 9,000 ft. There was so much high mountain and deep valley, it was hard to take it all in.
Gunnison was the first major city on the ride. The Gunnison River was flooded so much of the farmland was flooded along with it. Sort of odd to see a bunch of marshlike land in such an alpine environment when all I’ve seen is dry the past few days. Gunnison turned to be a better town to stay in, but I didn’t know that it was nor did I have it in me to get there last night with several pass crossings.
On the way up to Monarch Pass I’d been thinking a lot about me, my successes, trials, and progress along this journey of life. Each state has its own challenges much like each stage in life. There are so many extremes here in weather & road the challenge feels like if you give lots, you get lots. Colorado invites one to risk to see it’s frontier. I have to remember here, risk more, to see more, to get more. As I get closer to the top of the pass, the clouds get darker and the temperature drops. Right about the top, the sun breaks through to a glorious vista to the east.
Monarch Pass marks the Continental Divide. I have to say making it this far brings about true joy. I realize how far I am from home, but at the same token, I’m out of the west and moving to the Central Plains.
I run across Steve who’s headed from St. Louis to Montrose and Pete on his way back to Tennessee from California.
At Salida, it was time to cut north to Denver. Boulder was easily looking doable and weather was coming so I was only going to spend one day getting there. US-285 runs across a high alpine valley. That alpine valley had some truly stiff wind. Not fun. Add to that a long stretch of gravel highway that was getting chip sealed. Not fun.
I took the freeway through the canyon into Boulder. The freeway makes some pretty steep decent into town. Every few miles there is another sign warning trucks to stay in low gear. At altitude the V-Strom was getting amazing gas mileage. 235 miles in 4.6 gallons (that’s 51 MPG!). I usually get about 38 at home.
Coming into town I look toward the east and realize that my ride is going to significantly change. I see the plains out ahead and understand that there is a different skill set required. While Colorado was all about risk & challenge, the road ahead is going to be about endurance.
It was genuinely good to see Jeff and Maureen. It took more than a few minutes to realize that I was in their world as I’m so used to seeing them in California. I’m looking forward to two days off the bike as the rain passes.