|Time to say good-by and thank you to Breckenridge, Bela, Jerry and Maya; Denver and our little townhouse, my sister Cheryl and Dave,and my daughter Clare and friends Mike and Nancy! Thanks for everything everyone! We had such a great visit!
Set the alarm early this morning planning on getting a head start on the pass since it was Sunday in the mountains and knowing that everyone heads home on Sundays. It was a good plan, we did get up a bit earlier but it was freezing outside! We have left all of our winter stuff behind, getting ready for the heat ahead. It maybe shouldn't have been quite this cold, a little cold snap in Breck,it was a real challenge! Especially since we had to start out downhill! We managed to get ourselves into town and find a bright spot of sunshine to warm ourselves up before starting up the hill. It was only 7am, so there was no traffic in town and it was a great way to have one last look around and say goodbye to Breckenridge for now.
I have probably said this several times before but the pass was NOTHING like what i was dreading! I remember the switchbacks of Hoosier Pass and what seemed to be the worst grade of any of the passes yet. The approach to the first switchback i anticipated to be a 7 mile test uphill. None of it turned out to be as horrible as I had made it out to be! The 7 mile approach was almost easy! There was more traffic than expected for early in the morning but bicycles are a way of life there and we had no problem. Before you know it we faced the first switchback at "the Light House" (its called that because of all the headlights that flash straight into the windows as they go around the switchback!). As we went around it, we took advantage of a break in traffic and crossed to the opposite side of the road and stayed high instead of dropping down into the trough of the switchback, it makes it so much easier! The rest of the climb is just like all the rest of the climbs, except that this is Hoosier and our last climb! The next thing you know, we are at the top! We did it! And in only 2 hours! That was just amazing!
Well there was only one way to go now! Down! And down we went!
We flew down the other side thru Alma and FairPlay and we could see the evidence filling the air from all the wildfires that are burning at the moment. There is one just south of Fairplay, the horizon thick with smoke. As we rode thru Fairplay the road south to Buena Vista was actually closed because of the fire. All of the traffic was now directed to our route, Highway 9 as we travelled the next 10 miles to Hartsel. It was pretty awful, there were no shoulder to speak of, only a white line and tons of traffic! Pretty gruelling and tense. Most people seemed to understand we all had to share the road and slowed down waiting for the opportunity to safely pass us, of course there are always a few buttheads on the road! But we made it to Harsel in one piece and quite relieved to be done with that section of the road. .This is where we thought we would finish for the day but everything went so well, it was only 11:00am and there really wasn't a suitable place to stay in Hartsel. We could camp out in back of the cafe, but the thermometer was pushing 90, no showers and the other option seemed to be back from the direction we came. The next overnight accommodation was ahead 27 miles so we thought we would just do it.
Called ahead just to make sure it was going to work as it was the only place out there, otherwise we would have been stuck! Spoke to Bill, yes the hostel had 4 bunks but we would probably be the only ones, it was only $10 per person and it sounded great! So off we went.
We turned onto Colorado Highway 9 and we knew we were out in the middle of nowhere. It was the perfect isolation compared to the mess we just completed! Very dry and desolate and hot! We are so thrilled with our helmet brims, it makes an amazing difference keeping that beating sun off our faces, that alone keeps us cooler! It was a long ride today and we had way more climbing than we thought it was going to be. It was hot and it was a lot of climbing all the way to the top of a pass we weren't looking for, Current Pass. We could see the smoke from the wildfire blowing thicker and closer behind us. We were in no danger but the wind was in the perfect direction and we could tell it was really whipping it up instead of dropping and giving the firefighters a chance to beat it. In the middle of this long hot road, a car passed us going the opposite direction. Mike said he noticed it turned around and he came up slowly behind us, rolled down his window and said "I bet you guys could use some ice water!" Can you believe it? He gave us his water, he said he was headed to Denver and would get some more on the way! Of course we chatted, his name was Jim and he was a hand cyclist, his bicycle was actually on the roof of his car! He had an accident in 1992, broke his neck and has been hand cycling ever since. I can't even imagine! He actually lives in Guffey which is where we were headed and if he wasn't on his way to Denver, we could have stayed with him! People are just so kind and generous and bicyclists love to connect! After only a short conversation but one that left us feeling so good, Jim left for Denver and we proceeded with our climb. We thought we reached the top of this pass several times but we would go down a ways and then back up until we finallly crossed it! And then . . . .it was an amazing downhill all the way. All the way to Guffey!
Now where is Guffey you ask? Well, just a mile and a half off Highway 9 headed to Canon City.
One last little 1 1/2 mile climb up into Guffey! No one warned us about this one either! But it was worth the climb! We had to ask for directions to the cyclist hostel we were gong to stay at. Oh Bill's place? Just go to the end of the road and his garage is there!
Well, we found it but it didn't look like a garage to me it was an antique store/shop/shed/yard. No one was around so we asked again! Ken, was the perfect guy to ask, we were lucky to find him because he helped out Bill and had the keys and took care of us! Bill, the owner was "indisposed" at the moment, Ken showed us around and took us to our hostel! You have to visualize the surroundings as he led us to the hostel. Everything you can possibly imagine from cars, to numerous historic sheds, bathtubs, unitdentified farm equipment lying everywhere for several blocks! You can call it antiques, but many of us would casually call it junk! So we go to our hostel and at first I sort of thought 'oh no' but really it was very cool! It was an original assay office back in the gold mining days. But because Bill was indisposed (it came out later he was hungover!) we never really got the details on the history of everything! We know he collected all the antiques and buildings, but not why. Was the shed in its original location? Well we went inside and it was very old but clean and prepared for guests! It was quite cozy, and we had it all to ourselves! There were bunks, plenty of chairs and tables and all sorts of interesting "antiques" hanging from walls and on the shelves! The shower had nice hot water, even tho we did have to walk a little hike to get there! It was very creative and imaginative in its usefulness. An old tub was cut down to make it a shower floor, it was definitely an outdoor shower! Plenty of sun heated hot water. And of course, an old fashioned outhouse. Did I mention there was no electricity in the hostel? It's ok, I used my headlamp to read. So we had a cozy restful night. I hope you like the photos!
Sorry to be late with this update but as you probably guessed we were completely out of range of phones and of course internet!
Enjoy the photos!