Day 40 - Fairplay to Canon City, CO
Today’s ride to Cañon (pronounced canyon) City, Colorado was a downhill and WINDY 66-mile ride with 2,149’ of ascent. From Fairplay, elevation 9,953’, to Cañon City, there was a large amount of downhill.
The end-point of today’s adventure was Cañon City, Colorado, population 16,400 at an elevation of 5,331'. Cañon City straddles the easterly flowing Arkansas River and is a popular tourist destination for sightseeing, whitewater rafting, and rock climbing. The city is noted for being the location of nine state and four federal prisons and penitentiaries. A city welcoming sign says, ”Corrections Capital of the World”. Royal Gorge, about 10 miles north of town, and near our campground, is a large tourist attraction. The gorge is popular for rafting, zip line tours, hiking, photography and, of course, the walk across the bridge, one of the highest suspension bridges in the world. Downtown Cañon City is home of the St. Cloud Hotel, which was moved, brick by brick, from Silver Cliff, Colorado in 1888.
My Day at a Glance:
Shortly after leaving Fairplay, I joined Justin & Ashtyn on a 17.5-mile downhill. The first few miles were steep, followed by over a dozen miles of steady -1% grade. We were really “pushing it” and had an average speed of 24 mph for that stretch of road.
At mile 18, I got out my phone to take some photos. After one photo, the battery died! Although I had plugged in the phone to charge, I accidentally plugged it into my computer, which was turned off at bedtime. Result, no camera for the entire day.
Just a mile down the road, at mile 18.5, we stopped in Hartselle, CO so Justin and Ashtyn could pick up their mail. While they went to the post office, I went to the small general store for coffee and a muffin. Somehow, Justin & Ashtyn left town thinking I had already “hit the road”. I found them just a few miles out of town making a phone call. I decided to keep going and meet with them later.
Highway 9 today was so much better than yesterday. There was very little traffic. There were still long sections with little or no shoulder, but with mild traffic it didn’t matter to me.
At mile 24 I determined this was a horrible day to be without a camera. The scenery was wonderful, the mountains were clear and the puffy white clouds in the dark blue sky were a photogenic opportunity.
At about mile 27, I saw a roadside memorial with a large white cross in the ground and a saddle hanging on a fence. It made me think, did a horse die or a person that loved a horse? As an aside, Colorado has ruled that roadside memorials that are on public property are classified as litter.
At about mile 28, I saw a “blown” trailer tire in the middle of the road. I didn’t think much of it until about 1.5 miles later when I saw an RV that had been pulling a boat on a trailer, disabled on the side of the road at the top of a hill. The axle of the trailer was missing not only the tire, but a wheel. The axle was buried in the roadside dirt. Unknowingly, the RV must have been towing a trailer with a flat for over 1.5 miles. Can you say, “Tire Pressure Monitoring System”?
At mile 30, I realized that I was still at an elevation of 9,400’. Somehow, I was going to drop another 4,000’ in elevation. Several times I dropped 200-300 feet only to climb back up again.
Finally, at mile 35, I started a long, 11-mile downhill. The descent was not steep, but consistently downhill. A nice ride!
At mile 46, suddenly, I was faced with a short but very steep uphill with a grade of over 9%. What an unpleasant surprise.
Until mile 52, I had a wonderful tailwind or beneficial crosswind the entire way. Then, the wind changed. Have I mentioned that I hate wind?
After only 3 miles of headwind, at mile 55, I was tired and hungry. The wind was really grinding me down. I was hoping Nancy would come by any minute, but that didn’t happen.
The next 9 miles were miserable. Slow, slower and slowest! I couldn’t get a comfortable pace. Nancy passed me at mile 61, but there was no safe place for her to stop for me. Blessedly, at mile 64, I reached a pull over near the Royal View Campground, a Good Sam Park, our evening’s destination.
I loaded my bike into the Bus and we hurriedly drove the 10 miles to town, hoping to get to the post office and bike shop before they closed. Everything turned out great, Nancy got her mail sent and I got 2 new tires.
I called Ashtyn and asked if she and her brother would like to join us in town for pizza. It turned out they were spending the night in town anyway, and pizza sounded good. After a short wait, Justin and Ashtyn arrived and we all went to Pizza Madness for good pizza and even better company and conversation.
After dinner, we drove Ashtyn and Justin to their hotel and then drove back to our campground at Royal View. The view from the campsite truly was royal!
Tomorrow is the last day for Map 6.