Monarch Pass - Gunnison - 8/26/2006

We left Salida this morning and it was overcast and cloudy.  Not ideal riding weather when we're trying to climb to 11,312 feet!  Can you see the rainbow in the sky?  It looked like a curtain draped from the sky.

Although we planned on meeting at a certain city at a certain time so we could climb the Divide together, Dave texted me to say he already left the Garfield (city) meeting point hours before the planned time.  Okay...

Here I am promoting Goo (or is it Guu? - I guess I should know how spell it.  Then again, they aren't sponsoring me.).  My bike shop guys gave me some for the ride.  I decided to have some before today's climb.  Anything to mentally help me get up the hill.

Look at the amazing scenery.  Today's ride had a great change in scenery of mountains, rocks, pines, birch, cliffs.  Colorado is just beautiful.

Here's Ed climbing one of the many hills we had to climb today.  Look at the truck downhill sign on the other side.  Also look at all the tall treees.  So pretty.

All we did was climb today.  Starting at 10:00am, we started getting 2 lanes (remember, 2 lanes means it's steep enough that 2 lanes are needed for cars to pass the slow one that can't climb as fast).  By 10:45am, we reached the original Garfield meeting point.  After a peach snack break, we rode again where we saw a sign that said 6 miles to the summit.  By 12:45pm, we reached the top!  Just before reaching the top, we were hit with rain and hail that darted us at an angle.  Since we were so high up, the thunder was extra loud.  Here's Ed reaching the top.

Once Ed got to the top, we went inside the summit cafe/visitor center to dry and warm up.  I put on as many layers as I had to warm up and also for the ride down.  We dined on some fine hotdogs to curb our hunger.

It was an amazing feeling to climb to the top of Monarch Pass.  I can't believe I crossed the Continental Divide.  Who ever thought that I could ride my bike over the Rocky Mountains a few months ago?  So crazy.  Having achieved this, I feel I can do just about anything, and I don't just mean physically.

Here am I after we warmed up for about an hour or so.  The skies finally cleared up a bit but it was still plenty cold.

The downhill after the pass was okay.  Only okay and not great because it started raining on the way down.  As if going 7 miles down a steep mountain wasn't scary enough for me, I got the bonus element of heavy rain to contend with.  It was also pretty cold going down.  I could have used more layers.  In the end, it wasn't that bad.  I just wished I could have gone down with nice sunny skies.

The remaining ride to our day's destination, Gunnison, was a wet one.  We had to ride in more heavy rain.  Often, the rain was beaming me in the face.  And who can forget about the headwind going uphill.  If this sounds like one of those stories, "back in my day, I had to walk uphill in the snow, both ways," well it is.  The riding conditions were less than ideal today.

When the rain did slow down for a little, Ed tried to teach me a double paceline by matching my front wheel with his.  So stressful.  No looking at the scenery, just staring at a front wheel.  Just sitting there watching the wheels go round and round.  Reminded me of John Lennon's song, Watching the Wheels.

People say I'm lazy dreaming my life away
Well they give me all kinds of advice designed to enlighten me
When I tell them that I'm doing fine watching shadows on the wall
Don't you miss the big time boy you're no longer on the ball

I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round
I really love to watch them roll
No longer riding on the merry-go-round
I just had to let it go

When we pulled into town, I went on the sidewalk so I could call Dave.  Wouldn't you know it, he was right there.  Dave befriended another cross country cyclist, Jason.  The two of them were talking for a while as Dave was very interested in Jason's endeavor of going from Alaska to the southern tip of Chile.

After checking into our motels and cleaning up, the four of us met for dinner at an Italian restaurant.