Dove Creek - Naturita, CO - The cat named Chevy won't stop this tour, and neither can COVID - CycleBlaze

June 20, 2020

Dove Creek - Naturita, CO

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2,720 elevation gain

I woke up at 2:30 AM, too hot, and turned on the cooler. The real problem was a rubber mattress protector that made me sweat. Jacinto never notices them, but I get just asleep enough to not want to wake up and remake the bed, but then I toss and turn all night. I finally went back to sleep around 4:30. I thought that I should just get going, as we have a long day today. But I've gotten into the relaxed departure style, even today. We were at 7,000 feet. It was 48 degrees as I was contemplating an early departure. It was easy to talk myself out of it.

This morning I had a $5.99 omelet from the grocery store deli to fuel me down the road. We weren't quite sure what we were facing today. It was another case of wildly conflicting elevation profiles. It's better to be prepared. We are riding from 7,000 elevation to 5,500 elevation with a couple of climbs in the middle.

I was out the door at 8:20 - a little late, but I had trouble getting out of bed once I got back in. The air was nice and crisp in Dove Creek. I made the correct turn out the motel parking lot today. 1.7 miles down the road and I turned onto Highway 141.

Ten miles down the road there was a road sign for Egnar. There was a post office. A couple of houses. What looks like a very old abandoned school with a fire station behind it. There's an energy company in what might have been a more modern elementary school. I think the energy company might be defunct. The yard looked neglected.

I wasn't in such a good mood to start. I hadn't gotten a good night's sleep and today was a long day. But it was hard to not like today. It started out with some green fields. As much as I enjoy red rocks for their novelty, green fields are pleasing to the eyes. I saw more dilapidated buildings and homes in this area than I have the entire trip.

There was a notable lack of traffic. Perhaps a vehicle every 10-15 minutes? There was the occasional tanker semi, which seemed especially odd later when I saw the switchbacks on Slickrock Hill. Those would be tricky at best in the summer and dangerous in the winter in a big rig.

I had a man pull over and ask the usual questions. I didn't get his name, but he's 89, lived here his whole life, and owns most of the land around. None of his kids stayed in the area. He said that the area used to be prosperous with uranium mining, but now everyone has left and the businesses have closed. We had a nice talk. He couldn't quite wrap his head around bicycling all the way to Grand Junction and beyond. That is a very long distance! It was nice to have someone admire my abilities.

This road is a real treat. Put it on your list. First of all is the brand new pavement. When I saw the construction signs, I was happy to be riding on a Saturday, because I thought the road crew would have left the roadway in reasonable shape for the weekend. Lucky us - they had just finished miles 16-20, complete with stripes and all.

Slickrock Hill was labeled at the top. Right after that there's a sign for a runaway truck ramp. Don't you think if it's steep enough for a runaway truck ramp, it should be called something stronger sounding than hill? That thought occupied me as I went thump, thump with my bum brakes down the hill. I had zero vehicles going my way down the hill and I saw four coming up. One was a motorcycle. I wonder if motorcyclists enjoy climbing switch backs? Jacinto said he stopped for a photo and checked his rims - the front one was hot, but not the rear. His opinion of the day is that there wasn't much to look at. He has a point, there wasn't much green. But I thought that the new pavement was such a gift, and combined with the lack of traffic - today was one of my best days of the trip.

After seeing all of the houses with windbreaks, I was concerned about the wind through here. We were out in the big open. We went through two valleys and a basin. Crossing over to each one wasn't difficult - it was similar to climbing Rifle Gap at home. I kept thinking of the riders who take the ACA Western Express route and how they talk about the giant climbs/descents and the big valleys. This was a mini version. Thank goodness.

At the bottom of Slickrock, I immediately noticed an increase in temperature. I was no longer at 7,000 feet! Perhaps I should have started riding earlier. But it certainly wasn't Tucson hot - so I was ok. I had frozen water bottles. Cold drinks make ALL of the difference for me. Later in the day I went to swig my Spiz bottle and it had overheated and turned sour. That was awful. I poured the last quarter of the bottle out . . . I mixed a new Liquid IV from my Hydroflask. That is the first time since early in the trip I've broken out the Hydroflask. Usually it just rides around, filled with ice water, ready to go. I was happy to have it today and used all of it. I kept telling myself I wasn't out of water, I still had one more 20 oz bottle as a back up to my back up. As I bicycled past a group of construction men, I debated asking them for water. But I did have a cold, full bottle and then the 20 oz. bottle. I really was fine. I just don't usually dip that far into my supplies.

Mile 40 was the top. I bicycled across the last basin, and then mile 50 was the start of the downhill. Hurray! I was ready to get to town. Wind had picked up, but it wasn't Kayenta bad, so I was still happy. throughout the day I ate an apple, one Perpetuem tablet, and six anti fatigue capsules. Two liquid IV's. That's the first time I've mixed a second bottle of that. Two water bottles. I fueled pretty well, I still had energy when I got to town. Four miles before town was a T intersection. Right goes to 145, left goes to 141 and Naturita. The roadway wound up slightly on a shelf road. It would be slightly unnerving to be on the outside with no guard rail. From the top curve I could see green and big trees! I had always thought Naturita was a dusty little place, like Dove Creek. This looks very inviting. Hurray for being to a nice town for a layover day. This is my first day off after nine riding days and Jacinto's first after twelve riding days.

We have an inviting, spacious room. I'm so relieved it's a nice room for a day off. Our window looks at the side of the Dollar Store. You can't have it all. I'm sure we will frequent them several times this weekend. The motel has a restaurant. We are eating dinner there right now.

The red and green contrast didn't show up as much in this photo as it did in person.
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I saw several old farm houses with windbreaks planted all around. The wind must blow out here.
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I was told this post office at Egnar will be closing in November.
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I saw some cattle today! They thought I was quite the sight.
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Notice the brand new pavement. It was a seven mile downhill at 7% on Slickrock Hill. I was happy to be going down instead of up.
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Google did not tell me the reason for the name, but I did find out there is a wild horse herd in the area. We didn't see any.
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My steady steed.
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This was the view for the day.
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If you need any tumbleweeds, come to Disappointment Valley.
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I thought a close up might make a good jigsaw puzzle.
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Today's ride: 62 miles (100 km)
Total: 940 miles (1,513 km)

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