Gateway - Grand Junction (Clifton), CO - The cat named Chevy won't stop this tour, and neither can COVID - CycleBlaze

June 23, 2020

Gateway - Grand Junction (Clifton), CO

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3,075 elevation gain

I set the alarm an hour early today, in deference of the increased climbing. Jacinto was not excited. I wasn't excited either - because our fancy room doesn't have a microwave and I will have to eat my oatmeal cold AGAIN.

I was awake early, no surprise there. I was efficient with my morning routine. If I'm up early, I want it to be worthwhile. I rousted Jacinto to help me carry my long bike downstairs. I got directions from him one more time on how to get back to the office. He scoffed at me, but we all know how i get lost! At the end of the driveway, I paused to let the Garmin find itself. I almost turned right, but I made that all important first turn correctly.

I hadn't gone 1/4 of a mile before the climbing started. There's no warm up today! It was one long climb. I looked around to distract myself from the single digit numbers on my computer. Marilyn had asked me to pay attention for camping spots. At mile 6 from the resort, there was a day picnic area named West Creek. It's hidden from the road, I could just see the top of the porta potty. I didn't go down. I would suppose they have picnic tables, but probably not water? Although it is right next to the creek.

The real estate listing for the resort said it covered 8,700 acres. There were many more ranch buildings and fancy gates related to the resort.

Important - the general store is .58 miles from the main gate of the resort. Owned by them also. It wasn't open as I passed by at 7 AM. There was a closed diner, obviously not associated with the resort, based on the run down appearance. I know there used to be an old motel in town, but I couldn't see any evidence of it now. It appears virtually the entire town is owned by the resort.

The elevation on my Garmin was ticking steadily upward. The road was generally a 2-3% climb. That's doable, a little slow, but I was putting the miles away. Roughly mile 11, I had to drop down in the granny gear for awhile. I took six Anti Fatigue capsules today and three Perpetuem tablets. I finished off both my Spiz bottle and the Liquid IV bottle. Much later I ate an apple. It really hit the spot.

I was happy when the grade backed off and I could move to the middle chain ring. At the top, mile 20, I had been averaging 5.9 mph. A fast climber, I am not . . . . With my thumping brake, I was more worried about the descent today than the climb. Luckily, the descent was as gradual as the climb. I had a slight headwind, which I was a little thankful for as it slowed me down and I didn't need to use the brakes.

The first ten miles of pavement today was old and starting to crack and will soon crumble. I rode several feet out into the roadway. A car passed every five minutes or so. It was easy to move over. I could hear the motors from a long distance. After mile ten, it was new pavement all the way to Whitewater. Roads are much more inviting for cycling when the pavement is smooth!

I kept wondering when the scenery would turn desert like. It was beautiful right up to the turn. Amazing! How many hundreds of times have I driven highway 50 when I lived in Delta and never took the turn onto 141. I had no idea what was right up the road. We had driven this way once on vacation, but it's harder to appreciate an area by car as opposed to by bicycle.

I wasn't looking forward to the last few miles into town. We've been in very deserted areas for weeks. Literally. I was on Highway 50 for two miles, and then took the turn for Clifton. It had a nice shoulder all the way into town. It's a busy intersection crossing business 50 to the shopping center and our motel, but I made it across just fine. I turned left to Taco Johns. Or so I thought. Left went to City Market and the Chinese food. That little strip shopping center is very empty. I don't know if it's newly empty because of COVID or not. The Chinese food was closed. I was hoping for veggies. I asked an ACE hardware employee where Taco Johns was. I had turned the wrong way. Of course I did . . .

I finally resorted to turning on the maps feature on my phone. It showed me going back into the shopping center mess. Maybe Jacinto would have to do without his Taco Johns. I'm not going back in there. But, as I looked around, I could see their sign. I think if I go straight and then right, right, right, I can get to them. Jacinto was so excited last night we could eat at Taco Johns. That was the last thing he mentioned to me this morning - be sure to go there. I felt obligated to go. How many times has he gone and bought me food? Out of all of these choices, easily 20 places to eat on one side of the road or the other, he wants Taco Johns?

Finally I arrived. It is right next to the Best Western. If only I had known that in the beginning. It was outside seating only. The employees had masks and there was a partition. I bought a big lemonade (I never drink flavored drinks - look at me). I drank the entire thing and wished for a refill - but there had been a big sign - no refills.

I moseyed over to the motel. It was only 12:30, but I could get in. We've gotten in early to every motel so far this trip. I think the lack of traveling public has been in our favor. The clerk put her mask on as I entered. There was a partition. Tomorrow there's a hot breakfast. Hurray! Our first one of the trip. This is a really nice motel. $98. total. It's not a comedown at all from last night. We have a sitting area with a sofa and a chair, plus the usual desk, etc. Microwave and fridge.

The last time we bicycled through Grand Junction we stayed in Palisade at an old, small motel downtown. Our bikes very specifically had to stay outside and there was a large fee if we took them inside. Interesting now as we bicycled past the name of the motel is Spoke and Vine Motel, with a photo of a bicycle on their building. There's vineyards in the area, which is how they got the vine part. I wonder if it's changed owners? There wasn't any food close to the motel, which is why we are staying in Clifton instead. Out by the airport has plenty of motels, and a couple of restaurants. Lodging is cheaper by the airport. We didn't need to go that far west, so here we are. I would stay here again. A nice room and choices for food. Lightning fast wi-fi. You know my needs now . . . .

I was happy to be climbing in the shade. It helps keep me from overheating.
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Look carefully for the thin line of light pink rock going from left to right.
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This was typical scenery for today. The red rocks were gone.
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This is the remains of the Driggs mansion, built in 1818.
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About a half mile past the teepee, I saw a yurt.
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These little white boxes had different numbers on them. They were spaced sporadically for miles. Bat houses? Bird houses? I do not know.
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Mt Garfield appeared in the distance. It feels like home already!
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The best of my crummy photos of the big horn sheep.
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This caught my fancy.
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It's amazing how quickly topography can change. A mile from this, there are lush green mountains.
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Jacinto said this was right next to the resort. I guess I was too busy getting going to look.
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Jacinto took a number of photos today. I'm amazed. Here's one.
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Today's ride: 53 miles (85 km)
Total: 1,044 miles (1,680 km)

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