Baggs - Riverside, WY - Exploring northwest and central Colorado with a bit of Wyoming thrown in - CycleBlaze

July 11, 2018

Baggs - Riverside, WY

The short version is this was the easiest 5,000 feet of climbing I've ever ridden. If you have enough miles leading up to the pass, it isn't too difficult to complete. Check that elevation profile out on the map. We were ascending for what seemed like forever, but it was a middle chain ring ride the whole distance.

Going back to the morning - everyone but Jacinto was at the restaurant when it opened at 6 AM. I ate four eggs and a skimpy order of hash browns for $5.50. When I went over to the store to buy Gatorade, I looked for some prepackaged hard boiled eggs. I didn't find them, but maybe that was okay since I'd already had four eggs!

The store sure was a happening place. They opened at 5:30 AM and the parking lot was full. These were people I could relate to - both men and women - levi's and ball caps - on their way to work. Most likely to an outside job. Men that hold the door open and say, "Go ahead, Ma'am." I don't think that's sexist, I think it's good manners.

I had my bike all packed up and ready to go. I was out the door at 7:07. Tom and Ken were gone. Wayne sent a text that he was five minutes behind me. Jacinto was still in bed.

It was a great morning for a bike ride. Finally it was cool in the morning - 50ish degrees. Blue skies and no wind. We passed through the very small communities of Dixon and Savery. This is farming and ranching country. I occasionally saw Tom and Ken in the distance, but then I would stop for a photo. This must be what happens with Wayne all of the time.

I kept watching the elevation on my computer. It stayed right around 6,400 feet. I would climb a little, descend a little. We needed to start climbing or it would be some very steep climbing later to get 4,000 feet of elevation.

At 7,500 feet, right on schedule, I saw aspen trees. Yes! My favorite. That is also where I caught up with Ken and Tom. We rode roughly together until 9,000 feet, stopping a few times along the way. At that last stop, Jacinto caught up with us. When he left, I left with him, although I was quickly out paced.

We had noticed the clouds gathering. The forecast was 50% chance of rain after 2 PM. That should work out well for us. Except someone forgot to tell Mother Nature the plan. At 12:30 (roughly four miles from the top), it started to rain. There was no doubting the need to stop and put on a raincoat. Well, damn. I was really hoping for a nice downhill with this bike to try out my new brakes and Wayne's suggestion of pushing back with my shoulders to dampen any vibration in the frame. Of course, I did end up doing that in the rain - but I was hoping for good conditions.

It's all about the agony of the moment. I didn't consider the last four miles to be difficult, because it was raining and hailing. By the time I made it to the top, it had mostly stopped raining and the road was starting to dry. Excellent. I could take the descent slow but sure. This was the steep side. 12 miles to town 6-7% grade, according to the signs.

I was happily going downhill at a sedate 12 mph on the wet roads, when it started to rain again. Shit. Excuse my French, but that's what I thought. I did not ride far at all before I decided it was going to be too cold and I would start shaking. Not good. I dug out my wool tights. Those felt great. I debated about the shirt, but I was so sweat soaked, through to my bra, that to really get warm I would have to take off everything on top (in the rain) and put on my wool shirt. I decided that wasn't a good option. So I was only warm on the bottom. I had some highly recommended new gloves. This was my first try in the rain. At first they seemed good. In the end they got two thumbs down. I bought Jacinto the same gloves, he had the same report.

Rain was pouring off of the road, several inches deep. I lowered my speed to around 5 mph. At this rate it would take me a couple of hours to get to town! I thought of the day on the Sierra Cascades ride that we were caught in the hail at the top of the pass by Bassetts. I was SO, SO cold that day. I didn't want to be that cold again. I thought about Alison walking her bike. I decided if I walked my bike, I might warm up. I tried that for perhaps 20 feet after crossing a cattle guard. No, that didn't feel warmer. I then decided I was going to hitch a ride. I had ridden up the pass. I was so cold I was shaking and the handlebars were shaking also. Deja vu. Not good. Why does this shimmy problem plague me? My new brakes were doing their job keeping my speed extremely low, but I just wasn't generating any heat and I was too cold.

The only problem was the extreme lack of traffic on this road. It had been delightful cycling all day on our (virtually) private road. Now I wanted traffic. Not just any traffic, I wanted a pick up truck. Ask and you shall receive. I no more than walked away from the cattle guard and here came a truck down the pass. I stopped, rotated to face the truck and stuck out my thumb. They stopped right away. That's how you thumb a ride? It was pretty easy!

The very nice man, whose name I did not get, said the back of his truck was full, but they had another truck coming. We put my bike in the back of the second truck and down the hill we went. I was nice and dry inside with the heater running.

These were workers on a pipeline up the mountain somewhere. At the moment they were cutting trees down so they could get to the pipeline. Their workday was finished today. Partly because it was time (they started at 6 AM) and partly because of the weather.

We chatted during the short ride. Tom had passed me as I crept down the hill. We saw him in town. The guys dropped me off at the driveway to the Spirit West Lodge. Their driveway is .4 miles of gravel over three cattle guards. The last one has two pipes that are so far apart that I was slow to walk across. Wayne rode across anyway. I think he's crazy.

Jacinto had beat me to town. We he left me up on the hill, I requested a steak salad. The Bear Trap Cafe was out of steak, so he bought me a chicken salad. I was happy to eat it as soon as I got out of the shower. I wasn't as cold this time as in Bassetts. Only my hands were numb. I put on both of my dry wool shirts, plus Jacinto's warm one. I put on my pants and Jacinto's wool tights. Then I got in bed. But I still wasn't as cold as Bassetts!

When we heard Ken and Tom talking outside, we went to hear about their day. Everyone had a different approach to the day. Ken had stopped under a tree when the rain started and patiently waited out the rain. Tom and I had the theory that if we kept riding, we could get off of the mountain and away from the thunder and lightning. Jacinto only got wet the first time and stayed ahead of the second cloud burst. When Wayne got in, he said he missed it all. He had just a few sprinkles and that was it. This was a day that it paid to be last in the door.

This lodge is large and nice. Most of the rooms are in the main lodge. All of the guys are there. We are in an out building in a little apartment. It has a full kitchen and a TV. It was $20. more than the standard rooms (which sound nice). We got the bigger room so Jacinto could have TV, but the wi-fi doesn't reach out there, so I have to go inside to use the computer. That's a real shame as tomorrow is our rest day. I can't sit around in my underwear all morning and surf the net. Isn't that what you like to do on your day off?

Lynn and her husband run the lodge. Lynn is a thin energetic woman who is a health coach. She used to race bikes with her dad. As a side note, her husband said that there's some effective marijuana salve that is good for joint pain that 'they' buy in Colorado and bring up for the Veterans to use. Lynn has been using it on her torn rotator cuff. I'm pretty sure the only fix for that is surgery.

We all had our free 5 PM drink. I had a gin and tonic in Spoon's honor. Then the guys were ready for dinner. I wasn't so excited about walking back down that long driveway and into town. Wayne said he was going to bicycle. I ended up agreeing to do that. Tom also rode. Jacinto and Ken walked. We all arrived at the same time. Tonight was $8. hamburger night at the Bear Trap. I also had a key lime martini that didn't look at all like a martini. It was creamy and foamy and very sweet. It tasted like liquid key lime pie. There weren't any olives in my martini . . . .

We are back at the lodge. I am quite happy to have a day off tomorrow. This has been a relaxed trip. My most difficult day was Dinosaur to Maybell because of the heat and the climbing. The downhill today was difficult because of the rain, the cold and the bike shaking. But I've enjoyed the relaxed miles and the lesser climbing.

Tomorrow is blueberry pancakes (my favorite - but I'm not eating wheat) and ham for breakfast at 8 AM. We negotiated a 7 AM breakfast for the following day, when we ride. I'm not real sure if we get a real breakfast that morning or if we get the frozen breakfast sandwiches she offered.

A windmill and an old barn in one photo!
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These barn decorations were worth photographing.
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I like windmills and old barns.
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I could look at this view every day.
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These were the only antelope I saw today.
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7,500 feet of elevation and the first aspen trees of the trip.
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Ken Paulsen. He's retired now and living the life.
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Tom Swanson. He will turn 81 on Monday.
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I really didn't want to go downhill. We had ~5,000 feet of climbing and I didn't want to give any of it up just to ride it again.
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Ken found a can of bear spray. He offered it to Jacinto.
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I got caught in the rain twice. This was at the top - I was almost dry.
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These nice fellows rescued me and gave me a ride to town. I missed 5-6 miles of downhill. I'm fine with that.
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A free 5 PM drink is included with our lodging. The guys all had a beer. Miller Lite or Bud Lite were the choices.
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Mike AylingShoes obviously not part of the dress code!
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1 month ago
I had a gin and tonic in Spoon's honor.
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Today's ride: 51 miles (82 km)
Total: 301 miles (484 km)

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