Crawford-Gunnison, CO: My favorite road in Colorado - Hwy 92. - Colorado Independence - CycleBlaze

July 3, 2014

Crawford-Gunnison, CO: My favorite road in Colorado - Hwy 92.

I floated the idea of leaving early, since we had a long day with lots of climbing. Temperatures were forecast to be 81 and 84 in our starting and finishing towns. No big wind or rain advisory. There didn't seem to be a pressing reason to leave early. We agreed on the usual 7 AM.

It seems that my internal clock has now been set for 5 AM - which is a shame in the summer. I think I'm supposed to sleep in if I get the chance. At least a little. Nope. I was awake. Might as well get going. I had to go to Oren's room to use the microwave for my oatmeal. They were dressed and about ready to go. Ha. I set out at 6 AM. It was some warm at 54 degrees, compared to what we have had. I could tell the elevation was lower.

There was a big downhill right from the motel. Which meant there was a corresponding uphill. My legs whined about not getting a warm up. The sun wasn't up yet, but it was coming down the hillside. There was a surprising number of trucks pulling horse trailers. I speculated they were headed to Gunnison for the 4th of July Rodeo. Why else would 5-6 in a row be out at this hour?

In no time at all Oren came along. He passed me, but stayed just in front until I stopped after one hour for a break. That Oren, he doesn't stop. I was feeling sorry for myself for having to do all of this climbing against a headwind. I know all about the downhill in the morning wind. We were certainly experiencing it. I was hoping the sun would warm the air up quickly. That or we would get high enough in the mountain that the wind wouldn't matter.

I stopped for a second break after another hour. My MPH was pathetic. I just couldn't think about that. But deep down I was thinking how I would never get to Hermit's Rest at MM 55 (roughly the top) at this rate. I did some speculation on why the guidebook says it's 18 miles to the top of the climb yet says MM 55 is 'the' top - which will come at mile 22. Four extra miles is huge at 4-5 mph.

At my two hour stop, I was feeling sorry for myself. Traffic was very, very light. I could see down the road and up the road. The silence was loud. I decided not to find a bush for a bush break, but to pull my drawers down right there, road side. While I was taking care of business, I glanced downhill. There was Ken, ever so politely stopped about a quarter mile away. Oooops. I must have been really tired to make such a poor choice. I never do that. He gave me plenty of time to get down the road before gradually over taking me.

Ken hadn't been past too long before Jacinto pulled up in the truck. I had asked for ice/water delivery. He was on his way to the far end of Hwy 92. Then he was getting on the bike to ride up that side of the climb. I was most happy for the ice. I whined about the wind and said thank you and he was off.

Thankfully it wasn't long after when the wind died down and I actually started to make progress with the climb. I had tried to tell myself that this day would be comparable to the Indy Pass climb - just a long, long climb, but totally doable in gradient. True, very true. But there sure was lots of climbing. Luckily it was beautiful.

We've done this road a number of times. I sincerely think it's the most beautiful road in Colorado. I've only done it once in this direction, in ~2000 or so. I was new to touring. There was no internet for research. We had no idea what we were getting in to. Fully loaded, we took off, completely innocent. Boy, were we in for a surprise. We limped into Gunnison in the late afternoon. It was not a pretty sight. This was my first time since then going this direction. My perception has always been this was the hard side. I was interested to see if that opinion holds.

The end of the story on that is the climb from this side is longer and doesn't have the defined top the other side has. It doesn't seem to matter which direction I'm going on a climb I'm always happy I'm on the downhill and not climbing as I go down. If that makes sense.

I had been watching the miles tick (so slowly) down. I reached mile 18 and did hit a downhill stretch. Up, down, up, down. Grrrr. I'm ready for all down! Hermit's Rest came up. I used the bathroom. Surely NOW I would get a big downhill. No. More undulating road. I ran into Jacinto. He was on the bike. He said I was just around the corner from the big downhill. He was going to do a two hour ride then turn around. Surprisingly, he later said the return trip took an hour and a half. It's all of the rolling stuff across the top.

Finally I started the big down. I wondered if it was the giant boomerang down. No not yet. When I finally hit the boomerang, it was SO, SO fun to do in this direction instead of dreading the long climb up. I could see Hwy 50 in the distance. Sigh. I wanted to get there to get done. But Hwy 92 is such a treat with it's light, light traffic. Mostly motorcycles. Hwy 92 from Crawford lasts 42 miles. It is a tough climb, but very rewarding.

Unfortunately, the last connector piece to Gunnison is 26 miles long. The good part is the west wind was very strong. I was rolling along 18-20 mph by the reservoir. It was much, much fuller than last year. This is the first time in awhile that I've seen it full with a stream of water running in.

The turn off to Lake City is 9 miles from town. That would be us in two days. However, not for two days as we get a day off. Yay! The big tailwind disappeared after I left the reservoir. I don't know if that was coincidence or not. I had about two drops of rain. The cloud cover was much appreciated. I overheat easily. I wouldn't have cared if it really did rain, it was warm enough.

Jacinto pulled over just outside of town. I asked him to stop by Safeway and buy a rotisserie chicken and some other food. I was starving after 70 miles and all of that climbing! Off he went. There is an advantage to having a support vehicle.

I saw Ken's chalk mark to Bill, pointing to the side road to town. I stayed on Hwy 50, as I like to take the bike lane around to the motel. I wasn't sure just what the cross street was, but kept looking until I saw the motel. I made it across busy Hwy 50 and pulled up just as Oren did. He had been to Subway. They were so busy it took a half hour just to place his order. Oren said he ate so much he was afraid he might throw up.!!!

We got checked in. No chicken at Safeway. We had Chinese instead. It was good. I was starving. Then a shower and a nap. Isn't this the life?

I barely woke up in time for a good dinner at the Gunnysack. The waitress was much appreciated after the rookie we had last night. There were a few snafus, but she handled them well. Can you imagine Jacinto with vegetarian fajitas? Ha!

It is very nice to be settled in for the night and not have to get ready for the morning. I'm not sleepy since I had a giant nap. But it doesn't matter. I don't have to get up in the morning!

We've had some tough days on this part of the trip. A rest day is well deserved.

The sun was almost up as I left the motel.
Heart 0 Comment 0
Jacinto stopped by with ice and water delivery. Usually he is just luggage transport, no support as he likes to ride or hike during the day.
Heart 0 Comment 0
I very seldom pass up a potty.
Heart 1 Comment 0
Typical view.
Heart 0 Comment 0
Spoon - I think this is the trees where you almost gave the bear a ride on your handle bars. No bear today.
Heart 0 Comment 0
Skunk cabbage blooming. Skunk cabbage and aspen trees always say alpine mountains to me. There was plenty of skunk cabbage today. I could smell it!
Heart 0 Comment 0
Jacinto assured me I was almost to the real downhill. He was heading up for two hours, where ever that might take him.
Heart 0 Comment 0
I didn't see Bill all day. He said he almost ran that battery down on his phone, taking so many photos.
Heart 0 Comment 0
Bill's photo of Jacinto.
Heart 0 Comment 0
Who is enjoying their day?
Heart 0 Comment 0

Today's ride: 69 miles (111 km)
Total: 261 miles (420 km)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 1
Comment on this entry Comment 0