Crested Butte - Redstone, CO: CR 12 was the most scenic 31 miles of my cycling career. - I'm as loose as a Type A person can be. - CycleBlaze

July 12, 2017

Crested Butte - Redstone, CO: CR 12 was the most scenic 31 miles of my cycling career.

Let's all laugh together, shall we? Remember my apprehension about today? Pffftt. It was for nothing. Today was fantastic!

I slept better than I expected last night. I didn't have too many performance jitters. I hoped for a 6:30 AM departure, trying to beat the rain. It seemed like a dismal chance, but I was shooting to at least get off of the dirt portion before the rain started.

I was very efficient in doing all of the things in the room. I gathered my gear and headed downstairs. I had the getting out the door early breakfast of homemade granola and hardboiled eggs. There were a few other people puttering around. I asked one lady if she could hold the door for me to get the bicycle out of the storage area. She was quite concerned about time as their planned departure was 6:55 (not 7:00 - which seems slightly amusing). I told her it would take two seconds. It is rather difficult to hold two sets of doors open and get my long bike outside.

It had been drizzling when I woke up. At this exact moment, it wasn't raining. I decided to put my phone in a bag (remember, I drowned my phone last summer in Idaho?). I had a back up iPod for music, I got that all set up and off I went. I put the stuff sack with my rain coat on top of the rear rack, handy.

Exactly one mile down the road I dropped into the granny gear. There were very few people awake in Crested Butte at 7 AM. This is a tourist town. There was plenty of fog/low lying clouds covering the mountains. I saw a number of vehicles at pull outs. It appeared to me that it was people sleeping in their vehicles.

I knew we had 1,000 feet of climbing in eight miles. This certainly was easy. There was a little bit of granny gear to start and the rest was decidedly middle chain ring. How about that?

We had done this day once before, going the other direction. It was really tough. Beautiful, but we came crawling into town at almost dark. Today? It's like I'm not even riding the same road. I remember it being very scenic with a huge aspen grove. This direction I'm not dying from the climb. I'm enjoying looking around at the flowers. It's the Crested Butte Flower Festival now. All of the ladies at the lodge were here to photograph the flowers.

It seems every year I find a new favorite road that I recommend highly. Here is my road this year. There was hardly any traffic. I saw deer three different times, a wild turkey and babies, vultures, a marmot.

The mile markers counted down from 31. At about mile marker 9, I saw a ranch gate with three birds on top. I thought they were decorations until the center bird folded up it's wings. What? I stopped and looked closer. It was three vultures, spaced just so. Two of them had their wings spread out and were holding them open. To dry their wings? To warm up in the sun? I don't know, but it was a sight I would have missed in a motor vehicle. There was a car just around the bend, stopped to take photos. I pulled over and told them about the vultures. I ended up chatting with a couple from San Antonio. They had been all over Colorado and were headed for Lake City. I recommend the North Face Lodge and the little bakery next door. They had been photographing the mama turkey. We ended up talking so long, that mama got tired of waiting on us and hurried her babies across the road behind us.

The road was a mix of pavement and dirt. The dirt was very nice. I had been a little worried about it being muddy. My tires are Marathon Racers, not exactly a mud tire. Nope - it was just fine. Most of the climb from Crested Butte was paved. Most of the downhill was dirt. I would rather climb on dirt, but that's not how it worked out. It was all good, except I was slow on the downhill.

On one hand I wanted the down to finish as I had a long day ahead. But I also didn't want it to finish because this is a special ride that should be savored.

At mm 5, I saw a sign for cabins for rent. Bear Ranch Cabins. There was a group of three tidy little cabins complete with fire rings. They looked to small too have bathrooms, but I didn't see a bath house or a portable potty. But it's a possible resource.

I had done extensive research trying to find the current status of the Crystal Meadow Campground and Cabins. We had stayed there several times years ago. Then it sold and was a private compound. Now it has sold again, is being renovated, and will be opened to the public. It used to have a restaurant that was amazing. It will be interesting to see what happens. Right at the intersection of CR 12 and Highway 133 is a forest service campground. I don't know if it has water, but it has vault toilets and shelters.

I was hoping to get off of the dirt before the rain started again. Here I was, clear to the highway. Half of the day is done. The sky still looks nice. Dare I think I might make the entire distance? I gave it my best shot.

It was at least ten miles of fairly flat terrain from the turn. I rode along the Paonia Reservoir, the mountains were shrouded in clouds today. This was to my favor as the temperatures were much cooler than when we came through here eight days ago. I had fueled better today, I had seven days of riding on my legs. I'm hoping to have a better climb up McClure Pass today than last week.

I pedaled along as quickly as I could while still saving energy. Yes! Here is the 6 miles to the top sign. I am so ready to give this another try. About a mile down the road, a car pulled next to me and a woman asked if they could take my photo. Sure.

I think the man's name was Ari. They were from Houston and we on their way to Durango. They were also escaping the Texas heat. I told them to watch for Jacinto. Later Jacinto reported that they did find him and stopped to chat. He had a woman stop also on Kebler Pass, she took his photo.

I decided to be conservative and stop regularly. I had already mixed up two bottles of Spiz. I dug around in my bag and got out the Hammer tablets that Oren had given me. I think it probably has the same ingredients as Spiz. The label says 20 carbs per tablet. They are pretty nasty to chew. I had a total of two on the climb and did well. It's a tough pass though. The elevation isn't high, but it's a steep climb that doesn't quit. Jacinto and I agree that it's the most difficult pass of the trip.

I was a half mile from the top when the rain started. I could see it coming since the last rest break. The was nothing to do but keep my pace. Darn, darn. Maybe if I keep pedaling I can get ahead of it. I made a super fast stop at the top for a photo and to put my Earbags on. No leisurely break like last week to eat leftovers. Not that I have any leftovers this time. Later I found out that Jacinto was exactly an hour behind me at the summit. He had left 2.5 hours after me, but was only an hour behind in the end. Part of that was my slow descending on the dirt and part is the slower climbing.

By the time I reached the actual summit it was really coming down. I had had my orange stuff sack moved to the rear rack for convenience. But that's not it's usual spot and it was in the way. At the highway intersection, I had put it back in the original spot. I decided not to bother getting out my jacket. I was plenty warm from the climb and hoping to ride out of the rain. I had less than ten miles to town. I wasn't so excited about that steep downhill in the rain - but there was nothing to do about it. Here I go.

The rain was coming down so hard it was bouncing on the pavement. Cars had their wipers on fast. I felt sorry for the motorcyclists that passed me. They probably felt sorry for me and wondered what I was doing without a coat. I was soaked. Warm, but soaked. Then I got to thinking what I would do when I got to town. My white button down shirt was completely soaked. If I were 40 years younger, I could enter a wet shirt contest. But I am most definitely not 40 years younger. It seemed silly to put on a jacket at this point, but how could I check into the lodge like this? That was my main thought on the way down. That and not sliding out on the corners.

The rain had stopped by the time I hit Redstone. On our trip through last week, we had stayed in Carbondale. Redstone is a charming little town. I was relieved to pull into the lodge and find an envelope with my name saying to let myself into the cabin. At least I didn't have to worry about the state of my clothing. I had water dripping from everywhere, even the brim of my visor was dripping.

My first project was getting in a hot shower. That was a delight! My white shirt now has brown dirt spots all over. It hasn't been washed in a machine in two weeks. Let's see how it looks after a real wash. But I do need to give a plug for the shirt. I've been happy with it. It's an REI Sahara button down shirt. It has two hidden chest pockets and one big hidden pocket at the waist. I keep a little wallet in that pocket. Ever since reading about the cyclist last summer in the Yukon who had her entire bicycle and all of her ID stolen, I've thought about how many times I've stepped away from my bike in the woods. In town, certainly I take valuables with me, but not for a bush stop. Now I have my ID and cards with me all the time. The white (!) shirt has washed up very well in the sink. It wicks nicely. There are also side vent zips that I haven't used.

I took a shower and did the getting to town stuff. Here came Jacinto. As usual, he didn't get wet at all. He was at the bottom of the pass looking up at the rain on me at the top. We both had excellent rides today. We agreed it was much prettier going this way since we weren't suffering with the climb.

We would recommend coming from Crested Butte and then taking a left to Paonia for the ultimate downhill experience.

Jacinto showered and then walked to the store for a soda. We sat next to the river and talked over our two week tour. It has been a good trip. I think I liked the roads better this trip, but having companions on the first trip was more fun.

We were going to dinner next door, but they are closed Monday through Wednesday. That's rough. We ended up down at the Redstone Inn. They were the only game in town. It was an expensive dinner, but also our last on the road. I said that to Jacinto - but he assured me it wasn't our last dinner, just the last one for this trip.

When we got back to our room, Andrea stopped by. She just bought the Red Cliffs Lodge ten days ago. They wanted a change and just moved here from downtown Boston. I'd say culture shock is more like it! Right now this is the cheapest place to stay in town at $145. The Crystal Valley Manor used to be cheapest, but have raised their prices to $185. with a two night minimum.

The internet here is terribly slow. I might not get all of the photos loaded until we get home. I haven't been able to check the forecast yet. I'd like to leave early to beat the west wind and the heat home. But not if I"m going to get wet.

BTW, it was 51 degrees when I left Crested Butte. It was 71 degrees when I saw the San Antonio couple. I don't suppose it got much warmer than that all day. There are some advantages to riding in the mountains!

We have one more day home. We've ridden this route a number of times. Jacinto plans to go around, but I'm going the direct route. As my Grandfather would say - I can smell the oats. I'm ready to be home.

Let's see if I can get some photos to load.

There is a little patch of blue. I hope it gets bigger.
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The top of the pass has no sign
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Jacinto's top of the pass photo was the best photo of the trip.
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Those are real vultures. Not just ranch gate decorations!
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Ari and his wife turned around to check out my funny bike and say hello.
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That rain is coming my way. I wonder if Jacinto is getting wet back there?
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At the top. Soaking wet.
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Look at the moon.
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Jacinto made it to town dry. How does he do that?
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Single male cyclists must not look threatening. Even on deserted Kebler Pass, jacinto had a woman stop and chat. She took this photo.
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Jacinto put the brakes on on the downhill for this photo.
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The highlight of the day for me was riding through the Aspen. There were many ferns on the forest floor. I think that means plenty of rain up here.
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Today's ride: 59 miles (95 km)
Total: 543 miles (874 km)

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