Saguache-Gunnison,CO: A new view of a familiar road. - I'm as loose as a Type A person can be. - CycleBlaze

July 9, 2017

Saguache-Gunnison,CO: A new view of a familiar road.

Today was our longest day in miles. ridewithgps gave me a final elevation gain of 3,910 feet.

We have ridden North Pass a number of times, always from Gunnison heading to Saguache. This is our first time going the other direction. This gave us the advance knowledge that we would probably be bucking a headwind into Gunnison. The weather report last night said a mild 6 mph wind all day. We didn't believe it. Rightfully, as it turned out.

My approach was to get on the road early, hoping to beat the worst of the wind to town. I was out the door at 7 AM sharp. The elevation profile shows a gentle, gradual uphill for about 25 miles. I was breathing heavily and going about 8 mph starting right from town. Traffic this early Sunday morning was nonexistent. There would be no help from vehicles blocking the wind, even temporarily.

Misery loves company - I sent Jacinto a text telling him about the wind. He was still asleep, I'm sure. I finally got across the valley and to the limited protection of the foothills. That helped a little. Now my exertion was from the climb and not the wind. It looks like I will have no trouble burning off last night's ice cream!

I find it interesting how going down a road the opposite direction makes the view entirely different. At mile 15 there is a ranch that I distinctly remember from going the other way. It's my marker that we are almost to town. This time I've been on the road almost two hours to reach this point and have 55 miles to go. That is discouraging.

I couldn't decide if I needed to get a zen thing going on where my mind is disconnected from my legs and I just try to will (not wile) the day away while I pedal. Or should I stay mentally engaged and check out the views? It was a bit early in the morning for me to be zen, so I reminded myself to look around.

My legs were doing fine, but mentally I was totally not happy with the wind. I kept recalculating how long it would take to get to Gunnison at this speed. It wasn't a pleasing number. Finally I was at the bottom of the pass. No wind at this point. It was almost easier to climb than to fight the wind. Four miles to the top. I decided to take a break every mile as I'd need to conserve my energy to make it all the way to town.

The pavement today was noteworthy. The road has been repaved within the past couple of years. It was smooth riding clear to the top. On the downhill side it had not be paved and had unpleasant expansion cracks. Occasionally there would be a section of new pavement, but mostly the old stuff.

Traffic on 114 is always light. It's mostly locals going to Saguache. Everyone else is up on Highway 50. Today there were a number of trucks pulling campers. There were several that were not only pulling campers but they had another trailer. One truck also had a pontoon boat and a second truck had a trailer of four wheelers. I guess that's legal to pull two trailers? Semi drivers do it. But they are trained and licensed. The few drivers were polite, going way around. I had one motor home follow me for a significant distance waiting for a chance to pass before I finally found a good spot to pull over and let him by. Nice guy to wait so long. I'm sure he wonder why I didn't just pull onto the dirt, but I could see that dirt was actually soft sand that would grab my tire.

From the top of the pass I only had a two mile fast downhill, then there was a gradual slope. I kept telling myself it was okay I had a headwind because my overall speed was still good. But it's just not right to have to pedal on the downhill . . . . there should be a law against that!

I was happy to reach Cochetopa Canyon. First, it's beautiful with many interesting rock formations. Second, it blocked the wind! The ride through Cochetopa Canyon was the best part of my day. The last eight miles into town was a slog. But it was a smooth slog - Highway 50 had also been repaved and has a GIANT shoulder. Plus this is a major highway, so there were plenty of cars going by to help block the wind. Ironic I was happy about the traffic.

We are having a day off tomorrow. Our first after nine days of riding. I am ready. I already have a massage scheduled. That's my idea of a good day off. For some reason Jacinto said to splurge and stay at the nice place. We are at the Quality Inn where they include a hot breakfast.

Jacinto has gotten in. He left three hours after me, but only arrived one hour later. He didn't have any headwind until the top of the pass. He usually comes out smelling like a rose. Last year there were a number of days that the early cyclists got wet and Jacinto didn't. Only one notable day did we stay dry and he arrived completely soaked.

He is showered and gone now looking for a soda to go with the last of his pistachios. I've requested a V-8. I haven't been very lucky this trip. Perhaps twice he's found a V-8.

I don't know what's for dinner tonight. The Gunnysack is closed on Sunday. I like Mario's, but you can't eat pizza with a tortilla, so it's actually been years since we've gone to Mario's. I do long to eat there again.

The reset of today and all of tomorrow are delightfully mine!

I'm out the door at 7 AM, hoping to beat the wind.
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I enjoy early morning shadows.
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Do you think these evenly spaced trees on the mountain side are volunteers or were they planted to prevent rock slides?
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I had my bike positioned and ready to photo when I realized this wasn't the pass sign. It is across the road.
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It looks like we are just ahead of a big chip deal project. I'm thankful.
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This is my last view down Highway 114 to saguache. It was a rough ride with the incessant headwind.
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Jacinto's photo taken at the bottom of the climb.
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Another view of the bottom of the pass.
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Jacinto parked his bike in the correct spot for a pass photo.
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The alfalfa on the left is bloomed out more than the alfalfa on the right. That's why it is a paler purple. My friend Darla had to explain that to me.
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Today's ride: 70 miles (113 km)
Total: 456 miles (734 km)

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