Del Norte - Villa Grove, CO: Is there a flatter road anywhere in Colorado? - There Ain't No Air In This Air! - CycleBlaze

July 18, 2013

Del Norte - Villa Grove, CO: Is there a flatter road anywhere in Colorado?

I had promised myself I could sleep in today. But I had to set the alarm early anyway to get the bags out to the SAG because everyone else was getting on the road early. I tried to point out that we were at the luxe hotel in Del Norte, which was a town with some amenities. Villa Grove was a wide spot in the road. We were lucky it was there. Otherwise we'd be riding 80 miles like Tom today instead of a nice cruise of 55 miles. But since almost everyone had get-home-itis, they were ready to roll.

Jacinto and I went for breakfast at Boogie's. I like their pancakes. Mostly it's just the tradition of going there and remembering good times. We went back to the room. I got ready to go, Jacinto was going to wait until it warmed up. I would be the rabbit down the road he could chase. Jacinto loves chasing rabbits.

I had no more than gotten on the bike than Cal called to say Tom had broken his seat post bolt plus another little part. The SAG was going to pick him up and take him to Salida.

We were taking HIghway 112 out of Del Norte. Just past the railroad tracks (walk your bike) is a big buffalo herd on the left, raised for their meat, which you can buy. Not one single rider saw the herd of 40-50 buffalo. No one. Would you say they had white line fever?

It was interesting to ride the route going north. I've done this day any number of times, but always going south. It was an entirely different view today.

13 miles in I stopped at the convenience store on the corner to use the bathroom. I bought a V-8 juice (typical) and a pack of M & M's (not typical). I thought I'd share the M & M's with Bill when I saw him, since his were so delicious on Wolf Creek.

There were 4-5 farmers in overalls having coffee. We got into a conversation about the rain forecast, how it was supposed to rain and never did. I mentioned that the farmers and ranchers at home were on half rations of water. One man snorted and said he'd love to get that much water.

I slugged down my V-8 and continued on. I was riding at 12-13 mph, strong for me. I had been expecting at least 15, but there was an annoying headwind.

Looking back on Del Norte. It was strange going north, we've been any number of times south on this road. This is our first time heading north. The view is different.
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Potato fields in bloom.
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This area is famous for it's potatoes. Some fields had already blossomed, others were in full bloom. The further north I went, the fewer fields.

I was happy to see that the vault toilet at the bird watching area (wetlands) was still there and open. It's nice to have a break every hour or so. This was perfectly timed.

Different varieties of potato fields in bloom.
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I called Jacinto from outside of town. He answered and said he was already in Saguache. He passed me? It must have been while I was using the potty. I guess Jacinto has white line fever also that he didn't see my bike.

I was ready for food, but Jacinto doesn't like to stop while riding. I was hoping since he offered to wait for me, that we could eat at the Oasis, but no it was the convenience store only. Darn. I had enough snacks to last the 13 remaining miles to town - but I would have been happier to eat here.

No climbing allowed in the San Luis Valley. Nope, nope, nope. Not even over one hill.
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Jacinto took off again, like he did the day into Del Norte. I didn't have the ambition to chase him, so stayed a half mile back. The wind was now a cross wind, which helped.

Ken had laughingly told the guys that he'd driven through Villa Grove many times and never noticed it, be sure and keep your eyes open. I counted buildings as we rolled into town. There were 4-5 buildings on each side of the road. Surely noticeable?

We pulled up to the B & B. Oren and Bill greeted us and said everyone was gone to Salida to pick up their vehicles. Ken wasn't even going to spend the night, he was leaving. Wow. That was a surprise. He wasn't saying goodbye?

We went in the pottery store to pay for the B & B. I had rented the entire place, but hadn't collected money from anyone. Perhaps that helped them make the choice not to stay, but I was feeling pretty nervous about having to pay for the whole house. Oren very generously surprised me by paying the entire bill. What a thoughtful man. He had been planning on sleeping on the floor as there weren't enough beds in town. Suddenly we had more than enough beds. In the end he and Bill would each get their own room, since Ken had left. Wait. Here's Ken back. ??? He had picked up his truck and come back. But now his private room was gone and he'd have to share a room and sleep on the top bunk. I told him to talk to Oren since I hadn't paid, I didn't think I had a say now. Ken ended up deciding to get a few hours of driving in and said his goodbyes.

We went across the street to the cafe and ordered a late lunch at 3:30. It was supposed to be something to hold us over until dinner at 6 PM, but I was starving and kept ordering more food. I ate it also. :) Suddenly my lunch was paid for. Wow. Bill picked up the tab. Aren't these great guys? I felt all sentimental about what nice people we were touring with and how it was a shame the trip was drawing to an end.

The Missouri crew was staying at the 3 room motel attached to the cafe/store. They were very unimpressed with their digs. I have to admit, it wasn't the deluxe Windsor Hotel. I peeked in one of the rooms. It looked like a nice, basic room to me. Similar to Crawford, which no one had complained about.

I invited them all over to shoot pool on the 100 year old pool table in the B & B - that perhaps was a bad choice as it escalated the envy. The B & B was owned by Alan from the Casa Azul Pottery next door. It was decorated in full southwestern decor. Lots and lots of brightly colored tile work in the bathroom. Tell me why I didn't take a single photo? I've linked another journal with photos.

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The Sangre de Cristo Mountains were on our right as we rode through the valley.
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We went to the newly opened Steel Horse Grill for dinner. Amazing that Villa Grove would have two places to eat. Our BBQ chicken dinner was excellent. I wished for more. Funny I thought I wouldn't be hungry after the late lunch.

It was agreed we would have our luggage out at 5:45 AM. The Missouri crew had to back track to Salida to head home, they had only stayed in Villa Grove because they had reservations. Cal would drive the truck one last time and leave it at the motel in Salida for Oren.

We had some doubts as to our ability to ride in the morning. We could hardly stand up in the wind and the rain REALLY came down. Forecast showed a small window of clear weather in the morning, then major rain again the rest of the day. I hoped we could finish the ride, Poncha Pass is such a good ride from this side.

We would make the call in the morning, based on the weather. I went to bed with my fingers crossed. I woke up many times in the night to peer out the window in the darkness. The rain quit. The wind quit. Probably it was good? I didn't feel as if I slept a wink. Instead of whining about the alarm waking me up early, I got out of bed at 4:30 when I heard Oren rattling around.

Today's ride: 55 miles (89 km)
Total: 563 miles (906 km)

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