Telluride - Dolores, CO: A downhill payback day! Yes! - There Ain't No Air In This Air! - CycleBlaze

July 14, 2013

Telluride - Dolores, CO: A downhill payback day! Yes!

We really needed that day off, we'd taken on some big climbs the first five days of the tour. Today would be a payback day. We had a fairly short climb to the top of Lizard Head Pass, then a 50 mile down hill into Dolores. What's not to like?

We hadn't worried about weather the first half of the trip, but now the seasonal monsoons would be catching up to us. We decided to start early to beat the rain. I was out the door by 6 AM, riding. The guys couldn't get on the gondola until 7 AM and it would take ~30 minutes to make all of the transfers. Perhaps that would give me time to climb Lawson Hill, a 1,200 foot climb according to

My reward for climbing Lawson Hill is in the views. The sun is just peaking over the mountain.
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There's some sun - it will be hitting me soon.
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Jacinto and the Surly LHT on the Lizard Head Pass climb.
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I had just stopped at the crest of the hill for a break when the SAG pulled up with Oren and his long recumbent. Jacinto was still asleep and the rest of the guys were on the gondola. I took off, but didn't get much further down the road before the Speedy Gonzales types started passing me.

Why does Spoon always catch me on the climb? Heck, maybe I'll climb better with age.
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We were working, but it was a nice, gradual climb. My GPS showed a very doable ~4% grade most of the time. At the top of the pass it was a pleasant surprise to find everyone celebrating the easy climb.

We're getting closer, but not there yet!
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Crazyguy Oren Wright at the top of Lizard Head Pass at 10,222 feet. One of the few times I saw him on the bike, he was far faster than I. The bike is a Bacchetta Bella.
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Ken at the top of Lizard Head Pass. His bike is a Comotion Americano. Ken bought the frame and built it up himself.
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From the top it was one of the best descents of my cycling career. 50 miles of gradual downhill, complete with blue skies and sweeping vistas! I had ridden this road before, but on the uphill. I can assure you that a 50 mile gradual climb is not near as much fun as the downhill version.

I stopped at the SAG for ice (I'm not much of a SAG proponent - I think it's more trouble than it's worth. But having ice at all times during the day - yes, that's a major plus!). I got back on the road, clipping in, checking the mirrors, adjusting the gear selection (all of those little things you do as you get started). Just as I was getting organized, I heard a giant rustle and crashing immediately to my right! What the heck? It was a little black bear, wheeling around to run back up the hill. I don't know which one of us was more surprised. :)

I've lived in Colorado almost my entire life and had never seen a wild bear in Colorado until the past two weeks. Now I've had three sightings in two weeks. I've heard that the drought has forced the wild animals lower than normal, which makes sense. It was still a pleasure and an honor to see the bear.

I kept thinking the road would level off and I'd have to pedal. Nope. I let the pedals float around with minimal pressure. I reached Dolores. Cal said all of the guys had gone to eat before showering, they were hungry. I decided to shower first and wait to eat with Jacinto.

Bill soon pulled up and we traded bear sighting stories. Jacinto came in, happy just like the rest of us. We three went to eat. Bill gave the waitress a visual on how he needed a larger water glass by draining the small glass she brought in one long gulp.

Couldn't you ride in this country all the time?
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Today's ride: 64 miles (103 km)
Total: 336 miles (541 km)

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