Is it a switch back or a kiss my ass curve up the next hill? - The ride smarter, not harder tour - CycleBlaze

May 5, 2018

Is it a switch back or a kiss my ass curve up the next hill?

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Today I got an extra three minutes of sleep before my neighbors left their room, slamming the door loudly. I hadn't even realized I had neighbors. The insulation here must be good.

I have a wonderful plan today to wear shorts! They are brand new Aerotech shorts that I just took the tags off. Hopefully bringing untried shorts wasn't a poor idea.

I brought an itsy bitsy one ounce tube of sunscreen. I'm far too cheap to splurge on that size, I always buy the huge economy size and make Jacinto carry it. But this was a gift. It's not practical for touring. I think it's going to run out if I wear shorts and put sunscreen on my legs. I will end up buying another tube and having to carry more weight (gasp!) up Grand Mesa. Already the joke is on me for bringing that almost empty bottle of lube. Although I wouldn't have stopped by the bike shop yesterday and had my ego stroked by Scott as he inquired about my tour. I'm still smiling at his reaction when he asked to see my touring rig and we went outside and it was a recumbent. If you tour this area, stop in there and buy a tube or something. SK Bikes on 3rd Street. It's a very small shop, but they had what I wanted.

The sun is shining already, the weather forecast is good. I'm meeting my mother for a late lunch. Today should be a good day. I know I will enjoy reliving memories of previous trips. My favorite tour through here was with Spoon, Oren, and the gang. This was the day they almost disowned me. My credibility went WAY down. They were thinking easy cruising short mile day. I had not properly prepared them for the climbs up and down from one mesa to another. They were NOT happy. The next day they all vowed to stay on the main roads, no more back roads. I talked hard and fast and got them to take back roads as far as Delta. That was a fun trip. My before picture at the beginning of the journal was taken near Delta on that tour.

Oh - I ate that giant pickle last night. I sure wasn't going to carry it another day. It was a big disappointment. The skin was very thick and the flavor was a bit strange. But I bought it, so I ate it .

I was out of the room early, the better to meet my mother for lunch so she could get home by nap time. It was 49 degrees. I had on the aforementioned shorts and short fingered gloves! It felt like living dangerously. I was comfortable in the sunshine.

My motel was directly on route to exit town on Niagra Avenue. I hadn't gone any distance at all before I had to stop for a photo. A cyclist behind me also stopped to see if I had a problem. That was nice. I saw him on his return also. He was the only cyclist I saw all day, but there are so many paved farm roads in this area there could be plenty of riders out there.

Again, this is a familiar day for me. This time I was going the opposite direction, so I was looking at Grand Mesa (tomorrow's destination) rather than the snow capped peaks behind me. I thought of Oren as I climbed the honking detour from the washed out Back River Road. He had ridden that with Jacinto a few years back as bonus miles. Oren was in for bonus miles, but not bonus climbing. As I remember it, he insisted they hike a bike through the washed out gulley rather than taking the climbing detour around. Yep, that was a bottom of the granny gear climb. The advantage is getting to see the smiley face barn.

I enjoyed the easy downward slope toward Hotchkiss - I knew once I got there, I would have another lung busting climb away from town which was just the warm up for four miles of 3100 Road. I just admitted the truth and got in the granny gear and stayed there. Total it was about five miles of creeping along. Just to make things fun, there was a diagonal train track across the road. I walked that one. I was going so slowly there was no repositioning myself to hit it properly nor enough momentum to cross it safely.

Once across Highway 92 and on 3100 Road, I tried to distract myself by admiring all of the fruit orchards. At this speed I had plenty of time to ponder the different pruning methods. I passed a couple more fields where they were in the process of removing trees. There were several fields of what I would describe as dwarf trees. I can't say I'd seen any fruit trees that had branches starting so low to the ground. Then there were fields with trees topped extremely low. I presume that was for easy picking. Did I take photos of any of this? Much, much later I realized I was now out of the orchard area and hadn't taken a single photo. The orchards were all in bloom. Not one photo. I guess I had distracted myself well . . . .

Every left hand turn I took, the road leveled off or went downhill. There weren't enough left hand turns. I knew I had at least one kiss my ass climb. That is so called because when we were touring in Oregon we had stopped at a store and the owner told us there was a kiss my ass road coming up. I wasn't quite sure what he meant. Then I figured it out when I saw it. We just call it a switch back. But kiss my ass is more of an attention getter.

I took that climb and thought of the tour with Spoon as I got to the top. His son Jeff had come along and driven SAG for us. Jeff had fresh local peaches at the top. They were fabulous! It's not peach season now and Jeff's not here. I kept going. Soon I was to the elk farm. The sign was still up, but I didn't see a single elk. Far in the distance I thought I could see the buffalo herd, but it could have been cows.

There are a number of farm roads in this area. We usually take North Road which leads to the Orchard Growers Reservoir. When the water is high, it laps up to the road on both sides and it feels like you are riding on water. There are usually cranes in the water. It's very pretty. But the land away from there is dirt with not a thing growing on it unless it's irrigated. This trip I took Cedar Mesa Road. Overall it was more scenic with cedar trees and sagebrush and green things growing.

Bertha had a little burp at the beginning of the day and I had to restart the program. Today had many turns and I was extra vigilant in checking I was really on the right road. So, I had my phone out checking the cross road and out of the corner of my eye I saw a yard sale sign (it's Saturday) and some people in the yard. I looked up and it was an Amish (Mennonite?) woman and her three daughters. It seemed to me that the woman and the two oldest daughters purposefully turned and put their backs to me and stayed that way. I was climbing at the moment so it took some time to pass. The toddler girl kept looking at me. I waved at her. I suspect the woman thought I would try and take their photo since I had my phone out. Their dresses were beautiful Easter egg colors - pastel pink, blue, purple. They all had on white, white bonnets. Even the littlest one. I felt bad that they needed to turn their backs to me. I wonder what would have happened if I hadn't had my phone out?

Climbing, more climbing. No wonder Spoon and crew were in revolt after this day. But the downhills certainly were fine! I liked Cedar Mesa Road. It had more scenery overall than North Road. It also had another kiss ass curve. It's not complete unless there's a honking climb away. Back up I went, but I knew I was close to town and there would be a screaming downhill past the high school into town. I took a left and coasted down to tonight's lodging - the Stay Wise Inn. I felt some sad about giving up that elevation because I would have to ride it again in the morning. That and a bunch more.

I had been trying to keep my mother up to date on my location. I didn't want to hurry my day, but I think she did, because of nap time. I kept sending text messages letting her know how far out I was, but mother only reads texts, she doesn't answer them. I wasn't sure if she got the message or not. Once I checked in, I hurried to shower. While I was in the shower, she called.

At least I wouldn't have a chance to get hungry before lunch. Mother was waiting in the lobby when I stepped out of the shower. We went to the Creekside Cafe across from the elementary school. It was a burger and sandwich sort of place. I had a hamburger with a bun. Wheat free fail. They had a case full of homemade desserts, which I stopped to look at but did not order. Just to pat myself on the back, I also did not take any of the tempting fresh baked cookies at the motel check in.

After we ate, we ran to the store TO BUY SUNSCREEN, V-8, and some snacks. They didn't have individual cans of V-8 and I FORGOT THE SUNSCREEN. Damn, damn. Jacinto would consider that a nice post ride activity to go back to the store. It's .4 miles each way. I googled it. I've done my exercise. I'm resting up for tomorrow. But I am also a pale face. I have to have that sunscreen. Sigh.

I had more room in my panniers this morning. I was concerned about fitting in my cold weather clothes due to bulk, but I have been eating plenty of food, so I didn't have any trouble fitting things in. Small irony - I started the trip with six bars. I've eaten two. I have four left. Tomorrow is my last riding day. Four bars is more than enough for one day. Even a tough day. What did I buy (instead of sunscreen?) - another bar. I can't figure myself out . . . want to trade a couple of bars for some sunscreen?

It was a great riding day. The only place I had a little wind when I got to the top of Cedar Mesa Road. Blue skies. The bank sign in town said 72 degrees as I rode past. Perfect cycling temperature. The only not so nice thing besides the women turning their backs to me was how few people waved or smiled back at me. In the country, I always try to wave or smile at people. It's a feel good thing for me and being a good ambassador for cycling. Even the ranchers in cowboy hats ignored me. It was notable to me how few drivers waved back.

I feel I've done well cycling alone. I miss having someone to ask if they saw the same things (like the Amish ladies) and how did their day go. I miss Jacinto in general and especially having him make the store run. I still feel decadent in spending this money on just me when it could have been two of us. Except that it's Jacinto's busy season right now and there's no way he could have joined me.

It would have been easy to ride three similar days at home,both in mileage and elevation gained. I could have done it, but it wouldn't have been near as fun. Although these are familiar roads, I certainly don't ride them regularly. I find the miles go far faster if I don't know every rock and decomposing banana peel along the route. We are lucky to live in an area with enviable cycling. Even though, I still love riding to other towns.

Tomorrow is my big day. 4,000 feet of climbing, ending up over 10,000 feet elevation. I'm feeling good. Even if my legs burn out, I don't have to ride on Monday. I can hobble around then!

This looks like the Lorax’s worst nightmare.
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The smiling barn is still here. All is right in my world.
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Grand Mesa is in the background. It doesn’t look too intimidating from here.
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Snow capped peaks behind me.
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Cedar Mesa Road has more green than North Road.
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I didn’t even try to ride this rough detour at the top of Cedar Mesa. Thankfully it was short.
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This says the school of hard rocks.
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Jacinto approves of the TV in my room. I’ve had nice lodging all three nights. There hasn’t been a single night I’ve had to sigh and say, “I’ve seen worse.”
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Today's ride: 33 miles (53 km)
Total: 131 miles (211 km)

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