There is no easy side to Grand Mesa.: Just ask my legs! - The ride smarter, not harder tour - CycleBlaze

May 6, 2018

There is no easy side to Grand Mesa.: Just ask my legs!

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I had been anticipating the made to order breakfast at the motel. I slept in this morning until 6 AM. I'm living wild. At least no one woke me up, I got up by myself. I was soon down at breakfast. It is correct that the lady will make a three egg omelet. However, she doesn't do any add ins. Anything you want added you fold cold into the omelet and then warm it in the microwave. I wonder why they won't cook the extras with the eggs? They had ham, green peppers, onions, etc. Fresh melons, yogurt, granola. The usual cereal, bagels, etc.

I ate a hearty breakfast and headed back to the room. Packing these little panniers is getting to be routine, I was quickly loaded and ready to go. I had on shorts in anticipation of the 80 degree forecast for today. At the moment it was 56 degrees and overcast.

I had a little trouble getting Bertha started yesterday. I thought it was because I delayed leaving when I chatted with the owner before leaving the motel yesterday. Today I started the program outside and then started pedaling. It said GPS was located, start riding, as usual. I thought I was good. I should have checked.

I knew today was going to be a tough climbing day. 4,800 feet of climbing in 19 miles. Grand Mesa is one of the most significant climbs in Colorado.

The first five miles was really tough. I was having my doubts about how I would finish the day. I managed to ride one hour without stopping. It was not fun. I think I brought on most of the suffering myself because I didn't want to admit that I needed the granny gear right from the get go. I was in the bottom of the middle chain ring. After making the five mile stop, I dropped it into the granny and my legs were much happier. What happened to riding smarter? I've got to be smart . . .

At the five mile stop I was horrified to see Bertha had been paused all of this time. I did not get credit for the first five miles/1,000 feet of climbing! I restarted the program and made sure it was really running. That was a significant five miles to miss. There's no way I'm going back to town and riding it over again to get credit.

I brought Spiz on this tour just in case. I was hoping to use Hammer Perpetuem tablets instead. Oren had given me a tube a couple of years ago. If I ever need some help, I need it now. I chewed one up. Then I spent five minutes trying to get the leftovers out of my teeth. I did do much better. If it was changing gears, changing elevation incline, or the Perpetuem, I'm not sure.

Jacinto was driving the van to Mesa and leaving it for me. Then he would ride the 51 miles home to Rifle. He had joked that he'd be able to sleep in, drink coffee, leave the van AND arrive home before I got to the van. I was at mile ten when he left home. I was feeling much better then. My legs were getting in the game.

This is supposed to be the easy side of Grand Mesa. Let me tell you there is no easy side. It's a significant climb either direction. I think perhaps this side is prettier because you are climbing through a larger aspen grove so there's more time to admire the trees. They weren't leafed out today, but when we return in July, it will be beautiful.

I counted how many Perpetuem tablets I had and figured out how often I could eat one. I had four left and ate them all. I had carried about a pound of Spiz on the entire trip for no need. Which is a good thing. But that's a pound I will leave home next tour. I also have to laugh at myself. Two miles from the top of the climb I decided I wasn't going to drink all of the water I was carrying. I emptied out a 24 ounce water bottle. Do you think I noticed the difference in the weight or felt that I rode any easier for losing the 24 ounces? Nope and nope. It was more in my head. My legs didn't notice any difference.

But I was doing very well and was going to make the top. There at the five mile stop, I wasn't so sure. It was a tough first five miles. It took me almost exactly five hours to reach the top. 19.5 miles, and ~4,800 feet of climbing.

As I was riding across the top, looking and looking for an elevation sign, I saw another cyclist riding my way! Who else is crazy enough to be up here in this cold? I flagged Boyd over. He lives in Grand Junction and rides from there, up the Mesa, all the way to Montrose each week. That's 115 miles and 7,000 feet of climbing. He certainly made my efforts seem small. Boyd was a friendly guy and I enjoyed talking with him. He did ask my why I rode 'that thing', but it didn't come out sounding rude. We talked about a half hour and then departed. Just a few pedal strokes down the road, I saw a couple. I would have thought they were all together if I hadn't talked to Boyd. Having just spoken to Boyd, I only waved at the couple.

I had put on my wind vest and pulled out the long fingered gloves for the descent. Perhaps i wasn't thinking quite straight as I picked this exact moment of all of these YEARS to operate on my sandals. On my old cranks and these new ones, I can see a rub spot where my sandal rubs the crank arm. It's been doing that for years. I can't feel it rubbing, but the visual evidence is there. NOW I get out my pocket knife and carve away on my sandal. I decide accidentally slicing a strap wouldn't be a good thing, so I put the knife away.

I stopped at a potty down the road a piece. As I came out the couple cycled past me. A bit down the road they were stopped at a pull out. They chatted, but weren't quite as friendly as Boyd. I asked if I could take their photo and the woman said no. Things were a little awkward after that. I told them to go ahead, I was sure they would descend faster.

The downhill on this side of the Mesa is excellent - long slow curves and nice pavement. I'm still not real confident on this bike, I kept top speeds around 25 mph. I had had no noticeable wind on the climb, now I was on the other side, there was a headwind that moved around some as the road angle changed. It's better to keep speeds down.

I had a 20 mile downhill. It took no time at all to arrive at the van which was parked at the community center. I had brought my own key. I loaded the bike up and sat in the driver's seat to eat my leftover chinese food and a banana. Now I was ready for the ride home. While I was eating my food, Jacinto sent a text saying he had arrived home. He had indeed beat me home.

I'd had a really good tour. All alone. The end was a little off after my encounter with the couple. But I had done lots of climbing and climbed well. The weather was great after the first day. The lack of wind was notable. I had a chance to try out gear on the bike before leaving home on the big tour.

There were a couple of things I forgot to bring, like my button down shirt to ride in and medium weight socks. I brought Spiz I didn't drink. I took four bars out of six back home. I only ate about half of the nuts. I never did use Jacinto's waterproof gloves, or my Buff. But I'm fine with that. Mostly I packed appropriately.

I'm ready to go. Only four more weeks to departure! Thanks for following along.

I saw two deer, one turkey, and a couple of marmots today. No moose.
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Bill - are these wild roses or raspberries? They have thorns. I'm thinking roses.
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Bill ShaneyfeltCorrect! Roses. Stems of raspberries have a sort of light blue-gray coating and the spines, while also recurved are thinner. Here is a website that has some pretty good pictures of raspberry stems, thorns and leaves as well as the light color I talked about:
And one for rose leaves/stems:
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5 months ago
The view behind me. I was surprised to have cell service for a long time. I think because of the tower in the center of the photo.
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There was little auto traffic today. I think winter sports are done and summer sports haven't started. Certainly there wasn't any fishing at frozen Ward Creek Reservoir today. Elevation 10,000 feet.
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cyclists should have a HUGE sign at the top. There is nothing. I even turned around and rode back, thinking I had missed the elevation sign. Nothing. The downhill sign was the best I could do.
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As I crossed the top, another cyclist appeared. I stopped Boyd special to ask him if he had seen an elevation sign. No, no sign. We chatted for about a half hour. I was surprised to see another cyclist so early in the season. Boyd says he does this ride weekly and this was his second ride up Grand Mesa this year. His reward is a Reese's at the store in Cedaredge.
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Today's ride: 39 miles (63 km)
Total: 170 miles (274 km)

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