Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Ride The Rockies 2015 - Day Three, Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Miles ridden today: 80.4
Storm clouds at the summit of today's ride

Elevation gain: 5,990 feet

Time in saddle: 7 hours, 26 mins

Total miles ridden: 227.75
Total elevation gain: 16,613 feet
Total time in saddle: 20 hours, 2 mins 

As hard as yesterday was physically, I found today to be much harder mentally - all because of the weather. Yesterday was a grueling climb, but I knew it was going to be -  so it was just a question of keeping going.

Today, we awoke to rain and thunderstorms and, due to the idiosyncracies of the Ride The Rockies shuttle bus system, I spent a delightful hour and a half on a bus this morning and started riding an hour later than expected.  The silver lining is that those who got an early start got soaked.

I began my ride out of Hotchkiss at 8:15 and it was a steady climb in drizzling rain to Crawford.  I was damp but not cold or drenched.  A few hundred yards before the Crawfod aid station, however, the heavens opened and I had to take immediate shelter under a farm building porch.  The pouring
The Black Canyon of the Gunnison
rain finally relented and I rolled into Crawford (home of the late Joe Cocker!) to find James huddled away from the rain where he had been waiting close to an hour for the deluge to subside.


We rode together for the next few hours, frustrated by a brutal headwind that hindered any chance of gentle downhills.  We had around 15 miles of rolling hills, but with the intense wind in our faces it was impossible to freewheel - instead we had to fight for every yard.  It was hard not to get grumpy and I appreciate James' positive outlook on keeping us focused on short goals - a mile or two at a time. We fought our way through the Black Canyon of the Gunnison and climbed to over 9,000 feet. 


Blue Mesa Reservoir
At the top, the sky was stormy to the south and blue to the north and it was unclear which weather was heading our way.  James and I separated as I pushed on, taking a gamble that good weather would prevail.  It did, but I biked as fast as I could to avoid the impending storms.

Finally down from the mountains, it was a hot thirty mile push along the busy US 50 to Gunnison.  And then a bus ride to Crested Butte where Steph was waiting and where we are staying for two nights.

Overall, it was tough to face that kind of headwind and to risk whether to push on into potential thunder and lightning storms.  I feel lucky that, in the end, it was a day that ended well.  Though with 80 miles today and 98 yesterday, I'm looking forward to a shorter day tomorrow.
Views from today's ride between Hotchkiss and Gunnison

Views from today's ride between Hotchkiss and Gunnison

Views from today's ride between Hotchkiss and Gunnison




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