Friday, June 19, 2015

Ride the Rockies: Day Six - Royal Gorge Bridge

Royal Gorge Bridge over the Arkansas River
Miles ridden today: 68.3
Elevation gain: 3,087 feet
Time in saddle: 4 hours, 25 mins

Total miles ridden: 427.22
Total elevation gain: 26,936 feet
Total time in saddle: 35 hours, 0 mins 

According to the early route map provided by Ride the Rockies, today looked like the easiest of the seven days of riding – almost all down hill.  And to a certain extent it was: 40 miles of descent heading south out of Salida which I covered quickly. It was a beautiful ride that followed the Arkansas River and I averaged 20 mph.

Skyline Drive
What everyone failed to mention were the two incredibly steep hills towards the end of the day’s riding.  The first led from the valley floor to above the Royal Gorge Bridge, a climb of almost 1,000 feet in about 2 miles.  The Royal Gorge Bridge is the world's highest suspension bridge, spanning the Arkansas River, at a height of 956 feet!

The second was a shorter but similarly steep ride to a narrow sliver of road above Cañon City, known as Skyline Drive, a road just wide enough for a single car that hugs a spectacular ridge top.

While both of these short climbs taxed the legs and the mental drive, both led to incredible views. I stopped several times for photo opportunities – and to catch my breath! I had never visited either place before and both are stunning.

The good news is that today was a relatively short and speedy day and I rolled into Cañon City just after noon.  My bike needed a little first aid on its gears at the hands of the capable technicians that follow the ride and it should be in good shape for tomorrow, the seventh and last day of Ride the Rockies.

It looks like a tough day ahead – there’s a reason, I’m guessing, that it’s called Hardscrabble Pass!

Early morning light 

Views from US 50 south of Salida

Along the Arkansas

Crossing Royal Gorge Bridge

That's me, on the bridge

Looking down at the river and the train, 956 feet below my feet!

A nice reward on our last night: Cheyenne Mountain Resort

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