Thursday, June 19, 2008

Mountain Majesty

Yesterday provided a challenging ride in a beautiful setting. The morning weather could not have been better. Full sun kept me warm as I climbed into cooler air. Unlike riding in the Appalachians, in the Rockies I have a constant view of the mountains around me.

I left the campground before the camp store opened, counting on a breakfast stop 21 miles up the road in Guffey, CO. On the way, Bill, who was driving down the mountain, stopped to see if I was planning on resting in Guffey. He suggested I eat at Rita's Place. By the time I reached Guffey, I was in need of a break. After repeatedly hearing that climbing the Appalachians is worse than the Rockies, I had underestimated the Rockies.

Rita's Place was a great oasis -- fresh, homemade food, New York bagels, and premium coffee in a relaxing environment. It's interesting that some small towns get little gems like Rita's, while others are stuck with dumps serving mediocre food. I guess it's just luck.

A large group of motorcycle riders on an organized tour also streamed through the cafe. I lingered long after finishing my breakfast, not quite ready to return to the climb.

Riding through Currant Creek Pass, at 9400 feet, I had a panoramic view of the mountain range with snow-capped peaks across the horizon. The elevation began taking a toll. I was breathing deeper and resting more often. By the afternoon, the weather also made the ride more challenging. A headwind began blowing and clouds rolled in.

Twenty-five miles later, I was ready for another meal, so I stopped in the H.O.B. cafe and saloon in Hartsel. It was the antithesis of Rita's. Inside I learned that the acronym stands for "Heartless Old Bitch." The service lived up to the name. Later in the day, another cyclist told me that after he ate there, the waitress wouldn't fill his water bottles. He thought she was joking. She wasn't.

It felt like I earned my miles today. By the end I was counting the miles to the finish line in Fairplay, CO. There are several other westbound cyclists in town. When I checked into the South Park Lodge, I learned that Menno, a cyclist from the Netherlands whom I met back in Pueblo, was also staying here. And at dinner, I met the Barringer family. Russ Barringer is cycling the Transamerica Trail, while his wife, Mandy, and four kids are traveling in a support van. Impressive.

1 comment:

Sarah P said...

I love the Rockies but have trouble breathing when I'm just walking around sometimes. Be careful with the thin air!