After an amazing amount of sleep in soft beds we woke up and rode across the main street to a diner that served an early breakfast. After a breakfast of pancakes and bacon, along with copious amounts of chocolate milk, we rolled out of town. After crossing the Colorado River, we turned left onto a dirt road and followed the river for a few miles.
|Wide Colorado dirt road|
Eventually turning away from the river, we steadily climbed for the next 25 miles. During this time we passed a medium sized reservoir and enjoyed the flatter roads for a few miles until we rode into the mountains again. We left gravel for the first time since the Colorado River and started a real climb to the summit of Ute Pass. Thankfully it didn’t take us long to crest the pass which topped out at 9,524 feet, almost the same as Gore Pass the day before.
|View from the top of the pass|
|Joseph hammering up the climb|
|A catchment dam for a mining operation|
In a matter of less than six miles we lost almost all of the altitude we had gained over the last 20 miles. As we descended into the valley we were regaled with views of 10,000-12,000 foot peaks all around us. I had been feeling good and had been pushing hard on the climb and then the descent as well so I soon outdistanced Joseph. As I waited for him at the intersection with Highway 9, I talked with some of the cyclists that had just ridden up and then down from Ute Pass. . All of these cyclists were riding uber light carbon fiber racing bikes that probably cost more than my first car, were wearing matching cycling kits (clothes), and looked fresh as daisys. By contrast I had ridden around 500 miles in the past week, had climbed over a 9,500 foot pass, was riding a grimy mountain bike with 20-25 pounds of gear, and my clothes were stained white with evaporated sweat crystals and general filth. As often happens we ran into other cyclists that were keen to know what I was doing in such a state. While I was explaining about our trip, Joseph rolled up. After chatting for a while, we turned left onto Highway 9 and followed a middle-aged man on a shiny new bike toward Silverthorne. As we pedaled I talked with the rider we were following about things that only cyclists have any interest in. When we mentioned that we had a mail drop in Silverthorne that we had to pick up before we headed further on, we were informed that it being Independence Day the post office would not be open and we could not get our package. Nearing the city limits the prospect of a hot meal fueled our legs until the other rider could no longer keep up and was left gasping in our wake. (Little known fact; dusting a cyclist on a road bike while you are riding a fully-loaded mountain bike gives a huge boost to the ego.)
|Following a roadie|
|Food is nearby!!|
We got into town not long after lunch and wasted no time in tucking into the largest meals our shrunken stomachs would allow. Since we really could do nothing until the post office opened at 9 am the next day, we found the cheapest motel we could and grabbed some groceries from the closest gas station. We twiddled our thumbs until almost dark when we walked up the road to a Ruby Tuesday where I devoured a rack of succulent ribs while watching the Tour de France on a TV mounted over the bar. Our appetites momentarily satiated, we sauntered back to the motel where we slept like dead men. Ah, the good life!