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Blog 8: Through the Rockies

Rocky Ford, CO to Cortez CO

Well, it has been some time since I have blogged! Since last blog we have climbed the Rockies, rolled the western continental divide, helped build 2 houses and put in another 400 miles! The reason I haven’t blogged since the beginning of Colorado is two-fold: first, Colorado is awesome. There is so much to do here! The second reason is that we have had a lot of riding. Our average ride in Colorado has been 80+ miles through mountains. To give a quick run down here is our recent route:

Rocky Ford to Chico Valley Ranch (84 miles, 500 feet climbing, 20 miles on dirt roads)
Chico Valley Ranch to Colorado Springs (45 miles, 1,500 feet of climbing)
Two Build Days
Colorado Springs to Buena Vista (104 miles, 4,000 feet of climbing)
Build Day
Buena Vista to Gunnison (84 miles, 3,500 feet of climbing – over Monarch Pass, the Continental Divide)
Gunnison to Ridgeway (92 miles, 1,500 – 2,000 feet climbing)
Ridgeway to Durango (81 miles, 8,000 feet of climbing – over three 11,000 foot high passes)
Durango to Cortez (45 miles, 2,000 feet of climbing)

Needless to say, it has been a rough week and a half. But it has also been my favorite week of the trip! Partially this is because I love climbing – I love challenging myself – and partially because Colorado is amazing! The mountains have been breathtaking (literally and figuratively). They are really challenging to climb because the air is so thin but are amazing at the top and even better on the way down at speeds that would make my mother would scold me.

Interesting Things in CO:

1. Beer in Colorado: there are hundreds of microbreweries and types of beers here. It has been amazing! Every town we go to has its own brewery even if 5,000 people live there! Sadly, because of the long rides I have only been able to enjoy some of the beers…wink.
2. The Monarch Pass: The highest point in the Rockies (at least for us) and the Western Continental Divide. I tied with another rider as the first person to the top so I took a bunch of pictures. I also took a gondola to the top of the mountain and napped at 12,000 feet – which is really the only thing you can easily do at that height.
3. Extreme speeds and dangerous experiences: it is common to descend down the mountains at 40+ mph. It is also common for drivers to leave very little room on the road because they are [INSERT CURSE] drivers. The combination has been a continual blood rush from close calls – luckily I am through the mountains, so no need to worry!
4. The Million-dollar highway: one of the most the most beautiful and challenging experiences of my life. We climbing along passes that had 800 foot drops on the side and no rails. We also climbed three passes over 11,000 feet. We also climbed in a hail storm and I almost got hypothermia at the top. I set a personal best speed at 51 mph on the descent down the last pass. Finally, I “bonked,” or almost passed out while riding, as I came into Durango because I had literally run out of calories – so I got some Wendy’s and took a nap. Thanks Grandma for those gift cards!
5. White Water Rafting: On our day off a bunch of us went rafting down the Animas River. It was one of the most fun experiences I have had in a long time. We were ridiculous. It would be difficult to count the number of water fights that occurred between the two Bike & Build rafts but let’s just say everyone got soaked multiple times and one girl was tossed in the river twice.
6. Mesa Verde: these are the cave dweller ruins in Southwestern Colorado that are often displayed in National Geographic Magazine. They were twenty five miles off our route (up a mountain) so my friend Grace and I hitchhiked up and took a bunch of pictures. They were gorgeous!
7. The Virus: Starting is Durango a virus started passing around the group making people violently ill of about four to five hours and then really weak for another twelve hours. So far I haven’t go it but I am really nervous because I am the last guy to remain virus free… It is probably only a matter of time.

Okay, Well that is all for now. Tomorrow we will cross into Bluff, Utah and onto to Arizona. Supposedly the desert is having a heat wave right now so that should be fun. Only a couple more weeks of Bike & Build left! Miss you all!

Live. Love. Ride.

Posted by jsheehan11 18:24

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