Maybe my legs have a 30-mile climb in them. But not at the start of a rainy day after a big day over Grand Mesa. Not today. My legs were crap.
I boarded a bus at 6:00 a.m. in Montrose for the 40 mile ride to Hotchkiss. Our last stop in Montrose we picked up additional riders who were standing room only. Closer to Hotchkiss, in Delta, the driver teased some riders by pulling over then motioning we were full. They would have to wait for the 7:00 bus. Ouch.
I retrieved my bike from the bike corral and the high school kids that had been watching them were teasing Ron Kiefel about having bike number one. They didn’t he really was number one – the host of the tour. It was the only time all week I saw Ron. I did not attend any of the cycling seminars.
It was cool. I brought a rain jacket. And I would need it for warmth (helped) and to keep dry (didn’t help).
The first aid station was at 10 miles in Crawford. It started raining hard. Around mile 20 it stopped and I removed my jacket. At mile 22 it started raining hard. It was a cold rain, 49 degrees (10C).
I passed a young woman from Denver. She would stand, pedal, then coast. Uphill. Her legs were shot. We talked about yesterday’s big effort and nutrition. I thought about riding with her just to distract her but she was too slow. I told her I would wait at the next aid station for her which I did. It was raining hard then. I never saw her after that.
After the aid station, the climb continued into Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. We had 10 miles of rollers before beginning our descent. The sun came out briefly.
As I did on every descent I passed everyone although a 30-something woman got on my wheel and stayed there. And I didn’t try to drop her. I was glad she trusted me enough to read the lines and follow me. I asked her if she enjoyed the free ride and she did. I never saw her after that.
The last 30 miles were over and by the Blue Mesa Reservoir. Seventeen miles were on the shoulder of US 50 which is never fun in any state or D.C. I blew past the last aid station as I saw black clouds gathering behind us. I had stopped and changed my jacket six times and did not want to get soaked again.
I pulled into Gunnison and went searching for my motel – the Western Motel. The sun came out and it finally was going to be a nice day. I found a Sonic not far down the street and pedaled back to my room holding a burger in one hand and a milkshake in the other.