Grand Mesa

HOTCHKISS, COLORADO

Pain is relative and this was a painful day.

In 2007 I rented a bike in Idaho Springs and slogged up the 28 miles to the summit of Mt. Evans. By my calculation that gained 6600′ over 28 miles or 4.5%. Today’s ride gained 5800′ over 20 miles or 5.5%. It was hot, it reached 91 degrees and my Trek Domane is not built for climbing.

Leaving Grand Junction
Leaving Grand Junction

The day began riding down to downtown Grand Junction then joining the Ride the Rockies route. We rode along their new River Trail alongside the Colorado River until we were forced to ride on the road. And by on the road I mean a five-mile stretch of Interstate 70.

Interstate-70 just east of Paradise
Interstate-70 just east of Paradise

We were confined to the shoulder separated from traffic by cones. Yet for the impatient I saw a father being trailed by his probably 12 year-old son jump in the traffic lane of I-70. Brilliant! This guy should be nominated for Dad of the Year. He could have taught his son patience, respect for the law, but most of all, respect for life without making risky decisions.

 There were a number of pace lines that formed and I occasionally jumped in one. But when I’m carefully watching the wheel in front of me I’m missing some of the scenery.
Right before Mesa the road turned up. This was the start of the 20 mile climb. It was tough. I cursed my decision to bring the Domane. I can’t get as low gearing on it as I can on my Trek Pilot.

Aid Station
Aid Station

The entire time up the climb I kept looking for another gear. It wasn’t there. It really was a slog.

Looking back from Powderhorn Mountain Resort
Looking back from Powderhorn Mountain Resort
We had already ridden 36 miles, I may have had 40 at that point, when we reached Mesa. There the climb began. It was one pedal after another and not much more. I stopped, without guilt, at the aid station at 11 miles up just to get more water. I drank nine bottles on the day.

Grand Mesa
Grand Mesa
On the climb I passed a few people but I was passed by many more than passed me. One that I did pass was a mother and her son, probably in his late teens, on a tandem. He appeared to have Down Syndrome. Wow. What an inspiration.

Polka-dot jersey. I passed him.
Polka-dot jersey. I passed him.
Even as I reached the top of the Grand Mesa it still had some rollers to tease me with before beginning a 20 mile downhill to Cedaredge. I bombed the descent passing many and not being passed by anyone. Maybe I didn’t enjoy it enough. But I enjoyed it by going fast. I averaged 32 mph for more than 19 miles.
At the rest stop I met Dave, from yesterday, and his friend Jamie. I started to offer Dave a free rooming package since my roommate could not make the trip. But there were two of them, “a team,” Dave explained. They headed off for the last 20+ miles to Hotchkiss.
I left Cedaredge and started climbing again. “What was that?” my legs screamed out. Once over that first climb the route trended downhill with some flat sections. I caught Jamie and asked him what about being a team. Dave had left him. I rode with the big guy for a while before taking off myself.

Island Lake
Island Lake

Arriving Hotchkiss, many in the town came out to greet the riders.  I had ridden 99 miles.

 I turned around and went looking for food. I found Subway, which was probably the nicest building in town. I finished the ride, left the bike in the bike corral and boarded a bus to Montrose, the lodging location for this night.

 


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