Salida

SALIDA, COLORADO

The day’s profile looked pretty easy – 40 miles of flat followed by some trending uphill over the 9,010′ Poncha Pass then a descent to Salida. We were also aware of wild fires burning near Salida and there were rumors of what the next day would bring.

As we rolled through Alamosa, a rider named Karen asked me if I rode up L’Alpe d’Huez (which was the jersey I was wearing). Of course I did. She joined Scott Olson and me for a few miles until he pulled away as we took pictures of the sign “Forest Fires Ahead — Do Not Call 911.”

At the first rest stop I met a guy wearing a Haymarket jersey and talked to him for a while.  Haymarket, like Woodbridge, is in Prince William County, Virginia. After rolling out on the Celestial Highway (Google it) I saw my friend off the road in the sand changing a flat. I went back to help him.

After the third rest I caught Karen and saw she had a pump. I had intended to top off the air pressure today at the first stop since the school was too far to go to in the morning roll out. Distracted by talking with my Haymarket friend and I forgot to check air at Stop 2. But now I was convinced the front tire was low — too low — and I preferred a pump to CO2 which I carry.

Giant Chicken Rest Stop

But as we rolled along the tire was definitely flatting and at the first intersection where I didn’t have to be in the sand, I pulled over and changed the tube. I have little negative to say about Ride the Rockies but two SAG vehicles drove by and neither stopped. Oh how I wanted a floor pump.

After Rest 3 I rolled out by myself to Poncha Pass. At the pass I saw a whiteboard which stated tomorrow’s route would be changed and details to be released at the cycling meeting. Nothing I could do but ride. 

I left the pass and began the descent. I did not expect anything more in speed but got into a tuck and let it roll. The Colorado State Troopers that rode with us on motorcycles were getting tired and grumpy. Earlier I saw one, sirens on, yelling at one large group of cyclists trying to pass another large group of cyclists. And now, on my descent, a trooper pulled up beside me as I was in my tuck doing 45 mph.

I wasn’t sure of the speed limit but I didn’t want to brake. I let it roll. I pulled ahead of the cop as I was in the right side of the lane and he was in the left. I hit 51 mph. I love these Colorado downhills.

Scott Olson on Cruiser

At the Salida Super 8, Scott Olson and I both borrowed “cruiser” bikes to go downtown and attend the cycling meeting. We were pleasantly surprised by the street fair downtown and the white water kayaking in the Arkansas River.

At the meeting we learned the reroute would add 35 more miles (95 total) and take us over yet another 9,000′ pass. Many people were defeated.

I was disappointed because I really wanted to see and ride over the Royal Gorge Bridge – the highest suspension bridge in the U.S. But people lost homes and jobs in the Great Gorge Fire and what I would lose is nothing compared to them. Plus we get bonus miles which will make this the longest Ride the Rockies in their 28 year history.

After dinner it rained. A thunderstorm. And the area needed it.

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