Not sleeping well two nights in a row left me in a whiny mood and a decent continental breakfast did nothing to improve it. But, vacation is still vacation and just hanging out relaxing before heading out for a ride put me back on track. Still, there was a bit of stress in deciding to choose between going back to Dolores to explore some more single track or do I suck it up and climb up Mesa Verde? Choices, choices.
Mesa Verde won out because I wanted a chance to wear my new road bike shoes. Just before leaving Phoenix I bought a new pair of Specialized shoes. I had just replaced my older Sidi's with a pair of Northwave. But they just didn't fit me well, and since I am very picky about what's on my feet I kept looking for replacements. I was tempted by the Specialized's fit, weight and features. Actually, I dazzled by them because they are white. Even if I am slow I still want to look good. I embarrassed to admit that I chose a killer ride just to wear new shoes.
It was fairly windy at the bottom (maybe it was my windy bottom) and the first 4 miles sucked. It was hot, but the tears of pain falling from my eyes kept me cool as they evaporated. I find it interesting that climbing starts off as a miserable experience until the legs and lungs start to find their rhythm.
I had found my rhythm when I reached the unlit tunnel , about 5 miles up the road. At the entrance I had to toss a tidbit to Cerebus. the three headed dog, who was guarding it. It was as if I was entering Hades. Most of the way through I could not see the road surface at all and kept praying that there would not be a pothole in my line. You can't see the road and can only aim for the, I'm not kidding, light at the end of the tunnel. I was lucky that no car or Winnebago came through as I was in it otherwise that light might have had a different meaning.
I stopped at one lookout to take pictures (and find my rhythm which had fallen off somewhere after the tunnel) where I met a great German family. They took a picture of me trying to look like I am not ready to throw up. I also pumped my legs to make them look extra muscular, but they still look like sausages. And, check out those fancy white shoes! Pure sweetness.
After chatting with the father for a while he seemed to want to get away. I am not sure if it was the bugs in my teeth or if I had body odor. But, I kept chasing him down to have an excuse to stay where I was. When I asked where they were from he said they were from southwest Germany, but he got a nervous look in his eyes and changed it to Norway. I think he thought I was going to follow them.
The ride back down the hill was great. It's what makes all the climbing worth it. I love keeping up with all the traffic, especially when the speed limit is 45MPH. The tunnel was, once again, a scary adventure. I just closed my eyes and held on (hey, I already couldn't see).
After the ride I decided to do the Durango, Silverton. Telluride, Dolores, Cortez loop in the car. Just as I left Mesa Verde I found these Anasazi pots on the side of the road. I didn't realize how large the Anasazi must of been. Check out the ladder leaning against the largest pot.
I took my first stop for some lunch at Coal Creek Pass. Here is a pic of the flowers at over 10,000 feet in altitude. It was perfect. Even though there were a lot of people stopping for the view and the bathrooms, it was still quiet enough to hear the wind through the trees. Well, it was quiet until an old man sitting in the car next to me started to cough and hack his lungs out. This was as I was trying to eat my chili in peace. I almost lost my appetite. He must have sucked a lot of air into his stomach while coughing because he immediately started to belch with a resonance that would make a fog horn proud. With apologies to the Bard, "Who would have thought the old man had so much air in him?"
Downtown Silverton. A happenin' place. I bought a postcard for Arlette and mailed it to her. I hope my poor attempt at French is comprehensible. I've been calling her in France everyday to describe where I am and have been. She's living the trip vicariously. It's a lot of fun to hear how much she is enjoying my trip. Silverton reminded me a Gallup in the sense that all the stores cater to tourism and sell the same style cheesy t-shirts and keepsakes. But, if it pays the rent, I am for it.
Mountains by Telluride.
The drive out of Telluride was a lot of fun. A Mini Cooper wanted to play a bit so I obliged him. But I think he was discouraged to see a car with two bikes on it catching up to him in every corner. Especially when the driver had his arm hanging out the window. He finally gave up, pulled over and let me by. I am not the competitive type (just ask my friends) so I derived no pleasure from crushing his spirit like a grape.
A perfect day ended with another veggie sandwich at the Dolores River Brewing Company. Of course, it was washed down with two pints of their ESB.