16 May 2008

Carl and Climbing


I woke nice and early to the sun coming through the potato sack curtains in the cabin and it was still pretty warm despite all the snow outside. Last night before bed I popped out to use the outhouse and there were 5 or 6 deer just stood about 10 metres from me. They were gone before I could get the camera but it was cool to see them up close. Bill also has a barn with a peacock and a peahen which were good to see yesterday. Peacocks are huge!
Leaving Guffey
The first scheduled stop of the day was at a small town called Hartsel, 20 miles up the road from Guffey, and it definitely was up. I stopped in at a cafe for some breakfast but my eye caught the double burger combo on the menu and that did the job along with some home made chips which were tasty. Speaking to the waitress, she mentioned that there had been another cyclist in about an hour before me and he fitted Carl's description which was strange as he was meant to be a day ahead of me. She mentioned that he had been hoping to make it to Breckenridge but wasn't sure about the weather ahead and so he was thinking about stopping in Fairplay, 18 miles or so ahead!
Getting Colder
and colder
pretty though!
With Carl firmly in my sights, I started towards Fairplay and made pretty good time since there was a definite upwards incline but nothing horrendous which set me at about 11mph for this stretch. I stopped to talk to a local cyclist called Roy who was just starting out on a 54 mile ride for fun and fitness. Apparently in the past he has ridden the TransAmerica Trail from Pueblo to Oregon and hopes to do the whole thing one day. I left him and made the last half hour to Fairplay which is an old gold mining town that went downhill after the goldrush but then marketed itself as a supply town to various ranches in the area and also labelled itself the "Burro Capital of the World" as a way to get some attention and it holds that title to this day.
The main hotel in town was on the left as I got to town and so I thought I would check and see if Carl had finished for the day since it was still early at about 1pm. The lady at reception confirmed that there was a cyclist staying there but she couldn't tell me his room number for security purposes (you'd have to be a determined stalker to follow someone up here). She was willing to call his room for me and then told me that he would come to reception and meet me!

You can see from the photo above that I met him, far earlier in the mountains than I expected, and we had some catchup chat about who we have seen and what pace we are doing etc. I don't know if there was something wrong with him, or if he just isn't a sociable person, but he was quite lacking in enthusiasm either for our meeting or the trip as a whole which was a shame. He is going to finish the ride in Missoula, Montana since he has chosen some classes at Uni that he has to get back for by June 10th. Chris mentioned that Carl was having a tough ride when he saw him, as did Larry and Julie but he seems to be making quite good time so I'm not sure why he was on a downer.. Anyhow, I decided to push on for the day as I was only 18 miles from the highest point of the trail and had the whole afternoon to beat it.

Alma Matters
The 6 miles to Alma wasn't too harsh although some snow started to come in, angled straight into my face which was no fun, and I stopped at a local healthy cafe for a smoothie and some banana bread before the big climb. A mile or two later and I saw the beginnings of a steep looking hill, and a sign informed me that I had 4 miles to the summit so at least I had some measurements to go by as I crawled up it. The climb was slow with plenty of stops as my legs were feeling the strain, as were my lungs at this altitude. About halfway up a wolf of some sort ran across the road about 20m ahead of me which was cool but would have scared me if I was camping up here!
The Climb Starts Here
After what seemed like for ever I turned a corner and found myself at the peak with a sign informing me that I was at the Continental Divide and I was relieved to know that it was all downhill from here. By this point the snow was almost in a blizzard and I could only see about 10-20m ahead so I was glad to be at the top and was cheered up by a couple of truckers who beeped and gave me the thumbs up!
The Summit!
Heading Down
Such cool views
The road down was pretty scary as it was wet, snowy and icy and full of switchbacks but I rode the brakes as best I could for about 12 miles to the town of Breckenridge which is a really pretty ski resort type town.

Bike Path
More mountains
Statue in Frisco
Sadly lots of the facilities were shut for the season so I followed a designated bike path on to Frisco a few easy downhill coasting miles down the road where I was able to get a hot chocolate and a hotel so am content for the night!

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