Sunday, 17 July 2011

Day 45: Hoosier daddy!

Day 45
Guffey to Silverthorne 85miles

Before I get onto today, just a quick bit about last night. The cabin I was staying in, “The Hole”, was owned by Bill. Bill also owned various other cabins around Guffey including the hogbarn and the honeymoon cabin. He is also the creator of the horse skeleton I posted yesterday, as well as various other things around town. He also runs the Guffey Garage and the local museum. He is also the owner of Monster – a large black cat who is apprarently the Mayor of Guffey!

So yesterday afternoon I wandered over to the Guffey Garage to have a look at all the weird things outside, when Bill introduced himself and asked me in for a beer and a burger! Had a great chat with him and Charlie who works at the garage. Seems like they spend most of their time restoring old cars as well as Bill doing is more artistic things. A bit later we were joined by a couple of Bill's friends from Canon City who were staying in the hogbarn. Ended up having a great evening chatting and drinking quite a bit of beer. Bill also let me look round the museum, where he had a certificate from the original 1976 TransAm ride, as many rider stayed with him. The museum also had a skeleton riding a space rocket whilst holding a lightening bolt – which I think is something all museums should have more of!
The Guffey Garage

There is nothing cooler than this!

 In the morning I set off at about 7am, hoping to be able to climb to the top of the Hoosier pass today. But before that I had to first get up and over Current Creek pass. The early morning riding was lovely, with nice crisp air and the sun just rising over the higher peaks.

The climbing up to Current Creek was actually pretty easy. Certainly not as steep as yesterday's climb up from Canon. After making the climb, the view ahead of me was pretty stunning. I could see the snow-capped mountains way ahead of me in the distance as well as the slightly downhill plains I would be riding through shortly. Pretty much all of today was full of amazing views.

After Current Creek, the ride was pretty flat and even a bit downhill until I reached Hartsel after 26miles. Stopped for my usual riding breakfast of sausage, eggs, hash browns and toast before setting off for the next town of Fairplay. Although Fairplay was at higher elevation than Hartsel, by around 1000ft, it didnt really feel like I was climbing. I dont know if it was because my persepctive was skewed by the high mountains on all sides, but it sort of looked like I was going downhill a lot of the time!
Up or down? Not quite sure

Reached Fairplay and was feeling ok so decided to carry on to the next town of Alma. By now I had done about 45miles and had around 12 until the summit of Hoosier. Getting to Alma was ok, but I knew that the last part of the climb was going to be the steepest.

2 miles out of Alma, I saw a sign telling me I had 4miles to the summit. It was also at the point that the road got steeper. But I was determined not to be beaten on this climb. It was steep, but climbable. I even managed to overtake an older guy on a road bike! The biggest problem was the traffic – it was very heavy with lots of RV's and various other things being towed. There was no shoulder so everything had to go round me. I managed to maintain a pace of around 6-7mph most of the time. I was also determined not to use my lowest gear. Partly because if it got steeper later then you have no more gears to go to, and also as a point of pride. I wanted to conquer this climb with something left.

And then just like that, I could see the summit. I had made it, and now it was going to be all downhill! But first I had to stop and take some pictures. There were plenty of people around, so it was easy enough to get someone to take my picture in front of the sign. Over 11,500ft above sea level – thats over 2miles. And I had got up there all by myself. Well I had Wenlock with me, and got him out for a pic as well!
Take that Rocky mountains!

The Hoosier pass is also my first crossing of the Continental Divide. Basically this is the dividing line in the States which splits the country based on whether rivers flow into the Atlantic or the Pacific. So if I had tipped one of my water bottles out by the sign, its possible the contents could have ended up on different sides of the country!

After a bit of a rest, I headed downhill. And what a downhill it was. Definitely much steeper than the climb I had done to the top, and with really tight hairpins. There was no way I would have been able to take these with my panniers on the front! Barely had to peddle for most of the downhill section, so it was great to be able to just enjoy the views and point the bike in the right direction.
The view from the top

Cycling in a winter wonderland

Stopped at the skiing resort of Breckenridge and treated myself to an ice cream! Breckenridge was a very bike friendly town, and there were loads of cyclists everywhere. It was also where I joined a fantastic bike path for pretty much all of the rest of the day. This was a proper bike path – away from road traffic and with proper markings. And it was very popular. Took the path to Frisco and then round the Dillon reservoir before diving down into my stop for the night, Silverthorne. Silverthone was a bit of a weird place. It seemed to have a huge outlet shopping village, and the roads were very confusing – no simple grid system here!

By now it was about 4.30, so I was glad to get off the road. Felt great to have done my highest climb of the trip, and it was also my longest day on the road for some time. Recently I've been finished by 1-2pm, so it was good to see I could still go later into the day if I need to. So all in all, another successful day, and one which had amazing views pretty much all day.

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