As Dean said “Canada was good, Montana was good, Wyoming sucked, Colorado looks good” and it is indeed good!
I’m not too sure how they drew the State boundaries – I’m assuming using some key geographical feature – but all the States have been quite different thus far. Montana was all hills and many were steep at that, Wyoming had no big climbs but plenty of sage brush whilst Colorado is the perfect balance of long yet shallow climbs and comparatively good quality roads (even factoring in that Wyoming was on the back foot from the off due to the amount of rain).
Colorado is home to many relaxed ski resorts and chilled out people. As a state of outdoors pursuits, many people understand why you’re doing what you’re doing and don’t question it, rather encourage it. I’ve had a lot of “good job!” and “you go girl!” out of car windows in Colorado which has been very welcome as I’m on my own again now. Which is fine, just takes a bit of getting used to after having been spent a while seeing one person or another that I’d bumped into before. I am essentially in the middle of the Divide rider train, although I expect someone will catch up soon.
I think a few people had a case of mid-Divide blues at the end of Wyoming maybe for reasons different to or the same as mine: the simple fact that you’ve ridden 1,500 miles, are tired and still have 2 states to go which feels a bit daunting. In the middle of a Tired & Emotional session (made 100x worse by food poisoning and Rawlins) I found myself contemplating calling it a day as it felt a good time to stop, Canada and 2 US states down and leaving both Colorado and New Mexico for another time (whereas leaving 3 or only 1 state doesn’t feel as balanced). Once over the bout of T&E, I was keen to carry on and getting going and the very different State of Colorado has helped in leaving those feelings behind.
Colorado also offers the opportunity to hit a few milestones that make you think “well I’ve done that so surely I can do the rest”. This includes crossing Boreas Pass which, at 11,300 ft, is the highest crossing of the Continental Divide. I was lucky to go up it in sun (although it was raining by the time I got to the top) as it’s a beautiful part of the route through rocky outcrops and aspen.
Looking down on Breckenridge:
On the way up, I inadvertently found myself as a participant in a mountain bike race and got a lot of “good jobs” from my fellow contestants. I came third and am hoping to do a bit better next year.
View from the top. Simply breathtaking:
Actually it was quite nice once the weather cleared a bit!
Going over the pass also gets you to the milestone of:
And less than 1,000 miles to go!
Next up is Indiana Pass which is the highest pass on the route at 11,900 ft (but isn’t a Continental Divide crossing). There’s a reasonable chance of it snowing up there so I’m going to follow Greg’s New Yorker attitude that he had to the Great Basin of entering it then “getting the f*ck out”. Whilst often the best bits, it is true of some of the more testing parts of the route that if the weather is vaguely ok and you have some energy left, then move on before it all goes pear-shaped!
I’d get over the pass more easily if I stopped vastly over-catering and carrying unnecessary weight. There’s no real shop for 2 days before the 2 day crossing of the Basin so you need to pack for 4 days. Here’s my load (with the peanuts and Hot Tamales on the right donated by 3 locals who stopped to check I was alright):
After displaying my goods, I remember thinking “gosh, I’m sailing close to the wind here in terms of how much I’ve got vs. how much I need”. 9 cycling days later and I still have a third of the stash! Granted I’ve had a few diner breakfasts and dinners and still eating significantly less since being ill but I still think it’s safe to say I went over the top. Another stretch requiring 4 days food is coming up and I clearly haven’t learnt my lesson as, on top of what I already have, I’m adding $27 worth of grub from Safeway. The thing is, you don’t pass many Safeways so when you do it’s important to capitalise on the opportunity and variety of goods on offer. They do some really nice own-brand mint fudge biscuits, there’s a new type of gummy sweet out and it’s vital I try them…
Anyway, here’s to Indiana pass and see you on the other side!