Denis Kertz, ©2014
I wasnít in a hurry to get going.† It rained over night and the weather didnít look much better in the morning.† On top of that I could see the mosquitoes just waiting, daring me to leave my tent.† I packed up as much as I could in my tent and then worked to pack my bicycle as quick as possible.† It took a little time for the buggers to find me and then they started feasting again.
I hustled out of the park as fast as I could and rode to the
nearby McDonaldís since I hadnít seen any regular restaurant around for
breakfast.† Again I had the Big Breakfast
with Hotcakes, not a bad breakfast.†
After killing about as much time as reasonable I started riding towards
It drizzled off and on as I climbed to the
I didnít expect much the rest of the way and then noticed a
few openings as the clouds thinned out a bit.†
Before long the clouds had lifted above the plateau and the views turned
out to be fine, something I would not have put any money on.† The Sun even put in a couple of
appearances.† So I got to see
It was also a great descent from the monument back to ďseaĒ
level, just as I remembered from before and I could see Grand Mesa to the
east.† I stopped for a bit to eat at a
food mart on the edge of
Then I pulled out my Garmin GPS to find where motels were.† Unfortunately, the GPS doesnít work like Google Maps where you can see where the motels are on a map.† I found one motel that looked like it was on the south end of town along with another one and I figured that would be a good place to look.† When I got to the motel, the guy refused to rent a room because I didnít have a car.† Thatís the first time Iíve ever been rejected.† I have needed to show a driverís license for identification but I never had to actually have a car.† So I went to the other nearby motel and found it catered to extended stay and they didnít have anything available.† However, I got directions to the north side of town where I was assured there were plenty of motels.
So I rode back from the south side to
While I was trying to connect to the motel WiFi I noticed that the Village Inn restaurant next door had a WiFi network.† So I decided to eat there for both the WiFi and because it was raining.† That worked fine and I got most of what I needed to get done.
The other thing on my agenda was laundry.† The motel operator told me where the Laundromat was but he noted that it didnít stay open late.† Nevertheless I walked there with my clothes hoping I might be able to get that taken care of or at least find out the hours of operation.† The Laundromat was indeed closed but I learned it opened at 8 am and that would work okay before having to check out of the motel.
Later I stopped by the Wendyís next door and got a classic vanilla ice cream.† This came in a carton and required a spoon.† And thatís how I got my replacement spoon.† In fact, I picked up an extra one just in case.
So the day started out with rain, cleared up for some good viewing in the monument, and then restored itself to the rainy weather.† However, the weather forecast for the near future looked good.
I walked next door to the Village Inn for breakfast and had a pancake combo which was very good.† This also gave me the chance to use the WiFi again.† Without this WiFi access the motel would have been a real disappointment but as it was it was mostly an annoyance.
Just after 8 am I showed up at the Laundromat and took care
of my laundry.† By 9:30 am I was checked
out of the motel.† The goal for the day
was to camp at the
I decided to ride back to the downtown area since that was only a couple of miles.† I did a little shopping and then I stopped at the Main Street Bagels place which was hopping.† I got a cinnamon roll, read the paper to catch up on news, and used the WiFi.
Around noon I started making my way to the state park for camping.† The streets were laid out in a nice north-south, east-west fashion so getting around was easy.† It was actually a little farther than I thought but I was in no hurry.† Palisade is a big fruit and vineyard area and there were designated byways specifically for those who wanted to check out the area.† I stopped at a food mart for a cold drink and got directions to a nearby grocery store.† I stocked up on a few things.† I expected at least one night I wouldnít have access to food and would need to use my food stock.
Then I continued on and had to get on I70 for a few miles.† At the exit for the park there was a food mart and restaurant.† I stopped at the restaurant at about 3 pm and had their spaghetti special for $10 and it was almost more than I could eat.† I hoped this was how carbo loading worked, because I was loaded when I left.
The park was just across the road.† At one time the park area was a true island but then a dike was built in the 1950s that eliminated the island.† There was a small tent-only section with only one other group in it and I got a site for $16.† However, unlike Fruita, there was no ranger on duty and I had to pay cash rather than being able to use my credit card.† My site had a row of shade trees and it was very pleasant with nary a mosquito in sight.† Maybe they hadnít gotten notice that I would be here.
By comparison to other days, I didnít really need a shower but I took one anyway for 4 quarters.† Ideally, the shower should be part of the camping fee but the argument is that this gets people thinking about conserving water.† The problem in this case is the $1 gets 4 minutes but I was done early and there was no way to shut off the water early.† So much for conservation.
Anyway, a restful day despite the nearly 30 miles.† Some exercise experts might call this active rest and claim this can actually be better than complete rest.† I hope so.† The big climb up Grand Mesa tomorrow looms.† In fact, there is a huge pile of rock next to the interstate that reminds of this big climb every time I glance that way.
I packed up and rode the mile back to the restaurant at the interstate exit and had a good breakfast of ham, eggs, potatoes, and a pancake.† I left at about 8:15 and immediately got on I70.† I saw a sign for ramp repairs at exit 49 with a detour and I guessed that was my exit and it was.† I had visions of the detour going to the next exit and coming back on a different road which would have been a killer.† Instead the detour was just to ride up the entrance ramp so the detour was no big deal.†
The initial 5 miles or so were really scenic as the road followed the Plateau Creek through a steep canyon with vertical rock walls.† This was the best scenery of the day.
After 14 miles at the intersection with 330, the real
climbing of the day began, 5,700 feet over 19 miles to the Grand Mesa.† In 2 miles I stopped in the small town of
began a long, almost impossible grind up a constant grade at 3.5 mph.† I did my best to stay hydrated and keep
feeding myself but the grind took its toll.†
There were some good views looking back down the
Although I took frequent short breaks, around 1:30 I took about
a 25 minute break and that helped some.†
Originally I estimated I could make the Grand Mesa by 2-3 pm but it was
4 pm until I reached the
Eventually I reached the top and finally started a
descent.† When I came upon two lakes with
campgrounds I found the
I got a camp site next door at
This is bear country so after eating I packed my food in my sleeping bag pouch and stuck it in the restroom since the cedar trees here didnít have any good branches for hanging food.† Then I settled in for what I expected would be a cold night at 10,300 feet.
This was the first night I had to zip up my sleeping bag.† I think it was close to freezing in the morning and that made it harder to get up.† The campground was located where it was going to take a while for the Sun to reach the campground.† Nevertheless I got up and was on the road by 7:30.† It was downhill all the way to Cedaredge but it was chilly where the sun wasnít on the road yet.† Even where the sun was on the road it was still pretty cool.† So I kept my speed under control to minimize the cold.
about 5 miles the road reached a clearing where you could see the valley below
Just as I neared Cedaredge I saw two bucks that I thought at first were these statues that people put up to decorate their yard but these statues moved.† It is rare to see a buck, much less two at the same time.† The closest one started leaving but the other approached a bit and posed for a photo before they both moved away.
I found a restaurant in town for breakfast and had an omelet
since their pancake offerings didnít look appealing.† Then I descended a few more miles until I
In town I had a couple slices of pizza and a 44oz lemon-lime Gatorade.† Then my goal was to reach Paonia, 9 miles away.† The main road through town split into 92 east and 133 north to Grand Mesa.† I wanted to take a county road to Paonia but that would have meant riding a couple miles on 92 and I decided against that.† 133 had only a narrow shoulder but it was better than no shoulder.
I reached Paonia about 2:30.†
Ideally, I would have kept going another 17 miles to
I checked with information in town and learned there really wasnít any camping unless I could get permission to camp in the town park, which I checked later at the town hall and that wasnít allowed.† There was a motel just a couple blocks from downtown and a motel about a half mile down 133 that I saw on my way.† No one was around until 4 pm for the near town motel so I started to ride to the other one when I passed the library.† So I stopped at the library to use their WiFi and take care of some things.† By the time I was done at the library it was just after 4 pm so I got a room at the motel for $68.
After cleaning up I walked downtown.† Paonia had a nice downtown but most of their restaurants were cafes and bistros trying to show they could invent all kinds of different foods.† I ended up at a decent Mexican restaurant, seemingly the only traditional restaurant in town.
It was an auspicious start to what promised to be another hard day.† Just as I rolled my bike out of my motel room I discovered I had a flat rear tire.† I thought I must have just gotten it rolling the bike through the parking lot but I had to put the tube in my roomís sink (fortunately I hadnít locked the door) to find the slow leak.† So it must have happened yesterday and slowly gone flat.† The cause was easy to determine.† I found two little things stuck in the tire before I even removed the tire.† They were 2 little pins of some sort next to each other.† One was too short but the other punctured the tube and I could feel it from the inside.† I had to use my knife to remove them.† This cost me about 30 minutes and I finally left at 7:45.
Then I noticed the brisk headwind.† I figured that was all I needed on what already promised to be a hard day.
I rode back to Hwy 133 where there was a food mart and had my cereal breakfast with a banana.† I finally got on the road at 8:15 on a cool morning made worse by the headwind.† I had 18 miles to Paonia State Park and I figured that would take a couple of hours but it took 3 hours and I climbed about 900 feet over 18 miles.† Taking that into account and the fact that I hadnít hit the hard climbing yet made me start to wonder if I could even make the pass today.† I started debating whether I should just stop at the park and call it a day or try to hitch a ride over the pass, much as I was loath to do that.
At least the views were great, much better than the climb
the other day to Grand Mesa.† The road
followed the North Fork of the
I rode through
About 11:30 I passed the Paonia Reservoir and saw the state
park at the north end of the reservoir.†
It didnít look like much from the road and I didnít hesitate to continue
on.† It wasnít too much later that I
finally realized my progress was much better than my earlier estimates.† I finally saw a sign that said 6 miles to
After 35 miles I reached
The view of the mountains was fabulous and then the road
My goal for the day was to stop at the BRB Campground a few
I wasnít about to ride the 5 miles back uphill to the KOA
when I reached
After settling in I grabbed a large tuna sandwich next door at the food mart - I had to do something to save some money.
Despite the campground fiasco, the day turned out pretty well.† It was still a hard day but almost easy by comparison with the climb to Grand Mesa two days ago.
I took advantage of the motelís free continental breakfast which was pretty decent.† To pick up the Rio Grande Trail all I had to do was take the road in front of the motel for about 0.8 miles and it intersected with the trail.
The trail is basically a paved former railway route with
about a 3% grade so it was pretty easy, especially compared to my previous
climbs.† I had done this same trail last year to get
I reached Nick/Sabrinaís place in
We had a great dinner of elk and salmon with homemade ice cream for desert.
Nick is a major Cardinal baseball fan so he had taped a game
Day 15: Mon, Sep 15, 2014 -
I slept great last
night on my makeshift bed.† Sabrina works
part-time as a nurse and had the day off.†
So we went into
Later, I remembered I had forgotten my bicycle maintenance.† So I dragged the bike outside and cleaned the chain and oiled the pulleys and brakes.
Since it was Monday night football, Nick figured wings would be the appropriate meal so he cooked some wings in his smoker.† He also bought a German chocolate cake for my birthday.† So we had wings, Caesarís salad, and cake and ice cream, a fine meal.
Copyright Denis Kertz, 2014. All rights reserved.