Monday, July 19, 2010

To Telluride and out of the Rockies

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Colorado continues to impress.  Riding in a valley surrounded by peaks like those pictured above is quite the experience.  I am still taking way too many pictures.  Thank God.  Without my hundreds of pictures I don’t think I’d be able to remember all of the spectacular scenery and funny moments of the trip.  

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This shot was from the top of Dallas Divide, which was something like 9k or 10k feet.  It was a bummer to climb to the top and see these storm clouds.  On the half hour descent I was pelted with huge rain drops that felt like BBs when they hit me because I was going so fast.  I didn’t have any rain or warmth gear so I spent the rest of the afternoon freezing cold and complaining about it every chance I got.  My toes turned white.  I get that Colorado is beautiful and all, but I still am curious as to why people chose to live somewhere that summer does not exist. 

Start of Utah 006 Telluride!  This is one of three pictures I took of one of the coolest towns I’ve ever been to.  The town is nestled between giant, gorgeous mountains, and, if that weren’t enough, there is a beautiful waterfall (pictured in the back) that is visible from everywhere in town.  It’s such a progressive, outdoorsy, touristy place.  It's one of those places where everyone has a crappy hybrid with lots of  bumper stickers but mostly rides their $3,000 mountain bike around town.  We camped in the town park at the end of this street closer to the waterfall.   There was some festival going on all weekend with live music we could hear from our tents.  Does it get better than that?  Also, we had a REST DAY!  That means we could have a PARTY NIGHT! We asked some locals where to find the cheapest, least-touristy, most hole-in-the-wall bar in town.  They came through and we spent several hours in a basement establishment with $6 pints of Evan Williams on the rocks.  Classy. 

The next morning everyone rented mountain bikes.  Telluride is home to some of the nations premiere mountain biking trails that people travel to from far and wide to ride on.  This should have been my first clue that perhaps this wasn’t the best place to try to start mountain biking.  Of the six girls that mountain biked, one of us had fun, two were injured, and three were too terrified to have an opinion.  I was scared out of my mind.  I spent more time off the bike, walking it over rocks and trees and 90 degree turns, than I did on it.  And when I was on it, I was white-knuckling the breaks and repeatedly falling over sideways.  The sad things is, I want to like mountain biking.  I still think I could mountain bike.  But riding down a huge mountain on singletrack through the trees was a bit much.  Perhaps I’d prefer some uphill or flatlands mountain biking.  You know, mountain biking minus the mountain part?  Off road cycling? 

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Carmen checking out Telluride’s “free stuff” wall.  What?  Yes, the town of Telluride is so hippie and progressive that people cut out the thrift store middleman and just leave their old things on the side of the road downtown.  There were clothes, shoes, nice DVDs, snowboarding shoes, skis, etc.  Locals we talked to said you can get all of your winter and summer sporting goods at the free wall.  And the clothes weren’t crappy Goodwill clothes either, they were name brand, nice things that had nothing wrong with them.  I got a long sleeve shirt and a scarf at the wall.  I didn’t need the scarf, but I’d like to hope whoever put it there would be happy to know that I tied it to my bike to use to clean my sunglasses.

Some facts about stuff:

  • Pairs of sunglasses I’ve destroyed: 4
  • Average price of one of my pairs of sunglasses: $4.50
  • Distance traveled from Yorktown before my first helmet mirror broke: 8 miles
  • Before my bike computer broke: 1,300 miles.
  • Before I removed my rear rack: 100 miles
  • Number of things I use Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap for: 6 (body soap, shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, laundry detergent, dish detergent)

 Start of Utah 010I probably shouldn’t  be telling you this, but: we cheated.  Please forgive us.  See, leaving Telluride you could a) ride your bike up a a mountain, or b) take a free gondola with awesome views to the top of the mountain instead.  Not everyone chose to ride the gondola, but Team Pacecloud did and we aren’t ashamed to admit it.  It only cut off two miles and being able to see the valley with the town of Telluride nestled at the bottom was a sight so amazing it erased any guilt.   Start of Utah 020

Soon after getting off the gondola we passed 14,ooo+ ft. Mount Wilson.  Locals in Telluride told us that it was the model for the mountain on the Coors Light can.  I think that we were at the wrong angle to really see any similarity, coorslogobut it was an interesting fact to know nonetheless.



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Team Pacecloud (bottom left) fixing a broken bike, as per usual, at the bottom of a mountain in Colorado.

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The day out of Telluride was one of the best yet of the entire trip.  It was pretty much all downhill.  You just had to pedal once or twice a minute for a few hours.  It was great to not have to exert an insane amount of energy to travel sixty miles.  For one of the first times on the trip, I really felt like I was a good cyclist.  Tour de France quality.  All it took was riding down the western slope of the Rockies to make me feel fast.

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How to tell if Bike the US for MS cyclists have stopped at a gas station.   Not pictured: an empty shelf where the chocolate milk used to be.

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Even small towns we passed through with less than 1,00o people had at least one medical marijuana dispensary.  So let me get this straight- in Colorado you can buy weed at stores, but you cannot buy beer over 3.2% unless you go to a liquor store.  Hm.

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At the end of the day we rode east for a couple of miles off the main road to get to our campsite.  It was odd to turn around and see how tiny the Rockies had gotten already.  In one days ride we had gone from Telluride fantasy-land to the foothills.  And that was it.  We had ridden over the Rockies.  I did it.  Next challenge: the buttes and canyons of Utah.  The Appalachians tried to kill me, the Ozarks almost succeeded, the Rockies made me want to check the classifieds and rent and apartment.  Utah, Nevada, and California…. BRING IT ON.

Also please check out our new video.  In it you can see what mountain biking is supposed to look like.  I didn’t make an appearance in this video, probably due to aforementioned lack of biking skills.  But Joe is AWESOME.  Anyways, if you read the blog but don’t watch the videos, you’re seriously missing out.


  1. A deal is a deal. Here's $50 for crossing the Rockies. Many congratulations. Is it sad passing by all those disc golf courses without playing? Rhetorical.

  2. i want to rent an apartment too from these pictures. i also feel like i'm going to have the same sentiment out on our west coast tour. i can't believe it's less than 2 weeks. woo!

  3. I've just caught up with all of your entries. Congratulations on making it to Colorado! I'm intrigued by Dr. Bonner's magic soap and the free wall. Who knew?!