Thursday, June 26, 2008

Chains and Chains, Rivers and Passes

Day: 271 to 273
Vail to Paonia Reservoir
Time: Day 272-4:11 Day 273- 6:00
Distance: Day 272-53.23 miles Day 273-59.25 miles
Avg Speed: Day 272-12.7 mph Day 273-9.9 mph
Terrain: Flat and Rolling

I am going to combo a few days on this blog. Day 271 was Saturday for us and we celebrated by volunteering with some friends to help clean up the top of the Vail Bike Path. It is an annual event that brings out about 20 people to help clear the top five miles of the pass from a winter’s worth of garbage. Our group of four got mile #2 and we set out quickly with our orange bags and vests clearing any and all garbage in sight. This year the organizers decided to recycle all the metal that we gathered off the road. Our friend John helped by driving Vail Pass and picking up the little piles we made for him. The biggest contributor of metal this year was the trucking industry. In our section we hauled out at least 20 sets of tire chains. When all was said and done John had around a ton of metal in his truck ready for the recycle man. I would say that 90% of that was tire chains. After the clean up we gathered back in Vail and rallied for a ride on the North Trail. The trail starts right in town on the north side of the valley and switch backs its way up the hills. We had nice cool weather and dry conditions as we wound our way up. Our friends Sean and Scott joined us for the ride. Once at the top we had the decision to either return the way we came or have a rocky descent into the creek bottom. Sean elected to return the way we came and Scott, Leslie and I did the descent. We all survived the descent just fine but on the climb back out Scott caught his rear derailleur on a rock and snapped it off. After fiddling with it for awhile we decided that he was going to have make his bike into a kick bike and walk it on up hills and coast or kick his way down. We survived with flying colors and Scott now is the proud owner of a multi thousand dollar kick bike.
The next day Leslie and I were leaving the comforts of Vail and heading to Glenwood Springs. I guess I should back up here and say that before we could leave town we were scheduled to be on the local TV channel’s Sunday morning show. We weren’t too sure what to expect so we tried to go in with pretty open minds. The interview only lasted a few minutes and all went well until the host asked us if anything funny happened while we were on the road. I couldn’t help but sharing our Laos brothel experience. She didn’t miss a beat and looked right at Leslie and said “I bet you were popular there”. She then added for all the viewers that if you are in Laos and you try to check in a ‘resort’ be careful because you might get more than you bargained for.
After that we got on the road and had our second guest rider of the trip. Our good friend Jennie rode with us for 10 miles or so before she peeled off and headed back home. I think Leslie and her had a good time chatting it up on the bike path the whole time. The ride was great on the way the Glenwood until we got to the canyon and figured out that the bike path was still closed due to high water. Luckily we were able to ride quite a ways and have our friend Andrew come pick us up at a rest stop. It worked out really well since we were staying at he and his wife’s place that night. When we got home we were immediately fed and watered (I guess beered would be a better word) and put in the shade to rest before dinner. Nothing like bouncing from friends to friends to really make a bike tour comfortable.
After a great nights sleep we got on the road towards Paonia Reservoir. The ride took us on a rail trail, through historic Redstone and Marble and up and over McClure Pass.
I even had a run in with a dog in Carbondale while the day was still young. He decided that my foot looked good to bite, so he did. I came out of the altercation a lot better than he did though. We rolled into Redstone around lunch and stopped at the Redstone General Store for a little food before the pass. We had a nice relaxing break and were pleasantly surprised by the small town hospitality. The cook in the store filled up our bottles and decided that they looked a little dingy so she washed them for us. It was a great note to get back out on the road to. We passed Marble at the foot of the pass and settled in for an hour long slog for the three miles up to the top. At the top the rain started so we donned our rain gear for the descent to the reservoir. We had heard that there was a private campground near that dam so we decided that we would stay there. Imagine our surprise when we learned that it had been sold and was now closed to the public! We really didn’t want to ride back the four miles uphill to the campground we passed earlier so we ducked into a picnic area to mull it over. The picnic area happened to be the home of the campground hosts so after researching our options with him, he said that if we wanted to wait an hour he would drive us back up there. He had to go check the campgrounds and would be happy to give us a ride. He and his wife even filled up all of our water containers so we wouldn’t have to filter.
Hospitality is alive and well in Colorado!!

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