Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Day 17 - Grand Junction, CO to Montrose, CO
Today was all about sharing the road. For the last two weeks, we've been the only cyclists on the roads on this journey across the U.S. Not so today. We were joined by 1600 other cyclists on the Bicycle Tour of Colorado--a six-day cycling event covering about 600 miles of the western Rockies. It was actually quite fun to see so many other riders out there with us. At times, it was a bit like rush hour traffic, but for the most part, it made the day more interesting.
Our route had us on a bike trail for the first 12.5 miles that followed the Colorado River. It made for a very scenic start of the day. Most of us stayed together over the initial miles and then we spread out a bit. After a short climb to Highway 50, we merged with the Bicycle Tour of Colorado (BTC) crowd. We were climbing up another hill when a BTC cyclist caught me and started a conversation about America By Bicycle. We would have many similar conversations all day. We shared about the route, distance, our average daily miles, accommodations, and the like. It was fun to talk about the ride with another cyclist who could fully appreciate what we were doing and understood our motivation. Most people are at best perplexed when we talk about our ride. At worst, they think we are full-blown nuts. (Which we are...)
We enjoyed talking about the BTC riders at our SAG stop. Gerard had some witty comments he kept to himself like, "A tour of Colorado? How cute." or "Yeah, this would make a great training ride for the Cross Country Challenge!" My remark was, "You get a rest day after only four days of riding, huh? We rode for 11 days before we got a rest day!"
Fifteen miles after the SAG stop, we reached the town of Delta. It's known as the Mural Capital of Colorado. Just about every business has a wall-size mural on the side of the exterior. I enjoyed riding through the town, but chose to make a stop for refreshments in Montrose instead of stopping here. As I rode on, I thoroughly enjoyed passing as many BTC cyclists as I could. Just to prove the point that going all the way across the US is far superior than just a week's jaunt around a solitary state!
While on one stretch of Hwy. 50 while I was chugging along nicely at 19-20 mph, another cyclist caught me and said in a European accent, "We are both working too hard. You get behind me and we will work together!" I shrugged and caught his wheel and we tag-team drafted for a couple of miles. He was from the Czech Republic and was riding the BTC. I'm not sure if he lives in the US now or was just visiting, but I do know he was fast. I hung on for awhile and then saw another ABB cyclist and thanked him for the pull.
I had caught up with Grace who is one of the 12 riders only biking from Salt Lake City to Pueblo. As we chatted, I learned that she is Filipina and born in Manila. So naturally, our conversation centered on my three trips to Manila and the work Eastside Foursquare Church has been doing in Metro-Manila. Before long, we had reached the Montrose city limits and stopped for photos in front of the city sign. The rest of the ride into town was easy and we reached the hotel before the winds really picked up. The day was hot, but the riding was great. Enjoyable scenery and interesting conversations.
After the ride, we took a van to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. At 2700 feet deep and 53 miles long, this canyon is breathtaking. Its incredibly steep canyon walls and narrow opening allow very little sunlight to reach the canyon floor and Gunnison River, and therefore named Black Canyon. It was a great way to end a nice day of riding.
Tomorrow, we'll climb a little more and ride 63 miles to Gunnison. We'll share the road for one more day with the BTC cyclists and then we'll be on our own again.
For more photos from today's ride, please visit http://gallery.me.com/eternaldesign2#100189
For more information about the Ride for Impact, please visit http://www.rideforimpact.org
Cumulative Miles: 1264
Cumulative Flats: 4 and holding
Elev Gain: 2487 ft.
Max Elev: 5807 ft.
Avg Climb: 1%
Max Climb: 6%