20 June 2013

Ups and Downs

Alamosa Sunrise

13 June 2013
Ride the Rockies, Day 5
Alamosa to Salida
84 miles

We always make jokes about Poncha Pass not really being a pass. If you have a tail wind, you don't even feel the 1,600 feet of elevation gain. We had a tail wind. Not a strong one, so we still had to pedal, but we got a little help from the wind today.

At Villa Grove rest stop, where the climbing begins, I noticed two little kids with big fluorescent yellow posters that nearly covered them. The posters said, "my mommy pedals" and "go, mommy!" After a couple of minutes, a female cyclist went running over to them full speed, threw her arms around them and swung them around in a big bear hug.

Seeing the mom with her kids made me think of Taz and Raz when they were younger. They were so supportive of me then. I could visualize them doing that for me.


Both kids took permanent unauthorized field trips before they turned 18, before my first Ride the Rockies. Contact since then has been sparce. Seeing those two kids in Villa Grove made me miss my kids.

Last year I rode through Estes Park, where I think Taz may be living, during Ride the Rockies, and he didn't come out to meet me.

Now it turns out we are being rerouted tomorrow due to forest fires, just like last year, and I will be pedaling through the birthplace of my adopted daughter.


Memories were sidelined when a rider found an iPhone on the highway. She picked it up, brought it in to the rest stop and announced her discovery.

A rider came forward and proved it was his. His friends asked him if he makes so much money he can throw iPhones away. He jokingly told them he buys iPhones by the thousand because he goes through them so fast.

When I'm tired, sometimes things seem funnier than they are when I'm refreshed. That iPhone incident seemed like the funniest thing all year.

In addition to the Royal Gorge fire, there also is another fire burning just southeast of here, near the Crestones, which we rode right by today. Motorists are tying up 911 operators reporting the fire, which is so visible, it doesn't need to be reported. Flashing signs along the road beg passersby to not report the fire.

Every day except for yesterday afternoon I've enjoyed the roadside wildflowers. We covered lots of ground today with nothing but sage and dirt. The approach to Poncha Pass made up for that. I wanted to stop for photos and wildflower gathering. Thick stands of paintbrush, pentstemon and lupine danced in the wind. But I didn't stop. I rode straight through, hoping we'll get some wildflower and wildlife photos in after girls camp next week.

Five long, challenging days are taking their toll. I am so tired and physically drained.
Today wasn't necessarily a bad day. It just seemed harder because I'm so exhausted.

I wanted to crochet this afternoon, but I fell asleep writing in my journal.

It's raining now, and we're hiding in our tent. I hope this rain helps the firefighters.

Oh, my gosh! You should see our tent! This is why a health warning has been issued. The tent is covered in soot! We've had an absolute downpour, and the tent should be clean. But it is covered with soot. This is what people are breathing in. No wonder everyone is coughing.

We have the choice of riding tomorrow or shuttling to Canon City if we are worried about the smoke. We don't get to ride Royal Gorge. It has burned. The bridge remains, but the park is gone. Highway 50 is closed.

I am so intimidated by the new 93-mile route, the steep grades, both climbing and descending, and the poor road surface condition, but I want to know if I can do it. Plus, I just did five consecutive days of LONG rides after inadequate training. Tomorrow would make it six, and I'd be able to say I did the longest RtR route ever.

I planned to ride. But I've been coughing my head off ever since crossing Wolf Creek Pass, when we got our first whiff of smoke. I knew the smoke was making me cough, but I had no idea it was this bad until I saw the soot on the tent, other tents and all the cars.

I hate to even consider this, but maybe I should give my saddle and my lungs a break...

I did extra miles yesterday.

Does that count for something???

Poncha Pass

Poncha Pass summit volunteer

raw egg shampoo

Sangre de Cristo fire


We're breathing this!

Don't think I'll be finishing my lemonade tonight.

Alamosa to Salida

Day 5


  1. There sure are a lot of things with the Pass at the end haha and yeah weird how some things are named

  2. lol, It is tiring just to see the shots. Have a great time.

  3. It is odd how hilarious something can seem when you're tired beyond words - i.e., the iPhone incident.

    I didn't realize that you were so near fires right now. That is tough on the lungs... I hope that you can enjoy today, regardless.

    We were contemplating a trip to our favorite campsite, which is about 2000' higher than Poncha Pass (but very near it) soon. I'll have to check on those fires...

    Have fun!

  4. Oh Deb, I'm so glad you decided to SAG. Best choice you could have made - you didn't need that gunk in your lungs!

    Your wildflower list made me drool ... and how fantastic to get a tailwind to push you up that climb. :)


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