18 June 2017

Reaching for Heaven

"I reach for Heaven, and it reaches in return" - Steven Kapp Perry, Strength Beyond My Own

Ride the Rockies, Day 1 – Alamosa to Pagosa Springs via Wolf Creek Pass

When we first saw this year's route back in February, I began making hotel reservations as quickly as I could. Then I began searching for church locations on Day 1. I've attended church in Alamosa and Monte Vista. I knew more churches existed outside those two towns, but I would have to go to an early service in order to make it over Wolf Creek Pass before afternoon thunderstorms, assuming we had normal weather patterns. I knew I'd likely be battling a strong headwind... those same southwest winds that formed the Great Sand Dunes.

My best option would be 9 a.m. in Del Norte. If I left Alamosa by 6 a.m. and wind held me to 10 mph (which would be pretty good for me), I could make it in time. Then I'd have 65 more miles to ride, 40 of them uphill. If I could average 7 mph, I could be over the pass in about six hours. Ouch.

Little did I know back then the battle of the day would be heat with NO rain. Little did I know I'd be driving, not riding. Little did I know how hard it would be to go up and over the pass with all the riders, especially where the shoulder was so narrow, it barely even existed.

Del Norte is but 31 miles from Alamosa, so I was able to leave Alamosa at a fairly decent hour and still arrive at the church with half an hour to spare. Small towns have the best meetings. I'm really glad I got to attend, and I'm glad I didn't have to battle heat or thunderstorms this afternoon.

A few tears spilled after my Lizard took off. I finished packing the car, extremely grateful we didn't have to put the tent away before leaving. Another big benefit of hoteling instead of camping. Oh, and internet access... nice to have that at the hotels, too. Can't forget the hot tubs!

Not two blocks from the hotel, a rider pulled right in front of me to pass another rider. He didn't even look to see if it was safe. I was able to slow down, but I couldn't help thinking about the rider who was killed two days ago riding along Chatfield Reservoir. He unexpectedly pulled out in front of a white 4Runner, just like mine, and the driver didn't have time to stop. The rider's family will grieve for a very long time, and the driver will have to live with this the rest of his or her life, even though no fault was placed.

I'd brought along my little stereo I carry on my bike when I ride, and I was listening to my gospel mix, as I normally do when I ride on Sundays. Steven Kapp Perry's "Stength Beyond My Own" came on, and I found myself singing along, trying to redirect my thoughts. Today is the Sabbath. I shouldn't be harboring ugly feelings any day, but especially not today.

The church in Del Norte is a newer chapel, in a paved lot, but you have to drive up a dirt road to get to the church. The people welcomed me with open arms, and many asked if I was in town for the summer. I felt as if I was a member of the congregation, not just a visitor. Heaven definitely was reaching for me in return.

Attending church put me back on the cycling route late enough that it could have been dangerous for the riders if I'd stopped along the way to take photos, so I didn't take any. I passed a field of wild irises. I passed a pond reflecting a snow-capped peak. The rock formations and waterfalls along Wolf Creek Pass are stunning. What I remember best is the billowing of wind jackets as I drove by rider after rider. This was one hard day for them. During a typical Ride the Rockies, I get passed about 1,500 times. But today, I did the passing. I felt as if I was seeing Ride the Rockies from a totally different point of view.

I beat the third luggage truck into Pagosa Springs. I thought I'd find my Lizard waiting for me when I arrived, but it was a difficult day for him, too. He logged 95 miles, and he hadn't done a century (or anything even close) in more than two years. He arrived about two hours later, and within 20 minutes of checking into our room, he said he really likes doing Ride the Rockies with hotels instead of tents.

If we get to do Ride the Rockies together again, I think hotels are going to rule. But that didn't stop me from snapping a few photos to share what it's like to NOT hotel...


  1. Wow, that is a ton of luggage. It can be good to see things from another point of view. Hotels beat tents any day. Sleeping on the ground and using an outhouse or hole in the ground, no thank you lol

    1. We probably won't ever do the tent cities again, Pat...

  2. I think it's easy for cyclists to take safety for granted, and to forget (or ignore) how hard it might be for cars to avoid them. And sometimes we just can't hear what's behind us, especially if it's windy. How sad to hear about that cyclist's death.

    I am so glad you guys got to enjoy the luxe experience this time around! Fingers crossed that next year you'll be battling the wind together.

    1. This was the best ride ever, even though I didn't ride, Sue, because of the hotels. I can't wait to do it this way next year, and I don't even know yet if I will be able to ride that many miles in a day!!! Hotels really upped the enjoyment level for both of us!


Dusty words lying under carpets,
seldom heard, well must you keep your secrets
locked inside, hidden deep from view?
You can talk to me... (Stevie Nicks)

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