Pueblo, CO to Guffey, CO to Brekenridge, CO
2 Day Mileage: 70.4 + 68.2 = 138.6
Total Mileage: 2,765.7
Day 43 Average Speed: 10.1
Day 43 Elevation: 5,912 ft
Day 44 Average Speed: 11.6
Day 44 Elevation: 4,441 ft
I rolled out of bed early on Day 43 because I had 70 miles to go and knew the hills were coming on highway 9. I just didn't know how bad they would be... When I called Bill at Guffey's Hostel and told him I am coming from Pueblo he told me, "You better be getting up early." It was extra assurance that my 6 AM alarm was necessary. That also lead to me Starbucks for a cold brew.
As soon as I turned onto highway 50 I was blasted with headwinds. I could barely get above 10 MPH, but I could see the mountains more clearly today so I was filled with motivation... And the cold brew.
|See the mountains waaay back there?
So I made my way to Canon City for lunch around 30 miles. I found a very cute coffee/bike shop to pop into because I had a list of items to be looked at... And at the very least I wanted my tires topped off, so I left Jasper with Mark and wandered the town.
The list consisted of:
1. Handle bar tape was falling off because it got ripped apart when I fell a few days back
2. Also my gear switcher knob thing is loose on the right side, but not effecting changing gears (before the fall but the fall also made it worse)
3. On the opposite side, my gears wouldn't switch to the smallest cog (the one I need to climb these upcoming mountains)
4. My pedal is clicking
5. Air in tires
6. Clip this damn wire that gets I my way
Mark fixed everything! I am ready for highway 9. Only a few more miles!
Finally I'm IN the mountains! They are gorgeous. Every turn, every top of a hill, every bottom of a hill; it's all beautiful.
But I cannot lie, I was struggling. It has been some time since I have been constantly battling uphills. I forgot how much more energy it took and how I needed to be snacking more. Forgot isn't the right word, of course it's more energy, I should say I just wasn't ready for it all at once.
Ok... I forgot.
By the time I was a few miles from Guffey I was drained. The last mile hill was torture. It didn't seem steep but I couldn't get my legs to push myself faster than a few MPH on the granny gear. Even knowing I was a mile away from the day's end wasn't enough motivation. Bill even said he would have all the beer I could drink when I showed up... Even still, I just had nothing.
I was tired I actually stopped for a drink of water with 0.4 miles left... Eventually, I made it!
(Insert note: I didn't feel the lack of oxygen being too big of a problem. I was out of breath quicker at times, but I slowed down and made sure to take deep breathes and I would be back to normal in no time. I should give a big shoutout to Amber who is hosting me in Denver. She reminded me to be careful of the altitude and I didn't forget the tip.)
Truth is, I was skeptical about Bill and his hostel. I was warned at Gillian's that it was terrible. The group I met exclaimed to me, "Bill pointed to some tractor wheels and said there's a shower over there and there was no shower," or "We were in this little cabin with no electricity or running water and the table was totally falling over... And the outhouse... Ugh" But they said it was an experience worth doing.
When I pulled up outside Bill's house, I gave him a ring and he came right outside. To his word, he grabbed me a beer and we sat down are started talking.
Bill was full of great stories. His hostel was part of the original Transam in 1976 and has been a staple ever since. As my body quickly absorbed the alcohol, we developed a great rapport. We laughed as we talked about this crazy world we live in and he even told me about his granddaughters legal pot growing opporation. It's always "pot" to anyone over 40.
Bill was too hungover from the previous night to come out with me, but he showed me my digs, where to find the shower (yup, over there behind those tractor wheels), and to make sure I go down to the The Bull Moose for drinks with the locals.
Let me say this really quick, don't listen to anybody. Well, you can listen, but that is all you should do. The couple at Gillian's almost scared me away from this place. But upon arrival and meeting Bill I was already having one of the best days of the trip. Everyone is different, so you have to experience things for your own.
So having said that, I love cabin! No electricity, no running water, who cares! The table was leaning a little, yeah and...?
Just look at this place!
|The horrifying leaning table!
Then I found the showers, no problem. Right by the wheels where he explained. The shower was an amazing set up. Like the dressing room of an actress filming in the Wild West. All wood and two big sized mirrors giving you the ability to check any and all of your body parts. The tub behind it was cut so you could easily step in and out and the shower produced hot water. So what the shower head was a hose, it was hot!
The outhouse was your traditional outhouse... But it smelt better than any porta-potty I have ever stepped in so once again, what's the fuss!?
|Outhouse to your right (showers off in the distance)
All showered up, I made my way to The Bull Moose. I could hear the live music from my cabin a few hundred yards away. Turns out they were all practicing for the big music festival in two weeks.
So I get to the bar and meet Karen. A cute 75 year old Irish woman still running laps from table to table. She introduces me to everyone. "This is Matt from New York and he is one of the cyclist staying at Bill's!" I had a great time meeting all the characters that could ever find a place like Guffey to move to.
A few beers and a few shots later, I am drunk and tired. Tired drunk. Time for bed. I chugged about 40 ozs of water, got up to pee 3 times in 20 minutes and finally passed out.
I love Guffey!
I made it out of Guffey without a hangover! My only really problem was that it dropped below 60 and I had to grab my sleeping bag and curl up around 4 AM. Problem solved. I even donned my arm sleeves before riding out knowing that the descents would be chilly. They were.
I flew out of Guffey down that mile hill that killed me last night. Wow, that was not a small hill. No wonder I struggled so much.
I turned back on highway 9 for more gorgeous views, which included seeing my first buffalo of the trip, though not wild.
I stopped in Hartsel for lunch and a coffee. The bartender suggest the burrito for the extra calories and it was GIANT. Some of the other patrons I spoke with were asstonished not only that I finished it, but how fast I finished it. It was so good.
Belly full and more caffeine, I took off. Only a few miles later highway 9 opened up into a flat valley for miles around.
With mountains far out on all sides of me, the views were breathtaking. No pictures will do this justice.
10 miles later I reached Fairplay, aka South Park. Yes, the South Park, CO!
Just beyond that first picture is a museum of the town the way it was in the 1800s. I skipped everything except the obligatory photos and moved on.
At last, just past Alma and 4 cannabis shops, I reached what I assumed was my final climb for the day (it was). Four miles to the top of Hoosier Pass. It was incredibly overcast and getting chilly. During the climb I would sweat, then all of a sudden have the chills. I kept on pushing in awe of the views to my left.
Then before I knew it I made it! Like people have said, the Rockies are high, but they are long, slow climbs compared to the steepness of the Appalachians.
|"Your mom is texting"
I threw on my rain coat for extra warmth and made the decent. You can never help to scream joy when flying down a mountain like this.
|Down, down baby
I was riding between 30-45 MPH for many miles, passing trucks and screaming at the top of my lungs. Too much fun.
At some point, I entered Breckenridge.
Again, it was chilly and I started to feel rain drops. It was only about 10 miles to a campsite in Frisco, where I planned to stay, but Breckenridge is a very cute ski town and I couldn't get myself to leave. Likewise I did not want to get stuck in cold rain per the forecast. I hopped into a bike shop, grabbed some protein bars and asked about a cheap place to stay. This lead me to Fireside Inn.
For $35 bucks I got a shower, a comfy bed (shared with two others) and they would even do my laundry! Done deal!
|Note the flower pots
Here I met my bunkmate, Paul. A very nice gentleman from the UK. He is vacationing Colorado and has been here a few days. He brought me to the local pizza joint where I ended up ordering a giant chicken parm.
Paul originally asked me to dinner so we could share the giant American portions. I quickly informed him that A. These are normal portions for me and B. I could probably eat both of our dinners.
He laughed and said fine, he will being having left overs for lunch. I ordered us spinach-artichoke dip to start off which he has never had. I am happy to say he loved it and announced will be ordering it with every dinner.
Paul told me about his visit to New York City with his wife last year. He stayed at two hotels, one in Union Square (my hood) and one on Park Ave by Central Park. Barcelona was once his favorite city, now New York is!!
He may be returning next year with his kids so I gave him my information with hopes that he will reach out and I can buy him a beer or six at McSorely's.
Tomorrow I make my way to the base of Mount Evans and on Thursday I make the climb to bag my first 14er (that's hiker code for a 14,000 foot mountain).