Ordway to Pueblo: 101 kms
Pueblo to Royal Gorge: 90 kms
Royal Gorge to Hartsel: 83 kms
Hartsel to Breckenridge: 69 kms
Total distance so far: 3885 kms
We celebrated Jack well into the night (about 8.3o pm in all truthfulness) and headed off to Pueblo which is, holy of holies, a reasonably big metropolis.
A pleasant ride was capped by a pretty nice town where we wandered around the historical district while giving Lexa and Alphie a tune up at the bike shop.
I loved the old railway station which although no longer in use had been kept in a style reminiscent of how things looked in the late 19th century.
Some of the signs that they had reproduced were incredible, if thankfully slightly dated.
We also had one of the least inspiring meals of the entire trip, which is actually saying something.
A slopper is a perfectly respectable hamburger and chips which for some reason best known to the town on Pueblo is drowned and made soggy by a chili gravy.
In all fairness it wasn’t as bad as the pissed on raw shark we ate in Iceland but it is well up there on the growing list of things we won’t be repeating.
The day after we left the group for the first time as the consensus was to take a rest day in Pueblo while we felt strong enough to take an extra stage on the bike and continue on to Royal Gorge for our period of leisure.
Why this unexpected departure I hear you asking?
(Well I don’t hear you asking for obvious reasons. But I am sure you are all on tenterhooks).
Well, Royal Gorge has some of the best white water rafting in the country and we were all up for being all adventury and putting our lives at risk.
On the bus down to the river we were told of all the possible dangerous scenarios that may become us and what to do if we crash into a rock and are rendered unconscious.
As usual the end product wasn’t as scary as was painted up although there were hairy moments and a lot of waves smashing into my by now rather weather beaten (but still incredibly beautiful) face.
The gorge itself was its own adjective; gorgeous, with a clear blue sky, mountains all around and a small railway line running by one of its sides.
The story of the railway line incidentally is interesting in itself and although I can’t be arsed telling it now I will show you all a sign which grabs the gist of it.
Here we are fighting the rapids.
During the afternoon of our free day we cycled (boo hiss) the eight kilometres needed to reach the famous Royal Gorge bridge.
It turned out to be a tourist attraction par excellence.
By this I mean that the bridge itself was not built for the traditional reason of facilitating movement of humans, livestock and goods from point A to point B. Rather its sole aim was to be the highest ever bridge ever erected and through this become a way to suck money out of visitors.
For sure it is a great engineering accomplishment and even allowing for the extreme fear of heights that I suffer from, the views are genuinely stunning.
But it seems to me that a bridge should have more of a purpose than this. It may well be sour grapes but my spirits were lifted markedly when a quick google search told me that Royal Gorge was now only in 14th place in the highest bridge rankings.
Hartsel was our next port of call and it has become a favourite in my eyes for its prison alone.
Some individuals in the group have had the temerity to tell me that this might be a joke but I refuse to allow that seed to even start germinating in my brain.
The riding had been going steadily uphill since we left Pueblo, but steadily really is the operative word as it is to all intents and purposes is a case of very gradual climbing rather than the steeper slopes of the Appalachians or even Mallorca.
At times you are hardly even aware that you are going up even though the increasing thinness of the air tells you that you obviously are.
It has also become markedly more beautiful with the snow capped mountains of the Rockys giving a stunning backdrop as we pedal along.
This was the view at twilight from the barn in Hartsel where we were staying.
We kept climbing onwards and upwards the next day too. Our next port of call was to be Breckenridge which is a ski resort of the highest class with all the swankiness and ridiculous prices that that entails.
Ami will be telling you all about what we did when we were there in a later opus.
On the way there however we rode over the highest point of the whole tour, Hoosier Pass.
This means that we were a grand total of 3518 meters above sea level when this picture was taken and that from now on in, everything that awaits us is basically downhill.
My glass is nearly always half full. 🙂
Let’s be careful out there.