Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Days 0 & 1 – Glenwood Springs to Hotchkiss

After a fun trip from Chicago to Colorado that included the most biblical Iowa deluge through which I’ve ever had the pleasure of driving, discovering how cool an iPhone is, discovering that writing anything of substance on an iPhone is a pain in the neck, downing a few lattes, passing under the Divide through the Eisenhower Tunnel, topping over Vail Pass, and driving the upper deck lanes of I-70 through Glenwood Canyon for the first time, Arron and I arrived at Sopris Elementary in Glenwood Springs.

BTC 2009 Start/Finish.

The Load Out

Keeping the saddles dry.

As we were getting signed in I got handed a Medium t-shirt (hmm…I requested Large) and the lady at the table said I must know the drill since this was my third BTC (hmmm… this is my first BTC). Hang on a second here. This envelope has my name, but I’m not from Ohio! Whoa. Some guy with my name has been riding BTC! And he’s got to be short to be requesting a Medium. The lady re-checks and finds my envelope (Large… first BTC…. Check, check). I never did find my namesake during the week. That would probably just have been awkward and led to some sort of namesake smackdown that couldn’t have been good for anyone. Live and let live.

Needing fuel, we hopped on the BTC shuttle that was running back into town. Unknowing, we hopped off at the first stop, which was where some local festival was happening. Not many restaurants around, but we did find a joint with $5 pizzas at a place called Uncle Pizza. Not the greatest, but it hit the spot.

I slept like junk at the school. There was a wicked t-storm around midnight and the wind kept making the tents outside pop and crack like firecrackers. Despite not sleeping much, we were up and ready to go by 6:00 am. It had been lightly raining, but stopped when we went out to get the bikes. I was able to drain a bit of water out of my frame before we headed onto the roads.

Iowa rain on Colorado pavement.
The M.E.Rider shot.

The morning ride took us up through Carbondale and then along the Crystal River (I think this is right) on Colorado 133 toward McClure Pass. Looming along the left the for morning was towering Mount Sopris. Though we weren’t looking to outshine anyone, our pace had us picking off riders at a steady clip throughout the morning. The fast cats must all be sleeping in.

Ominous clouds gathering in the pass.... the sun would win out.

After a lot of steady climbing along the river, we hit the pass.

3 Miles to the top.

McClure Pass was not especially long, given what we’d see later in the tour, but it was fairly steep and had great views.

Looking back down where we had been.

Atop McClure Pass at Aid Station Two.

The descent was a lot of fun. Wide open with not a whole lot of technical turns. I didn’t have on full fingered gloves, so my hands got a bit cold and I let off the descending to keep warmer. When we got down farther into the valley the sun came out and the temps started to rise.

We cruised down along the North Fork River and Paonia Reservoir, passing coal mining operations in the mountains.

Mr Pensive at Aid Station Three.

Soon we were nearing Hotchkiss and the end of Day One. We got to the high school right as the truck was tossing our bags into the parking lot, so it was good timing, or an indication that we were overanxious and left way too early in the morning.

We wandered off to a local tavern for lunch (They were out of chicken fingers, so I ordered a French Dip). The network in Hotchkiss left a bit to be desired, so we walked down to the far end of town to see if the local coffee shop had Wi-Fi. It was closed. Arron was none too happy that we had just walked all that way (a whole three blocks or so) just to turn around. Ha. Next step was taking the bikes to a local car wash and getting all the rain travel and sand out of the gears.

Bustling downtown Hotchkiss.

Later we walked all the way to the other end of town (about three blocks or so) to grab sandwiches with the locals at Zack’s BBQ, as Mount Lamborn and Landsend Peak loom in the background.

Dining with a view.

A pretty good start to the week, I must say. We headed back to the gym to rest up for what we were told would be a grueling climb on Day Two. More on that in the next posts.


  1. dood, everyone knows cyclist dont walk around after a ride!!

  2. I am loving this. Please keep it coming. :)