Heading South

Date: April 1st, 2017

From/To: Salida, CO to Cortez, CO

Daily Mileage: 25 miles (by bike)

Total Mileage: 1805 miles

Current Elevation: 6150 feet

Conditions: Partially cloudy, temperature above and below freezing

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Todays 25 mile trek through Lizard Head Pass. I started just before Ames and ended in Rico.

I didn’t have a chance to conquer Monarch Pass, the weather wasn’t going to allow for that. The only reasonable alternative was to drive through the pass and start biking on roads that weren’t covered in snow.

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Ascending Monarch Pass.
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Icy roads were difficult even with 4WD.

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The plan was to head south to warmer weather. It’s against my wishes, but I had to accept the weather and plan accordingly. We made sure to leave Salida early so I’d have time to ride throughout the day once we made south of Montrose. Even so the temperature remained subfreezing when I was descending through the mountains. It wasn’t that I had a headwind by any means, it was freezing because I had just finished an 8 mile climb to the summit of Lizard Head Pass, then I descended on the other side through the cold air. Even with my breathable Gore-Tex I was sweating profusely on the climb and it turned to a cold damp feeling once I started the effortless downhill ride. I tried to distract myself by imagining how nice the ride would be in May or June but I still froze. I reached Rico, a small town south of Montrosa, and decided to call it. Mom drove the additional 45 miles southwest to Cortez. I’ve had to make some tough calls over the last few days, it was going to be spotty with the weather regardless, but I ended up running out of luck in the Rockies. I certainly got some good riding in, but I’ll have to return someday to ride through these parts when the weather is more forgiving.

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A view of Gunnison River.

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One of the high peaks, seen from my trek along Highway 145 South.
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Ascending Lizard Head Pass. I eventually reached 11,250 feet at the summit.
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The descent down Lizard Head Pass. Very cold.
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Even with a downhill ride I had to go slow to avoid the wind chills. 
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Climbing at +10K feet.

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The “town” of Rico.

We drove (the descent) to Cortez in about an hour, arriving around 2:30. We found a place to have a late lunch and made out way to the hotel mom had booked after that. We both took a long nap upon arrival. I’m still recovering from my virus and I think mom unfortunately caught whatever I’ve had the last few days. Hopefully we’ll both be feeling better over the next few days, we’ll be traveling through some of the more amazing sights this country has to offer. Tomorrow I’ll be passing through the 4 Corners, and soon on to Monument Valley.

Enjoy The ride,

-Matt

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