Denver, CO to Montrose, CO – 274 miles
The first day of our planned five day trip started off slowly, but well. We both had a full work day the previous day plus events to attend in the evening. We planned for a mid morning start so that we could avoid rush hour traffic and not feel rushed and stressed to start the trip.
I had thought I was ready to leave my house a bit early and then realized oops, I had a few items that needed to be taken care of first. Wet laundry in the washer for one thing. I don’t want to know what that would have been like after sitting for five days. Ewwww! That was one of a few indicators that I was a little anxious about starting this journey. This was my first overnight trip with my bike, Sassy and my first multi day trip with my riding partner. While I trust both of them, and myself, there were a few unknowns that were giving me butterflies.
During the planning of this trip (and after British Columbia), I realized that a dry bag would be a good addition to my gear inventory. It turned out to be a great choice and I’m glad that I invested my dollars in one. I have decent sized Vario cases on Sassy but adding the dry bag allowed me to keep bike stuff in one case and my laptop and DSLR camera, water and personal stuff in the other. It was so easy to take the dry bag off when we arrived at our destination and have all my clothes right there, contained. It makes getting on and off the bike a bit more challenging, but it’s worth the effort.
Ok, back to the trip! I head out from my house toward my riding partner’s place around 8:30 AM. Traffic wasn’t too bad and after he finished loading his bike, we headed south to Highway 285. It has been years since I went over Guanella Pass and as we came down the other side toward Fairplay, my jaw dropped at the beautiful sights of the mountains before me. If there was a theme to this trip, it would have been how many times did I saw “WOW!” as I came around a corner, or across a mountain pass. We had a quick gas stop in Fairplay and then went on to Buena Vista for lunch.
The afternoon brought more mountain passes and many more wows. We crossed Monarch Pass on our way toward Gunnison and again, I was stunned into silence at the beauty. Despite a bit of traffic, it felt very peaceful to be riding along with my thoughts and enjoying the cooler temperatures at the higher elevations. We stopped in Gunnison for what we intended to be the last gas and restroom stop before arriving in Montrose. However, the temperature rose, the day got long and we ended up stopping one more time around the Cerro Summit to have some water and a snack before pushing on. I’m not sure which of us was more relieved to arrived at the hotel parking lot in Montrose! I felt as though I had been fully roasted and wanted nothing more than to be off the bike and out of my gear.
It was a relief to have arrived and took the last of my energy to unpack the bike. At that point I wanted nothing more than a cool shower, some “regular” clothes and dinner. Yes, in that order. Thankfully we located a restaurant within walking distance because I don’t think I could have made myself get back on the bike for more miles!
My lesson for Day 1: soak your cooling vest even if you don’t anticipate needing it!