Montrose to Olathe to Montrose (again) to Telluride to Mancos to Durango – 199 miles
This was one of my favorite days of the trip for a few reasons: 1) I finished my Tour of Honor sites, 2) it was July 4th and I LOVE fireworks, 3) I visited Telluride for the first time and 4) the beautiful, amazing scenery.
I wrote about this before, about my riding partner being such a good sport and agreeing to go along with my plan to visit the last two sites I needed for my Tour of Honor ride this year. He also went along with my plan to finish on July 4th because it was important to me. Yes, I may be a little spoiled in this regard.
I’m not going to write again about the ToH sites since I already did that in a separate post. I want to focus this on on the rest of the trip and my goodness, how beautiful the sights on this day. I had never ridden this part of Colorado so didn’t really know what to expect. What I noticed though is that the area around Montrose reminds me of Moab, UT with the red dirt and the way the mountains look. It was very cool to ride towards Ridgway, Colorado and experience a very different view – the mountains seem much more jagged here. Had I pulled over for every view I wanted to photograph, I’d still be on this trip over a week later!
We had planned to stop in Telluride for lunch and neither of us gave a single thought to the fact that it was, indeed, July 4th. I was busy enjoying the mountain views when I noticed traffic stopped ahead of us. I assumed it was an elk jam or something since that often happens in Colorado. Even when I saw police cars directing traffic it didn’t sink in. Then I noticed detour signs closer to town and it hit me – ahhhh, July 4th parade detour. Oh rats! We both needed lunch and were turning hangry in a hurry, along with beating ourselves up for not thinking about this ahead of time. There were no spaces to fit two motorcycles, so we ended up splitting up with my riding partner getting the worse end of this deal. After he parked, he had the unfortunate job of helping me find a space. The first one was slanted the wrong way – when I put the kickstand down, the road sloped away to the other side and I was sure the bike was going to topple over. He took off in search of another space while I held the bike upright and tried not to panic. He found one for me nearby with the road sloping in the right direction, but it took some fancy riding to get into it. My buddy kept his cool while giving me directions (now turn the handlebars this way, now back up, ok now come forward, now turn the handlebars the other way, now back up again) until we had Sassy safely parked. I was reminded in that moment that I am fortunate to have such a great riding buddy who is patient and doesn’t lose his cool when I need help!
Of course, since it was July 4th and the parade was wrapping up, the restaurants were busy and neither of us felt like walking all over town to find food. We ducked into a place nearby for a couple burgers and tried to be patient while the line moved at a snail’s pace. The locals seemed to have some secret password that allowed them to sit at the bar and order food which we were told was not an option. It seems like a paying customer is a paying customer but it wasn’t true in this case.
Having learned the cooling vest lesson from the day before, we both put ours on before heading out after lunch. We picked up Highway 145 outside of Telluride which would take us to Dolores and past the huge boulder that came crashing down onto the road a few weeks prior. Rather than blast it apart, our state highway department has decided to rebuild the highway around it. Thankfully the construction detour wasn’t too long because the boulder site turned out to be less exciting than we hoped. We continued on to Mancos where we picked up my last Tour of Honor site, gassed up the bikes and tried not to melt in the heat.
It was in Mancos that I learned my mapping software on my phone was not going to guide me into Durango. I don’t know if it was poor cell reception or what, but there were no maps for me! I was very grateful that our hotel in Durango was only about 30 minutes away. It had been another long and hot day and I was ready for a break!
After checking into the hotel and unloading the bikes, we rode into Durango to find some dinner and walked to watch the fireworks. It was interesting to put riding pants over shorts and then try to change footwear standing on the sidewalk! I was very grateful for my Vario cases so I could stow my boots, pants and jacket and walk away knowing they were secure.
The 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays because I really enjoy fireworks! Durango did a nice job and we also enjoyed a live band for most of the fireworks show. Seeing so many beautiful sights in Colorado and then finishing off the evening with fireworks and music will make this a July 4th to remember for a very long time!
Lessons learned: when traveling on a holiday, check your plans ahead for any parades or other delays, then make a back up plan!