Salida to Denver – 153 miles, 980 total trip miles
This was a sad day for me, the trip was over and it was time to return to reality. I really like my job, but I was not excited for vacation to end yet. Had I known how this day was going to go, I might have pulled the blankets up over my head and refused to leave my hotel room!
We were expecting to encounter traffic, especially as we neared Denver on Highway 285. Fortunately the first half of the journey was pretty easy – some congestion around the gas stations along the route, but nothing too bad. Of course, the views of the mountains are always beautiful, so I focused on that and soaked in the peacefulness of riding along with my own thoughts and some good music!
Around noon we stopped in Bailey, Colorado for a water and restroom break. We were close enough to Denver that we anticipated the traffic would pick up at any time. Shortly after getting back on the road, the traffic REALLY slowed and we thought it was due to a lane merge. We got through that, expected it to take off again but it seemed slow. And then it slowed even more. And then stopped. Uh oh. We never learned what happened, but Highway 285 was closed in both directions for about 2 hours. No cars coming toward us and we weren’t moving more than a couple feet at a time.
My riding buddy entertained me by making use of the stopped traffic to peel off a couple of layers. I am fortunate he was willing to get to my cooling vest in my side case because he was faster at getting on and off his bike than I was with the extra bag. We probably amused the drivers behind us as they watched our shenanigans in trying to stay cool in the very hot weather and traffic.
By the time the highway re-opened and traffic started really moving again, I thought the fingers on my left (clutch) hand were going to fall off. As badly as I wanted to get home, unpacked and ready for the next day, I needed a break from the bike. By this point we had been traveling for about five hours, were both overly hungry, tired and hot. We took refuge in a bbq restaurant we frequent sometimes and it was good to be off the bike and refueling ourselves. We said our goodbyes at the restaurant and rode together for the next couple miles before splitting off to our respective homes. I only had about another 15 miles to home, but it felt like more that day. I felt strangely alone after my riding partner peeled off. I guess riding together for five days will do that.
All in all, this was an amazing trip and I am so grateful I was able to take it with my favorite riding partner!