Trip Start Jun 04, 2011
Trip End Jul 26, 2011

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Flag of United States  , Colorado
Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sue is incredible. If you've read yesterday's post, you know all about the way she took my dad and brother and a few other riders on a surprise trip up to the Colorado National Monument while I was visiting the town. You also know that she came back hours later after we had finished dinner and took me and others up since we didn't get to go on the first trip.

What you didn't know was that while riding through a town (Delta) 50 miles away from the one we stayed in yesterday (Fruita), Sue, who was standing on the sidewalk, stopped us and told us that if we could make it to our hotel in Montrose by 2:00 she would take us up to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. My first thought was, "What the heck is she doing all the way out here!" I quickly realized that riding all morning puts me less than an hour's drive away for someone in an car. My next thought was something like, "I've never heard of this place, but yesterday's experience was so incredible that it's probably going be worth the 2 hour hustle up hill we have remaining" (despite the fact that she told us it was "all downhill from here"). It turns out that second thought was spot on. More about that in a minute. First I have to recount the irony (karma?) of my decision to leave my dad behind for the first time this trip. I have tried to stick with him through fast and slow riding this entire trip, but after Sue set the 2:00 deadline for Montrose, I was motivated for the first time to actually finish the day quickly. Dad had work he needed to get done, so taking a side trip was out of the question for him anyways. After Dad stopped for the second time to "stretch out his back" he told Scott, Jon and Me to ride on so we could get to the hotel on time. We felt bad leaving him, especially since his pace would probably have gotten us there by 2:00, but we took off without him anyways. We started flying down the road at about 23 miles per hour when less then five miles from the hotel Scott gets a noisy flat.

We began a NASCAR pit stop tire change on his rear tube after pulling out the spring that had gashed straight through the tire creating a loud hiss and a distinctive click as it hit the brakes each time the flattening tire went around, when, as karma would have it, we realized we had none of the necessary equipment to fix the tire. At the beginning of the ride we put all of the flat tire equipment in Dad's saddle bag since we figured we be riding with him the entire time and there didn't seem to be a point in carrying three sets of equipment. We had to bum it all off Jon instead. In the midst of this "tortoise and the hare" fiasco, Dad passes us (karma) while we're working on the tire and in the end, he pulled into the hotel about a minute before we did... at about 1:59. 

Sue was kind and waited for us to change into normal clothing. She had swapped out here Honda Accord of yesterday for a Honda Odyssey with the rear seats removed and a pillowy blanketfest in its place. Scott, Jon, Michael, Dominik and I piled in for a ride up to the Canyon. Michael is a Swiss rider in his forties who is going across the country with us (interesting factL we found out today that Michael knows Ueli Steck, who formerly had the record for the fasted ascent of Eiger). Dominik is an ex-professional racer from Germany who Michael found riding on the same road we were on today. He's done racing and will be starting school in the fall but he has been traveling for the last year in the mean time. He's on a couch surfing cycling adventure with one of his friends right now. He was a really nice guy (about 24 years old) and he told us about his travels all over the world over the last year. His english was very good, but both him and Michael enjoyed the opportunity to speak in German.

What's really important is that The Black Canyon was unbelievable. There was a marbled black granite wall that stood 2300 feet straight up from the river down below and we were able to stand on the other side of the canyon and take it all in from the top. There were also a variety of other dark canyons that we could view, some with vertical grooves that were hard to gain perspective on, others with massive size that were as impressive as the Grand Canyon. 

We got stuck halfway up on the road because they were repaving it with chip seal while we were in one of the parking lots. We were able to watch them do it... a surprisingly simple and seemingly terrible method for resurfacing a road. They drive over the road and cover it with a layer of wet tar... then drive over that and cover the tar with a layer of small pebbles which get stuck in the tar. Then they smoosh the pebbles in with some rollers and call it a resurfaced road. I walked around on it and got tar covered pebbles stuck to my shoes and some found its way into the pillow pit in the back of Sue's car... sorry Sue. I just can't get over how nice it is for Sue to come out to these different town and take us up into these incredible National Parks. The world needs more people like Sue.

P.S. At our last hotel we were surprised by a care package from Mom. It was full of home baked goods that we were encouraged to share. I ate probably 7 m&m rice crispy treats before we turned the stash over to the group for today's rest stop, where they were well received. Thanks Mom from everyone!

temporary P.P.S. - It's already 10:00 and we'll be climbing up into the rockies tomorrow starting at o'dark thirty so I need to get some sleep... sorry I haven't titled or captioned the photos yet. I'll do that just as soon as I can find the time. Also, I'm exhausted, so sorry for the typos I haven't caught because I'm not proofreading this one tonight.

Distance: 74.03 mi - 1,237.54 total
Time: 5:16:46 - 86:37:09 total
Elevation Gain: 2,511 ft - 48,954 total
Av. Speed: 14.0 mph - 14.3 overall
Av. HR: 125 bpm - 129 overall
Calories: 4,596 - 85,486 total

Flat Tire Count:
Scott: 3
Stephen: 3
Mark: 0
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McMullens on

This is fantastic photography! If it is this beautiful in photos, I can't imagine how awesome it must be in person. Thanks for sharing.

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