It was tough to leave Durango, but it was time to go. I took a sweet river trail behind our hotel to avoid the local downtown traffic and went as far as Santa Rita Park before resuming riding on Rt 160. The traffic was intense and the shoulder was narrow and dirty until I got to a road construction area. Ongoing traffic was stopped. I rode ride up to the flag woman who was controlling the traffic. I said I’d go when everyone else had gone. That way, I’d have a clear pathway. Not only did I get that, but the shoulder after the construction got wide and clean.
The “challenge” for the day was to cross Baldy Mountain. Once I summited Yellowjacket Pass on Baldy Mountain, I had a seven mile delicious descent that passed Chimney Rock and crossed Piedra Creek. If it ever loads, here’s the video of the descent.
I enjoyed a stiff tailwind that pushed me toward Pagosa Springs and intensified as I proceeded. The wind blew the smoke from nearby controlled burns away from me. When I thought I was near the end, Susie stopped me to tell me I had about 10 minutes before I would be hit by the storm behind me. With three miles to go, I tried to outrun the storm. I had just made the left turn into the neighborhood of our hosts for tonight when the squall broke loose with intense winds that blew dust and tumbleweeds across the road and rocked cars. When I couldn’t go forward and feel that I could stay upright on the bike, I called Susie to come rescue me. I had completed the ride for the day and would have done a few bonus miles to our host’s house but it felt needlessly dangerous and I didn’t want to be blown away.
My brother, Dave, has joined Susie and me from Denver to cheer me on for a few days, especially up Wolf Creek Pass tomorrow. We are staying with Deni and Merlin, WarmShowers hosts. Merlin’s advice for Wolf Creek Pass is priceless: Put your mind in neutral and your bike in low. He also clarified for me that the actual climbing part of the pass is just 8 miles, not the 24 miles I was thinking. Nevertheless, all offers of tailwinds will be graciously accepted.
Start location: Durango CO
End location: Pagosa Springs CO
Distance: 55.o miles
Cumulative distance: 938.5 miles
Elevation gain: 3258 feet
Strava track: https://www.strava.com/activities/710096184