Ride the Rockies Day 2

Words: Steve Francisco | Photography: Dan Sharp | Date:

GRAND JUNCTION TO DELTA

I need to start with the fact that I HATE camping. I used to have to camp when I was younger, mostly at Cub Scout camp or whatever—but even then, I seem to recall we stayed in lean-tos most of the time. Anyway, I was really excited to be on this trip, and finally getting a chance to ride my bike in Colorado. I have been to Colorado a number of times but have never had the opportunity to ride my bike there. The only part of the trip I was not looking forward to was sleeping on the ground, night after night, after riding harder (and some days longer) than we really needed to. But in the end, the camping part wasn’t as bad as I had remembered.

- Peach groves.
- The amount of bananas and water at the first feed station.
- Wondering where Pete Rubi went.
- Riding on a closed lane of I-70 for a few miles.
- The second feed station at the base of the Grand Mesa Climb.
- The pace that Ben and I were climbing the mesa.
- Apparently passing Pete Rubi, who had stopped at the feed station about one third of the way up the climb, to eat a sandwich and wait for us after prematurely leaving the first feed station ahead of us.
- Ben and I stopping at the van to refill our pockets with bars, bloks, and stowaway jackets as we set off for the summit knowing the van would be arriving at the summit well after we did.
- Riding through the Aspen forest about half way up the mesa.
- Again, the steady (fast) pace we were climbing at.
- Meeting a young woman, Jenn from Vegas, that was really fit and hung with us for quite some time.
- Rolling up the last two or three kilometers from the summit and seeing the snow along the edge of the lakes, and feeling the temp drop at least 20 degrees.
- Arriving at the summit feed station and eating animal crackers as fast as I could shovel them into my mouth with frozen fingers.
- Seeing Elliot (Garmin rider) arrive at the summit without a gilet or jacket and telling him to get onto the warming bus they had parked up there.
- Riding back down three or four kilometers to meet up with the others, and freezing our hands off.
- Flipping a u-turn and riding back up the last few kilometers with the group and foolishly sprinting for the summit with them.
- Piling into the van, at the summit to dig out my winter cap, full finger gloves, and knee warmers for the long descent.
- Pulling off to the side as the descent started to wait for the group only to have them all sprint past me, and not being able to catch back on.
- The wind, rain and hail that blew in on us half way down the descent.
- The warm sun and steamy air that greeted us as we reached the base and the last 15 kilometers into Delta.
- How great the shower felt after sweating on the climb, freezing on the descent (in the rain and hail) and then sweating again as we rolled into town.
- The grassy corner of the school fields where we found a place to set up camp.
- The amazing massage I got from the woman with the massage table waiting in the shade under a large weeping willow.
- The salsa and guacamole Ben made for us while we waited for dinner.
- The amazing salad, pasta, sausage and sauce Ben made for us.
- The local guy selling honey, who stopped over to have a beer with us after dinner.

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