Update: In New Mexico

Here’s what’s been happening lately. I’m trying to escape this:

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And now I’m here:

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I’m back on the Divide, for now, after saying goodbye to Virgile and Marion and then heading to Manitou Springs for a week to rest and relax. It was a great week, with warm and casting hosts. Thank you, Tanabes. I’m consolidating photos and working on posts, but for now am headed full speed to Phoenix, looking forward to warmth and friends. There have been many adventures since Fraser, but the short days and incessant, remote passes crossed to leave Colorado aren’t allowing much internet time. Planning to be Phoenix by the first week of November, so more updates coming then.

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Steamboat Springs, CO to Fraser, CO.

After getting through the snowstorm, Virgile, Marion, and I are working our way through Colorado, though the threat of another storm coming led us to take a break in Fraser,CO for a few days to wait it out.

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After the first storm, we left Steamboat Lake for the much bigger town of Steamboat Springs, where we were wonderfully put up for a few days by Hugh, Jim, and Joan. This town has everything I imagine about a Colorado town; bikes everywhere, active people, and mountains in and around town for biking, hiking, skiing. Our first order of business when we arrived was finding a good burger place. The Double Z didn’t disappoint! My first time eating out about a month!

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Steamboat Springs is a town of titanium. Moots, a company known worldwide for its titanium bikes, has its factory here, with tours on Mon/Wed/Fri at 10am. Our hosts were friends with Kent Erikson, the founder of Moots, who sold the company some years ago and now has his own custom frame-building business in town. He and his workers are super chill and showed us around his shop. Gorgeous bikes.

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With Kent and the workers. Super chill, making awesome bikes.

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After a few days’ rest and catching up on our digital work, it was back on the road. Right away we’re back to climbing, though luckily our rest had given the roads some time to dry after the snow.

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At the top of Lynx Pass. A decent climb to get here, though I had gotten confused by one of the signs earlier and thought we still had 10km to go to the top. Luckily Virgile and Marion corrected me, leading to smiles all around.

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Our campsite for the night.

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The next day we had a little farther to go through the forests, featuring steep climbs that we weren’t at all expecting. But we had promise of reaching the Colorado River to lure us on.

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Biking, through trees and under warm sun.

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Our map for today kept talking about the long dive to the Colorado. Here we’re finally at the start of the dive, after many false expectations that we’d already started the descent. Here at the top of the canyon though, we had great views of the valley where we’re headed.

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Marion on the descent. Despite getting closer to the Colorado, the landscape is dusty and dry. A huge old tree right by the river gave us shade for lunch.

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River valley in the background.

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After climbing back out of the valley and down the other side to Kremmling, we took a tiny detour off the Great Divide to head to Fraser, as word was there was another storm coming Thursday night. Some relatives offered us use of their condo in Fraser, which turned out to be the perfect place and timing to stay warm while the snow fell.

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We took advantage of having an actual kitchen to use, cooking food from home instead of the pasta and rice and instant mashed potatoes dishes that have become our staples.

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Bread, salads, chicken and potatoes, pizza. We ate well.

Thanks Uncle John and Aunt Mary Beth for the place to stay! It’s time to head south again, since supposedly our next destination is Colorado’s “banana belt”, with at least slightly warmer temperatures than here.

Campsite.

Campsite; tents pitched, bikes sprawled on the ground. Pots and bags of food out and about, food still the main focus of all cyclists. We’re not in bear country tonight so we’re lazy putting food away, though we still sleep with the bear spray handy out of habit. We had a fire tonight, a celebration of people sharing a common destination and community. Friendship? It’s a fun night, filming dinner, laughter. As the sun goes down the short sleeve shirts that are helping cement those tan lines get supplemented with a long-sleeve layer, then the down jackets, a beanie. We roast sausages in the fire, and marshmallows afterward. One by one we retreat to our tents. Time to read, to write, to rest and recover. Expecting it to freeze tonight, might be a bit chilly in the tents, but no matter, we sleep soundly and look forward to tomorrow. Full moon tonight, shining bright. Sleep well.

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Photo courtesy Pignon Voyageurs.

Biking.

The road ahead is empty save for the trees. Dirt road, gravel, pavement, doesn’t matter. Swing the right leg over the saddle, put the left foot up on the pedal, push off and start going. This is the movement getting ingrained in muscle memory. It felt natural before, but now it’s even more familiar, happens without thinking. On the bike is where I belong; sometimes I don’t know where I fit in elsewhere, but here, on the saddle, legs pumping up and down, there’s no judgment, just movement. Riding, one kilometer at a time.

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Day 80. First full day in Colorado, crossing the watershed divide to Steamboat Lake.

Got snow during the night. Didn’t look too bad when we woke, still snowing a bit, eat breakfast in the tent. It’s cold this morning, but the coffee is warm. Sit around in the tent a little while longer, get packed up, go. Starts snowing a little harder right as we start leaving. Beautiful as we start the climb, snow is falling, check biking through snow off the list, there’s snow hanging in the trees on the side of the road. Perfect. It’s cold but we’re warm from climbing. Soon road gets too rocky, can’t ride anymore, have to push the bikes. Seatstay bridge is wide enough to grab hold of to pull the bike uphill. Helps when pushing the handlebars is too hard to get traction. There are a couple of fallen trees blocking the road, have to forge a way through the forest around them, one, two, three, four in rapid succession. Keep climbing. There are a few sections that are ridable but they last seconds, end up sliding back and forth in the mud, so back to walking. We push the bikes for the last 2-3kms. Snow’s falling more heavily at the top, blanketing everything, can’t even see the two tracks left by cars, following a blank space between trees and hoping that’s the road. Miss the right turn at the top that starts the descent, Virgile talks to two hunters parked up there, they point us the right way. No good when the road is unsigned. Descent down is hard. 10km, pushing the bike for all but the last 2, freezing, don’t have the exertion of the climb to stay warm anymore. Hands aren’t numb but close, wearing the rain gloves, Marion wearing my warmer set. Tired at that point too, and hungry, really should have had something easy to eat at the pass. Descent becomes frustrating, just low on energy, everything becomes annoying, cold always, just have to get down, no other option. Everything at the top covered in snow, the portions that are clear farther down are only visible because of water running over them, no good break points. Eventually get to the bottom, maybe two hours later, head to Steamboat Lake, some hunters we passed said there’s a place to camp and get coffee there. We arrive, there’s a building with a laundromat and tables to sit and eat, it’s warm, perfect. We huddle inside, perfect shelter, start stripping off wet clothes, grab all our merino off the bikes. There are hot showers next door, too warm, almost shocking contrast to the last five or six hours. But oh so nice. We make coffee and a big pot of rice and zucchini and sausage for lunch, this after eating nearly all our cookies. Dates turn out to be a perfect food after the cold, they go well with the coffee. Big meal, at this point we’re sprawled all over the two tables in the building, one with drying clothes, one with food. Continues to snow outside, but it’s not sticking down here like it was at the top of the mountain. Should be great pictures tomorrow, forecast is for clear skies for the next few days. Plan is to sleep in this building tonight, it’s heated, we’ll be warm. Crazy day of riding today. We did maybe 15-20km, maybe the hardest or second hardest day of the trip. Welcome to Colorado.

imageCampsite in the morning.

imageOn the way up the climb, while the route was still ridable.

imageSnow all around.

imageAnd worse at the top.

imagePushing bikes, on the way up and down.

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Luckily, we found a warm shelter at a campground in Steamboat Lake to spend the night.

imageThe next morning, the storm had stopped, affording clear views of the mountains we had come through.