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.

image

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.

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

  1. Snow’s the worst! Don’t let those guys wearing shorts pressure you into wearing less clothing.

    Also, that zucchini sausage meal sounds delish 🙂

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