We had a plethora of items to choose from for breakfast. Mike, the brother in law of Kirsten, owns a bagel shop in Michigan, and brought some of his handmade bagels with him. There were breakfast burritos, maple danish, oatmeal, and of course coffee and hot cocoa. Steve, cook extraordinaire, made sure we had everything we needed. We chatted with Hunter for awhile. Great kid! All the best to you young man! Sadly, I didn't get to say goodbye to Judy, Kirsten's mom.
Once we were ready to go, Steve called up to Kirsten, and she came down to say goodbye. They ask only for a donation from cyclists. We hope we gave her enough. It's hard to put a price on such kindness and generosity. We took a photo of the four of us, but Kirsten asked me not to put it on the Internet. It will go in my photo book when I get home.
The wind was already blowing, but for awhile it was a tailwind. As we climbed out of the valley, the views were pretty nice.
Looking in the general direction we were heading...sort of.
I call this, "Cow in Sunshine".
We rode through a few Aspen stands, but they were all uphill, so I didn't stop to take a photo. When I caught up to Derik, I was thinking mini Aspen Alley. He said the very same thing!
Then the fun was over, as we turned into a fierce head/crosswind. The guys stayed with me. It was still super nasty, but at least I had company. Finally we got into some tree cover. That was like night and day! The wind was still howling like a jet engine, but we weren't feeling it as much.
We had a 4 mile climb coming up that would take us up to 9800 ft--our highest yet. Derik went on ahead so he could get to the top, then come back and help me with MC. The last 1.5 mile was reported to be "a pusher". Connor stayed with me. He was great, taking breaks when I needed them. The climbing wasn't terrible when we were in the protection of the trees. It was, at times, a little scary, like when a tree came down just ahead of us. Connor lifted MC over it.
At last, we reached the 1.5 mile of very rough, rocky, and steep "road". Connor told me I could just leave MC, and he would come back and get her once he got to a flatter spot. I told him I would push her as far as I could. Off he went.
He almost made it to the top of this section before he had to walk. At the top, he dropped his bike and came back to help me. Really, he pushed MC up and I just walked along behind. We repeated this a couple more times. Then, it was Derik who came back. He helped me push. When we got to a flatter section, I told him, if he wanted, he could just ride MC, and I would walk up. It seemed easier than him trotting along in the sections I could ride, then having to push again. Off he went. I continued trudging my way to the top. Unfortunately, although I had a water bottle, I did not have my camera, so no photos of my hike.
I was making my way ever so slowly, when I heard an ATV coming up behind me (hunting season starts tomorrow). I turned around hoping that it was just one person with room for a rider. It was! I flagged him down, and asked for a ride. I told him my bike was already at the top, having been ridden there by my friend. He was happy to give me a ride, and even gave me a Gatorade! Brian was awesome! In no time we were at the top! Derik and Connor were talking to another hunter named Troy. Troy told me I'd have to highlight that part as having not ridden it. I told him I didn't care! He laughed.
Since it was about 1:00, we ate some lunch at the top.
It was cold and windy there too.
After lunch, it was time to go down. The descent was six miles of rough and rocky road. It also involved a bit of this loveliness.
Snow! Both Connor and I were slipping around. We stopped. I looked back to see Derik stopped and brushing off his arms. He saw me looking at him, and yelled, "I crashed!" So, now all of us have crashed at least once. For the rest of the snow section I didn't clip in, and mostly scootered my way through. Fortunately, it wasn't too long.
Out of the snow, but the descent was still rough. It was also windy, which sometimes helped in a braking way. We hadn't had a rough descent like this for a long time. It was kind of fun...in a scary sort of way. I stopped a couple of times to rest my hands. There were still small patches of snow and my other favorite, mud, in the shady spots.
Eventually, we finished those six miles. The road improved greatly. There was still more uphill than I preferred, and the ever present wind, but finally we had a good long smooth downhill. We ended up in Clark at the Clark Store (grocery, liquor, and post office all in one). I knew we still had about 20 miles to go to Steamboat Springs, so I tanked up on some Dr. Pepper and some treats. Of course, I had to have a Clark Bar in Clark!
The remainder of the ride was mostly on pavement, with the exception of a few miles. It was the highway with intermittent shoulders. The guys let me draft which was good. Otherwise, I'd probably still be out there!
While we were in Clark, we made a reservation for a motel in Steamboat Springs. We were planning to take just one day off, but with it being opening weekend of hunting season, we decided to stay until Monday. Derik has an orange helmet. I have a hi-vis jacket, but Connor could be mistaken for an animal by a trigger happy hunter. Better safe than...dead.
Our motel room has three double beds. At least it's cheaper than the hotel in Jackson. Oh, and it smells very sulphury here in Steamboat Springs! Tomorrow we'll go exploring!