GDMBR2 – DAYS 15-18

After finishing the ride, we had a group hug/ picture and packed into the adventure cycling van and shuttled back to Steamboat, leaving Marie in Salida, and dropping others at hotels and bike shops in Steamboat. I put my new battery in my motorcycle, gave my bicycle and gear to Jim to transport home and hopped on my motorcycle to begin phase 3 of my adventure. It felt odd to be solitary once again but nice to be moving at my own pace and direction.

The plan was to head south towards Leadville. Thirty miles in there was a detour. I didn’t believe the real detour sign which pointed to a gravel road (not my favorite on the motorcycle) and stayed on a wonderful curvy road that passed huge mining operations. My assessment, mining pays for nice roads in the middle of nowhere.

Unfortunately, that road looped back almost to Steamboat… new plan. There looked to be a Scenic byway through the Flattop Wilderness so I headed west and then south. It was getting dark as I looked for a campground 30 miles along the road through the National Wilderness. Then, the road turned to gravel. As I said, not my favorite. It was getting too dark to head back and fortunately, after a few miles, there was a campground. Thank goodness. There was deer in the campsite and bear boxes so I knew the wilderness description was accurate. The ground was too hard to drive a tent stake into so my tent was free-standing.

Morning… The camp host stopped by in his golf cart. He talked my ear off for a good 45 minutes. Among the topics, he is building a rail gocart. What is that you ask? A gocart modified to ride on the million miles of abandoned railway tracks in the US. From the Salton Sea to Salida he’s going to be buzzing around. He’s a bit of a train but, has 300 boxes of toy trains waiting for a place in Silverton to agree to display.

He said the road was gravel for the remaining 51 miles. I elected to see how bad it was. It was fine for 11 miles and then turned to soft, deep gravel. I rode another 3 miles with my front wheel squirming around. The Sheriff came by and said the rest of the road was the same. I tucked my tail between my legs and turned around. New plan, ride further south around the area and drop into Salida. Maybe I’ll ride the Monarch Crest mountain bike trail (an IMBA Epic Ride) after all.

I called the shuttle company, for a 10 am shuttle, rented a bike at a shop in Salida and went to the local hostel to get a room. Tomorrow will be epic.

Up early, the bunkroom was full of Colorado Trail through hikers, some of whom were calling it quits and taking a bus out of town at 7:45. You know my opinion of solitary through-hikers.

I picked up my bike and rode 5 miles to the shuttle company in Pancho Springs for the lift to Monarch Pass, 12,000 feet and change. There were six of us including a local packing a “varmit” rifle.

The trail starts at 12,000 and goes up… I was feeling it, 32 miles to go. Eventually it starts down, and gets below the treeline.

I was glad there were others on the trail as I might still be out there.

My shoulders and wrists were killing me from the death grip on the bars and the constant bashing over and through big rocks. Yikes.

Kid’s Club rules prohibit any more description of the ride but suffice it to say, I made it down in one piece and rode back to drop off the bike by 4:00, to the surprise of the shop manager.

Back on the motorcycle and west to find a campsite west of Gunnison. Made it just before dark…

Tomorrow is another day, and another plan.

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