There was an epic battle between sun and raincloud the next morning. We were pretty sure that the sun would win, because everything we heard about Colorado reminded us of Florida: quick, intense, afternoon thunderstorms. Certainly the sun would win.
We packed up the tent during a lull in the drizzle. I wore long underwear under my bike shorts because it was about 55 degrees. Personally, I think should be against the rules for it to drop below 65 degrees in July. But apparently Colorado doesn’t care about my opinions. I had my rain jacket handy.
I was ready to leave the forest, even though it meant splashing through puddles on the gravel road. The lull in the drizzle stopped and turned into full on rain.
It didn’t let up.
You guys thought we were having nonstop fun on this trip, didn’t you?
Remarkably, our attitudes stayed pretty good through the next five hours.
We saw a baby coyote. I fed some horses.
Though our shoes had soaked through in the first thirty minutes, our pants were covered in mud, and Travis had worn through his brake pads on account of the mud, we managed to descend for miles and miles on a gravel road (let’s be real, it was dirt turned mud), and we were more than thankful when we finally reached the paved highway. The town of Cimarron looked really close on the map. Then we would get a motel and take a shower and rinse out our clothes and put on warm socks.
This was what we found in Cimarron.
It was like a movie. It was terrible.
The next closest town was Montrose, which was 20 miles away and we had to climb a mountain to get there. We changed into new shorts and shirts, swapped our soaked cycling shoes for Crocs and Chacos, and started the ascent. Thankfully, the climb was only five miles and the descent was fifteen. Mercifully, the sun came out.
So that was the terrific trial of Cimarron Road. It ended at a Montrose motel that had laundry and cable, and with a dinner that contained an astonishing amount of calories derived from a burger and chicken wings and beer. You wouldn’t BELIEVE the mud we washed off our bikes. We slept in a bed and it was awesome.
Black Canyon National Park is 17 miles outside of Montrose, straight back up the mountain we had descended that day before, and then a little higher. We did some iPhone research and learned that the grade (steepness) of a road is determined by how many feet the road rises out of 100 feet. The road to Black Canyon is a 6% grade, which means it rises six feet every hundred feet.
Well that doesn’t sound steep, but it was definitely one of the most severe inclines we’ve taken so far. It took over two hours to reach the canyon.
Our time to enjoy it was short, however. It was pretty awesome though.
The two hour climb took approximately 15 mins to descend. No kidding. I’m really starting to enjoy bombing these hills. It was terrifying at first but if you can just stop thinking about all the horrible things that can happen to your body if you crashed at 40 mph, then it’s awesome. We hurried and hurried, because Travis’ cousin Kate was at the park’s entrance, waiting to pick us up and take us to Crested Butte.