27th of August till 2nd of September
I need a muscle relaxant. Not for my legs, not for my bum but to relax my facial muscles. Even if it is sometimes hard riding uphill, against the wind, in the rain; due to the amazing, ever changing landscape; due to the wild camping, meeting great people and being with Frank I almost always have a grin on my face.
Fridge on bike and new knife
After an excellent breakfast served by our motel we leave for Lynx pass and, as we will do a few days of wild camping, we first stock up at the supermarket. Biggest challenge is not to buy too much as we have to carry everything over the hill. Frank is carrying breakfast and dinner, I support the lunch and other items that need to be kept cool. Yes, we created our own fridge. Between the two back panniers we put a wet towel, on top ice or a full platypus (water bladder), lunch and rack pack. Even when there is a lot of sun, if you start-out cool, food will stay fresh the whole day. Taking turkey breast and Philadelphia cheese to put on fresh sandwiches is no longer a problem, and it is a good protein source. In Steamboat Springs we also find the perfect, handmade knife for me. A beautiful Grey Wolf Blades with a bone handle. Really happy with a useful souvenir. Further shopping is only: kijken-kijken-niet kopen, as we can’t carry/need more. Cowboy booths on a bike will not make me go faster. Frank has a look at his tire, it does look a bit wobbly but we decide to leave without taking it off the rim to inspect.
You can see that there is more money in Steamboat as there are well developed biking roads. Cruising out of the city at 11:00 we see a lot of bikers and meet Kelly and Mark who work for National Forest Services. They warn us for wild camping under dead pine trees, also here the beetle is causing a huge areas of pines to die.
A bit further on the road two other cyclist warn us for black bears. First we don’t believe them, as we think we are out of bear country by now, but starting to ride on the country roads (gravel) we see several signs of bear presence (fresh poo). They are coming down this valley as there is an abundance of huckleberries, lucky we kept one bear spray.
As Lynx Pass has been indicated as a heavy climb and we have left so late, we decide to do wild camping just before the ascend and keep this for the next day. I wanted to be sure we could set-up and cook before dark, seems that my estimate of 19:30 was a bit too negative as it finally gets 100% dark at 20:15.
Tired of tyres
Next day the steep ascend confirms that we could not have done this before dark last night. Muscles are woken up with a tough workout. At the top we take our Sunday Selfie even if it is already Monday. We are a bit concerned about Franks back tire as he took it off in the morning and checked what could be wrong, inside is looking loose and looks like it is delaminating. Unfortunately we sent the outer tire we were carrying back home 1 month ago. We had heard so many good stories of people using the same tires and have used them for +20.000km. We reduce descending speed as it does not feel very safe. At Ford Rock Creek we have to change our shoes for sandals to wade through the creek and just beyond that we see some 19th century buildings.
The road is still the same as when it was used by the settlers and we still see the remainders of the post office/hotel used in the 19th century.
Great ride with several roads where no cars are allowed. Some in excellent condition, others very rocky or so steep we have to push, fingers crossed for Franks tire.
Colorado River full of fish (?)
As we won’t be able to reach Kremmling with this speed we decide to stay in Radium, less than 40 people, no shops but a campsite with at least a toilet. We still have water and do use some out of the Colorado river. While I set-up the tent Frank tries to catch dinner in the Colorado river, together with Joe from Washington State who is here on the annual fishing trip with his brother. Luckily we still have other stuff to eat 😉.
Leaving Radium to Kremmling goes over a very wet gravel road, while we wonder if we have missed the rain we see why gravel roads are so much in use in remote areas. When the surface is not so neat anymore you make it very wet and scrape the surface and voila you have a new road.
As we are getting closer to civilization we take the HWY1 which is blacktop at the steepest part, much easier to ride and better for Franks wobbly tire.
With a great view on the Rio Grande railroad which sneaks through the Gore Canyon, we discover the following story: in the late 19th century Mr. Gore together with some friends came hunting in this area and killed thousands of buffalo, deer and elk, not only upsetting the Indians, but also the white population as it was an unnecessary slaughter.
Finally at the top, a long decent starts and even though Frank is trying to go very slow his back tire explodes, a slit of 10 cm and outer and inner tire completely ruined. As I was already a bit further and was waiting when he would round the corner, two people stop and inform me what happened. As I know that Frank does not have the spares to fix it and we are still 10 km away from Kremmling we need to arrange a charter. With the second car passing up-hill we are lucky.
Kyle and Mollie even turn around to bring Frank to the gas station in Kremmling in their pick-up truck.
I follow, strange to really bike on your own. After some calling around Frank discovers that Kremmling is not as big as we thought, no 29 inch tires available. First idea is that Frank will hitchhike to Steamboat as there is a good bike shop which has 29 inch tires. As it is very hot and we do not want to carry all the gear very far, we decide to check in at the hotel which is next to the gas station.
The girl at the front desk suggests to also check availability in Granby as there is also a good bike shop and is easier to reach. The owner of the bike shop, VJ, offers to bring several tires after shop closing so we can choose the best option. Frank decides to use a Vee Rubber tire of 2.1 (instead of 2.0). We invite VJ and his wife Sue for dinner as thanks for the effort of bringing the tires. www.fullcirclecyclery.com. We enjoy the company and stories on how it became Full Circle Cyclery!
Happy to be able to be back on the road the next day. New tire feels good even if there is still a bump in the tire, as if it is not round, Frank thinks this will settle during the next few miles. Great ride following the Colorado river.
We pass at the bottom of a dam before we start the ascend to Ute Pass (2902 m). Is reasonable as is blacktop and not too steep. We pass Henderson Mill but we only know what is happening in this big factory once we have access to internet again, they mine for molybdenum. Seems they already extracted more than half a million kg of this element from these surroundings.
As we have been using motels the last few days and it is too far to Breckenridge we opt for camping 10 miles before Silverthorne, nice campground with toilet but without water. We get a jerry can of clean water from Adam and Miranda! Thanks, feels much better than taking water from of the river. People are so sweet, when Frank tries to change a $20 bill so we can pay the $14 for camping, another neighbour says he will pay for us!
Silverthorne is converted to an outlet shopping city. Some old parts are still standing but we overhear our waitress explaining to a regular customer that their building will be demolished within the next two years to be replaced by non-descript new structures.
An easy bike path, doable for all retired bikers we pass, leads us past Frisco to Breckenridge. One of those powerful racers even rides together with Frank for quite some miles. I am getting behind while he seems to bike without any effort on this carbon race bike.
Break in Breck
At the visitor centre they confirm there are only hotels in town and no camping possibilities. As we have been talking with Henk & Heidi already for some time about Breckenridge we decide to stay at the Beaver Run Hotel so we can discover the town. Hotel is a bit too un-personal and big for our taste but with great beds and hot tubs.
Breck has a great old town which is the oldest constantly inhabited city in Colorado (18590 but is now completely converted for tourists.
Mountain biking and hiking in summer, skiing in winter. It is one of the villages where gold was discovered, in Breck this happened in 1859 in the Blue River. As we want to discover more of the village and we both have not slept so great due to the height (3000m) we decide to stay one more night. We find new sunglasses for me as mine were delaminating, take the gondola to the top, but it only goes halfway. It does give straight away wintersport feeling. Lot’s of new buildings are constructed and everybody is getting ready for the new winter season.
We eat our sandwiches which we already had prepared and have a second lunch when we are back in the centre of the village. Frank is not really happy about his tire as there is still a bump in it, even with taking it off and re-aligning, the bump stays.
Come to Como
To get to Como we have to go over Boras Pass at + 3.500 m. It is an old railroad converted to good gravel with max 4% ascend or descend. Brain on zero and up you go. Near the top we come to Baker’s Tank, an ols water cistern for steam locomotives, that was fed from mountain creeks and could hold 9,305 gallons (35.000 liter) of water. Here we meet Ray and Hugh from Seattle. Hugh is 71 years old, but he is still too fast for us!
Will we meet?
We know that Chris (who we met together with Nicole 2 months ago, and whom we visited in Canmore) http://fireweedglassstudio.ca/, will start his 3rd part of the GDMBR together with his friend Bill on 3rd of September. As they will arrive tonight in Hartsel, we decide to put some more pressure on us and try to reach Hartsel. Just before Como Frank has again a flat tire, fixed it and due to this delay we were able to see the first run of the restored steamtrain in Como!
Wind, surface and inclination are all in favour and even if it was a long day we reach Hartsel just when Bill and Chris get their burger! What a great surprise that Nicole is also there. We have a lovely dinner together and are lucky that it rains when we are inside. Chris, Nicole and Bill are staying at a campground 2 miles from Hartsel. We decide to wild camp at the same spot as 5 other GDMBR riders, across the road, behind a shed
Next episode; Will Franks new tire hold?