Day 44: Unconventionality Makes for Good Stories!

Start/End: Granby/Steamboat Springs, CO
Mileage: 83.7+/-
Weather: Cool morning, with increasing clouds and some rain

Today, like many of our rides this summer, some things happened that were just really crazy and impacted the ride in a way that past rides haven’t been. We were really looking forward to a day with decreased hill climbing and more downhill than uphill. Oh, and the beautiful views that we have heard about from cyclists whom we have met over the past few days. But, all in due time!

We are so thankful for the Episcopal Church of St. John the Baptist In Granby, Co for allowing our group to stay at their facility. It was very well set up for accommodating a large group, such as ours and was just very comfortable, especially after our later night at the rodeo last night!

This morning, our ride was dedicated to Dory, a co-worker of one of our riders who was very influence on their life. Additionally, Dory was a two-time breast cancer survivor and a huge supporter of the cause, and really about serving other people. So today, we are very excited that Dory is a survivor, and we ride to honor her fight.

Today’s ride was quite a bit longer than the other rides we have had recently, but there was a lot less climbing, so that was a welcomed message for the team. The morning started off kind of chilly and almost everyone wore their jackets. But the sun was strong and showed us some amazing views as we traversed through a valley between mountains. It was just beautiful. We saw the Colorado River near its start, so it was not too big. It is crazy to think that such a river could cut out a masterpiece like the Grand Canyon. While we aren’t able to see that along this ride, we entered Byers Canyon along this route. The river was rushing at the bottom and there were a set of train tracks running close to the river. It was a majestic scene and the morning light hit the canyon walls beautifully.

After that, it was off to the hills, where we followed US-40 through some hills around the larger mountains. There were quite a few people on the road for this holiday weekend, but most were headed in the opposite direction, likely heading home towards Denver. Biking this route is a lot of fun, because there are so many scenic views of plateaus and rocks along the route that driving in a car, one may miss. We passed some recreational areas, including a lake where people were out water skiing.

After lunch, we began our big climb for the day around mile 50. The clouds were increasing but definitely seemed OK for the time being. As we climbed Rabbit Ears Pass, which deceptively has two summits (as a rabbit has 2 ears), we were able to see a rock formation in the distance which resembled bunny ears. It was certainly fun to look at as we climbed. Some groups were not able to make it to the top before the rain set in, which was cold, but not too heavy, so we pressed on. We crossed the Continental Divide again on this pass, which was kind of fun, but again, may need to check out this map!

Some groups were fortunate to be able to descend the mountain, while others, once they reached the top, had been enveloped by a cloud. The visibility was very low (less than 500 feet). Even with the lights on our bikes, the combination of the low visibility, the steep decent and the slick roads, it just did not seem safe. A total of four groups reached this conclusion at the top and waited to be shuttled down into Steamboat Springs. It is never fun to ride in the van, or miss a well deserved downhill, but it was a safe decision that no one regrets. Whether in the van, or having gone down the mountain, it was really cool once we finally descended beneath the cloud and could see sunlight, but also just how high we were up in the mountains. The land extended for a very large distance that we could see and it was such a difference in weather conditions.

For the afternoon, the team had the opportunity to explore Steamboat Springs. We are so thankful for Steamboat Ski and Bike Kare, who generously offered to keep an eye on our bikes and let us store them at their facility. This was very nice to be able to explore the downtown without having to also keep an eye on our bikes. We went to shops, coffee shops and places to eat and just had a fun time…even if we were still all dressed in our cycling gear! We probably looked a little funny, but we had some great conversations with folks visiting the town. One woman,master we told her about e Portraits Project told us what a great idea that was, but that she had been blessed and has not been impacted by cancer. We sincerely hope that is can become a reality for more and more people through our fundraising and the fundraising and research by the great minds of this time.

Tonight we are all dry and warm ready to head to bed again. But before we did, we actually got to see a complete, double rainbow outside of our stayover! It was very beautiful and had such vibrant colors. So here is hoping to a great day tomorrow that maybe won’t have rain? Oh. And before I forget, tomorrow we are camping! Hopefully I will have service to post a blog, but if I am not able to, just hang tight and we will have something posted as soon as we can!

As always, thanks for following along on our westward journey!

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