Wow! I made it through the first day. But before I get to the details, I want to give a huge thank you to the RTR staff and volunteers! After dropping off a car in Westcliffe and taking one of the charter busses to Grand Junction, and seeing the organization and logistics just to bring all of us to the start line, I was very impressed!
Now on to the ride: Wow! What a great day! We could not have asked for a more beautiful day for this ride: sunny skies and a light breezes. With our bikes reassembled, tires inflated, team Blazing Saddles? roared onto the route (yeah, that was us in the fire tiger jerseys). We headed into Colorado National Monument. The climb from the entrance to the first aid station was a great way to get our cycling legs going after a few days off. After a quick break, some snacks and refilled water bottles we continued our climb through the monument. The hills got less steep and included some rollers for fun bursts of speed. This section also included a lot of turnouts to stop and take pictures. Which I did. The scenic views from the rim of that canyon were breathtaking!
With a second aid station stop and a last brief climb we were ready for the big descent. While there were many more scenic turn offs on the way down, I didn’t break for most of those, stopping only at the one labeled “Grand View,” which it was. Otherwise I enjoyed the thrill of over 10 miles of consecutive downhill. I think the highlight of this leg of the ride was something I saw coming down the hill into Fruita. I’m not an ornithologist, but I’m pretty sure the bird soaring over the road this afternoon was a golden eagle, and that was a very cool sight.
Lunch in Fruita was a fun affair with BBQ, pizza and live music. Definitely a step up from the average rest stop. With a nice grassy park and shady spots to sit and enjoy our lunch, we took a little extra rest time.
Finally we finished the day with the nice leisurely spin the last 17 miles back to CMU. All cleaned up and ready to go see the afternoon’s entertainment.
After completing the first day I am even more excited to continue on with this adventure. (I may regret saying this later but..) Bring on Grand Mesa!