Salida, CO to Lake City, CO – 140.4 miles
After last night’s fiasco, we took advantage of the noon checkout time offered by the hotel. I actually awoke pretty early, but when I realized I was in a bed instead of still cussing in the woods, I fluffed my pillow and rolled over for another hour or so. We nursed our bumps and bruises then made a vow to stay off all red lines, regardless of how tempting they may be.
We stumbled into one of Colorado’s biggest music festivals by staying in Salida. Mumford and Sons was headlining the event that spilled over into the next city. It took all of our willpower to leave instead of parking the bikes and taking a day off from vacation. A sign announcing a pig roast and craft beer almost put me over the top, but Moab and fresh tires were calling.
Once on the road we entered the San Isabel National Forest and crossed Marshall Pass. The road was great and the weather was perfect. We passed lots of other people on ATVs and dirt bikes starting their weekend off right. We even passed a couple on bicycles making the climb to 10,800 feet and decided they had either lost their minds or a horrible bet.
Since we hadn’t been sitting long enough on an uncomfortable seat, we found a good rock to plop ourselves on and stopped for a scenic snack along the side of the road. The valley we chose had open fields with scattered trees and one hell of a breeze. I’m not sure how the honeybees managed to find their targets, but we ate and continued down the road before they mistook my wind blown hair for their hive.
The sky turned dark and we could see rain off in the distance, so we prepared ourselves for a wet ride. We managed to skirt the storms to both sides and took only a light drizzle. However, the crosswind picked up pretty heavy making us lean into it to maintain a straight path and tuck our chins to keep from getting sand blasted in the face.
The last 20 miles into Lake City were gorgeous. We rode beside an innocent looking stream that had cut through the rock to create a canyon with walls at least 300 feet high. It revealed the layers of rock each with a unique color and thickness. We made a final climb to nosebleed heights and descended on paved switchbacks into our destination.