Emelio maifesting man's domination over nature.
We left you last 4.5 miles from Monarch Pass next to a lovely little campfire. Maybe you saw it in our last blog entry? Although maybe you didn't because we only saw one (1) comment after that post.
[Guys: what gives??? Freakin look down. You see that big rectangle with lots of squares on it? It's called a keyboard. You can push those squares in a particular sequence to create things that we call "words". When these "words" are combined in such a way, we call it "language". And when you put some "language" on our blog, it is called a "comment". And when we couple a dudes see "comments" on our blogs, it validates our freaking existence. WE LIVE FOR COMMENTS. WRITE ANYTHING, INSULT US, WHATEVER. That is all.]
Our campsite caught fire!!! JAY-KAY
On the morning of Sept. 4 (day 30-something, we don't really know or care anymore just get us out of this hellhole JK!), Emelio woke up very early (OMG!) because it was chilly-willy and he was uncomfortable-bunfuntorble. [Emelio's note: Alex thought it would be funny to write OMG back there, which is rude] He rustled up some fags and lit them on fire to stay warm. An otherwise uncomfortable morning was made the opposite of uncomfortable due to a boy and his flames.
Now we will tell you about our climb. It was 4.5 miles and it was up a 6% grade and it was the morning and so traffic was calmer and so we could look at the mountains more easily and it took an hour and fifteen minutes (including a stop to fill our water bottles (which were nearly empty by that point) from a trickling mountain spring) to get to the Pass but we did it and it was good and great! The feeling of elation one gets after accomplishing something like climbing a 11,312-foot peak on a heavily-loaded boy-powered cycle is difficult to put into words. Basically, we couldn't wipe the goofy grins off our goofy, greasy beardfaces for like an hour after we summited at Monarch.
Alex depraving Mother Earth of her precious resources
At the top, there was a really chill place to stop and hang with other chill mountain people. We saw many forms of wildlife: the mountain biker, the matching-bright-orange-shirt-wearing older German couple, the cashier and her weird kid, the Harley-Davidson rider who thinks he has something in common with us because he rides a two-wheeled machine (hint: he doesn't!), the rich couple from Crested Butte and their well-groomed Aryan children... what a place!
Monarch Pass is right at the Continental Divide: we can pee into the Pacific AND the Atlantic from here!
After relaxing on the Divide for a good while, we gathered our wits and our tits and it was bombs-away! Colin had asked (IN A COMMENT ON THIS BLOG) how fast we go when we're descending one of these peaks, and in a textbook example of "Ask and Ye Shall Receive," here it comes: our mach speed going down was 37.5 mph. Surprisingly, this is not the highest speed we've reached on our trip so far (that being 39.8 on a supersteep hill in S. Illinois). Can you believe it?? On this particular descent, however, the wind was full-force in our mugs and was a real impediment to us reaching insane speeds. We're both hoping to hit much higher speeds when we have the chance to descend in the future under calm wind conditions.
48 miles from Monarch Pass we rolled into Gunnison, the first substantial town to the west of the Continental Divide. Because Gunnison plays host to Western State College, it might be better named Funnison; after all, crazy co-eds love to attend University!
We had a delicious dinner at the Gunnison Brewery (hamburger on one hand, Boca burger on the other hand) along with one local brew each. After that we spent the final three or four hours of the evening hanging out at the local supermarket, charging phones and eating supper and generally chatting it up with some curious locals. Eventually, we made our way over to a quiet city park to set up camp.
A peaceful, uneventful night of rest seemed very much in the cards. But then..... around 1:00 A.M. Alex awoke to the rather alarming sound of a medium-to-large amount of liquid being thrashed against the rainfly of our tent. "What's this?!? A Super-Soaker attack perpetrated by
a band of local roustabouts?" Alex mused. "ZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzz," offered Emelio. Alex reluctantly peeked his head out of the tent like a baby wallaby emerging for the first time from his mommy's marsupium to find that the sound he heard was, in fact, being caused by the park's automatic sprinkler system which was presently drenching the tent and our precious little bikey-wikes. We wished it were a bad dream, but knew that the only thing to do was suck it up and move the bikes and tent out of this impromptu "Splash Zone."
That done, we crawled back up inside our sleeping bags and dozed off again. But then, wouldn'tchaknowit, no more than about 30-45 minutes later, Alex again woke to the same durn horrific sound and this time it wasn't a Super-Soaker attack either. UGH! Another set of timed sprinklers!!! We were so annoyed and so chilly by this point (low temp that night in Gunnison was around 36 deg Fahrenheit) that we basically moved our tent out into the alley behind some poor sap's vinyl-sided car-house (read: garage). By the grace of God, no more interruptions were launched upon us for the rest of the night/early morning.
Alex writes postcards while drinking coffee.
Next day, we waited out the cold in an uber-chill coffee house on Main Street in Gunnison before returning to (our fave!) City Market to do business over there with those fine people over there at City Market. We bought cereal and milk and ate it on a bench in an empty lot next to Wal-Mart (not JJ). Breakfast of champions!
In spite of some pretty stunning landscapes all through the Curecanti National Recreation Area and the Blue Mesa Reservoir, riding that day was kinda basically comparable to a big pile of feces.... BECAAAAUUUUSE, in a mega-nostalgic throwback to our days of riding in Western Kansas and Eastern Colorado, the winds again flagellated our poor little defenseless hineys. At one point, we became so frustrated (almost scared, in fact) by the brutal gusts, that we were forced to lamely walk our bikes along the highway for a spell.
This was a neat store!
Ultimately, though, all the hard work of climbing through the gales was rewarded by what we've both agreed was the most glorious descent we've experienced thus far. While coming down from Monarch Pass was the height of rush-of-blood-to-the-head territory, the landscape surrounding us at that point was somewhat one-dimensional; thick pine forests up to the tree line and barren peaks above. During this descent, on the other hand, our eyes were treated to a Thanksgivingly-robust feast of angles, colors, and textures. Everything that makes the Colorado landscape great was laid out their before us as we rode into the glow of the afternoon sun. And as if that wasn't enough, once at the bottom in Cimarron, we came upon a painfully quaint little country store offering all sorts of doodads and trinkets, not the least of which were choco-shakes (Emelio) and cherry pie a la mode (Alex). From there it was another mile or two 'til we found a creekside campsite that basically knocked our socks off. In the end, the day was more than salvaged!
"I can't wait to get on Facebook!!!" "Why?" "Because I haven't been on in two weeks!"
-overheard in the library right this moment
The next day was a very pleasant day of riding, made up of a couple nice long climbs followed by a couple nice long(er) descents. The second of the day's uphill stretches took us off our route for what turned out to be the most "worth-it" detour we've incurred so far. It was a long and winding road that led us up to the south rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison and one of America's newest national parks. Check the link and the pics, because words can't do this place justice. It may not be as grand as that other canyon, but for steepness, narrowness, and depth, the Black Canyon has them all beat! It's only about a 1/4 mile wide, but 2,000 feet deep, with dramatic, sheer cliffs falling straight down to the wildly running Gunnison River. An incredible sight to behold!
Alex accidentally fell over the edge. Don't worry he wasn't even injured!
And while the views from the southern rim road are the most iconic (and most commonly taken), we couple dudes were privileged enough to experience the canyon in an even more thrilling canyon-experiencing way: by hiking down it! The trails are so treacherous, in fact, that we needed to be issued a special backwoods permit in order to hike them. Perhaps the rangers were fooled by our grizzly beards, but we were nearly in over our heads. We made it out without a scratch, but man-oh-man, that hike was sumthin' (check pic for a pic).
If this looks really freaking steep, that's because it WAS. We are AWESOME (not really but yes really)
That evening we found a lovely young couple in the large-ish, slightly more down-to-earth town of Montrose. Scott and Jenny have been hosting cyclo-tourists for a number of years now, and say that they've probably put up 75-100 cyclists in that time. So we're basically just a measly, oily drop of spoiled milk in the capacious bucket of their hospitality. They fed us tasty snacks and Jenny wouldn't let us out the door this morning without loading our bike-sacks with complimentary Clif bars (yom-yom! ;P). Another "shining" (we baked that bun fresh for you, Scott and Jenny) example of relentless American generosity.
Maybe we've been riding slower than we had thought!
In case you forgot, Emelio's stepdad Rick has been keeping geographic tabs on us via this snazzy GoogleMaps link. Oooooooohhhhhh..... look how far we've gone....... Bookmark the link to follow our daily progress.
Another recent evolution in the life our our WebLog, is the Creation of a YouTube channel where we're posting sweet vids of our life on the road. Videos already posted include the Monarch Pass climb and riding out of Cotopaxi, CO along the Arkansas River. Subscribe to Alex's channel for further video updates.
Thnx for reading our latest blog entry. We hope you've enjoyed it! Now we're going to do something awesome but we're not gonna tell you what it is because if we did there wouldn't be any suspense to this story and you wouldn't be as inclined to log on and read our next entry so we're not going to tell you what it is that we are about to go do right now that is going to be really great.
Alelio & Emlex