Category Archives: Bike Touring

Co-Mo Rollins summit

Colorado 2014: By the Days and Miles

Co-Motion and Felkerino Rollins summit

Every day that goes by, our 2014 Colorado tour becomes more memory. I’m surprised to feel saddened by that, since one of our intentions while there was to feed our wanderlust and tire ourselves out so that we would be at peace with settling back into our life in Washington, D.C.

Maybe that peace will come in September, but in the interim I’m left daydreaming about the two weeks when I felt small, invigorated, and satisfied.

Felkerino uploaded our routes to his Ride With GPS page, and I’m posting the overall image of our daily profiles along with a link that provides more details about each day’s ride.

I wish I could figure out an easy way to sew the routes together so I could display it as one big loop as well as by days, but seeing it in segments is okay. UPDATE: Thanks to Ronnie, who commented below, I was able to put our routes into one image.

Through this post I have an overall record of our trip and I keep the good memories flowing! Again, many thanks to all of you for taking an interest and encouraging us throughout our time in Colorado.

2014 Colorado Tour Image

Day 1: Boulder to Kremmling (this is also the Trail Ridge Traipse RUSA Permanent), 150 Miles

Day 1: Boulder to Kremmling

Day 2: Kremmling to Carbondale, 87 Miles

Day 2: Kremmling to Carbondale

Day 3: Carbondale to Paonia, 62 Miles

Day 3: Carbondale to Paonia

Day 4: Paonia to Ouray, 100 Miles

Day 4: Paonia to Ouray

Day 5: Rest Day, 0 Miles

Rest Day Espresso
Rest Day Espresso

Day 6: Ouray to Durango, 75 Miles

Day 6: Ouray to Durango

Day 7: Durango to Pagosa Springs, 65 Miles

Day 7: Durango to Pagosa Springs

Day 8: Pagosa Springs to Creede, 68 Miles (First half of route here. Second half is here)

Day 8: Pagosa Springs to Creede

Day 8: Pagosa Springs to Creede

Day 9: Creede to Gunnison, 106 Miles

Day 9: Creede to Gunnison

Day 10: Gunnison to Leadville, 105 Miles

Day 10: Gunnison to Leadville

Day 11: Rest/Backwards Pedal and Crankarm Day

Fixed up and ready to roll in Leadville
Fixed up and ready to roll in Leadville

Day 12: Leadville to Winter Park, 83 Miles

Day 12: Leadville to Winter Park

Day 13: Winter Park to Boulder, 68 Miles

Day 13: Winter Park to Boulder

Number of riding days: 11
Total days: 13
Total miles: 969 (plus some additional miles riding around towns for meals and miscellaneous errands)
Average mileage per day, including rest days: 74.5 Miles
Average mileage per day, not including rest days: 88 Miles
Number of Unforgettable Moments of Awesome: Too many to count

And now, we return to randonneuring, running, and planning “future tour– at least, until I finish culling the rest of my tour photos.

Riding up Rollins

I Really Don’t Know Clouds

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now,
from up and down, and still somehow
it’s cloud illusions I recall.
I really don’t know clouds at all.
–Joni Mitchell

I first listened to Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” when I was a teenager, and found it terrible. I had never imagined that a person could think about clouds so darn much.

Ascending McClure into an uncertain future
Ascending McClure into an uncertain future

Felkerino’s and my recent tour in Colorado has changed my sentiments toward clouds and the song.

When a person rides a bike up and down mountains in Colorado, it behooves him or her to give some serious thought to clouds.

Many a morning we woke up to sparkling sunny mornings and clear skies. As we rode our way through the morning the clouds would drift into the blue, as if they were having a pleasant meetup over coffee.

Clouds roll in en route to Ridgway
Clouds roll in en route to Ridgway

Sometimes a cloud gathering would not end peacefully. The sun would recede and the clouds grouped up, their fluffy whiteness turning to stern grays.

Stern clouds and stiff crosswinds outside of Ridgway
Stern clouds and stiff crosswinds outside Ridgway

Having grown up in Iowa and even now in Washington, D.C., I can smell rain when it’s on the way. I can look at the sky, observe how the clouds curl, and know that rain will fall.

In Colorado it wasn’t so easy for me to read clouds. At times the clouds would roll in around us, but they would hover over a neighboring peak, emitting the occasional grumble. On more than one day, we skirted the periphery of bad weather with our fingers crossed that the peak could keep the storm at bay.

Wolf Creek descent. It's sunny on the other side.
Wolf Creek descent. It’s sunny on the other side and this mountain seems to be holding off the big rains.

Is it possible for a mountain to hold back the clouds? I convinced myself that it was, despite having little understanding about weather patterns and clouds in the Rockies. To me, those peaks were as strong as Samson, holding off bad weather.

Clouds gather on the Slumgullian climb.
Clouds gather on the Slumgullian climb.

Until this summer’s tour, I had little appreciation for clouds. They were large masses that disrupted or blocked the sun’s rays and dropped the occasional rain shower. Cumulus, nimbus, and cirrus, so what. Sometimes they struck me as pretty and rarely I would look at one long enough for it to resemble an object or animal.

Going up Molas Pass
Going up Molas Pass

Touring in Colorado changed that. I developed a wary relationship with the clouds. Climbing so high in sparsely populated areas I watched their movements for hours on end. I saw how their personalities could change as the day went on and I respected their power and unpredictability.

To climb or shelter, that is the question. Heading to Gunnison
To climb or shelter, that is the question. Heading to Gunnison

We climbed and the clouds cleared. Time to descend Nine-Mile Hill to Gunnison.
We climbed and the clouds cleared. Time to descend Nine-Mile Hill to Gunnison.

It fascinated me to watch them shift from fluffy and white to masses of thundering coal. While disconcerting to view as we hovered around tree line trying to decide if we should stop to put on rain jackets, it reminded me of the ways the city insulates me from the full brunt of the elements. The elements are still there, of course, but harder to discern amid the city lights and buildings.

We climbed Ute Pass and dodged this weather behind us.
We climbed Ute Pass and dodged this weather behind us.

Ute Pass summit. It's pretty (and dry!) up here
Ute Pass summit. It’s pretty (and dry!) up here

This year, one of my colleagues who is a HUGE Joni Mitchell fan, informed me that the song “Both Sides Now” is really not about clouds. Rather, the clouds are a metaphor for life and love. At the time, I had said that the whole cloud thing had not worked for me.

A cloud awaits us on  Rollins Pass
A cloud awaits us on Rollins Pass

As we climbed away from yet another nasty looking landscape of gray and damp, I realized this trip had brought about a change of mind. I told Felkerino that I agreed with Joni Mitchell’s song. I really do not know clouds. I need more bike touring in the mountains and time outside the city to understand them.

Touring the Divide

Bike Tourist Encounters

Since I started bike touring, I’ve trained myself to keep an eye open for others who might be on an adventure. Bike riders can blend into the landscape, but if you pay attention they will jump out at you.

During the two weeks that Felkerino and I pedaled our bicycle around Colorado, we crossed paths with several other bike tourists. It was exciting to meet fellow travelers and learn more about their riding.

Continue reading

Bike Shop Leadville

CO Tour Rest Day: Backwards Pedal and Crankarm Day


When we last saw our two intrepid bike tourists, they were stranded in Leadville with a broken crankarm…

It was Leadville layover day and bike shop stop on our Colorado odyssey. Nervously we awaited the 10 a.m. opening of Cycles of Life to see if Brian could repair our broken crankarm.


We watched him dig through all of his spare parts boxes, in search of a crankarm that might work on the captain’s non-drive side. No luck. Continue reading