CO Tour Day 4: Everything Weighs Something, Even Ambition: 100 Miles to Ouray

When bike touring, you become keenly aware of how much your stuff weighs. This weighs “x” amount. Do I really need to take it up every hill and mountain?

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If yes, the item goes on the bike. If no, set it aside. I am pleased with how Felkerino and I packed. The only potential surplus I’ve identified is a small notebook I deemed essential. I have a problem leaving home without at least a few sheets of real paper.

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Felkerino and I left the comfortable town of Paonia today, meandered through farm country to Hotchkiss, and over dry and somewhat desolate territory to Delta.

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From Delta, we climbed steadily to Montrose, and then kicked it into high gear to reach the town of Ridgway, and ultimately, Ouray. 100 miles. Where’s my t-shirt?

When we’re sitting at home in January, scrutinizing the map, it’s easy to concoct ambitious plans. 100 miles on tour? Let’s go for it.

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But today was tough. I did not consider the dry bowl of summer heat in the first 60 miles of our ride.

After leaving Montrose the temperatures dipped, but the wind picked up to batter us around like paper dolls. Thwack! Thwack! All the while it beat us up as we ascended to Ridgway, and ominous clouds swirled over the mountains.

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Despite the wind we continued. We are credit card touring, and needed to make Ouray for our overnight stop.

After a battle to Ridgway, we took a break to gather ourselves for the final miles and to see if the clouds might dissipate.

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I looked at our route and thought about how Felkerino’s and my tour ambitions had contributed to making this an intense day on the bike.

We know that by day three or four, our legs are getting weary. Tour legs, we call them. We know that when we average over 85 miles per day on challenging terrain that we can’t pause to enjoy the little towns or sights we intersect. We know our dispositions suffer.

Yet our desire to ride as much as we could with our limited time was too much to resist, and we ended up plotting out a big day.

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We did cover a lot of interesting ground over today’s 100 miles, and we managed to skirt some of the winds from Ridgeway to Ouray by taking a sweet little gravel back road. Gorgeous, and it helped us climb in peace and end our ride on a high note.

Ambition weighs more than I realized. I’m looking forward to a rest day tomorrow. Ambition reset day.

And by the way, thanks for reading along as our trip unfolds.

5 thoughts on “CO Tour Day 4: Everything Weighs Something, Even Ambition: 100 Miles to Ouray

  1. I’m enjoying your posts.
    I feel your pain … or at least I have felt your pain. I always set unrealistic mileage goals when I am touring or cycle camping and I always get home feeling like I have really missed something. You nailed it when you talked about not being able to “pause to enjoy the little towns and sights”.
    After several decades of doing these trips that always seem to turn into a hammerfest as I zip past what it was I came to see, I’ve decided to take a more leisurely approach to touring for a change. I’m riding through the Ohio Amish country next week with a maximum daily mileage of 55 miles. I’ve ridden through that region probably a dozen times over the past 40+ years but still fell like I don’t know it very well. This year will be different … I plan on taking it all in.

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  2. There’s a distinction between seeing, as in seeing a lot by traveling maximum distance, and seeing, as in stopping frequently to gaze. The right answer is within your own heart.

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  3. We’ve been reading and enjoying your tour vicariously! Reading on the iphone so not commenting much but enjoying the posts and pictures!

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  4. Following your vacation virtually! I’m going to CO in September and I’m getting some great ideas. How do you handle the altitude? I was out there a couple years ago and a short bike ride at 9000 feet just about killed me.

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