Day 47: Maysville, CO to Gunnison, CO
July 2, 2011
We previously swore off camping but it’s so much better up here. The cool nights mean you can bundle up in a sleeping bag rather than lie on top of it while sweating profusely. It was windy when we woke up but died down by the time we left Maysville. 12 miles further and ~3,000 feet higher we crossed the continental divide at Monarch Pass (elev: 11,312). Yippee! We’re on the Pacific side! (We searched and searched but couldn’t find the river that flows both ways that a woman at the visitor center was asking everyone about.) The climb was quite nice. Definitely long and slow but the grade was reasonable (6%) and the views were spectacular. We can now confirm that the rumors are true: despite being much taller, the Rockies are a much nicer bike ride than the Appalachians and even the Ozarks. This felt challenging, but what bicycling is supposed to feel like. The Appalachians felt like we were sitting in a steam room and someone was punching our thighs. Also, large mountains dotted with Alpines are a much nicer view than crushing poverty. Just sayin’. After some photos and lunch at the top, we dropped down the other side. It wasn’t freakishly steep like the descent from the Blue Ridge Parkway, but it was long and steep enough that we had to stop to rest our hands a few times. After 10-12 miles it flattened out and was gently downhill / flat to Gunnison. Some nasty winds picked up in the afternoon and we later learned that strong westerly winds are a daily occurrence and we should get early starts to avoid them. Gunnison is a small mountain town with everything we could need. We spent the night with another warmshowers person. Dan is our age and the veteran of 2 bike tours (Austin to Anchorage and Reno to San Diego). Also, his job is to run sleep studies (Hillary worked at a sleep lab in college). He was very hospitable and we had a very restful night.
- Start: Maysville, CO
- End: Gunnison, CO
- Slept: warmshowers house
- Miles: 55.1
- Avg: 9.6
Day 48 and 49: Gunnison, CO
July 3 - July 4, 2011
We decided to take a few days off in Gunnison. We have a number of non-serious injuries /ailments which will no doubt benefit from a rest, plus, we’re finally in a place where we would actually want to spend some extra time and its pretty cheap here. And, we are several days ahead of schedule. Hillary (and sometimes Andrew) has had intermittent knee pain, and 2 fingers on Hillary’s right hand are numb, rendering her right hand humorously weak (known to some as Handlebar Palsy, it is temporary and is alleviated by taking a few days off and/or frequent changing of hand positions while cycling). Not wanting to overstay our welcome, we moved from Dan’s house to The Seasons Inn on the main drag where the owner gave us a good deal. We spent the next two days walking around town, eating at a small cafe, reading books (!!), grocery shopping, and generally laying low. Gunnison goes all out for July 4th. This year marked the 60th anniversary of it’s fireworks show and the festivities were a 2 minute walk from out hotel. We walked over to the fair for some bluegrass music, a pulled pork sandwich, and some pie (obviously). The fireworks don’t start until 9:15 so we’ll probably be asleep for them….Seriously, that is past our bedtime these days.
Photos: campsite in Maysville, Monarch Pass, mountains from the pass, Beans, Gunnison fourth of July fair