Bike Tour 2022 – Cañon City to Guffey

We broke camp at the abbey around 7:30. The abbey dorm was an excellent deal. We rode to Mugs for breakfast. I ate there 4 times including dinner last night. After brekkies, we headed west on US 50. It was a bit hillier than I had anticipated. Luckily the temperature was in the low 60s and we had a tailwind.

We were at about 6,000 feet after ten miles when we turned north on Colorado Highway 9 and the fun began in earnest. I gave myself a puff of albuterol in the hopes that it would help me breathe. To my surprise it did.

Up and up and up again. At one point we cycled a 9 percent grade to over 7,000 feet. I had to stop multiple times to get my heart rate down and my breathing under control.

Mark and Corey were usually well ahead of me with their young legs (they’re 65, I’m 66) and lighter bikes. One day I’m going to show up with a titanium bike filled with helium and kick their asses.

Our misery was interrupted by two competitors in the TransAmerica Trail Race. They were enjoying the downhill from Hoosier Pass.

We were laboring on the climbs. Thank god for that tailwind and cool temps. I had an annoying noise coming from certain gears. At the end of the day we each looked the bike over and couldn’t find anything wrong.

We arrived at the turn for Guffey after nearly 34 miles. We regrouped in a surprisingly nice coffee shop. Root beer and a muffin plus some Fig Newmans. Then we did the final mile up to Guffey at 8,891 feet.

I am feeling a little lightheaded but I’m pretty happy with the day. We’ll sleep in an unheated cabin. No running water. No shower. An outhouse. We’re going to freeze our asses off overnight.

The turn onto Hwy 9
TransAm racer descending
Mark preparing to launch after a roadside break
Parts of an animal skeleton on the side of the road.
Extreme fire hazard.
Our cabin (white door) at the “hostel” in Guffey. If the zombie apocalypse happens, this will be the place.

Miles today: 35. Tour miles: 1,295.5

Bike Tour 2022 – Second Day Off in Cañon City

We are chillin’ here at 5,300 feet hoping our bodies are acclimating to the altitude.

We hit breakfast at Mugs then rode west a couple of miles to Royal Gorge, an impressive bit of geological work by the Arkansas River. The Tunnel Trail begins with a 100-yard steep, paved climb. I was discouraged by how hard it was until I later rode down it. It was way steep.

Royal Gorge. Many more pix on my Instagram account

The remainder of the trail was unpaved and well maintained. There were four tunnels. The first three were only ten or twenty yards long; the last one was about 100 yards from end to end.

Longest tunnel on the trail

Words fail at how spectacular the scenery was. Pictures don’t do it justice either.

After the out and back Tunnel Trail we headed back to Cañon City. Corey suggested we take the River Trail along the Arkansas River. It was flat and calming.

Mark and Corey at the turnaround point

We stopped at WalMart on the way back to the Abbey. Mark bought fruit for tomorrow; I bought bungee cords to replace my failing cargo net.

River Trail is n Cañon City

Back at the Abbey we cleaned and lubed our chains. Each of us had different methods. Bike people are like that.

I tried to used the bungies to tie my dry bag onto my rack but after much effort I realized that the cords were too long so I returned to Walmart to exchange them for smaller ones. After much finagling and astute advice from Corey, I think the load on my rear rack will be much more secure and aerodynamic.

I hope this will be more better.

We ate PB&Js for lunch. It’s weird how much grape jelly weighs. My jar weighs a pound, so it’s being left behind to save weight. I’ll miss it.Corey’s solution to this is to buy peanut butter mixed with jelly. When I finish my small jar of Peter Pan, I’m going to try it.

Did I mention that the weather here is absolutely perfect: 65 – 80 degrees with low humidity and a cooling breeze. Do we have to leave? Yes, the assault on Hoosier Pass begins tomorrow.

We rode to dinner at a place called Mugs. I’ve eaten there three times already. We’re going there for breakfast before we start to climb.

Drivers here in eastern Colorado are impatient jerks. I’ll be happy to get out of here.

Miles today: 24 Tour miles: 1,260.5

Bike Tour 2022 – Cañon City day off

As usual I slept fitfully in my tent. It was a comfortable campsite but I neglected to take any Advil PM so I never really conked out.

At 9 a.m. I called the Abbey and lined up room for Mark, Corey, and me in the dorm.

I struck camp, said goodbye to my human hosts, Dwayne and Stephanie, and their three canine overlords, Raven, Eddie, and Daisy, and rode down into Cañon City for a late breakfast. I was following Dwayne’s directions (or so I thought) when I heard my younger sister’s voice. “Are you alright?!” I had butt dialed her while riding with my cellphone in my hip pocket.

By the time I arrived at the restaurant it was closed so I went to a second restaurant that was meh. I did drink a staggering amount of coffee so there’s that.

Next was a trip to the post office to mail home some maps. I was attempting to shed weight in anticipation of the climbing ahead. Between the maps, a dead backup battery, and a punctured bike tube, I think I slashed 3/4ths of a pound.

Mark texted me that he and Corey had arrived from Colorado Springs, after fighting a fierce headwind all morning.

We checked into our dorm rooms. We split the cost three ways even though I am getting a room of my own. The cost was $53 a piece for two nights.

1950s era dorm room. Beats sleeping on the ground any day.

Next up was the urgent matter of getting food into the new arrivals. We rode to a burger place that was as acceptable despite the limp fries. The milk shake and the conversation were good.

They returned to the dorm and I rode to a sporting goods store in search of straps to hold my camping gear to my rear rack. I’ve been using a cargo net but it’s best days are long gone.

Neither the sporting goods store nor an adjacent WalMart had anything useful.

Back at the dorm Mark gave me a new set of maps so my mailing was for naught.

We walked to dinner about a half mile. My stenosis pain made me feel every step despite a cane I fashioned out of a downed tree limb. (On the return the pain was negligible. My body is a medical enigma.)

Mark had a chicken enchilada that he quite enjoyed. Corey and I had beef burritos that were pretty much inedible. My kingdom for Chipotle.

Tomorrow is a rest day for all of us. Then we begin the ride to Hoosier Pass, about 6,000 feet of climbing over the next few days. Our first stop is the eccentric mountain stop of Guffey. It will be only 33 miles or so but we’ll gain about 3,000 feet of pain. We are praying for tailwinds. There’s a chapel down the hall; maybe they will help.

Miles today: 11.5. Tour miles: 1,236.5 or 53.8 miles per day

Bike Tour 2022 – Florence to Cañon City

Florence didn’t live up to its potential. No one escaped the SuperMax prison last night.

This morning I contented myself with the motel continental breakfast: coffee and granola bars. That’s all they had. I wonder if they feed the SuperMax prisoners like this.

Super 8 offered a not-so-super breakfast

I called the Warmshowers host in Cañon City and left a message. Then I rolled into Florence at the civilized hour of 9:30.

In town I stopped at the Copper Kettle for a real breakfast. Two eggs, hash browns, and two pancakes. Perfecto.

My plan was to ride the 8 or 10 miles to Cañon City to check out the possible shelter situation. If all else failed I could return to Florence to camp in Pioneer Park.

After breakfast I biked to the park to check it out. It was quite nice and verdant with some standing water here and there, the result of its sprinkler system. Okay, this would truly be the last resort.

I took my time riding to Cañon City. The road was narrow and quite busy. One classy Colorado dude in a big black pick up coal rolled me.

In Cañon City I rode past the Warmshowers house. It looked shipshape. Next I rode downhill to town and busy US 50. I found the abbey but it was closed for the weekend. It’s mostly a winery and assorted other ventures these days.

The Abbey. There are several other buildings on the campus

After the Abbey I went to a Walgreens to refill my glaucoma eye drops. Wonderful people.

As I was leaving the store, the Warmshowers host called and told me to come on up and camp at his house.

I made a quick stop at a Safeway for dinner (PB&J and an orange). A sign said it was 96 degrees at noon. I made a bee line to Mugs, a bar/cafe. After my chicken sammie and three tall glasses of ice water, I rode to the Warmshowers house, up a hill I had just descended an hour or so earlier. I was dreading the short climb but it was no big deal. Maybe I’m adjusting to the whole altitude thing after all.

Dwayne and Stephanie welcomed me warmly. I had yet another ice water and set up my tent just as a squall line came through. It was much more wind than rain. My tent didn’t budge.

While writing this post, Dwayne learned that the leader of the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail race was cruising through Cañon City. We walked down the street to cheer him on. After five minutes we almost gave up, thinking we had missed him. Then there he was biking around a bend in the road. If you didn’t know any better you’d think he was just a local rider out for a quick spin. He started in Astoria, Oregon on June 5, a week ago.

Kraig Pauli, 56-year-old race leader in Cañon City

In a change of plans, Corey and Mark are coming to Cañon City tomorrow. Mark seems determined to stay in the Abbey dorm. I’ll check on availability in the morning. No worries; there are plenty of other options available.

The next couple of riding days will take us over Hoosier Pass, the highest point, over 11,000 feet, on the TransAm. Mark and Corey did this in 2019.

Miles today: 17.5. Tour miles: 1,225