Friday, August 5, 2011

Tour de Colorado Part IV - Paonia to Crested Butte & Another Wild Weekend

The next morning I left outta Paonia bright and early after a great breakfast and headed towards Crested Butte over Kebler Pass. It was a great cruise over to Kebler, but I was now faced with another day of climbing on what was to be the hottest day of pedaling so far. Ugh. It was rough. At the bottom of the climb, I stripped down to just my shorts, loaded up on sunscreen, and started grinding this one out. Although it was hot as holy hell, this was one of the most enjoyable passes I've done. It was all dirt, no cars anywhere, and passed through the Kebler Pass Aspen Grove which is (from what I was told) one of the worlds largest living organisms. Once into the shade of the Aspens, I cooled off a bit. I really loved this day of climbing. First, it is one of the most scenic and beautiful backroad passes in Colorado. The other reason I was fired up is because I knew that once I reached the top of Kebler Pass (10,000ft), it was all downhill to Crested Butte and I was going to be getting a shower, partying hard, and relaxing for the next 2 days. Partying is such a damn good motivator. I wonder if Cadel Evans spent the last 3 torturous days of the Tour just thinking about that one single chilled glass of champagne on the Champs Elysees. Makes sense to me.

Headin on up....

This was the first climb where I ran out of water because of the heat well before the top of the pass. I even asked a road crew guy for a drink from his nalgene, and he told me "No"! I was a little freaked out, but there was snow everywhere. I figured at that altitude it would be fine to bottle up some snow if I had to.

On that note, hauling water is a bad way to do a back road trip. I learned that the hard way. Before I left I had the attitude that a water filtration system was a luxury item and I was tough enough to haul my own damn water. That was the biggest mistake of my trip. So many times I was out of water in the backcountry passing streams every 15-30 minutes! Next trip I'm definitely getting one of these katadyn minis. They're $100 and would easily, EASILY double my biking range into the backcountry. Lesson learned. Get one.

I didn't know at the time, but as I took this photo I had no idea that I would be biking over those mountains in the background. I was already a little tired at that point and if someone would have told me that I still had to pedal up and around those cliffs, I woulda wanted to quit! Ahhh, but ignorance is bliss. If you can't tell from my previous posts, I really never knew what kind of climbs were ahead of me. Hell, I didn't really know what was around the next turn of the road. This was a big motivator for me because it forced me to have the attitude that if the sun was up, I was pedaling. This attitude completely eliminates the dread of knowing a monstrous, hot, dusty climb is waiting for you, because you simply don't think about it at all!

The snowy, lonely top of Kebler. So glad I made it. Serious dehydrated granny-gearing toward the top.

Cooling off in the snow.

Turns out the top of Kebler isn't so lonely. There is an old 19th century silver mining cemetary up here that meanders through the woods. I saw this gravestone from the road and went up to explore. It was just me and them up there this afternoon. This headstone was interesting because it is the gravesite of a 17 year old girl named Mary. This stone made my imagination run wild. Why would a 17 year old girl be up here mining silver in the 1880s? Her crazy ass drunken miner dad probably dragged her poor ass up here and she got sick. Who knows? I thought of a bunch of different scenarios (like maybe a fuckin bear ate her!). Makes you wonder about how crazy things were back then. Wild. If you can't read the engraving on the tombstone it is pretty ominous and spooky:

"Mary daughter of Foster Bambrough-Died July 31st 1881-Aged 17 Years.

My good people as you pass by

As you are now so once was I

As I am now you soon must be

Prepare yourselves to follow me"

DAMN! That is some spooky shit. I got outta there and ripped down to Crested Butte in order to take Mary's advice and party my balls off before I check out. But damn it all if I didn't see her again the next day!

The next day I entered the Crested Butte chainless race. HUGE PARTY! What a blast. It's an event where people dress up, get wasted, build their own bikes and then take the chain off of them and race chainless from the top of Kebler pass to main street Crested Butte. It was so much fun. Thanks to Willy Warren for tipping me off to this party. Anyways, they loaded everyones bikes on flatbeds and hauled us back up to the top of Kebler again (hello Mary!) where we commenced to drink all kinds of booze and also have my first 80 degree snowball fight. It was soooo FUN! The weirdest thing about it was the contrast of the day before and the day of the race. From being alone up there, to having 200 raging bike-partyers was AWESOME. Also the asphalt at the top was so hot it was peeling off and sticking to peoples shoes leaving foot shaped potholes. It was also sticking to bike tires and car tires, rolling up like a length of sod. That's how hot it was, and we were still having an epic snowball fight! Amazing. So fun.

Trojan warrior in the background. I did the chainless race fully loaded on the tour rig. Speedo-Mullet man hanging with Mary Bambrough over my right shoulder. She ain't lonely today!

I was chucking snowballs into the crowd. Check out how the asphalt peeled off in the middle of the road where the truck stopped and then pulled away.

Willy Warren had ICE COLD beers and shots. Wonderful. Simply wonderful.

No costume? Ride naked. Beer & Sunscreen

These 3 dudes killed it on a welded tandem with pegs. No brakes. Fred Flintstone style. So much uncontrollable weight BARRELING downhill. Good job guys. Impressive.

Willy Warren's extendo-bike wheelie

At the top of Kebler I ran into my old friend Ella who LOVES to rage it. She let me camp in her back yard, use her shower, and she showed me around town. I watched her rip her big toenail right off her foot and she didn't even flinch. Good thing she had tequila and I had duct tape.

Big wheel shreddin.

The next night was Saturday night and Toots and the Maytals was playing up on the hill. I went to that show and guess who I see smoking a big-ass joint? Obee the Paonia hippie! We ended up cruising down the bike path together to the bar. It turned out it was his birthday so I bought him a few drinks before he had to split. What a fun night and an amazing party.

Well. That was party weekend #2 into the books. First weekend was FibArk in Salida, second weekend was Crested Butte. I pulled out of town on Sunday morning going up Kebler for the 3rd time in 4 days! I really know that pass well. As I backtracked to HWY133, I was wondering what the next week would hold (a lot more climbing probably), and where I'd be partying NEXT Friday/Saturday (Steamboat Springs 4th of July Rodeo???).

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