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Day 20: Nick of Time

Updated: Aug 30, 2022

The next morning I met Mallory and John for breakfast. Mallory made me a delicious breakfast of a cheese omelet, locally baked bread, tomato, and hash browns. The eggs were duck eggs, which I think may be the first time I’ve had duck eggs, and they were delicious. I love trying new foods, and I make of point of trying to eat something new and interesting wherever I go. Thank you, Mallory and John, for continuing to allow me to try new and fun things!


We said our goodbyes at 9:45 AM, and I took off up a side road that I had been told by DeAnne and Dave was much more enjoyable to ride on than the highway. They were absolutely right, and it was well worth the extra climb as the road, while dirt, was so hard packed and smooth that I didn’t even notice the transition from paved to unpaved. I just looked down and realized that I was on dirt…

DeAnne and Dave had also told me about a delicious Himalayan buffet that was in Montrose, CO. That was 30 miles from Ridgway, and despite the big breakfast, I was really excited for the meal. I had been thinking about this buffet since Telluride, and I didn’t want to miss it. The restaurant had 4.8 stars with 200 reviews, so it wasn’t just DeAnne and Dave that thought the place was excellent.


Riding as much as I do, I am always hungry (not that much was different before the trip) but I was more than ready to absolutely stuff myself since I was also getting a few drops of rain and I planned to just wait out the storm in the buffet.

Another concern, and reason for excitement at the prospect of the buffet, is the highway I was riding on to Gunnison was undergoing major construction. The only times you could pass through were between 12:30 PM and 1:30 PM and if you missed that window then the next opportunity wasn’t until 5:30 PM. It was over 60 miles to the construction zone with over 5000 feet of climbing and leaving John and Mallory‘s at 9:45 AM, that meant I would probably not be able to make the 1:30 PM timeslot and have to wait until 5:30 PM to make it through anyways.

So for a number of reasons I had been fantasizing about this buffet. I rolled into Montrose before any serious rain and made my way to the restaurant, Pun Hill Kitchen, and sat down. I saw what looked like it could be the buffet section, so I asked the waiter what it would cost. He then told me that there was no buffet and there hadn’t been since the start of COVID… I was devastated… As I sat there stunned, I quickly checked the time and distance to the construction. It was over 30 miles away and it was just after 11:30 AM. There was still over 4,000 feet of climbing left and two major climbs, each over 5 miles long. Not having time to debate my decision, I decided to skip eating at the restaurant since I did just have breakfast not too long ago, and quickly hopped on my bike and booked it out of town.

Mallory had given me three bars of chocolate a previous rider had left behind. That, along with her delicious breakfast, propelled me on my route.

I have never ridden so hard for so long in my life. I needed to average over 15 mph uphill while fully loaded and I would only barely make it if I could sustain my breakneck pace.

Claudia had been wiser and left Ridgway earlier in the morning with the intention of always making it in the earlier time slot. I was not so prepared since I was hoping to rest and wait for hours at a buffet that didn't exist... The riding for the whole day would be just shy of 100 miles, so even with my pace I still needed to be able to ride another 30 miles after the construction, but I couldn’t really think about that or stopping for water because everything was about getting to the construction in time. Montrose was the closest city to the construction, so if I didn’t make it then I would be stuck in the rain in the middle of nowhere with no shelter for four hours.

I crested the final climb at 1:29 PM and tore downhill as fast as possible. I saw the blockage at 1:32 PM with only one car waiting to pass. I skid to a stop in front of the worker exhausted and out of breath and asked if I made it. I must have looked pretty beat down because despite being late by a couple minutes, she said she would call one of the overseers who would ferry me across the construction zone. Hearing that, I was pretty euphoric.

Now having time to rest and wait for the overseer, I looked at myself and I was covered in white streaks. Usually, I get salt streaks when it’s hot and I’m sweating a lot. But it was sprinkling and not warm at all, and yet I had still managed to cover myself in salt.

The overseer shuttled me across and explained that I needed to be driven across because they were blasting the canyon wider and despite not actively blowing up rock, rock would constantly fall and was a danger to cyclists.


I was dropped off and continued my day at a far slower pace. My legs were absolutely gassed, so it took an effort to just ride on the flat ground after the construction. I was also out of water since I didn’t have time to refill.

Despite being next to a reservoir, none of the campgrounds appeared to have water. Eventually I made it to a recreation area where I was able to get water from a hose. I had service again and Claudia texted me that she had just arrived in Gunnison. Before too long I met up with her. My host for the night, having heard there was another cyclist in town, offered to allow her to stay as well, so we went over to see Jeff and Megan, but not before I stopped at two bakeries on the way, although one was closed.

Jeff is full energy and a great host. He had previously been a bike mechanic and was able to fix Claudia’s chain skipping issues and find her an extra bolt to repair her pannier, whose original bolt had rattled off at some point.

We made some pasta with vegetables, and Jeff made some homemade bread, which was delicious! Megan arrived back from work in time to eat with us. She’s a veterinarian and was working a little late that day.

Exhausted from riding so hard, I was quickly to bed. I also didn’t have time to take many pictures today because of how hard I had to ride…



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Hi Peter,

Another epic day...

you are, without a doubt, having the ADVENTURE OF A LIFETIME!


Stay safe!


XO

Cindy

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Haha thank you! It has been a ton of fun so far!

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