Let’s see, where do I begin? It was great!! You would have loved it – we just kept climbing and climbing to the top of every pass. We were challenged everyday. The two passes from Durango to Silverton – Coal Bank Pass and Molas Pass were especially hard as we were basically climbing from Durango straight to Molas and then, a very quick ride down to Silverton, where we stayed at the Grand Imperial Hotel. The day had been gorgeous and the sun was shining.
My favorite pass was Red Mountain out of Silverton. It was the perfect pass, a lovely road with a nice shoulder all the way to the top, plus there was almost no traffic! The view from the top was gorgeous. And the ride down into Ouray was epic, through winding roads surrounded by red mountains, ending at Mouse’s Coffee and Chocolate shop in Ouray. But then, that afternoon, things changed. A head wind (35 mph) blew up and made the climb up Dallas Divide a nightmare. The relatively easy climb when there are no winds turned into a climb of epic proportions. I was never so glad to see the top. And, then, rain clouds rolled in and the rain hit not far after the turnoff to Telluride. I was glad to have a support vehicle pull me in to drive to town. I only did 63 miles that day.
Telluride was a typical ski town, with its mining history buried in the mountains around it. We had a great dinner that night in a brew pub. In the morning we left Telluride and headed straight up out of town. Telluride sits in a river valley and the only way to leave is up. It was tough with no real warmup. At least the day was calm and sunny. We finally reached the top of the plateau above Telluride and then, started the climb to Lizard Head Pass. It actually seemed easy after the haul up from Telluride. At the top of the Pass it was basically all downhill to Cortez! However, going downhill for miles and miles gets a bit tedious after a while and I started to long for a little climb. We passed through the little town of Rico where there was a delightful coffee/lunch place and gorgeous flowers everywhere. We did stop and then, continued our downhill jog. Finally, I got to Dolores and knew there were only 8 or 9 more miles – I can do it! Except there was a “little” hill right out of the town being repaved. They let me ride up the shoulder and from the top was a straight shot to Cortez on newly paved wonderful shoulders. I flew those last miles and got to the motel so fast my hair was on end! I did 76.5 miles that day.
Our last day was beautiful. The road was great with shoulders. We passed Mesa Verde as the sun hit the top and made it red. The road was interesting with a couple of big climbs, but not steep. We hit the small town of Mancos and stopped for coffee and locally grown plums. After Mancos the road began its serious climbing. It went on for many miles, but flowed somehow. I got to the little ski area of Hesperus and one of our group said it was the top. I said I don’t think so, and I was right. We had another mile or two of climbing, but then, the down to Durango was incredible. I never used my brakes. We all met at our original motel, packed up our cars, went to lunch in Durango and drove back to Santa Fe. We did the DEATH RIDE and lived to tell the tale, and as far as I know, no one had a flat the entire trip!