Leadville was above the dark grey clouds that hovered this morning. The sun was trying to shine yet it remained a slightly chilly morning. I negotiated the puddles left from yesterdays downpour and headed for breakfast. Apparently its impossible to avoid eggs wherever you eat so eggs... sausage.. toast and fried potatoes it was again.
I knew today was on paper an easy ish day. 60 miles ... on a downhill gradient... in theory and with an early start I was confident of a fairly early arrival into Poncha Springs. I also knew that the rest of the cycling days I have left are not going to be quite as straightforward so was happy for another 'easy day'.
I swept downhill ... unable to see the caps of the high mountains. The shoulder was wide and the tarmac pretty smooth and I wound my way down an impressive riber gorge. The sides of the gorge consisted of light brown rocky sides which reminded me once again of the New Mexico landscape that I have previously cycled through. The road then went up a little and revealed a breathtaking view back down the valley. On the top of one escarpment flew the stars and stripes... proudly fluttering in the light breeze.
It was a beautiful place... of course the fact that I was mainly going downhill could have affected my view of the whole place. Maybe I would have hated it had I had uphill the whole way😁
As I progressed through the gorge and came out the other side the view opened out into an enormous valley.. the kind that makes you feel pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things. On one side.. white capped peaks. Known as the collegiate range I passed signposts for Mt Harvard.. Mt Princeton and Mt Yale... all over 14000ft in height and mainly hidden by cloud as I passed. It was like waiting at the foot of the Matterhorn for the cloud to clear to get the photo of the peak.
The land in the valley was some of the oldest that had been 'ranched' and one of the info boards along the route explained about water rights and how they had been sold from the ranches in the valley.
The fields that stretched up to the base of the mountain range were a mixture of yellow and green and looked so peaceful... even when viewed from the roadside. Such beauty and vastness. How lovely to go and get lost in there? Unfortunately I had to keep peddling and before long I was going through the outskirts of Buena Vista... I was watching the town sign get ever closer when I screeched to a halt... literally! The sign mentioned the fact that an olympic silver medallist called Matt Hemmingway used to live here... and I just happen to know him 😁 I met Matt... who is the brother of a good friend of mine... at the end of my Route 66 bike ride in L.A. Beki and Randy came to pick me up from the pier and the following day we went to see her niece (Matt's daughter) play a football match.
So of course I had to take a photo!!
I tagged Matt in it and he replied saying I should go and check out Noah's Ark Rafting place just down the road as he often went there. So in due course I popped into the rafting place randomly and asked if anyone knew Matt. Of course they did! Random but fun! 😁Its a small interconnected world.
I freewheeled further downhill through pristine countryside towards Poncha Springs. This was easy!! Uh oh! I had inadvertantly upset the cycling gods... as the dark clouds bubbled up with flashes of lightening behind me... the wind also sprang up and as any cyclist knows... it's only ever going to be a headwind.
Couple that with the fact that the road now took a sharp turn uphill and suddenly I was struggling. The last 8 miles seemed to take more effort than the previous 52 miles. With that the headspace took an immediate nose dive... it doesn't take much.
Despite that I plodded on and eventually made it into Poncha Springs.. found the motel and settled in. Despite not seeming much sunshine my arms were a little red and I was pretty knackered. I went to a Thai place for food and had a really nice pork and vegetable stir fry. Healthiest food I have had since I have been here.... so nice!
I fell asleep whilst blogging... hence the slightly later posting today. According to my schedule I have 4 more days of cycling and honestly I think it can't come soon enough for my body which is steadily breaking down with twinges of pain here and there in varying joints. The last 2 days were relatively easy days but I have some tough days in the 4 that are left... with one at least 10000ft pass to surmount. Which is why I groan when I lose altitude because I know that Im going to have to regain it all before the end!
On that note.. I'd better get ready for today!