I left from the city of Cortez on a cool morning with overcast skies. The Conquistador was famous for conquering the Aztecs and Montezuma. He may have had the town named after him, but Montezuma got naming rights to the county. I’m sure it was little consolation. Fortunately the weather was going to be clear. My friend from the Netherlands had told me of snow when he passed through here a week earlier. The first 17 miles was a 1000 ft. climb to Mancos. It was cool, the wind was mostly a crosswind, and the road was smooth with a wide shoulder. On top of that, Mike was carrying my panniers. I was without the weight of another Hidalgo on the rear wheel. What a difference the combination made from yesterday.
I stopped for some pictures, but went 12 miles on a strong climb. John Denver started the mental Jukebox. The climb to Mancos was not easy, but certainly less painful than yesterday’s riding in isolation. As I came into town I saw a guy on a motorcycle carrying a small kayak. He would have cleared the path of anything within 5 feet of either side of his bike. I didn’t see any touring cyclists, though.
I left Hidalgo leaning on a rail fence outside an all natural grocery store and cafe in Mancos. There, I had a monster cookie (not a cookie monster) with a cup of coffee. After filling the water bottles and a rest room break, it was another 1000+ foot climb to the 8400 foot summit near Hesperus.
The unloaded Hidalgo made for steady climbing. The wind would alternate between crosswind and headwind, but it was always strong. In spite of that, the cooler temperature, smoother road, wider shoulder, and lighter Hidalgo made it all tolerable. The mental jukebox went through a series of British Invasion groups to keep my head down and avoiding the sight of the enormous climb that was always ahead of me. I went through numbers from the Dave Clark Five, Herman’s Hermits, Gerry and the Pacemakers, and even Freddie and the Dreamers before I reached the summit. Mike was waiting for me and we did a little video. I was feeling really good.
After that it was literally downhill for more than 11 miles into Durango. Our hotel was a few miles in the wrong direction for tomorrow’s ride, but what a great day of riding!
Mike has been a breath of fresh air. When we checked into the hotel, he cleaned and lubed Hidalgo’s drive train. As a celebration, we went to the Harley Davidson dealer in Durango to drool over the other kind of bikes.
Afterwards we walked around Durango and found dinner at a local brewhouse. I re-supplied my “butt butter” at a local bike shop, and then we were in for the night.
It was a short day as far as mileage, but it was the highest elevation of the trip so far at 8400 ft. Tomorrow’s ride will be up and down all the way to Pagosa Springs.
The Lone Rider