Ride The Rockies 2021 – Day 4 What Happened to the ‘e’ in Ridgway
October 23, 2021 § 3 Comments
As you have undoubtedly learned, I don’t sit right down after an event like this and get to writing. I let it sit in my head for a while and develop. These days, with all the good programing on all the streaming channels it’s amazing I squeeze any time to droll on about my adventures. Day 4 of this adventure occurred June the 16th, and here it is October 19th, and I am just now starting this. We shall have to see when I publish it, and just how long I dilly dallied my way through it.
When I left you yesterday, we had finished the longest distance day of this years event. It was yet another day over 100 degrees, and there had been other challenges which are well documented in that post. My compatriots spent the night in Telluride, in the comfort of their hotels, and were 30 miles away. On the shuttle that would be at least 45 minutes, and if I could have talked to them, then I might have given them the benefit of waiting, but I was coffee’d up, I had broken my fast on my granola, I was packed, and my bags had been dropped off, and I was ready to ride, so while I could have waited, and maybe I should have waited, I did not, and off I rode, back towards the Norwood Descent. See, now that we were up upon the plateau, it is called the Norwood Descent.
It was another cool morning start, and I wasn’t out of Norwood before a good sized group of riders went by, and I decided to latch onto the back. It wasn’t to be a long day, but it is easier riding with someone, rather than alone, and this group was moving faster than I would have ridden by myself, but not fast enough to drop me. So I latched on and rode with them all the way to the descent where I found out that none of them are great descenders, and I am a pretty decent descender, and so descend is what I did. I let go of the brakes, and let gravity take hold. I even feel comfortable enough to take out my phone and snap a few pictures on the way down. In this manner I found myself at the bottom, quite a bit ahead of the group I was with, so I set off up the road, at my original pace, knowing full well that eventually they would catch me. It took a few miles, but they did catch me, and I jumped right back onto the tail end.
There was a pretty strong woman who was pulling the show along, and after she pulled off to take a break, the others took small turns on the front, and pretty soon I was the front. Pretty sure I simply maintained speed. I could tell the woman rider was on my wheel, and she didn’t say anything until we were quite far off the front and she said she was going to slow down for her group. I bade my farewells and stayed away in front of them. I was warmed up now, and it was a short day of roughly 46 miles, so I kept my pace high until the first aid station.
I parked my bike, and quickly got into line to get some grub. Sure I had my granola, but that was really more of a breakfast snack than it was a breakfast. I would break my vegan diet and have an egg burrito with onions and peppers, but no cheese, and no meat. They weren’t big, so they weren’t filling, and it was the right amount of food. With my water bottles topped off, I set off up the road. Since the Norwood Descent we had been climbing, and climbing more was the more morning chore. Today’s route was up and over another pass, and then a drop down into Ridgway. That is spelled correctly. I am guessing that somewhere in time, when they gathered to discuss a name, since the ‘e’ was already silent, they just decided why should they waste time writing a silent letter all the time, and so they chose to make it invisible too. So Ridgway was born.
At one point, on this two lane road with a fair amount of shoulder, a vehicle passed my, going in my direction, that said “Wide Load”, and so I looked back over my shoulder and there were two doublewide houses bearing down upon me, and the other riders. The road was wide enough here, but why do they have to transport doublewides? I get that maybe that is less fuel, but it seems very dangerous to take up that much room on the roadway. Everyone had to give these houses a wide berth. No disasters as far as I knew.
It wasn’t too long after that when a cyclist caught up to me, and decided to chat me up and ride together. I don’t recall his name, but we spent the rest of the climb together taking turns. I don’t even remember where he was from. It could have been the “Front Range”, which is what a lot of Coloradans call living anywhere along the front foothills to the Rockies. We took some pictures of each other, and went over the top of the pass, where the rest area was not located. No room for it there, but it was located down the other side just another mile away, and we stopped there and transferred our images to each other. I ran into Paul Doherty and we chatted a bit. He was in his full Samaritan House kit, and was with a bunch of other Samaritans.
It was getting warm, and there was nothing to do, but go downhill and finish this ride. I think I might not have mentioned yesterday, but the mountains were really getting to be quite spectacular. Once we got over Lizard Head Pass, they took a dramatic change towards more rugged looking, and since it was June, most of the high peaks were still well covered in snow. Today was no different, and I later learned that we had moved into the San Juan’s, which is the same sub-range of the Rockies where I would be backpacking later in the Summer of 2021. As I write this now, that event came and went, and is in the queue to still be written up, but needless to say, the San Juan’s are quite ruggedly beautiful. There was also a quality about them, and maybe a familiarity that I couldn’t quite put my finger on at that moment.
I rode through downtown Ridgway where I could see that there were places to eat when it came time to get some lunch. It was only about noon, and the temperature had just climbed over 100. There was a nice park with a lot of tall shady deciduous trees and finally a fast moving stream before I arrived at the days end. The Ridgway Rodeo grounds. There were no trees in sight, so it was going to be a hot place to hang out for the rest of the day. That park was looking very nice at the moment. The bike corral was actually in the rodeo arena, you may have seen them on the television, a large open ovalish space covered with some kind of soft dirt mixture not unlike a horse track. I guess when you get thrown from a broncing buck, it is better when the ground isn’t quite that hard. My cleated feet sank in the dirt about two inches. At least it wasn’t mud. It was very very hot in there, and I didn’t hang out long. The baggage trucks were there, I found my still untagged bags, and dragged everything to the tent field, where since I was pretty early, I could select the best spot for me. I didn’t linger long there either, as again, it was over 100.
I was walking to the shower trucks when I noticed a tent that I had not noticed before, and so I detoured straight for it. It was filled with a lot masseurs and they, of course, were giving massages. Wow! Why hadn’t I found this a couple of days ago? I went right to the reservation desk and signed myself up. I would have enough time to shower, and then I would let someone give me a full body massage. No, they weren’t free massages, but they were a pretty good deal, and the method of payment? Venmo! I love Venmo. After my shower, I was assigned to Ashley who asked me what kind of a massage I was looking for. Deep tissue always works for me, so if she was willing, that was my preference. An hour later I arose a new human being. With a little rest, I would be 100% the next day, and since we were spending two nights in Ridgway, I was coming back for a half hour the next day.
Ken found me just as I emerged from the tent, and filled me in on his and everyone else’s morning. The hotels were all in Ouray, which was about 7-10 miles South of Ridgway on 550. Ouray is a tourist destination and is configured to handle a crowd of touring cyclists. The others, had had enough of the RTR facilities, and had already taken a shuttle to Ouray. Ken had showered and was hungry, as was I, so we walked into town to find some grub. The first place that looked appealing was a tavernish/saloonish looking place called “True Grit”. Recognizing the name, we checked the menu, and we decided we could eat there. Our wait wasn’t long if we didn’t mind setting out on the upstairs deck at a table with an umbrella, and that is what we chose. We ordered way more food than we could eat. On the one hand, I was trying to make up for the calorie debt that I had been operating in, and on the other, I wasn’t really sure what dinner would bring. Oh, by the way, while we were walking to town, we saw a truck pull in that bore the name of the caterer that had abandoned operations on day 2, so maybe they were back to fulfill their contractual duties. Anyway, we ate as much as we could, and hating to leave it to the trash, I wondered where the homeless were living, but no one could answer that, and I had no where to keep the food, so we left it, and walked back to the Rodeo grounds. Ken, had had enough and we departed at the shuttle, agreeing that we would ride the next day together.
There was little to do at the staging area, and little to no available shade. What shade there was had been occupied by all the riders who were already killing time, so I decided to go back to my tent and grab my cot, and then go find a nice tree in the already observed and described park I had seen. Yes, I had a cot, which I brought with me, and did use the first night in my tent, but decided that it was not really needed in the tent, and it was actually harder to use in the tent than I had thought it would be. So, I had this cot, and this isn’t like the cots that your parents had tucked away in the closet for sleepover guests. No, this was a very light, almost light enough for backpacking, cot which was harder to assemble than those wooden and canvas cots, but was very long, and would give me a very nice resting place when I set it up. I had my backpacking pillow as well, and so off I set. I had noticed that when it came to crossing the stream using the road sidewalk, that there was a separate bridge accessible from the retail center across the street from the Rodeo, so I decided to use that bridge and that is when I found the homeless camps. If I only still had that leftover food! It wasn’t a huge camp but there were a few tents setup, and the folks there were quite pleasant. There was a nice tree throwing a lot of shade, so I set myself up there with the sound of the water easily heard, and I laid down to nap. I could overhear a conversation between some of the folks in residence that included a dude on a pretty beat up old bike that was carrying all of his possessions. They were sharing stories of their journeys, the bike guy basically moving town to town in the SW trying to find “something” he could hang his hat on, but the homeless life is a rough life. Ridgeway, it seems, doesn’t try and chase them out, and they can get food from a lot of the locals. There are facilities in the park, and the stream offers a way to clean up. I was going to offer them some money, but I only had a twenty in my pocket, and I needed two more and I didn’t see a bank nearby. I should have been better prepared. It’s a result of transacting digitally for almost everything, that I hardly ever carry cash anymore. I could have made more of an effort, but I did not, and I packed up my things and walked back to the Rodeo Grounds.
Dinner was getting setup, but it wasn’t Serendipity Catering doing the setup. Once again it looked like the organizers found some way to accommodate the riders through other means, which looked like boxed sandwiches again. I found out from someone there that Serendipity was supposed to be in action again, but before they could setup, the tests results of someone in their company came back positive for the Covid, and that was that for Serendipity. They packed their things and left.
Lunch was still sitting pretty heavy in my stomach, so I didn’t feel the need for dinner, but I did find out that the organizers were going to play the original True Grit in a community building on the grounds at 7, which sounded like 1) a good way to escape the heat, and 2) something to do to kill time before it was cool enough to retire to my tent. I found the two guys from the bus, and we sat around discussing the day and soon it was movie time. They were in the “Camping Plus” tents, and retired to their camp chairs for the evening, and I went inside to find a good seat for the movie. There were some local youth selling snacks for the movie, which included popcorn, so I shelled out some cash, and found a seat. Now, I don’t know what you remember about this movie, but I kind of remember that while it was a script that was probably written with John Wayne in mind, it was also a movie that used techniques to showcase the great cinematography. One technique was to start a shot in close on the main subjects, and then to zoom out to include all the surrounding mountains. It was then that everything finally clicked, as the mountains in the movie are the mountains surrounding Ridgway. They shot that movie here in Ouray County Colorado. The stream that runs through town is the stream in the movie, though the location on the stream where they had the outlaw hide-away is anyone’s guess.
The next day’s route now made a little more sense. It was a loop that had an optional climb, back up to the pass we descended this day, but an excursion near the top onto some dirt and up to the ranch used as the location in the film as the Ross ranch. Used early in the film, and for the last scenes where Mattie tells Rooster she would like to bury him in the family cemetery. A bit of an odd request I think. No wonder Rooster jumped the fence and rode off! He wasn’t ready to die. Anyway, since today’s route was so short, and we were already up at the pass, I wish they would simply have let us do that excursion today, and not have to climb back up the next day.
When the movie was over, then colors of the sunset painted the Western sky, and it was time to turn in. The next day would/could be an easy day, but it wasn’t going to be any cooler, as yet another 100F day lay ahead. With that on my mind I turned in and zippered up my tent doors and did my best to get as good a nights rest as I could get.