Day Fifty-One (29/06): Ordway, CO to Sheridan Lake, CO

Ordway to Sheridan Lake: 91.5 miles

Total Distance: 1989 miles

Days in the saddle: 38

Bonus Info: This was the first 90-mile day of the trip. Nearing the 100-mile mark!
Bonus Info 2: I’m staying in a church! And they gave me a free gift!

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Bonus Photo:

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A flask, my gift from the church I’m staying at!

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Day Forty-Eight (26/06): Cotopaxi, CO to Pueblo, CO

Cotopaxi to Pueblo: 68.5 miles

Total Distance: 1841.5 miles

Days in the saddle: 36

Bonus Info: Pueblo marks the end of the Adventure Cycling Association Westerm Express Route, and I am now joining the Trans America Trail, which will take me all the way to the East Coast!

Bonus Stat: Standing at 4,692 feet above sea level, Pueblo is lower than I’ve been in miles, and also hotter, with temperatures reaching above 40 (105) degrees.

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Conquering Monarch Pass

Those looking for an inspirational story, look away now.

Those looking for a humorous story, look away now.

Those looking for an interesting story… To be honest? Look away now.

Those who are going to read this anyway, well, I’ll keep it short.

This morning, I conquered Monarch Pass. The King is dead. Long live the King.

4,000 feet to reach my highest altitude of the trip: 11,312 feet. A hell of an achievement. Originally I thought it might have taken two days. Then yesterday I thought it would be an all-morning affair.

140 minutes after starting, I’m standing on shaky legs at the summit. 140 minutes. That was all it took.

One gear used. The lowest. Pushing and pushing. My legs ached at times, but my mind was firm. I would stop every mile, on the mile. My top speed going up? A whopping 5.9 miles per hour. What’s that about slow and steady?

The ride down took less than 20 minutes, the chill of the wind a decent price to pay for the speed of the descent.

It’s all downhill from here. And, in a funny way, that’s a bit sad.

The night before…

This is it.

Too scared to go outside because of the Mosquitos. I even eat inside for the first time. Hopefully not too many crumbs. One leads to two. Two leads to three. It’s all downhill from here.

Expect it’s not.

I’m at the foot of the Monarch Pass. And not the good foot. The bad foot. The ‘before’ foot. Up, up, up somewhere way above me lies to pinnacle. THE pinnacle. 11,300 feet of pure joy. When I get there. Until then i have 10 miles of treachery.

10 miles. Over 4,000 feet vertically.

This is it.

This is my Everest. And I’m at Base Camp. Freezing my arse off in below-freezing temperatures. Am I annoyed that this is summer and it’s cold or am I annoyed that I sent home all my warm clothes a while ago?

Monarch Pass is the highest peak of my trip. And more than that, it’s the symbolic finale of my trip through The Rockies. I make it over this, and I’m in the realms of being a proper cyclist.

But maybe I’m already there. I will make it over. There is zero doubt in my mind, not one jot. I cannot envision anything else. I will be standing at the top of the mountain, I will be out of breathe, clambering for oxygen at 11,000 feet. I will feel tired. I will feel elated.

I will have walked a part. I will have cycled most. I will have stopped, and stopped, and stopped again. But I’ll be there.

Monarch Pass. A crowning glory.

This is it.