Week #7 – Gravel and Guffey

Week #7 – Gravel and Guffey

Day #43 – 45 – June 22nd – 24th

Miles – 0
Telluride, CO

We took a few days off to go to Telluride, Colardo. One of Jason’s friends picked us up in Pueblo. We camped on a property about 8 miles out of town. Both Sunday and Monday morning we rode our bikes to town on a gravel route. The scenery was incredible.

In Telluride, we found a lot of things to do. The bluegrass festival was happening over the weekend, so we listened to a couple free performances in the town square and sat outside the festival outdoor venue to listen to part of Kacey Musgraves’ performance. We took the gondola to the top of the ski mountain and rode our bikes back down the road. We had a few beers in town. It was a nice break. 

Day #46 – June 25th, 2019

Miles – 12.6
Pueblo, CO -> Lake Pueblo State Park, CO

After a long ride back from Telluride, we arrived in Pueblo around 4:30PM. We originally intended to do about 30 miles out of Pueblo, but it felt too late. We opted to ride out to the state park, the closest campground.

The campground was hot, dry, and desolate. After a few days in Telluride, it was really underwhelming. We sat around the picnic table for a couple of hours not saying much. It felt like a Sunday before returning to work.

Day #47 – June 26th, 2019

Miles –  81.3
Lake Pueblo State Park, CO -> Guffey, CO

After a few days mostly off the bikes, we were ready for a challenging day. The ride to Guffey would include lots of climbing and start our ascent to the summit of Hoosier Pass. The first 50 miles went by easily enough. There was some wind, some climbing, some heat, but we were feeling fine by the time we came to the start of the mountains.

We stopped for water fills at a restaurant right before our last 30ish miles. We told the bartender that filled our water bottles we were headed to Guffey for the night. She looked shocked and said, “You’re going up there? On bicycles?” We would soon find out her shock was warranted.

The last portion of our ride was constant climbing. Even though the grades were gentle compared to the Appalachians, climbing for nearly 30 miles took a massive tole. I had to stop every few miles to catch my breath and ate nearly every protein bar I had. For the first time this trip, I worried whether or not I could physically finish the day.

When I came to the base of the side road to Guffey, I was completely drained. My clothes were covered in salt stains, something that hadn’t happened since the steep climbs of Kentucky. The last mile to Guffey was the most brutal. It was a steep side road. I stopped frequently. A man in a truck pulled up alongside me, as I bent over the handlebars panting. He gave me encouragement that I was nearly to the top. It was helpful.

At 6PM, I finally arrived at the Guffey Garage, where a man named Bill has been hosting cyclists since the start of the TransAmerica Trail in 1976. Bill greeted me and immediately asked, “You want a beer?” I liked Bill. He told me his first guest in 1976 had a saddlebag dedicated entirely to weed. Filled to the brim.

Bill owns what seems to be about half of Guffey. He turned one of the old rustic buildings into a bunkhouse for cyclists. We had dinner with two eastward cyclists at the bar in town. Jason and I both agreed this was the most difficult day either of us had ridden on this trip.

The bunkhouse in Guffey.

Day #48 – June 27th, 2019

Miles – 66.7
Guffey, CO -> Breckenridge, CO

Often during this journey, I’ve found the anticipation for an obstacle is much worse than the obstacle itself. That lesson held true today. We set out from Guffey with the goal of cresting Hoosier Pass, the highest point on the TransAmerica trail at around 11,500 feet.  

Guffey sits at around 8,500 feet of elevation, so without any declines, we only needed to climb around 3,000 feet. Of course, there were declines. Each dip and valley was met with curses and groans, knowing we had to climb back up each foot we lost. 

I felt anxious about the final climb to the summit all day.  Finally, we came to the base of the pass with about 1,500 feet left to go. It took 4 miles, but the grades were gentle. With beautiful views of the mountains, it went by slowly but enjoyably.
Descending the other side was frightening at first. Steep switchbacks with gravel made it impossible to pick up much speed. Eventually, the road leveled out into a gentle decline. In all, the 10 miles to Breckenridge only took about 40 minutes. We stayed at the Bivouac Hostel in Breckenridge.

Views along Hoosier Pass.

Day #49 – June 28th, 2019

Miles – 34.0
Breckenridge, CO -> Silverthorne, CO

Since we splurged for a relatively expensive hostel, we decided to have a late morning. At around 11AM we pushed our bikes out of the hostel. Jason mentioned my rear wheel was wobbling yesterday, so I checked the spoke tension and found a crack in the rim. I needed to find a new wheel before I went much further. 

I checked most of the bike shops in Breckenridge, but no one had fully built wheels in stock. I called the REI down the road in Dillon. They told me they most likely had something that would work. Even that minimal reassurance seemed good enough to make the trip, so I rode the 15 miles to Dillon. A lot of the trip was on the bike path around the Dillon Reservoir, and the views were awesome.

The mechanic at REI found a wheel that would work and assured me they could service it by the end of the day. Jason and I hung out in and around the REI for the rest of the day. I was able to make arrangements with Bruce, a WarmShowers host north of Silverthorne, for the night. 

At around 6:30PM, I picked up my bike, and we started the 15 miles to Bruce’s house. The sun was beginning to set behind the mountains. Most of our ride was downhill in golden sunlight. We met Bruce at the end of his gravel road as he was coming home for the evening. He pointed us in the right direction, two miles uphill. The climbing was hard, but the scenery in the area was breathtaking.

We hung out with Bruce for the evening, talking bike tours and looking over maps of Colorado.

Bruce – with his front door view in the background.

Week #7 Mileage: 194.6
Total Trip Mileage: 2,466.9

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3 Replies to “Week #7 – Gravel and Guffey”

  1. Again, I enjoyed your pictures of the beautiful country. After reading your week 7 adventure with all the uphill gravel climbing I must confess that I was out of breath and totally exhausted. I had to lay down with a cold glass of wine. Happy trails!

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