Red Mountain Pass (63)

This morning, we slept in until 6AM so that we could get a full 8 hours of sleep for the first time in a while.  After filling up on continental breakfast, we loaded the bikes and started riding again, this time pointed south towards the San Juan Mountains.

The weather has been a challenge, with a chance of thunderstorms every afternoon, and today was forecasted to be no different. Our legs were feeling sore after yesterday’s hike, though, so we were in no hurry.

The ride to Ridgway was a very gradual climb, back up to almost 7,000′, finishing with a bike path through a park along the Uncompahgre River.

 We arrived in town just before a downpour, and there was a park with a pavilion to welcome us.  To make things even better, there happened to be a catered lunch (True Grit Cafe) taking place while we were there, and they had leftovers!

Once the rain slowed down, we tackled more gradual climbing to Ouray, a little town nestled below red-walled canyons.

While there, we stopped at The Mine Shack for frappes while we discussed whether or not we would go over Red Mountain Pass today.

As we sat in the sun, we decided to go for it, although there was a chance for more storms later in the evening.  If worse came to worst, we figured we could just find a spot on the mountain to spend the night.  It’s a 12 mile, ~3,000′ climb via Route 550, also known as The Million Dollar Highway.

The views throughout the climb were amazing, and, in some places, there was a drop-off to the ravine below with no guard rail, which made things exciting.

About 5 miles into the climb, it started raining hard. We found ourselves near a tunnel, so we hurried and got inside to sit out the worst of it.

We started riding again about 30 minutes later and found that there were no more cliffs to ride alongside but still plenty of picturesque scenery.

 We made it to the top around 8pm.  The climb was more enjoyable than Cottonwood Pass, but the view at the top wasn’t as spectacular.

After bundling up, we cruised down and searched for campsites. I got a flat in the process but pumped it up because it was a very slow leak and nearly dark out. We arrived in Silverton shortly after 9, had a late dinner, and then set up our tent and went to sleep immediately!

Trip stats, to date (Day 63)

Montrose, CO to Silverton, CO
Daily mileage: 60.3mi ;  Trip total to date: 3,776mi
Daily riding time: 6hr 13min;  Trip total time: 327hr 38min
Daily ascent: 5,719 ft;  Trip total ascent: 184,314 ft
Flat tires: Rachel – 2; Chris – 2

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