Thursday, 8 September 2011

Day 5: Pagosa Springs, CO - Cortez, CO

Today fell into a number of parts, some of which were teh awsum, and others which, er, weren't.

Part 1: Pagosa Springs to Durango.  Ordinary main road stuff. 6/10.

Part 2: Durango to Ridgway.  Along the astonishing US-550 taking in Coal Bank Pass (10,640 feet), Molas Pass (10,910 feet) and Red Mountain Pass (11,018 feet).  Fabulous road, fabulous views.  9/10 - docked a point because they still haven't finished the bridge work which held me up for half an hour above Ouray in the pouring rain last year.

Part 3: Ridgway - Delta.  Very very dull main road stuff, and you keep having to slow down for every town along the way.  There aren't many, but it's still a bind.  4/10.

Part 4: Delta - Clifton.  I was worried that the top of the Grand Mesa, which reaches 10,839 feet, was going to be buried in the clouds.  Fortunately this was an illusion.  Cracking road both up and down, with a great finale before reaching I-70 and the mightier-than-when-we-saw-it-last Colorado, down a narrow and twisty gorge between red sandstone cliffs. 9/10 - docked a point for Grand Mesa Summit not advertising itself as such.

Part 5: Clifton - Ridgway.  The first part of this was new to me, which did not save it from being very dull indeed, not to mention very bumpy.  Thirty-one yawnworthy miles.  The second part was a straight retrace of Part 2. 2/10.

Part 6: Ridgway - Cortez.  A gem.  Turn off US-550 onto CO-62 and head over Dallas Divide.  A great ascent from the east; those who had followed three laden Big Rigs up the western slope, where there is no opportunity to overtake, might well disagree.  Descend through the pine forests to Placerville, then take CO-145 up to the summit of Lizard Head Pass (10,222 feet). Descend through a mixture of forests and meadows to Dolores, where things turn a bit semi-desert, before rolling into Cortez where the Best Western is strategically placed between a liquor store and assorted eateries.  10/10, because it was all new to me.

Good Thing: The drunken singing coming from over there -> has now stopped.

Bad Thing: It seemed to emanate from a bunch of motorcyclists who, the Nice Lady at reception informed me, are BRITONS.

Good Thing: In spite of initial scepticism, I have knocked off the southern Colorado summits on time and in budget, which in turn means that I have been able to use that Internet, that they have now, to make hotel reservations for the next two nights, so I don't have to get up quite as early in order to find a room before it gets dark.  Cedar City UT and Bishop CA, in case you were wondering.

Bad Thing: Tonight I really should have gone for the room with en-suite jacuzzi.  What were you thinking, fool?

Good Thing: I have at hand a glass of ice, which also contains ice-melting equipment from a bottle labelled "Balvenie Doublewood".

And so to bed.

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