This morning we arose and grabbed breakfast at the hotel a little later than planned. It’s hard to go back to riding after a day off. The plan today was to ride 80 miles from Pueblo leaving the Trans America Trail and picking up the Western Express to Cotopaxi. It would involve riding over a 9,200 foot mountain!
The ride out of Pueblo was smooth and chill. The route took us through the park and the zoo even though we never found the zoo. After the park we rode through several neighborhoods and admired many of the aged Spanish influenced houses. As we rode out of town we talked about Le Tour (The Tour de France) as today was the first stage and all the events that took place in the race. There was a large wreck due to interference of a fan that separated many of the big names from the lead pack with just a short distance to go. We tend to get really excited for the month of July!
The road continued to gradually climb in elevation as we proceeded to change our gears to accommodate the changing terrain. As we reached the crest of one hill the land opened up and in the distance you could see the wonderful Rocky Mountains from one side of the horizon to the other. They were so majestic. They appeared so large yet they were still quite a bit of distance away. It’s odd riding for such a distance as the appearance of the mountains gets larger and larger with each mile you draw closer. A bit intimidating too!
We finally reached the beginning of our climb and slowly made our way up. I was captivated by the scenery and rock formations. We probably would have made better time had I not been stopping so much to take pictures every few hundred feet. If you have been to the Colorado Rockies then you understand. If you have not, I really suggest you make a trip sometime in your life. It is well worth it.
We had made plans to eat lunch in the town of Wetmore. Our maps showed there was a restaurant there so we thought everything would be great. Well, it was closed until 5pm, and there appeared go be nothing else anywhere close that would have food. Not what you want as you are climbing up the Rockies! We continued on up the road hoping we would come across something. Fortunately about 2 miles up the road we came across Wet Mountains Goods, a local convenient store that also had a pizza restaurant in it. Perfect!
As we reached 8,400 feet I noticed a dark cloud coming over the ridge. The temperature was dropping significantly so we decided to stay where we were for a bit to see what happened. Fortunately we were at a crossroads so there were a few houses to take shelter if needed. The sky got darker and darker so we walked down to one of the houses to see if we could take cover on their porch. A young girl, probably around 10, came to the door and said we could. Shortly there after her father and siblings joined us on the porch. What a pleasant family! Devon, the dad, also wants to ride cross country one day. Their church also supports wells in one of the other countries in Africa so he was very interested in our journey. It was great chatting with them and playing with their dog, Rusty. We really appreciate the shelter and company while the storm passed!
We finally crossed over the peak and made our decent into the next town. The day was beginning to wind down and we still had 23 miles to Cotopaxi. We debated for awhile on whether we should continue and stop and stay in Westcliff. We had decided we would stay however we quickly changed our minds as we called around looking for a place and everything was full due to the 4th of July weekend. So we buckled down and rode hard for the next while in order to make it before dark. Which might have been a bad idea seeing we rode so hard and yet we have to climb Monarch Pass tomorrow which will be the highest point that we reach at 11,312 feet.