Tour Day 0: Grand Junction, CO to Frutia, CO

April 26th, 2009

23.9 mi / 2:22:20 time / 10.0 mph avg. / 32.5 mph max. / 2372 ft. climbing
Staying at Saddlehorn Campground

I slept remarkably well on the train, to the point where I didn’t hear Dennis arrive back from the lounge car, or many other noises throughout the night. Not to say that I didn’t put some serious kinks into my knees and various other body parts. We stopped for a bit at Denver around 7am, and that’s when things got awesome, with the train rising up the Front Range through a lot of tunnels and switchbacks. Then we crossed the Continental Divide through the 6.2 miles Moffat Tunnel, and soon after picked up the Colorado River, which will be the main touchstone of our ride. We follwed it through some steep narrow canyons, where it was eventually joined by I-70 (which has a really sweet bike path running under it for quite a distance), and by 3:30 we were in Grand Junction.

The plan for the first few days of our trip hinged on a timely arrival in Grand Junction. I’d been tracking the on-time arrival of our train, and within the last week it had been as much as 646 minutes late, so that fact that ours arrived 30 minutes early was very good fortune. Even more, the conductor announced the train would be delayed at least an hour *leaving* Grand Junction, so we just made it. Our trip was off to an auspicious start.

The Amtrak shipping worked beautifully, and we had our bikes reassembled and loaded up in 30 minutes. A quick stop for groceries, and then we headed towards the Colorado National Monument, hoping to make the 1600 foot climb and 23 miles to the campground at the top before nightfall.

Somehow my climbing juices kicked right in, and I was able to power up the 8% switchbacks as if I’d been doing it for months. And I tried to take advantage of one feature of two-man touring, which is being able to get cool pictures of Dennis riding on switchbacks above or below me, with a backdrop of steep canyon walls and the town far below and behind us.

Once we crested the peak at ~6600 feet, it we enjoyed the downhill descent the rest of the way to the campground. The Monument is incredible. We rode along many sheer-walled canyons, seeing courses of tall spires and fins of rock that would stretch on for miles. I hadn’t even heard of the place until I started planning the trip, and it’s not very well-known. That implies that many of the other places we’re seeing may be even *better*, which is sort of hard to believe.

So it was a beautiful way to spend my birthday, especially since all of our plans worked out perfectly. That’s why I got unreasonably angry when, just as we were turning in for the night, it started to rain amid extremely gusty winds. After having rain for the whole first week of my last tour, this was supposed to be my “dry tour”, and here it goes ruining our plans by raining?!? Ugh.

One Response to “Tour Day 0: Grand Junction, CO to Frutia, CO”

  1. Swati Says:

    Wow, the train would’ve been late leaving even though it arrived before time? Crazy train! Am glad you got the pics – looking forward to seeing them. (And switchbacks are hairpin bend turns, I’m guessing!) It sounds so beautiful! Atleast you guys were almost ready for bed when the rain hit!