Day five is our "day off" on Ride the Rockies 2008. This is the first time we've had a "day off" in the three years I've done RTR. But after the brutal 92-mile ride from Montrose to Crested Butte on day four...and before a 75-mile ride over Cottonwood Pass to Buena Vista, I'm sure I'll be ready for a recovery day.
The 75-mile ride from Crested Butte to Buena Vista looks to be the second toughest day on RTR08. We drop for the first 18 miles but then begin the steady ascent over Cottonwood Pass -- the highest point of the ride (12,126 ft. above sea level). Unbelievably, Cottonwood Pass just opened yesterday (June 12)!.
Check out these photos of the snow at the top of the pass taken yesterday by a local resident (at left). Lots of snow...and apparently the temp was below freezing with strong winds. Please let it warm up this week!
Cold or not, reaching the summit of Cottonwood Pass will be the highlight of the trip. I love the feeling you get when you make it to the top. The goal. The accomplishment. The reward: enjoying a good lunch of pork carnitas from my friends who run one of the food wagons that follow the ride. I won't worry about eating too much this day, because the rest of the ride careens downhill for the final nine miles into Buena Vista, the final night of the trip.
One week from tomorrow RTR08 will end on a 67-mile ride from Buena Vista to Breckenridge crossing Trout Creek Pass (elev. 9,346 ft.) and Hoosier Pass (elev. 11,542 ft.). This will be toughest final day of my four Ride the Rockies. Fortunately we end on a 10-mile "victory coast" into Breckenridge.
But I don't want to think about the ride being over before it has even begun! Tomorrow morning (Saturday) I will catch a bus from Denver International Airport to Durango, Colorado. My bike is packed and now I need to go pack the rest of my gear for the week. We each get one bag they'll carry from stop to stop. One bag for my tent, sleeping bag, clothes, shoes, etc. -- so packing for the week is a challenge!