After 35 miles of mostly climbing, 160 descends into Durango in a single, 10 mile, 1500 foot, downhill
It should be easy riding from riding from Cortez to Durango. They are at about the same elevation (6000 ft and 6500 feet repectively) and it is only 46 miles between them. Of course, there is a low pass (only 8400 feet) between them, so that means 2200 feet of climbing. Then there are several valley to descend into and climb out of on the way to that pass, so add another 1200 feet of descent which must be re-climbed. So now we're up to about 3500 feet of climbing in the first thirtyfive miles. Hmm, it doesn't sound like an easy ride anymore, but the last ten miles are great <grin>.
Just to make the climbing more interesting, I injured my 'new' bad knee last night in Cortez. I was walking back from supper and, stepping off a foot high piece of concrete, I twisted it slightly. It hurt, but I didn't think much about it till I started riding today and my knee hurt as I started. It stopped hurting as I rode, but hurt even more when I started up after my breakfast stop in Mancos. The long climb today did not help it, and when I rode my unloaded bike back to bike shop here (more on this later) my knee was quite sore, so I'm not going to be riding The Million Dollar Highway tomorrow.
Other than my sore knee, I also wasn't feeling well today, but I think that was because of the poor nights sleep I got last night. My motel room was not good, despite being moderately expensive ($65 with tax). The room was very small and the air conditioner, which was only a few feet away from the bed, blew too hard across the bed, giving me an ear ache. I finally turned it off, but them I woke up sweating. It was the worst night of the trip.
I left Cortez about 9:30 AM - why hurry on a short day?
The mountains ahead were a great incentive to pedal up those hills!
Mesa Verde was off to the south for the first nine miles
Then it was just up (mostly) and down (some) to Durango
By the time I reached the exit for Mesa Verde, which is nine miles from Cortez, I had climbed to 7200 feet. A couple of miles later, I was down to 6600 feet in the Mancos Valley. The town of Mancos is a few miles further on, and higher than Mesa Verde. There was road construction - there was road construction farther east when I rode this same stretch in 2000 - by Mancos, but it wasn't much of a problem.
I rode into Mancos, looking for second breakfast and found a delightful little town with a great place to eat; The Absolute Bakery and Cafe. A lot of other people had found this place too, so it took me about an hour to get and eat my meal. Mancos has motels and restaurants and a thriving artist culture. If I come back through this area, I'll stay there rather than in Cortez or Durango.
There are pretty mountains ahead, but the shoulder is not always good - sometimes there is none - while climbing
The road climbs, steeply, from 7500 to over 8000 feet
I rode in sun and shade as the clouds built up
Then drops down into the next valley at 7600 feet before climbing out again
Climbing to 8400 feet
My next food stop was Hesperus, the very small town at the intersection 160 and CO 140. I rode up from New Mexico on 140 in 2000, then rode to Cortez on 160. When I got to 140 this time, it marked the first new, to me, section of road in more than 100 miles. I knew there was a hill on the other side of 140, but I didn't know it was the last uphill before Durango which was still 11 miles away. I stopped and bought a large (and over priced - everything is more expensive at Hesperus) coke and sat on the bench in front of the store, recovering from the climb.
Where CO 140 ends at US 160
The last hill, just after Hesperus
This image was taken at 40 mph on the way down
When I rode up the last hill, there was sign saying Durango 11 miles. At the top of the hill there was a warning sign for 6% grade for the next four miles. Riding down, I had a good tailwind, but even with a good tailwind I was surprised to hit 45 mph on a 6% grade. The downhill went on and on, with a few sections where I needed to pedal to keep my speed up to 20 mph, and many more sections where I was coasting well above 35 mph. It didn't take long to reach Durango. My ride time was about four hours to Hesperus and half an hour after Hesperus.
After I got to Durango - Historic Durango as opposed to the first two miles new Durango, I went looking for a bike shop. The first one I found, Pedal the Peaks, is a MTB shop that carries Eggbeaters. They didn't have a rebuilding kit for mine, but the did have the new version. The new version is much improved from the version I have, and I liked the fellow at the shop, so I bought a pair.
Then I rode along Main St looking for a place to stay. A local bicyclist rode alongside me and asked me about my tour and, when I asked about places to stay, recommend Days End, a local motel about a mile north of the center of Durango. I rode up here, checked in, rested, checked email, and then went to install my new pedals. I couldn't because they have no wrench flats on them and need a larger Allen wrench than my old pedals. I had to ride back down to the shop, borrow the needed Allen wrenches, and install my pedals there. The new pedals have their own version of grease injection, so they will be easier to service, and are rebuildable with only a screw driver and an 8mm socket. The seals are much better designed and I think they have eliminated the passages that allowed water to easily get to the cartridge bearing. These pedals should be much better suited for touring than the originals.
Tomorrow, I'm going to try to take the narrow gauge railroad to Silverton and the bus back to Durango. There is a trolley service that runs right past my motel every 20 minutes which I can use to get to/from the train station. I'll try to get there early enough tomorrow morning - this is an all day trip, but there are several trains that make the trip - to get a seat. I hope my knee will appreciate the rest!
The pedal that got me from Beaver, UT to Panguitch, UT and to Bryce Park
It is now laid to rest with little ceremony, but lots of appreciation