We really did some climbing today! Leaving the hotel in Montrose, we started East into a strong headwind. The "mountain wind" blows down to the west in the AM, then subsides (but too late for us!) We were riding very slowly uphill, all bunched together to help shield against the wind. Our first climb rose about 2300 feet, and when we reached the top, Tom (our assistant mechanic, jack-of-all-trades, and funny story teller) said "man, I can't even kid with you guys--that looks really tough". It was so windy that I benefitted by riding behind Erin (who weighs very little) just to block some wind so I could climb more easily. (Hey, Erin, do I get bonus points for that comment?)
After a fast and fun descent we started a second climb that took us up another 1500 feet, to about 8700 feet above sea level. It was getting warmer (and the wind had died down). Pictured here is part of the second climb. I pulled over to wait for the riders shown on the right--although the photo flattens out the altitude changes, they were riding hard, and still took a few minutes to reach me! Most people rode in their lowest gears for long periods of time.
We then enjoyed easier riding with smaller "ups and downs", and rode along the dammed up Gunnison River, upstream of the beautiful canyons we had visited yesterday. Everyone arrived at the hotel in Gunnison, ready for our big climb over Monarch Pass tomorrow.