Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Navajo Ambush! or Riding the Cortez, Delores, Mancos Loop

On Colorado Hwy 185 from Delores on my way to Mancos

Whoa - I live just an hour drive from Bike Heaven, Gentle Readers of This Blog.  Okay, Shiprock, New Mexico - well, not a great place to live.  I miss my clean mountain air back in Arizona at The College in Tsaile - but not but a short drive over into Colorado - and I am back up in the mountains, and have many riding options!  Thanks to the folks at the Local Bike Shop, I got some routes and tips on where to ride and where to eat, etc. etc.

I drove from Shiprock up to Cortez and left the car at the gas station right on Hwy 145 and Main Street Cortez (Hwy 160)  The temps here have been just about 60 degrees.  My Made in France Rando Vest was just enough to keep out the bit of breeze I had here and there.

From Cortez, I rode about 10 miles up to Delores - it was quite a climb!  I have not ridden really since before Thanksgiving 2014 - Geez!  Really needed to wake up my lungs and heart - and the air was fresh, and I could just feel the stress of things fall to the side of the road and dissolve away.

Man, I am doing some climbing!  Here I'm going to start heading east to Mancos.  Durango, Colorado is about 40 to 50 miles to the east at the base of those mountain.

About half way on this leg, I'll climb to 7600 feet.

That is Sleeping Ute Mountain, looking a bit south and west,  Further back those mtns are in New Mexico and where I live in Shiprock.  Between me on Hwy 185 and Ute Mtn is Cortez, Colorado.

I know I had done some serious climbing, like back in Tsaile when I would return from riding down to the Park HQ at Canyon de Chelly.  I passed a few signs for Summit Lake, and the pine trees and snow are a good indication too.

I saw six dead dear on the sides of the road, so maybe not a good place to drive at night!  Also would not want to hit a cow or a horse, like out on the Rez.  I must tell you mes amis that from here on out, I sailed down what seemed endless, newly paved highway!  Mostly for about five or six miles I was at 25 to 30 MPH

I dropped down fast, and suddenly I was riding into Mancos.  People I hear pronounce it "Man Cuz" but 7000 feet is right at where The College is in elevation at Tsaile.  Again, I know I was pretty high up at Summit Lake - which was frozen over when I rode past...

Right here is a liquor store with this mural - I believe there's an annual cattle drive through Main Street - probably to remember the old days when it happened every summer.

Okay, now I will make an unceremonious turn right and head West - about 18 miles back to Cortez.

The trading post is closed for the Winter, but hey it was a fun picture - a tourist ambush I'd say!

There is one last big climb right up at the entrance to Mesa Verde.  For me after that it was all downhill back to Cortez.  But the head wind was beating me up!  I pulled off here at a rest stop to take a break out of the wind, take a leak, and fill up my water bottles - I was out.

I'm not sure that this is, but being right next to or near the entrance of a National Park, and one like Mesa Verde, can make a big statement.


I did not ride these 43 miles that fast - average speed was only like 13.4 MPH - but this was a great ride and will certainly get me fit!  

It was my 53rd Birthday.  A local Colorado IPA was in order.  Last year I got food poisoning from a restaurant in Chinle, AZ - my boss and I celebrating dinner - and the next day my Birthday spent at the IHS Clinic hooked up to an IV.

But I lived to ride another day, and what a day it was!  Cheers! and thanks for reading the blog!