September 26, 2007 GMT
All quiet on the western front

I finally left route 191 at Vernal, it had taken me a lot further away from the Continental divide than a wanted to be, so zig-zaging it has to be. And wasn't it just worth it, I've now crossed it numerous times and experienced a continuous variation in the scenery and roads. The roads and directions I've taken make no sense, mainly because I choose each day as it comes. Because my head is firmly rooted up my arse, it changes track every minute, let alone every day. Anyway, I headed East From Vernal, in Utah, on State route 40 for bloody ages, almost to Denver. God'damn, had to ride along the freeway! A scoot along Interstate 70, cut south through El Ranco, Evergreen and Conifer to reach route 285 for a few hours ride South, to Poncha Springs and joining the 50 headed West. Arrived in Montrose where I plan to head south again, for the ancient cliff dwellings of the Mesa Verde. But that is yet to do, and who can predict the future?

From Wyoming, through the corner of Utah and into Colorado proved never ending pleasure. All the riding has become that way, I've used all my memory cards and missed more photo opportunities than taken. This part of the ride had brought me closer to the actual rock again, no longer looming monsters in the distance. There are rock overhangs at the roadside, crumbly, treacherous looking sandstone, with constant warnings of falling rock. Only one solution, the less time spent riding past, the less risk there is, right? I haven't been thrashing the bike at all recently though, rarely ridden faster than 70 mph. I tend to keep at about that speed, round as many of the bends as possible, maybe ease off to look longer at specific views; but try and maintain a respecable speed of at least 60 mph. So I proclaim yet again, how brilliant!

After my snowy experience two days ago the weather has been a lot nicer. Mind you, I have ridden in much snowier conditions at home, it just seems more severe when away on a long trip. I must remind myself as well, that knowledge still doesn't make for a more pleasurable ride at the time; its still as cold and unpleasant! Even the town where I stayed, Granby, stood at 8,600 ft, and it started to snow heavily once dark. I fully expected to get snowed in, all ways out of town were over high passes, that doesn't sound promising to me. All I wanted to do was ride round the Rocky Mountain National Park, its been impassable for the last couple of days, and the pass down South is the highest around, at 11,315 ft, though was fine earlier.

With some relief I awoke to clear roads, no snow; just heavy frost! A phone call confirmed the national park was a non-stater, so Southward is the only choice. Done no checks on road conditions south, just went for it. If I can get through I will; if not, well at least I tried. Jeeez was it cold, glorious scenery though! As is often the case with heavy frosts, it was bright and amazingly clear; a crispy, winter wonderland. The views from the top of Bertoud Pass were phenomenal, no way could I stop for photo's, so only got one on the way up. So many of the spectacular sights I've seen have gone unrecorded: actually they haven't, they're in my head and my heart! They're part of the experience, at times stopping and taking a photo can detract from that experience. It breaks it up, making it lots of smaller parts, rather than a smooth continuation of the ride. One of the most joyous things is to allow the road and scenery to take over my consciousness, it really is about being at one with my surroundings, totally absorbed!

The whole of yesterday took me over numerous mountain passes, the majority close to 10,000 ft, the highest over 11,000; so the thermals have stayed on so far! It has all been awesome, every bend opening up a whole new vista, every angle shows a different scene. When stopping I've looked around and been amazed at the view behind, how did I miss that? I'd have to ride every road from every direction to truly appreciate all it has to offer, and then of course any variation on weather would give it a whole new perspective too. I so wish I didn't have to marvel at all this alone; I'd swap it all, to share one more moment with Cai, just to say one more time how precious he's been to my life. Too many why's don't help, I know; but why can't we have just one thing in life we could change? Probably because we'd all use it up a million times, before we most needed it! No, why is a question, in these circumstances, that brings so much extra grief.

Posted by Leslie Kay at September 26, 2007 03:13 AM GMT

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