Hartsel to Frisco

June 14, 2010 – 64 miles

My sister, Jenn, lives in Colorado Springs and wanted to visit me while I’m in her area. She and Parker (her boyfriend who is on two weeks leave from Iraq) were planning to meet us roughly halfway between Hartsel and Silverthorne in a town called Como. We agreed to meet there at noon, which put us on a tight schedule.

We woke to gold air and dreary, rain-threatening clouds. After breakfast at the same restaurant as last night, we rode – first on highway, then familiar dirt and gravel. I noticed my rear tire was slowly losing pressure. I added air on a few occasions, but this was only a temporary fix. It went flat again, so I flipped my bike and replaced the tube. Auke inspected the tire for the source of the flat. There was no indication of what cause it.

While doing so, I saw a silver Honda driving toward us. I said to Auke, “that might be my sister.” When the hazard lights flashed, I knew it was.

Jenn jumped out of the car and ran to hug me. For the first few seconds talking to her, I was overwhelmed by the perfume she wore. After so much time spent in fresh air, I wasn’t used to such smells. I’m sure she had similar thoughts about me, as well.

We chatted, ate some brownies, and decided to ride on. Mathieu was somewhere ahead of us. My sister offered to carry our bags in the car…an offer we couldn’t refuse. She took my food bags and some of Auke’s.

They drove ahead toward Como and Auke and I started riding the last miles. The wind suddenly picked up as a storm came upon us. At first it rained, then it started hailing lightly. We topped a hill and saw Jenn’s car stopped ahead. She wanted to make sure we didn’t need anything from the bags in her car. I didn’t, but Auke sure did – his rain gear.

Just after Jenn left us again, it started hailing stronger. Auke and I took shelter in an aspen stand. In the minimal shelter of the trees, I stripped my rain layers off and added a pair of tights and a warm ski fleece. The storm lasted 15 minutes and chilled us to the bone – especially my hands and feet.

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It ended as quickly as it started. As we walked our bikes to the road, we watched the icy snow rapidly melt into small streams running down the road. The freshly graded road was already eroding!

The next few miles were about warming up. My fingers stung from the cold. After a while, Jenn showed up to check on us. We were alright, so they drove ahead to Como. Soon enough, the clouds parted and let the sun shine on us. I removed my rain gear and warm layers since I was sweating already.

The miles passed slowly. I thought only of the goodies my sister brought us to eat. The sandy/gravelly water from the road did a number on my drivetrain. Each revolution of the pedals sounded awfully gritty and inefficient.

When I eventually made it to Como, I was surrounded by good food – Subway sandwiches, chips, popcorn, brownies, Oreos, and cokes. It was too much to eat and too much to carry. The 5 of us chatted for awhile and enjoyed the food. It turned out Mathieu was not caught by the hailstorm. He barely rode in any rain.

Jenn and Parker planned to go to Frisco for the evening, which was 10 miles short of Silverthorne. Instead of stuffing our bellies and panniers, we decided to end our day in Frisco. Jenn would keep the food (and Auke and my panniers) in the car for the rest of the day.

Another storm looked like it was approaching, so we left Como in a hurry. Straight out of town we started climbing Boreas Pass – a railroad grade road cresting 11,500 ft. After a few minutes out of Como, it looked like the storm would not come afterall. Having geared up for another hailstorm, I needed to shed layers.

Not even 30 minutes later, a storm blew in – rain, snow, and wind. Luckily, I was on the side of a mountain opposite from where the storm was coming. I was protected while I put the cold weather and rain gear back on for the third time.

I rounded the mountainside and was completely exposed to the storm. The icy snow stung my face. Luckily, like most Colorado storms, this one did not last long. Soon enough the sun was out and the protective layers were shoved back into my camelback.

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There was a fresh dusting of snow on the sides of the towering surrounding mountains.

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Even with a stomach full of energy and a gentle-graded road, I could not keep myself from stopping to rest often. When I reached the top of Boreas Pass, I took the stereotypical “I climbed this mountain pass” picture. It was cold and windy at the top, so I quickly suited up for the descent to Breckenridge.

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As I descended, it rained again. Not much, but enough to chill me further. It was over in a few minutes and the rest of the descent was in sun. I must have looked odd riding through the outskirts of Breckenridge – the locals were walking/jogging/biking in shorts and t-shirts while I was dressed for rain and freezing temperatures. Before I arrived in downtown Breckenridge, I stopped to stow the pants, hat, and gloves.

Mathieu and Auke were waiting at a closed cafe right where the route enters town. We rode through it together looking for the bike path that would take us the rest of the way to Frisco. After riding through roundabout (my first time riding one) and a few miles of busy highway, we found our bike path. Clouds were now pouring over the mountains to the west – more rain was on the way.

We geared up again and pushed hard on the pedals for the last 7 miles to Frisco. We got dumped on! Rain fell on my head bringing sweat into my eyes and mouth. We pushed harder – to get out of the rain and to stay warm.

On the way, we passed a number of cyclists and runners miserably heading for home/shelter. They were unprepared for the rain and cold.

In Frisco, we rode down the main street and checked into the first hotel we found. We warmed ourselves and waited for Jenn’s arrival with our gear and food. Three hot showers later, we were nearly good as new.

The 5 of us went out for a meal at a Himalayan restaurant. I think Mathieu was most interested in this place having attempted to summit Everest.

We finished dinner later – near 22:30. We walked back to our hotel and I said goodbye to my sister and Parker. It was great to see both of them!

I snacked on the plethora of food we now had and reflected on the day. I’m glad that it is over and hope tomorrow’s weather is better…or at least consistent.

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