Monday, September 26, 2011

Iron Horse WHAT???

This post was originally published on May 30, 2011

While planning this trip, I noted a bicycling event called the Iron Horse Classic would occur over Memorial Day weekend during our time in Durango. Since we are purely recreational bicyclists, I had no idea what that was or what it meant. And in our innocence (or ignorance??), we attributed the increased traffic starting on Thursday as simple holiday weekend travelers. But we were to find out that this IS a big deal. Please don't check my facts, but it is the 3rd longest running USA Cycling sanctioned race and is ALWAYS sold out at it's cap of 2500 riders. This year's event boasted at least one rider from every state and a large number of foreign countries were also represented. The ride leaves Durango and travels 50-something miles to Silverton over yes, parts of the dreaded Million Dollar Highway. There are many other cycling events associated with the "main" ride so getting around in Durango at any point between Friday and last night presented a challenge. I know there are some die-hard bicyclists reading this so here's a link to the human interest story about the ride found in this morning's Durango Herald. It was fun for us to get involved when we wanted to and be able to walk to any of the events, yet our condo is far enough away that we were never affected by the shall we say, celebrations which seemed to be building each time we entered the fray. The post celebration party was held last evening at the train station and needless to say, we stayed far, far away from that event. But it was fun stuff and we are really glad we were here to experience it. We never could find verification as to whether Lance Armstrong was or was not here, but we do know he is currently touring Colorado promoting his latest project and he has run the Iron Horse Classic several times, so I can't imagine that he WASN'T here. I tried calling his cell number several times, but just like Joe Montana in Kansas City, he was apparently too busy to return my call. Guess I'll just catch both of them later. I better start calling Todd Helton now, so he'll have plenty of time to return my call before we get near Denver next week.

Yesterday (Sunday), we did a most beautiful six mile hike on
The Colorado Trail. The Colorado Trail is approximately 480 miles and runs from Denver to Durango. I am currently reading an account of a hiker who thru-hiked the entire trail and that made yesterday's hike even more interesting. We hiked three easy miles in from the Durango starting point and if those three miles are any indication of the beauty of the entire trail, it would be an amazing hike. Totally different from the other hikes we've done in this area, we hiked alongside Junction Creek which was FULL and tumbling from the combination of warm temps and snow melt in the San Juan Mountains.

Although we expected it because we were hiking in a National Forest rather than a National Park, we were still not prepared for the fact that these trails are shared with mountains bikers and mountain biking is the #1 recreational activity in this area. Perhaps it would have been slightly different on a weekday as opposed to Sunday, but the number of mountain bikers far surpassed the number of hikers. And it is evident that mountain biking rules because there was absolutely NO heed to the many signs and warnings which require mountain bikers to yield to hikers. I try to be respectful and tolerant of ANY sport which gets people outside exercising, but this was excessive and not only were the etiquette rules totally ignored, we were rarely even afforded an "excuse me" or "thank you." I will have to say that it dampened the ability to completely relax as the bike traffic was almost constant both hiking in and then back out. Our most enjoyable part of the hike was at our turn around point where we found a huge rock right on the river beside a bridge where we spent about 45 minutes WATCHING the bikers fly by. Like I said, I appreciate the sport and know a couple of mountain bikers are reading this so it isn't about not sharing the trails, but it IS about heeding the rules which are there for everyone's safety and protection.

Today (Monday) is predicted to be much cooler (high of 59). Sorry you guys back in sweltering Tennessee, but this is perfection! Afternoon winds will kick up again, but not to the degree of the past two days. Yesterday, we stood in line at a GREAT health food store within walking distance of our condo and watched the wind shred back a vinyl roof on a sports outfitter store across the way. Fortunately, we had stopped on our way back from the hike and were driving rather than walking. After returning to the condo, we watched the winds continue to increase and at times, one could not see across the mountains because of the blowing sand.

We plan a quiet day with a walk or bike ride to visit the local historical museum. If time permits, that is something we always try to do in an area we visit. Always a wealth of interesting information and usually a chance to chat with a volunteer about what its like to live here.

Tuesday and Wednesday will be HUGE day trips as we venture 150 miles north (yes, back across the Million Dollar Highway) to
The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and Telluride. These will be incredibly aggressive days, so probably no journal entry until Thursday, but will try to keep Facebook page updated.

As always, thanks so much for reading. And speaking of reading, we'd LOVE to know WHO is reading. Trip journal statistics tell us how many times the journal is viewed each day, but not WHO is reading. We are pleasantly surprised by the numbers of readers and want you to know we appreciate it. Writing is lots of fun for me (I did it my entire career, but that was called a JOB) and having people actually read these ramblings that I write for fun is icing on the cake. So let me know who you are. In fact, if you tell me you've read every journal entry, there might be a prize for you when we return. Moose and Bear Poop were really popular prizes from our last trip to Colorado!

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