Day 67 – August 11, 2001 – We woke up to a bright, clear morning and the sky was dotted with hot air balloons launching from a field near the motel. We started up out of Steamboat Springs on our way to Canon City, Colorado. I say “up” because, immediately after leaving the city limits, the road starts to climb into the Rabbit Ears Pass. This is a seven-mile climb to a 9,426 foot pass. Fortunately for us, there was a passing lane so cars could get around us. Ginger scooted right on up in the pick-up which has a pretty powerful engine with a Model A crankshaft. It took her 20 minutes and she had a 30 minute wait before the rest of us arrived. If you added that up and realized that it took us 50 minutes to climb that pass, you are right. That is how it goes in a Model T.
Crossing over Muddy Pass, a cloud covered the road on the steep decline. We went lower and found totally different country than on the other side of the mountain, much more arid and rocky, not as lush and green. The drive to Kremmling and Dillon/Silverthorne was narrow and busy. It is Saturday and this is tourist country. People come from all over the country to Summit County, home of great fishing, hunting, skiing, boating and other outdoor sports. And most of them were on the road this morning. We drove by beautiful Lake Dillon on our way to Breckenridge and our last mountain of the day and the trip (or so Ben promised me), the 11,541 ft. Hoosier Pass. There is a bike path from Dillon that extends for miles around the lake and through the small towns leading to Breckenridge and we were struck by the numerous bikers on the path. Ben and I have ridden that path numerous times as we used to come to Summit County in the summers to visit my sister who lived here then. In Breckenridge, we were detoured all the way through town (lovely neighborhoods) and out the other side because of some big biking event
The Hoosier Pass was only a four-mile climb but it was a killer. There was no passing lane on this mountain so the cars backed up behind us until there was a place they could pull around or we could pull off. (If you drive a T, you know that you can’t stop on a hill. You have to keep going or you may not be able to get going again.) Even Ginger had problems because the numerous S curves took her momentum but, finally, we all made it. Jennifer had the worst time on both mountains because all she has is a standard Ford transmission, Ford high and Ford low. She was standing against the back of her seat to put enough pressure on the clutch to keep it in gear by the time she reached the top. It was here that we found out what kind of biking event was going on. Hundreds of bike riders had left Boulder this morning, riding 140 miles over five major passes, and were finishing with the climb up Hoosier Pass and a ride down into Breckenridge, the finish line. Unbelievable! Last year, out of more than 200 starters, only 20 finished.
We took Highway 9 the rest of the way into Canon City and, for the most part, it had rolling hills and little traffic. We could see the mountains off to the side but our road was no problem. Suddenly, in front of us was a very steep hill, followed by a very steep downgrade the rest of the way into town. We had a great view of the bridge over the Royal Gorge, the reason people come to Canon City, and headed on to the motel where my sister and her husband, Faye and Roy Russell of Denver, came to meet us. It was a good day with some serious mountains, beautiful scenery, and no car trouble. We are looking forward to having a day to play tomorrow.
A special note in response to several emails: We are staying an extra night in Canon City to have FUN, not because of a breakdown! Ross, Jennifer, and Ginger have been wanting to go rafting ever since the Grand Canyon and our schedule and problems with the cars have prevented us from letting them. Colorado is about the last place for real whitewater rafting and, with only a few days left on the tour, we decided to change our itinerary and spend another day so they could raft the Royal Gorge. We figured they had earned a day of fun. Sorry to have frightened those of you who were concerned we’d had more trouble.