Distance: 64 miles
Weather: Perfect for climbing! Just a little cool.
WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS!! WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS!!!! Every single rider was singing this song tonight and rightfully so! Cyclists loaded luggage at 7:30 this morning and headed out with great anticipation of what the day was going to bring. Today's cue sheet had only 3 turns, all of them lefts!
The first 20 miles were quiet and almost flat with a small tailwind pushing the riders along. One could see for miles with a few large ranches dotting the country side amidst a vast amount of green vegetation and small groups of free range cattle grazing about.
The first SAG stop was held at Tomichi Creek Trading Post at the base of the anticipated climb up and over the Rocky Mountains through Monarch Pass. Riders spun up the mountain dancing on their pedals and enjoying the incredible views. There were a massive amount of fir trees surrounding them and appeared to be cheering them on. One by one riders arrived at the top of Monarch Pass - this group is so strong that all made this climb to an elevation of 11,312 feet look easy.
At the summit lots of celebrating could be heard as each rider approached to complete the task. After a quick photo op with the Monarch Pass sign, many of riders chose to take the gondola to the peak of approximately 12,000 ft., see the Continental Divide, and look out over the vast area with snow covered peaks.
Next it was time for the descent of 18 miles - all riders again did a superb job going down and arriving into the town of Salida where some visited the historical area. All arrived in before the threatening storm materialized even though thunder and lightning strikes could be seen and heard in the distance.
One more day and all will enjoy a "well deserved" rest day before heading east on the third leg of this adventure.