Two days later in our Colorado tandem tour, MG and I are seeing two different types of summer experiences in this unique state.
Yesterday our 75-mile route had the high point right in the middle: McClure Pass, between Glenwood Springs and Paonia. It was a gentle uphill grade until a not-too-steep three-mile switchback climb to 8,762 feet, then downhill to Paonia for 35 miles.
The downhill was fast at first but became less easy with some rises and a hot headwind. That’s normal on Colorado afternoons, when warm valley air rushes up the mountains.
This made for an eclectic mix of new and traditional. We rode past the big coal operation north of town, then entered past orchards to a main street featuring organic stores and restaurants.
We enjoyed a wonderful meal at the Living Farm cafe after walking in from the Fresh & Wyld organic farm on the edge of town.
This morning we started the day too early for breakfast at the b&b so we ate at the local diner on Main Street followed by lovely espresso at Backcountry Coffee & Espresso.
The owner had only been in town two years. She told us people were moving to Paonia to get away from the city; but also that it wasn’t a way to get rich either.
Today we rode 52 miles to the tony ski and mountain bike mecca of Crested Butte, over the mostly-dirt Kebler Pass at 9,990 feet. A short day, but with 41 miles of ascent, no cakewalk.
Kebler is just stunning with magnificent peaks, soaring aspen and flowering meadows. Cool clean air pushed us from behind. Never was extended climbing so enjoyable.
Tomorrow we will have espresso at one cool artsy coffee shop and breakfast at another neat joint. Crested Butte is funky and sports oriented, which is cool, but I think Paonia is the place worth watching.