Hello From Our Rockies Tour

We’re on the rest day of the latest edition of our annual summer tandem tour, in Gunnison, Colo. This year we are riding from Albuquerque to Boulder in a serpentine route through the Rockies.

Ready to go in Taos

So far 600 miles have rolled by in various states of heat, cold, bright sun and rain as we made our way to overnight stops in Santa Fe, Taos and Chama in New Mexico, and Colorado towns of Pagosa Springs, Durango, Montrose and yesterday into Gunnison.

Mary has been posting daily at her blog Chasing Mailboxes about our adventures, which have been amazing in various ways — the visual beauty of the Southwest has been matched by the friendly people, especially in New Mexico, and the food. If you like green chili, this region is heaven. There are also some great coffee and bike shops; Pagosa Mountain Sports was a sweet place, as was Cimarron Coffee Roasters in Montrose.

Eric at Cimarron Roasters got us on the road to Gunnison in good spirits

We also had happy meetup with friends in Santa Fe (Patrick) and Durango (Jenny, Shawn, Jason and Matthew). So nice!

We’ve been asked about our touring setup. We ride our trusty Co-Motion Java 700c tandem and stay in hotels, which allows us to cover long distances, mostly paved with occasional gravel miles where practical. The route will give us about 1,000 miles in 12 riding days, ending in Boulder on Thursday.

Our first ride over 10,000 ft. elevation on US64 to Chama

We flew with the bike, which was made with S&S couplers, to Albuquerque via Southwest Airlines and assembled it there. We shipped the cases from our hotel to friends in Boulder via Bikeflights.com.

Team Photo

We carry spare shorts, socks, rain and cool weather gear, and dinner outfits in a large Carradice Camper saddlebag.  Other stuff — tools, electronics, snacks and so forth — go in the Carradice and in/on a front Acorn box bag.

We also use an Oveja Negra top tube bag for me, a Randi Jo Fabrications bar bag for Mary, and a surprisingly useful little frame bag from Nashbar for cables and other spares.

A spare tire goes in an Acorn seat bag lashed into a bottle cage. Tires are Clement USH 700x35mm.

Camelbak (me) and Osprey (Mary) hydration packs and three bottles ward off the heat. We run generator front and rear lights continuously (Schmidt) and Garmin GPS computers, which helpfully tell us how slowly we climb up these Rockies passes.

We are the dot. The dot has a long way to go.

The hotel experience can be kind of weird. We stand out among the families and retirees and get odd comments from old guys who think tandems are funny, but we also like showers and beds and the free breakfasts come in handy.

The only mechanicals on the bike have been a stuck chain link on the road to Gunnison and a couple of goat head flats on the day we left Albuquerque. I think we got them on the paved trail we used to leave town.

The cool espresso and bike shop here in Gunnison, Double Shot Cyclery, has been our home base today. Along with essential caffeinated drinks, I got a new 10-speed chain from them (complicated, but four removable links in one chain was going to be a bit much) and they let me use the bike wash station out back with a hose, real Dawn soap and brushes and an old workstand and everything.

The Co-Mo is all clean, lubed and ready for the climb up Monarch Pass tomorrow to Buena Vista via Salida.

Thanks Double Shot for the landing spot and the gear

A big thank-you also goes to James at Gravel & Grind shop in Frederick, Md. (also espresso and neat bikes, hmm…) for talking me into adding Paul Components Klamper disk brakes and 203mm Shimano Ice Tech rotors to our tandem. They are doing wonderful work controlling speed on the steep descents — definitely an upgrade over the Avid BB7 brakes and rotors we had before. Slowing from 50+ m.p.h. for that next hairpin without brake fade is kinda critical.

That’s it so far. More to come. Thanks for reading!

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