Wednesday was another big climb day (whose idea was this anyway!).
We rode out of Pagosa Springs at 8:30 am after breakfast in the local “breakfast place”. 57 degrees, sunny, little wind. Turned north just as we left town and headed north onto the climb of Wolf Creek Pass. Pagosa is at 7097′. The first 14 miles were a manageable average 3.1% and then the fun began. The final 9 miles to the top at 10,850 averaged 6% with long stretches of 7 and 8%. As always on these climbs it was a matter of finding a steady pace and just settling in – which everyone did. John Rudolf who arrived on Tuesday afternoon essentially from sea level rode like he had been at altitude with us from the beginning and was in the middle group going over the top. Once more, a beautiful sunny day with little haziness.
After reaching 10.850′ is was another fast ride down through a stunning high canyon, through two tunnels, along side creek cascading down with us. And then on into Del Norte with a headwind for the last 15 miles. Once again, the group all rode well, lots of good humor Phil on his recumbent from the summit all the way into town. Rachel flying along without any problems.
Overnight at the Windsor Hotel, a refurbished classic 1878 hotel that also made arrangements for us to have a relaxed dinner out on their patio with lots of good conversation and a bit of humor thrown in as well.
This morning, Thursday, we had a long shuttle south of Ft. Garland where we unloaded the bikes and then headed south towards New Mexico. Dave Cutler was flying today and was soon gone, three miles out in front of everyone despite the group all riding at a very fast pace because of a slight downhill at times and little wind. Amazingly after almost two weeks since leaving Bozeman, everyone is fit with no joint or muscle issues, no evidence of Covid in any way.
The final 12 miles into Red River, NM was through another high canyon with pine forest on both sides of the road and soaring yellow, rose, crimson walls towering on both sides of the road.
One final Phil K. tailgate dinner – exceptional as always -and then everyone made it an early night to get some much needed rest.
Tomorrow our AHCT Bozeman – Santa Fe team will ride the 48 miles into Taos followed by a mid-morning shuttle on Saturday over to Santa Fe to meet the rest of the 2021 Andean Health Cycling Team.
It has been an incredible adventure with a great group of fun, interesting, diverse people who would all say the trip exceeded expectations. It was the “epic” ride we had hopes for to mark the 10th anniversary on the Andean Health Cycling team with major climbs almost every day, three days of exhausting head winds, a few days of major fire related air quality issues — and every day an adventure!
Andean Health & Development has been quietly present in the background and together with the upcoming Trek/AHCT ride and the on-going incredible satellite community rides — we will all be able to generate a bit of support for our friends and colleagues in Ecuador.
A huge thanks to everyone as we end this first phase of the 2021 AHCT ride – grateful for the good friendship and grateful that if all goes well, we will arrive in Taos healthy and safe.