Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Cañon City to Fairplay

June 16
Know when to fold ‘em …

Today we were to begin our climb up to Hoosier Pass. It was going to be a long day with a lot of serious climbing. We shortened it somewhat by driving to Royal Gorge. We wanted to stop here for a short visit, and time wouldn’t allow that had we rode bikes. Our plan was to start somewhere along highway 9. 

We drove out to Royal Gorge to take a peek. None of us wanted to pay the entrance fee as our only interest was getting some photos of the gorge. We settle for viewpoints just outside the park. 

Once done at the gorge we proceeded to our turn off on HWY 9 and found a place to unload the bikes. I didn’t like the narrow shoulders combined with that “redneck” backwoods feel to the place, but happily drivers treated us well, though there was plenty of traffic. May headed up the road toward FairPlay to hunt up some lodging. 

We started out with rolling hills and a generally upward heading. Eventually we came to a long, steep climb. The grade went up to 12, 13, 14 percent at times and was pretty relentless overall. We stopped several times to catch our breath, but we were not making good time. About 8 mile in we came to the top of this particular climb, (Yay!) only to be greeted with a terrible, gusting headwind. Though the climb had let up, the wind kept us moving as slowly as the climbing had. 

We talked it over, and with the wind blowing our bikes into the road, combined with traffic, we decided that it really wasn’t our day to do this ride. The climbing combined with the headwind made for a speed at which we wouldn’t be able to finish the ride in a timely manner, and the wind was making it unsafe. The sky was also getting ominously dark and I thought it was colder. Roger was in short sleeves and had no rain gear. I had my rain jacket, but no other warm layers or tights. We really weren’t prepared for the weather we might encounter. We called May and asked her to return to pick us up. 

Roger and I found a slightly sheltered spot to eat some snacks and wait for May. Fortunately she arrived quickly and we avoided any worse weather. She had just encountered some rain on her return. 

We drove into FairPlay with the hopes that tomorrow will be better weather. It will also be fewer miles, so it should be a better spot to launch from. We are staying at the Fairplay Hotel. Interesting, historic hotel, with uneven floors and all the quirks that come with an old building, but I enjoy these places. They have personality.  We had lunch at a chinese restaurant, and later May and I went for a walk around town with a stop for ice cream along the way. This evening we're are in our room watching the rain and hail and listening to thunder. The sun is shining also. Go figure. 

Royal Gorge 

Start your engines ... er pedals
Looking back at our climb 
More climbing 
Storm clouds while we wait
County Courthouse (historic)
Fairplay Hotel 
Swallows nests 
Methodist church

Thunder, rain, and hail 


  1. Nice photo of the bridge. It's hard to get too excited about 14% grades though there are some that seem to really enjoy the challenge. Fairplay looks like a really pretty town, especially with blue skies and fluffy clouds...

  2. I can get excited about 14 % descents :)