Today was the first real pass of Ride the Rockies, the 7-mile climb up 11,300-foot Monarch Pass between Gunnison and Salida.
I was pretty worried, especially because I kept hearing other riders say things like, “Yeah, but tomorrow is Monarch.”
Monarch was, indeed, tough. I rode carefully, to keep my heart rate down, so I was averaging around 5-7 mph. It was mostly up, with only a few flat areas here and there. But as long as I didn’t try to rip up the mountain, I was OK. It was definitely beautiful.
The real problem was the descent. I’m a little nervous about descending, and I put all my energy into the ascent. Once at the top, I got cold and worried and ended up sagging down the mountain before getting out and finishing the ride into Salida.
I tremendously regret the sag. From the van, at least, the descent wasn’t that bad. I should have done it.
Salida is beautiful, by the way. We ate dinner and had a celebratory pitcher of margaritas along the Arkansas River.
Everyone is worried about the possibility of a headwind on the 60-mile uphill slog into Leadville tomorrow. Considering I’m from Texas, where wind is our worst enemy, I’m thinking I’ll be OK.