Day 31: Steamboat Springs – Radium, CO

Miles: 63

Climbing: 4826 ft

Today was a long and intense day. I said goodbye to Chris and Hillary, who were taking a rest day in Steamboat, and headed out, stopping for groceries on the way out of town. I have developed a new strategy to stop myself buying too much food. I only buy what I can carry in my hands. No baskets! Usually that keeps it reasonable as far as easily fitting things on my bike, and not carrying way more food than I need.

This morning was honestly pretty rough. There was some pretty scenery, especially along the Yampa River Valley and Stagecoach State Park. However, I wasn’t feeling super energetic or inspired, and more hot, open, exposed climbing was really getting me down. At one point while struggling up a hot climb, a dad coming down the hill yells out, “It’s easier going this way!!!!” 🙄 Har. Har. Har. 🖕

Before the final stretch of climb, I stopped and made myself a roadside coffee and had a snack (and some ibuprofen). I almost immediately started feeling better—which left me wondering if I had accidentally gotten decaf coffee in the morning, ha!

One AWESOME thing today was fording a creek with my bike. I changed into my sandals and hoisted my bike up, walking through knee-to-thigh-deep water. I was very disappointed no one was around to take a photo of the feat. Here’s me AFTER it:

At one point near the top, I had to decide between taking the dirt/gravel ACA route, or detouring on the highway. The map said the dirt road became impassible when wet……..and there were some ominous clouds on the horizon. However, the map also said taking the highway meant you miss some “incredible country”. I finally decided to risk the weather and take the dirt path, and I’m SO GLAD I DID.

Incredible country is right—some of the most dramatic and beautiful views I’ve seen as I descended (on a terrifyingly steep but absolutely fun dirt road) into the Colorado River Valley. Impending rainstorms just added to the drama. After a brake-screeching descent of several miles, I came into the Radium campground with clouds getting closer and sprinkles just beginning.

My best bike touring skill, I think, is arriving at camp 5 minutes before rain starts and setting up my tent in record-fast time. I threw my belongings inside just as a MASSIVE downpour began. Yesss.

When I poked my head out a few minutes later as the storm let up slightly, I saw Gaelan had arrived (soaking wet). He was just behind me and got caught in the storm. Luckily there was enough of a break in the rain for him to set up his tarp (he doesn’t use a tent, just a tarp!!). Made dinner in my vestibule and got a damp night’s sleep.

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