Solving Quandary Peak (USA Day 60)
We’ve been in the USA for 60 days, which means that we’re exactly a third of the way into our journey. That’s an odd, exciting, slightly sad realisation, but also a great opportunity to share some stats.
So, of the 60 days in the country here’s what we’ve achieved:
Days riding: 44
Miles cycled: 2740.45 (62.28m average per day)
Feet climbed: 81,298 (1848ft average per day)
Punctures: 4 (3 for Ivan, 1 for Amy)
Crashes: 3 (2 for Ivan, 1 for Amy)
Time on bikes (days): 9.78
Average Speed (mph): 11.62
Any more vital information required, please let me know in the comments.
Today, in an effort to really rest and recuperate, we climbed a mountain. We’ve always wanted to bag one of Colorado’s famous Fourteeners (the select group of peaks above 14,000ft), so off we trotted at the crack of dawn to conquer Quandary Peak, a snow-capped delight standing at 14,265ft.
The general rule is to climb a Rocky in the morning, because around lunchtime every day the storms roll in. As we hiked through dense pine forest, there was the oddest sensation of being in a totally new environment. We didn’t recognise the flowers, the birds sung foreign songs, even the rocks looked different. While you can see so much from the saddle, this kind of quiet, slow exploration of a microclimate can only be done on foot. It’s experiences like this that make the duller days on tour in Eastern Ohio (no offense) worth it.
Above the tree line, as the air thinned and our hearts raced, we saw an awful lot of people on the enormous ridge ahead of us, and none on the path behind. Had we timed this terribly? Would we be the next in a long line of ‘stupid tourists’ who need rescuing by helicopter from a mountainside, who’re roundly ridiculed in the local paper? We were pretty nervous that our legs would now be utterly attuned to cycling and fail at hiking, but our worries were unfounded. We sped up like mountain goats, stopping only to gawp at views. Turns out, cycling almost three thousand miles is good for your legs. Who knew?
The approach to the summit was under thick snow – quite a difference from both the 45 degree heat back in Kansas and the worrisome heatwave at home. The peak was busy with hikers and their dogs (an unlikely sight at 14000 feet) and a summer camp of children, all of whom were queueing up by a secondary peak to pee behind it. They’d been up since before dawn, apparently, climbing this thing. One child had cried the entire way up. School trips are awful.
The walk back down took longer than the ascent, thanks to our oddly stiff cyclist knees. It felt twice as long, too. However, once at ground level and having hitched back into town with a car full of wedding-goers, we spent the afternoon doing laundry, patching inner tubes, skewering salmon and sweating in the downstairs sauna. By the evening, the house was buzzing with different generations of family, into which we felt entirely welcome. We played games, made S’mores (which are a whole thing and would take their own blog to deconstruct) and drunk really good whiskey. The fact that we met our hosts just a couple of days ago, and we’ll be sad to miss them, is testament to how welcoming they’ve been. It’ll be really hard to leave Breckenridge.
At least tomorrow’s downhill!