According to their welcome sign at the edge of town, Hotchkiss, our destination on Day Two, is the “Friendliest town around.” Our team thinks that on the approach to The Cliffs, our sign should read, “The Friendliest town west of the Mississippi.”
Weather-wise, it didn’t bode well that when the team took off at six this Monday morning. A 12-mile per hour headwind blew in their face, and the temperature was already 64 degrees. By afternoon, the temperature reached 94 – pretty hot for June… pretty hot for riders cycling 96 miles and climbing 7,631 feet.
Cycling in the heat from Grand Junction, to Palisade, up to Grand Mesa, on to Cedaredge, and terminating in Hotchkiss would prove arduous.
What is it with these hair-shirt riders?
Are they punishing themselves for past sins or what! Lockett Pitman says that he rides to push back Father Time. James Gearhart says that he rides to explore the world “at a slower pace.” Climbing the 10 percent grade to Grand Mesa today, those who wanted to travel in the slow lane got their wish.
Given their itinerary, the riders didn’t have time to linger in Palisade – home to the world’s sweetest, wet-chin peaches. Thanks to a grape-growing climate and artesian wells which provide extra irrigation water, Palisade is a fruit basket with wine on the side.
Like Grand Junction, Palisade has its share of wineries. If you are going to linger somewhere, Palisade would be the place. Unfortunately, the riders, driven by their goal to finish, were too hot and tired to sample the produce: it was up to support staff to sample the goods.
To the left we have Jo and Julie at Colterris Winery which according to Julie was “born from a vow of a romantic man who promised his fiancé a vineyard if she said ‘yes, to his proposal of marriage.”
My heart picks up its pace just typing this story.
Standing on Lands End, at the top of Grand Mesa, the riders could truly appreciate their 6,000 foot climb above the valley floor.
A couple of issues/problems have surfaced in the towns we have passed through. Yesterday, Brent Bruser, Mark Stamper, and Mark Dembosky- following the bright green arrows that started at a rest stop- rode several miles before they discovered that they had cycled to a garage sale. Oops!
Another thing for host towns to consider is entertainment for the children. Many husbands and wives (supporting their spouses who are riders) find the days very long. The kids are bored. Three cheers for Grand Junction the town who kept the children entertained with sidewalk chalk.
And thanks to those in Westcliffe who were behind bringing Internet to Main Street. As I try to blog from the school library in Hotchkiss, I find myself with just two small bars. I’m gnashing my teeth. You can probably hear the enamel cracking.