It was a shock this morning to wake up to a completely dry tent, inside and out, with no frosting on the top (a cake reference in the first sentence, you know this is going to be a good blog post). As this was the first mild night in weeks, it did not take very much time to get all of our things together, leaving the Steamboat Springs KOA campground by 8.00. KOA are a huge chain of campgrounds throughout the US based mainly in the larger towns, they are quite expensive to use for just a tent but generally clean with full facilities.
We rode through downtown Steamboat Springs, considering it was early on a sunday morning there was an awful lot of traffic, I cannot guess where they were all going. Well in fact I could guess: to get a coffee, to go to church, to take their dog for a drive to name but three possibilities.
Shortly after downtown we met up with a cycleway (who seemed nice but a little pushy) along the Yampa River, following it for a couple of miles. When this stopped we went on to the road, which was nicely paved (I have become quite the connoisseur of road surfaces now, it is quite sad really). This zig zagged around a bit passing over the river and the railway, one bridge was particularly nice, it looks like metal but is actually a fully wooden construction.
The houses are all very large and exclusive, there are lots of monied people living in Steamboat Springs and it’s environs.
For the first time in a while there were several other cyclists on the road, all with their lightweight racing bikes though. Including a large group from a local cycling club.
Following the road, passing a lovely lakeside development, at Catamount Lake (unsurprisingly). We continued down this until the pavement ended and the track started, we had now cycled 18 miles so far.
The track was quite sandy, you could see this was the reason for the sign stating that the track was not passable in wet conditions. No sign of rain today though, just the opposite it was warming up nicely.
Said track followed a narrow valley with the Yampa River gurgling down it’s middle (similar to the mexican rice with bacon bits now gurgling down my middle). Cycling upstream we were constantly gaining height. The river had attracted a lot of fly fisherman (and it was sunday of course), the river is well stocked and operates on a catch and release basis.
Height gaining continued with one rather steep section and we were at the reservoir. It is a large man made one, part of a hydro electric scheme (800 Mw). We walked across the dam then followed a nice single track around the waters edge.
It was desperately warm by now, in fact the warmest it has been for a couple of weeks (some people are never happy, too hot or too cold or too windy or windy the wrong way), but the bonus was the breeze was picking up. The ascent now started, 4 miles of steady uphill which would take us to 8000 ft. There was much puffing and blowing on this section.
Just one last part to go now to reach the intersection of County Road 16 and Morrison Divide Trail 1174. This was very badly washboarded, if you imagine an old fashioned washboard this is the surface of the track, lots of mini waves and very difficult to ride on other than slowly (which coincidentally happens to be the speed we ride at). A final up and we were there, although we did stop for a water refil at a stream.
Arriving at the top there were several hunters caravans parked up so we pitched our tent across the way from them in a nice spot with good views. It does seem a popular place so it is unlikely to be a quiet night.