I was out of my tent early, as I wanted to hike down into the Black Canyon a bit…not too far, but enough to get a flavor of the area. I took the trail through some trees and bushes and then all of the sudden — Bam! — I saw everything. I mean, it was so dramatic…a seriously huge gorge-like canyon just below my feet, with the Gunnison River ripping through it. Way far at the bottom, I could faintly hear the rushing water. It truly was a sight to behold. I took a few pics, trying not to get too much interference from the morning sun. I’m so glad I took this hike. When I returned to the camp site, Matt was breaking down his gear and loading the car. I joined in the effort and dismantled my tent and other gear. There was still an awkward feeling, some tension I felt with Matt, from his announcement yesterday that he was going to quit the project. Now I would have to interrupt my journey and begin looking for a new videographer. But this might be a good thing too.
Today I have a 70-mile bike ride eastward (always going eastward 🙂 to Gunnison, CO. There was one moderate mountain pass, and then one steep pass, that would require me to really work my legs. I’m in such great freaking shape now…it’s amazing how the body over time just adapts to physical challenges. It’s such an impressive machine, and it now takes a big effort for me to breathe hard, for my lungs to really feel challenged. Therefore, I’m feeling very confident (especially after the 125 mile day!) that I’ll be able to handle these climbs.
Have you ever been to the Highlands of Scotland? Such beatiful rolling green mountains adorned with purple heather and other assorted flowers, creating a magical visionary experience. Anyway, as I rode along the highway, I entered an area called Blue Mesa that truly reminded my of the Scottish Highlands, as there were the exact same rolling green hills, a lake, and a variety of flower fields that created a nice floral montage at the base of the hills. I had to stop at various points and take some pics.
I rolled into Gunnison around 4pm and looked for a place to charge my phone. Funny enough, I came upon Gunnison Brewery. I say that because I had called them a few weeks prior and told them what I was doing — biking for beer (and charity), and they were selected as one of the brewpubs that I would be visiting along the way. The woman I spoke to (Nicole) said — and this is a quote: “We don’t do it that way.” Huh? What do you mean by that? I’m just riding across the country promoting the craft beer industry. All…and I mean ALL of the other brewpubs had been excited to partner up for a visit. It was both bizarre and rude at the same time. But hey I gotta go inside and check out the place that told me “we don’t do it that way.” So I was immediately greeted by the very nice Kristen, working the bar. I said hello and told her who I was and that I just had a desire to check out the place where I was pretty much turned away on the phone. Then I met Jefferson, who was cooking near the bar… also a super nice guy. Finally I met Kevin, the Brewmaster, one of the coolest dudes I’ve met on this entire journey. He offered me a free beer and told me about his background in brewing and how passionate he is as the brewer at Gunnison. He asked if I could stop by next year. If *you* answer the phone next time I call, then count on it Kevin!
My phone was charged, I called Matt and found the motel where we would be staying. I dropped off my bike, then went to Wal Mart to purchase an external hardrive so I could store all of the raw footage from Matt, before he went home. Afterward, I went to a local restaurant called Twisted Fork, a really hip, and tasty eatery on the Main street. I ate at the bar and spoke to a couple younger guys who worked at another restaurant, but loved making stops here. One of them Todd, was a really cool dude who loved to fish, as he told me about his successful fishing that day. Then I shared what I was doing and where I was going the next day. “You’re going to Salida? Oh man.” (he shook his head) “You have an incredibly difficult mountain to climb called Monarch Pass. It’s 9 miles of steep upgrade and you’ll climb from 7,000ft to 11,300 ft during that stretch.” Scheisser!!! Arghh!! Man, I didn’t want to hear that. Then Todd’s buddy showed up and Todd told him what I was doing and he shook his head sideways too…”Dude, Monarch Pass…that’ll be tough.” Finally Todd’s boss showed up. Her name was Heidy Magnus….such a fun, funny, and positive woman. She told me I needed to stop at her restaurant, The Firebrand, in the morning to get carbed up for the ride over Monarch Pass. I laughed and said I’d see her in the morning!