The Other Slickrock
Most everybody knows about or has ridden(or driven) on Utahs infamous "Slickrock" A smooth, grippy rock formation above the town of Moab sporting winding rolling routes discernible only by painted dots and arrows.
Few people know that Colorado has it's own Slickrock. The former bearing no resemblance to the latter. This is the story of my introduction to that slickrock. It occurred on day two of my buddy and I's Colorado/Utah tour in May of 2009.
Day two and I was not well.
Explaining all this and day ones adventure is necessary if I am to convey how day two unveiled for me.
Our first days ride was set back because kens bike didn't make it on the same flight as us and had to be picked up at the airport at 10 or so the next morning. This gave me a little extra rest but threw off our whole itinerary. By noon Kens bike was built,(I had built mine in the morning while Ken went to get his). By 1pm, lunch was just a memory and soon enough Grand Junction was too. (cool town by the way).
Highway 50 south took us ten miles to jtn 141 leaving about 70km to go. It was a beautifully scenic afternoon as we gradually made our ascent from 4500' to 7045'. We saw a herd of mountain goats close to the road at one point. Traffic was nearly nonexistent and the red rock walls towered around us as we made our way up out of the canyon. I tried to ignore the sinus congestion and burning chest. Normally a climb like this would've been fairly easy but I was definitely laboring.We reached the summit by 4:30 pm and after pausing to enjoy the moment, began the long,smooth, refreshing roll down to Gateway. Our days destination.
It was another rough nights sleep. I woke up feeling marginally worse if you can believe it.
We spent some time going over the map during breakfast trying to decide how best to get back on track of our itinerary. You see we had only a set number of days and a set amount of kms/day in order to conclude our proposed Grand Junction loop. It was only day two and we were already 80kms behind schedule. Where we wanted to be by days end was 250kms away with 2 alternate ways of getting there and no clear choice as to which would be the easier or shorter.
Either way, Naturita was to be our mid day destination. The Delores river flowed alongside 141 all the way to Naturita. We would follow it that far. Then we would have to decide.Exit 141 in favor of hwy 90 west, or stay riding south on 141 to Dove Creek before turning west. We didn't have any elevation profile maps to aid our decision. Both looked like a formidable amount of climbing would be involved.
On the outskirts of town we stopped for a photo op by the "welcome to Naturita" sign. Ken had his new Bacchetta recumbent on this trip and hadn't installed a kickstand yet so he wheeled up to the sign, rested his bike there and we set up a camera for the picture.
Now at this point in the story, I should point out that every ride has moments of discovery and moments that aid to reaffirm lessons already learned. Just as I knew it was silly to venture into buddies attic without a respirator but did it anyway and had my lesson reaffirmed, we knew better than to wheel our bikes off the pavement into the type of hearty brush that survives alongside the road in arid, sun parched country. (foreshadowing).