Happy 4th of July!
Stop holding your breath - the suspense is over. We did continue on to Rico on the evening of the 3rd, making our total for the day 121 miles. The map showed an intimidating steady uphill from Dolores to Rico, and we were all pretty tired after our 80 miles in the morning. The best way to motivate a group of hungry, tired cyclists to bike 40 uphill miles at the end of the day is, of course, to offer free food and lodging to them. Christy Baer and her family provided that motivation and more - they graciously offered their floor space despite the fact that their entire extended family was in Rico for the long weekend. Topping it off, they passed us on the road with about 14 miles left and took all of our gear! As it turned out, the 40 miles were not steep at all, and the novelty of trees, shade, and a running river next to the road inspired us to push on and arrive before dark.
You all need to meet Glen Baer, whose house was our home base in Rico. Born and raised in the same home, he gave us an absorbing history of the town, including his grandfather's attempts to mine silver in the 1800s and his own time later spent at the sulfuric acid plant. Glen is also a freemason, and arranged for us to sleep on the plush carpeting of the Mason's lodge in town. There were a few highlights of our stay in Rico: meeting the Baers, who are wonderful; homemade biscuits and gravy for breakfast; and biking in the 4th of July parade in the morning.
With our daily caloric needs met by 10 AM, we sped off after the parade and made quick work of our first Rocky Mountain pass. We're not sure if it was the gravy, our fitness, or something else, but the pass was so easy that we are convinced it was downhill the whole way.
Everything was going in our favor until we arrived in Telluride. Being the 4th of July and a long weekend, you can imagine that this resort town is stuffed full of people. All of the campgrounds are full, all of the hotels are full, and all of the clandestine campgrounds ouside of town are occupied. Randy, Christa, and Emmitt raised our spirits right away. Overhearing our plight, this generous family (husband, wife, and dog) suggested a great restaurant AND offered to pick up the bill. To give you an idea of what great people they are, Christa even said, "and don't think you have to drink water - the margaritas are excellent!". And they were, Christa, they were. Thank you Randy and Christa!
We lounged around in the town park all afternoon and then eventually made our way to he restaurant, where we encountered Stuart and his dog Millie (everyone in Telluride either has a huge cute dog or a scarlett "A" (for animal hater) emblazoned on their shirt). Stuart is the next in the long line of amazing, kind people we have met so far. An ER doc working on a nearby Navajo reservation, he is up for the weekend and offered his floor to us for both our nights in town. He also acted as tour guide, taking us to the fireworks and then a brewery afterwards. This was exciting for three reasons. First, we got to see the town. Second, last night was the first night we have stayed awake past 10 PM. Finally, Stuart is a great guy and fun to chat with.
Today is our day off and we started it off right - fresh pastries until we couldn't take it anymore. Now the food coma and tired bodies are catching up to us, so it's off to bed for a nap. Everyone is great here. We hope you are all doing well too. Tomorrow we are off for Montrose, and we hear rumors of a hot springs along the way.
All the best,
Russ, Jen, Sarah, Dan, and Alex