On the Road: The long road to Hotchkiss | AspenTimes.com

On the Road: The long road to Hotchkiss

Bob Ward

My intent was only to ride my bicycle to a bluegrass festival in Hotchkiss, and thus get some exercise on a day when I might otherwise have simply listened to music and consumed beer in the shade.

I accomplished that ” getting some exercise before drinking beer, that is ” but in the process I also rode the full length of Highway 133, a milestone I hadn’t even considered. Actually, Highway 133 plus a few extra miles from Basalt to Carbondale.

I woke up at home Sunday morning feeling like I needed two more hours of sleep, but there was no time to dally. I wanted to ride while it was cool. I was on my bike shortly after 7 a.m., headed downvalley. It was a still, windless June morning, and I was so happy to be on my bike that I hardly noticed the exertion until one of my water bottles ran dry in Redstone. A quick pit stop at Redstone Park, and I was back on the road, fully loaded.

I stripped off the arm- and leg-warmers at the base of McClure Pass and found myself at the apex of the ride before 9:30. Inhaled a Clif Bar and tucked for the long descent to Paonia Reservoir. By that time, of course, it was getting warm in the North Fork Valley and, during a quick roadside pee break, I was half-tempted to jump in the muddy reservoir to cool off.

But it’s always cooler when you get moving again, so I pressed on, moving gradually downhill through the mining town of Somerset, where a freight train several miles long was being loaded with coal. Near the fruit orchards of Paonia, my wife and kids passed me in the minivan. At the next turnout, they were waiting with leftover waffles and bacon, which I wolfed down without even leaving a tooth mark.

The last eight or so miles from Paonia to Hotchkiss, where Highway 133 ends (or begins, depending on your direction of travel), were probably the hardest. My legs felt fine, but my hind end was killing me. After four or five hours on a bike, it’s just a given that my ass is sore. In fact I was so distracted by my aching ass that I rode straight into the dirt parking lot at the Delta County Fairgrounds and immediately flattened both tires on goathead burs.

Oh, well. I’d ridden the length of 133 and I spent the rest of the day lounging in the shade, listening to guitars, mandolins and fiddles. Next up ” the length of 82!

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