We woke in our tent at Royal Gorge campsite, which had been swaying too and frow all night forcing Robin to get out and check at one point during the night if the tree we had pitched under was about the fall down on top of us due to the force of the winds! Luckily, we didn't blow away!
Royal Gorge to Fairplay was the start of the climbing to our 11,500 ft highest point in the trip at the Rocky mountains. There was a fair amount of uphill to cycle on this 66 mile day which meant that the day was a little longer than usual but I tend to always expect the worst and am then presently surprised! It was a beautiful day; fairly cool with stunning views of the mountains and lots of wildlife to spot-we saw dear, chipmunks, bison but no bears yet! However the weather took a turn for the worst and we got caught in a thunder/hail storm about 12 miles from Fairplay. We managed to take shelter (well as best we could) at the side of an old abandoned house until it eased off and then just went for it, arriving very cold and wet! The town of Fairplay is at approximatey 9,500 ft and is home to the best hat shop ever where they custom make traditional cowboy hats out of any material you wish-Robin was planning on a custom made hat for my birthday until he found out they cost around $500 each! Maybe not. Fairplay also has the town of South Park; remember the cartoon type comedy series?!
We began today with a little lie in not getting up until 6.30am for 2 reasons; our motel in Breckinridge would not be available until 1pm anyway and today's ride was only 23 miles. After a 7am breakfast, we layered up in our winter warmers; today was going to be around 3 degrees celcius and probably colder the higher we get. It was nice not to have to deal with the heat for a change and I enjoyed the fresh, cool air on the climb up. As we were already at 9,500 ft today, we only had another 2000ft to climb to reach the summit so within the first 10 miles, we were there. The hills generally have a steady gradient but go on for miles which is far less tiring than what we encountered in the Apalachians and Missouri. However, we did not have to deal with any kind of altitude there like we have here. It did not effect anyone greatly but both Robin and I found that we felt generally like we had less energy and it sometimes felt more difficult to get enough air; similar to when you are gasping for breath after sprinting or something, although you shouldn't have been as the gradient was not high. Today was a great day and very enjoyable, nothing to have been too concerned about and we all waited at the summit until everyone arrived so we could have a group photo! The summit is also the Continental Divide; the watershed ridge whereby rainfall either drops into the Atlantic on one side or the Pacific on the other, much to Robin's amusement!
We're waiting for a way to upload our photos, so in the meantime, here's a couple from other people of what we've been seeing!
We are currently in Breckinridge Library. It is a lovely sk
iing resort town; which seems to be just as busy in summer months. We can see snow on the tops of the mountains and the temperature is very cool to cold (feels more like home!). We are about to go exploring the town, which seems to have lots of various shops/cafes before heading to our lodgings (indoor for 2 nights as its rest day tomorrow!).