Days 58 and 59: Salida to Sargents, then to Gunnison

Yesterday morning, Zack made some delicious burritos. They were the best I’ve had on this trip. He even gave me a second one for the trip. What a great guy!

Zack made some awesome burritos

After saying goodbye to Zack and Robin, I rode out of town on a bike trail that went along the road. After merging onto highway 50, I started to go uphill ever so slightly. As I continued riding the road became steeper. I was taking a rest break on the side of the road when a car stopped. The driver’s name is Tony and he asked me if I know about Warmshowers. I said I’m a member. He told me he is a host on there and I should contact him when I get to Montrose, which is my stop after Gunnison. I thanked him and thought to myself, “how lucky am I?”

The beautiful road up a hill

I continued my climb up the hill. There were many 18 wheelers, RVs, motorcycles, and cars with bicycles on them. There must be many outdoorsy people living around here.

I stopped by a lodge about 6 miles away from the summit hoping to rest. The cafe only sold drinks so I bought a Gatorade. I finished eating the second burrito and finished the drink. I saved the bottle and refilled it with water. Now I have a total of 116 ounces of water, or about 3.4 liters. When I was putting on some sunblock, a lady named Patti chatted with me. She drove from Pennsylvania to here so she can spend some time with her son. She was a great lady to talk to. Soon, her son and his girlfriend showed up. As they were getting prepared, I headed up the hill again.

The hill was too steep for me to ride, so I walked most of the 6 miles to the Monarch Pass summit. A kind young man stopped his car and asked if I needed anything, such as water. I told him I have enough water, but thanks anyway. What a nice stranger!

When I saw the gift shop and restaurant at the top I was so glad. I had two hot dogs, some ice cream, and a bar of fudge for lunch. After my rest, I decided to head to Gunnison to visit one of the bike shops there since I noticed I had put the back tire the wrong way, with the treads facing the wrong direction.

Restaurant and gift shop at the top of Monarch Pass

The downhill was a 6 degree decline and I was going between 28 to 35 mph without breaking. The view was spectacular! I tried to stop my bike for a picture but my speed was too fast, so I simply enjoyed the scenery and tried not to crash. A semi truck almost hit me as he passed and merged back too quickly. He missed me by about a foot. That downhill was about 10 miles, all the way to Sargents.

There was a restaurant and shop, along with a gas station in Sargents. I was debating whether I should stop or not then I saw three loaded bicycles parked there, so I stopped. I met Martin, Greg, and Molly. Martin is an Australian going east from San Francisco to New York City. Greg and Molly are doing the Great Divide mountain bike trail up north to Canada. I ordered a fruit cup and chatted with them for awhile.

Molly and Greg

Martin is staying in the RV park in Sargents for the night. I decided to do the same even though I’ve only ridden 33 miles or so for the day.

After Greg and Molly left, I chatted with Martin quite a bit. Martin is retired. He was a postman for 25 years. He told me about his one third rule about personal finance: save one third of your income, use one third for expenses, and spend one third on yourself. I would also add investing. Martin liked his job because it was stable, much different than today’s thinking of frequently changing jobs.

Martin also helped me change my back tire so the treads are facing the right way. He taught me to put the chain on the smallest gear when taking out the wheel, then shift to the largest gear when putting the wheel back on. He also said to use the least amount of tools to fix the bike, so that the bike won’t be damaged. My handlebar was also incorrectly aligned since my bike fell over when I was fixing the flat tire. Martin tried to help me but we couldn’t get the handset to be tight. I decided when I get to Gunnison I will visit a bike shop to have the mechanic check it out.

We talked more about politics, specifically immigration. Martin disliked foreigners who came to Australia just to be on the system and never learn English. I feel the American immigration system is messed up already since the authorities, such as ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), split up families who try so hard to become good citizens. There should be a better way for illegal immigrants, who are in the US for many years, to become citizens and pay taxes. Meanwhile, there should be better ways to stop illegal immigrants, but a border wall is definitely not the answer.

I treated Martin to dinner at the only restaurant in town since he helped me with the tire. After dinner, I spent about $13 for a camp site at the RV park in the back of the restaurant. We set up our tents and I soon went to bed since I didn’t have internet to write my blog post for the day.

Martin, starting the day

This morning, I woke up because the night before was cold. After packing up my bike I hung out in the laundry room inside the restaurant to keep warm, and to wait for the restaurant to open at 7 AM. Martin stayed with me until 7 then he rode east, climbing the hill that I came down the day before. I ate a big breakfast burger, along with come coffee, inside the restaurant.

I rode a little over two hours nonstop and arrived in Gunnison around 10 AM. I had an iced caramel macchiato at the McDonald’s in town then rode to Tomichi Cycles bike shop. The lady there fixed the headset issue and didn’t charge me. She’s such a wonderful person! I talked with Jackson, the 20 year old clerk in the bike shop, about my trip so far. I encouraged him to do it in the future.

There are a total of five bike shops in Gunnison. The second one I went to was Double Shot Cyclery, a cafe and a bike shop. The bike mechanic there fixed my front wheel because the break pad was touching the rim. He also didn’t charge me. People are just so kind!

I decided to stay in Gunnison because it looked like a nice town. I dropped off my things at the only hostel in town, the Wanderlust Hostel, then I decided to get lunch at Sherpa Cafe. I had a Tibetan noodles dish. I thought it would be something exotic but it was just normal noodles. Then I decided to visit the other bike shops trying to find a good portable bike pump.

Tibetan noodles that tasted like lo mein

Jordan, of the OFP Wheels, showed me a pump by Crank Brothers that was promising, but it didn’t have the right valve for the CO2 canister. I guess I’ll just keep the one I brought. The other shops didn’t have much for touring bikes, either.

On the way out of the mall where the OFP bike shop is I saw a cannabis dispensary across the street. Since I didn’t go to the one I saw coming into Salida so I decided to check this one out. Recreational weed is legal in Colorado. I debated with myself whether to buy a joint since I have never bought marijuana before, legally or illegally. I don’t think I’m doing anything wrong and it’s all part of the adventure, so I ended up buying a small joint for $7.

Legal weed

When I got on my bike to ride I immediately fell over and bruised my left knee. The girl next to me said, “you didn’t even smoke yet.” I started cracking up. I had forgotten to unlock my bike. I’m such an idiot.

After I got back to the hostel I laid down on my bunk bed and listened to some music. After taking a shower, I hung out with John and Alex in the backyard. John works in the hostel and Alex is a guest. We talked for a bit and John let me take a drag of his pipe. I haven’t smoked in a long time and I’m not a frequent smoker, so I think I did it wrong and didn’t inhale much.

After chatting with them, I decided to get dinner at Double Dragon, a Chinese restaurant nearby. The double cooked pork was too much but I ate the whole thing anyway. Now, I’m back at the hostel. Tomorrow I have to ride over 65 miles to Montrose, going up two hills. I hope my left knee stops hurting by tomorrow morning.