07 July 2015

Stardate 2015.515

About to descend into the Wet Mountain Valley beneath the Sangre de Cristo Range.

Day Seven RtR

Snowcatcher and I getting ready to FEAST!!!

After 7 days of riding 464 miles, our Ride the Rockies tour came to an end in delightfully quaint Westcliffe, Colorado – population 568 (2010 U.S. Census). 568 souls is not a typo. This would be Westcliffe's first time hosting RtR. The area is home to a diverse group of people including ranchers, farmers, artisans and Amish. By early afternoon, our riding carnival and support crews had exploded the population of Westcliffe by a factor of 5. The residents put on the finest post-ride celebration I have ever seen. The food court had a variety of offerings, and I believe everything was home cooked. The Amish, in particular, raised veggies specifically for this event. Moreover, the Amish home-churned 200 gallons of ice cream – no small feat. Westcliffe has upped the bar. The finish line celebration was nothing short of grand, and in a spectacular setting. Thank you, Westcliffe!

Westcliffe sits at an elevation of 7,867 feet. The town is located in the Wet Mountain Valley. To the west of Wet Mountain Valley rise the cloud-piercing Sangre de Cristo Mountains, home to ten 14,000-foot peaks. The Sangres are a long, narrow, linear range beginning south of Salida, Colorado, and ending in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In Spanish, Sangre de Cristo means Blood of Christ. To the east of Wet Mountain Valley rise the Wet Mountains and Hardscrabble Pass.

Breakfast, final day of RtR, Florence, Colorado

Snowcatcher and I left Cañon City very early to try and beat the heat before the stiff climb up to Hardscrabble Pass. At the first water stop in Florence, we enjoyed a rising sun and hotcakes.

Early a.m. final day of RtR, Florence, Colorado

The still sleeping town of Florence also is home to the Alcatraz of the Rockies – Supermax.

Florence, Colorado

I think the Florence Train Depot still is in use.

The Sangre de Cristo (Blood of Christ) Range of Colorado towers above the Wet Mountain Valley.

After a grueling 15-mile climb from Wetmore to Hardscrabble Pass, the drop into Wet Mountain Valley is only a handful of pedal strokes away. The Sangre de Cristo Range dominates the view.

Bovine in Heaven, Sangre de Cristo (Blood of Christ) Range, Colorado

Ubiquitous bovine are grazing away in cow heaven.

In Colorado, the Sangre de Cristo Range has ten 14,000-foot mountains and five 13,000-foot  centennial (100 highest) peaks.  The Sangres also house all of New Mexico's 13,000-foot peaks.

As I write this, there is a climber attempting to break the speed record for climbing all of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks. The current record of 10 days, 20 hours and 26 minutes, has stood for 14 years. He is hoping to be amongst the above peaks tomorrow, July 2nd.

Entering the hamlets of Westcliffe and Silver Cliff, Wet Mountain Valley, Sangre de Cristo Range, Colorado

The drop into Silver Cliff and Westcliffe is fast, enjoyable and scenic.

Tiny Westcliffe put on the finest finish celebration I have ever seen.  They set the bar from food to friendliness.  Everyone chipped in.  The Amish community even grew veggies specifically for this event.  They also churned out 200 gallons of homemade ice cream.  It was awesome!

By mid-afternoon, the celebration began to thin. Many riders had flights to catch in Denver, while others took buses back to Grand Junction to fetch vehicles. The celebration grounds, however, continued to have more than met the eye. Enter any of the tents and you would be immediately wide-eyed, especially in the food tent, which was packed well into the afternoon.

Throughout Westcliffe, including Silver Cliff, were bikes.  Everywhere you looked, a bike was seen.  You had to be there; especially when riding into town!

Thanks again, Westcliffe. You were awesome!

47.9 miles
4:01:46 ride time (add 0.5 hour for water breaks)
4,000 feet of elevation gain in 26 miles

Thanks for reading. This was my 5th Ride the Rockies and probably the second most difficult. My most difficult year was 2010 when the route included the Grand Mesa and a handful of passes in the San Juan Mountains. The 2010 route was almost 80 miles longer as well. Nonetheless, this year was no walk-in-the-park by any means. Westcliffe was awesome! I hope to see the residents there more often.

Blog up next? Probably the MS-150.



  1. I was so exhausted before the final day of this tour, I wasn't really excited about ever doing another one. Westcliffe and a week of good rest changed that. I hope we like the route next year, and I hope we do it again!

  2. Last night I Rode the Rockies with Snowcatcher. Tonight I'll be repeating it with you. Getting breathless already - partly from those absolutely spectacular mountain photos!

    Congratulations to both of you, and thanks so much for letting us come along. Westcliffe looks like a wonderful little town. :)


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