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  036 07/09/06 Sargents Howard Monarch Pass David  
another flat
climbing Monarch

Sunday July 9, 2006 49 miles - Total so far: 1,553 miles

The day dawned overcast but with no rain, so I said goodbye to Bill and Bob and left early to begin the long ascent of Monarch Pass, knowing that lotsa weekend travelers would later be heading home. It was 10 miles to the summit and a "granny gear" climb. Three hours later I reached the 11,300 foot summit, my highest elevation of the entire trip. The road was dry all the way up, but it started raining at the summit, making for a slow descent.

Then...drats...I had a second flat (rear) tire! Once again the tarp came out and all my stuff was unloaded. Fortunately, the rain stopped after half an hour and I was able to finish the job with a great view of the mountains.

On the way down I met another cyclist, Tim, a pleasant fellow from Yorkshire, who told me he had THREE flats in the last two days. In Salida, I went to a bike shop he recommended (Absolute Bikes) and had a self-sealing tube installed. The mechanics told me there are little thorns in the area that wash onto the road in rainstorms and have spikes like needles and even the "puncture resistant" tires are no match. They also rebuilt my (wobbly) rear hub and were very supportive. I highly recommend this bike shop both for the skill of the mechanics and for the adjacent coffee shop.

I would have loved to stay in Salida, which has the largest historic downtown area in all of Colorado, but I wanted to move on to Cotopaxi so I could get a fresh start on climbing my last two (Colorado) mountain passes in the morning. However, once again a thunderstorm I couldn't outrun changed my plans, and I camped in Howard for the night.

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