I have passed the continental divide ! And reached Salida from Montrose in two days instead of four 🙂 I’m not exactly halfway through my trip but it feels like I passed a really big milestone.
Really big is the word : at 11,300 feet / 3.400m, Monarch pass is the highest point of the whole journey. It’s not the biggest climb though, as it’s “only” 2,500 feet / 750m from the bottom at Sargents. Still, it’s a mighty climb.
I initially planned to stop over at Sargents, but the wind was still in my favor. I went through the valley and reached the place in 2,5 hours, which was very good. I made a quick stop to drink and eat a chocolate bar and have a chat with a guy from Dallas 🙂 And then I started the climb.
The road is in good shape all the way, wide enough, and although there was a lot of clouds and a bit of wind, it wasn’t too cold. The whole area is a huge pine forest in all directions. I was making good time, and reached the top in just over 2 hours, which was also very good. It was not even 2pm. There is a small shop / restaurant where I had a quick lunch. I was at the highest point !
The way down was of course much faster 🙂 And also kinda more dangerous, with more wind, one lane instead of two, and a lot colder ! I knew the temperature would increase going down, still, I was shaking a lot. I was in Salida in only one hour. On the other side of the continent !
And an unexpected bonus ! After two months in the US, I finally met met a real, honest to god knucklehead ! Here’s what happened. I was getting close to the shop and stopped to talk to a woman there. After less than two minutes, a woman comes from the shop and says bikes are not allowed near the entrance.
– Sure, I saw the sign. I’m looking for a place to lock my bike, where can I do that ?
– Not on the walkway.
– Thank you. You ought to install some guard rails to lock bikes around, there’s nothing around.
– Sure, we see hundreds of bikes every day.
– You’re on the western express, maybe you don’t know that. Bikes get through here often.
I’m so happy I finally met a bossy, stupid, self-centered person ! I was starting to develop a massive humility complex. All the Americans I’ve met up to now were so nice, friendly, welcoming, and also calm, open, engaging. And in business, really professional ! Even in post offices. In France this is where optimism goes to die. Here they take all the time to process my special requests, everyone waits patiently in line, and the whole process goes fast. All of this is in stark contrast to the arrogant, selfish, cold, sarcastic, aggressive French I’m used to (and no, this is not limited to Paris). It’s also true in the rest of Europe, but to a lesser degree : we French really get the gold medal. Go France !
All in all, a really good day for achievements ! 🙂