Grand Mesa

The Grand Mesa mountain ride to remember!

This is without a doubt the toughest ride I’ve ever done. The elevation shown on the Garmin is the start elevation. But more about that, later. I decide I wanted a real challenge so I would tackle the Grand Mesa. I originally planned to camp on the Mesa and ride home the next day. But the thought of climbing that mountain with all the gear, convinced me to try to make a single day ride. It was a single day, about 15 hours of a day. The information from the web convinced me the summit is around 9700 feet. Quite a climb, no doubt.

Garmin Screen

Garmin Screen

I started the day about 7:15 rode East, up the Colorado River Gorge and Interstate Highway 70. I exited at Exit 49

Grand Mesa Turnoff

Grand Mesa Turnoff

At this point I was still excited by the prospects of riding up the Grand Mesa. Disillusion would come later. 🙂

Beginning of Grand Mesa Scenic Byway

Beginning of Grand Mesa Scenic Byway

Here’s some information about the Grand Mesa Scenic Byway. I saw these signs and my confidence grew.

Plateau Creek

Plateau Creek

The Plateau Creek runs back and forth across the road, nearly to the top. I have to cross the Plateau Valley to reach the Grand Mesa. Here is some information about the Plateau Valley.

Looking Back at Plateau Valley

Looking Back at Plateau Valley

Now the climbing has become steady. I can’t get on my bike without riding up hill. I’m in my lowest gear and I still have to stop regularly, to catch my breath and to recover momentarily from the constant climbing.

grasslands

grasslands

Even if my cardiovascular system wasn’t telling me the scenery certainly shows that we’re going uphill. Relentlessly uphill. Forever uphill.

Heading south

Heading south

And when you think you’ve had enough, more uphill.

Creek

Creek

But, the frequent stops have their advantages too. I actually got to see the countryside. And even though the forest is getting thicker, you constantly hear the creek, making it’s way down the mountain. And in hidden places, you get a glimpse of something lovely.

Acorns and Oaks

Acorns and Oaks

The colors are starting to show. Several businesses were promoting “Color Sunday”. At first I didn’t understand what “Color Sunday” meant. I guess the people from the valley flock to the mountains on the weekends to see it all. Here I tried to catch it all on a small scale.

Powderhorn

Powderhorn

It wasn’t skiing weather. But, it was certainly comfortable for me.  The lack of a breezes did cause me to suffer overheating, however. When you’re only riding 4-6 mph breezes are a much appreciated.

Forest Beauty

Forest Beauty

Stopping a lot allowed me to just look around and appreciate my surroundings. Beauty is all around us, we need only open our eyes to see.

Long distance view

Long distance view

And from time to time, I look back down the mountain and am amazed how high I have climbed.

Looking downhill

Looking downhill

And I stop, because I’m exhausted, and I see the hill I just climbed, and I understand why. The scenery is still marvelous.

Just One More

Just One More

Just one more hill to climb. The summit must be getting close. And it just keeps getting steeper. I must be having and adventure, I wish I was somewhere flat. 🙂

Lakes everywhere

Lakes everywhere

There are hundreds of lakes and ponds all over the Grand Mesa. You never know what sight you are going to see around the next corner.

Elevation 10,839

Elevation 10,839

After many hours of effort, I reach the Summit. About 6200 foot of elevation gain. Who knows how many feet of climb? I guess my Garmin knows. Later I will upload the maps, and we can all know.

Another Stone Church

Another Stone Church

I left the Grand Mesa to the south. I coasted for miles! Much of it between 25 and 35 MPH. Eventually I got back into town. I had to stop and take a picture of this stone church because it is so unique.

Here’s the saved routes from my GPS.

For some reason I can view the whole route in my GPS but I guess the file size limit somehow splits it in two for the web site.

It was a very tough ride. I had to have SAG (my dad in my car) pick me up. It will probably be a long while before I do another ride this tough. If I ride up the Grand Mesa again, I’ll ride in the opposite direction. I understand the slope from the south is a shallower grade.

I really enjoyed the ride in many ways. At moments I really hated it. I hope you enjoy my report and if you get a chance, ride the Grand Mesa. If nothing else, do what some of the people I met on the ride did, take your bike in the car and ride a little at the top. It’s beautiful and serene. And you get such a better view from a bicycle.

 

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3 comments to Grand Mesa

  • Hi there,

    I really like your ride stories! Thanks for sharing. Could you contact me about doing something for our website?

    Kind Regards
    Steve

  • No, I stopped at Grand Mesa Lodge to refuel. My 110 oz. Camelback almost never runs dry.

  • Kelly

    Neil,

    Great job! You are now officially in shape for cycling season. Riding Grand Mesa is my springtime measure of touring readiness. BTW, I stop and pant all of the time – and I have no excuses about altitude adjustment. I’m glad the wind treated you nicely – it typically blows downhill.

    Did you stop at Alexander Lodge for a snack and to refill your water?

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