Day 51: July 23: Mc Clure Pass to Carbondale

It took a while for my stuff to dry out, since the humidity was about 100%. But with the rain stopped and after a full night's sleep, I was feeling much better than last night. I had my usual coffee and whatever I could stomach to eat (I think raisin bran with water and some dried figs). Soon I was back on the road, my damp tent and clothing packed away in plastic bags.

The first couple of miles were the rest of the climb up Mc Clure Pass. I rested at the top of the pass, because I had seen another touring cyclist in my rear-view mirror.

Soon I was joined by three loaded bike tourists. They were from Sacramento CA, and were on a two week, 600-mile loop trip around western Colorado. We talked for a while. They envied my open-ended schedule, I envied their (relatively) lightly loaded bikes.

The downhill side of Mc Clure Pass was steeper -- perhaps 8% or so for a couple of miles -- and curvy. Unfortunately, the road department had recently covered it with loose, fine gravel. In some places (like on top of the shoulder), the gravel was three inches thick, which would have been disastrous for me with my lightly-loaded front wheel. So I stayed in the wheel tracks made by the cars when I could see them, and gritted my teeth and prepared for the worst when I couldn't see them. Finally I made it down the pass safely, and began a 5% or so downhill run for about 20 more miles along the Crystal River. Because of the steepness of the river's course, I got to see many small rapids as I rode along at 14 mph or so.

I got into Carbondale at about 1:30, hungry for lunch. I stopped in a little taqueria (my first decent Mexican food this trip), and had a burrito, which I covered with the house hot sauce. I found out that there was no camping in town, as I'd hoped, with the nearest place to camp being an RV park which was back the way I'd come about 5 miles. So I rode back there, not wanting to have nowhere to stay, and paid for 3 nights. It was a good thing that I found a place to stay early, as I got the last tent site at the park. That taken care of, I decided to go back in town and do my laundry and enjoy the first night of the Fair.

As I was finishing folding my laundry, the power went off. I thought nothing of it, and went on to the fair. But I found that the power outage was caused by a transformer blowing out, and that most of the town was without electricity. Both of the scheduled acts wanted to use the PA system for their music, and so were waiting for the power to come back on, or for other arrangements to be made. Finally, someone hooked up a generator to one of the band's amplifiers, and the show was able to go on. The band The Floodplain Gang, a "new grass" band, got the people up and dancing enthusiastically despite the distorted sound coming from the speakers. I even danced some, not caring what it would do to my knees.

I had a "Naan Burrito" from one of the Fair's many food booths. This was a piece of fresh Naan bread (made in a portable, coal-fired oven), wrapped around some rice and curry. It had a healthy amount of hot peppers in it, which I was glad to eat.

I made my way out of the still-dark town using my headlights, and enjoyed the ride back to camp. Unfortunately, I'd forgotten that my diet for the last six weeks has been pretty bland: camp food and American restaurant fare. My lunch and dinner, both heavily chili-seasoned, were assaulting my stomach. I kept waking up with stomach pains, so I didn't sleep too well.