Parlin to Salida, Colorado?

Day 29

53 Miles

Today was spent exclusively on highway 50 all the way to Salida.

With a mammoth task of climbing to 11,312ft @ Monarch Pass. This was slightly, well maybe more than slightly daunting because the hard shoulder was on the edge of the pass much of the way.

Before reaching the beginning of the climb we cycled around 20 miles rolling up a few hills but the roads were mostly flat.

We ? cycled to Sargent passsing fields with horses, cows and prairie dogs. These are my favourite because they pop up out of holes in the ground, make some kind of noise, stand up on their back legs like meerkats and then disappear again. The words out that farmers don’t like prairie dogs because they dig underground making complex tunnels and destroy their land, but how could you possibly not like these little guys. They are too cute!

They are a type of ground squirrel.

Back to the ride..

We climbed steadily and carefully up towards Monarch Pass, the elevation was steep and the traffic on the way up to the Summit was heavy at times. The temperature was cooler the higher we went and the views were even more amazing. This is when I say I’m a little scared of heights. Most cars took care not to drive too close to my bike but with some I felt a strong breeze as they whizzed past.

The drop on my right ? was sheer and with the gravel it was easy to loose traction, this made me a little anxious. So mostly I had to try and forget the elevation and concentrate on cycling carefully,continually checking my mirror for traffic and staying close to Andy and Mike. I later found out they both felt the same way that I did.

After two hours we made the summit and felt proud of ourselves because of what we had achieved. A couple of weeks ago we probably would have found the climb harder but we are becoming cycling fitter. See below.

As a reward we enjoyed a rest at the summits cafe. Some high calorie fudge made with chocolate, pecan nuts and armeretto. Just what Tracey ordered, with some good company I was feeling back on form again.

The descent was equally nailbitingly scary due to 8% gradient and Mike pointing out that in places there were no guardrails, and the hard shoulder was missing or very tight. So, not unusual to say I was relieved to get to the bottom and loosen my grip on the handle bars. Phew!
My view today.

We continued cycling until we made it to Salida. You could actually feel the temperature change because it was so dramatically hotter @ 7000ft, compared to being cooler at 11000ft. My legs and arms felt the burn!

We arrived in Salida around 1600hrs and decided to stay and take our feet off the paddles. This was a good decision because if we had of gone onto Swissvale, Wellsville or Howard there wouldnt have been any services and Salida had everything we needed.

We found a motel and plan an early night ready for tomorrow, with a possible 97miles to Pueblo.


  1. Yeah!! You reach the side of the nation from the divide, where all waters head east. Good luck with the wind and the flat terrain you face in a few days time. Incidentally, the rancher don’t like prairie dogs because cattle trip in the holes they make. They support a whole ecosystem, so they are very important.

  2. All this talk of squirrels reminds me ! Don’t forget to keep checking the nuts on the pannier racks to ensure not shaking loose with all those vibrations. You’re looking after Wiggo and Daisy and hope they keep on looking after you!
    What do you get if you cross a squirrel with an elephant? A squirrel that never forgets where it hid its nuts.

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