Southwest Day 16: Mesa Verde to Durango

September 8, 2021. 52 miles, 2800 ft of climbing.

Today was moderately uneventful, and was my last day of biking on part 1 of the trip. Someone stole my external battery while I was charging it (boo, but that’s why I leave that and not my phone) so I stopped by the laundry building to charge up my phone before leaving in the morning. I went on some errands once I got to Durango to get a new battery.

I enjoyed the downhill out of Mesa Verde, but then it was back to fairly empty (and not terribly interesting) desert. Going through the desert was less oppressive in the morning than in the afternoon, and the most exciting bit was going throigh Mancos with some fancy cut-out signs.

The scenery gradually shifted back toward Colorado mountain forests, which was nice in that it meant occasional shade to take breaks in.

Today had moderate elevation gain, but unlike many previous days it was a sequence of smaller ups and downs. In a lot of ways that’s nicer, but it’s harder to keep track of whether you’ve gotten to the last one. I kept seeing signs about the climbing lane ending. And then reappearing. And ending. Again.

Eventually I also got the “downhill next N miles” signs, and it was a smooth ride downhill all the way into Durango.

I got into town far before the hotel check-in time. I’ve been doing much shorter days this tour than in the past, and this idea of being done in early afternoon is pretty weird. I suppose I could push harder. But it’s also kind of nice to not have to worry about getting somewhere before dark. And knowing that I have time to find alternative accomodations if my plans don’t work out. Or maybe I’m just getting lazy.

In any case, Durango has a great bike path along the river. I went down it toward my hotel until I found a bench and hung out there for a while unil I decided it was close enough to hotel check-in time that I could see if the room was ready.

On the last stretch to the hotel I was passed by the one of the tourist trains (tomorrow’s plan!) and then biked though the “botanic garden”, which is a planted area around the library. It wasn’t large, but it was cute.

It turned out that my room was ready. The person checking me in commented that it must have been the last room available because it was a suite with two kings for just one person. I had forgotten that, but he was right. It was also cheaper than a lot of the other options in town. In any case, I ended up with a very spacious room for the next couple nights.

After unloading the bike a bit, I biked the 5 miles to the other end of the bike trail to do some grocery and battery shopping. It’s a nice trail, and well used. Lots of river views, sections with touristy shops, sections without much of anything, sections with kids on dirt bikes in the adjacent bike park, and eventually a strip mall. It was still nice to get back to the hotel, take a shower, and lounge about in my superfluous space with cold iced tea and non-dehydrated food.

Bronwyn Woods