When route planning I know I used Google maps and satellite imagery extensively to make sure there would be no gravel roads leaving Hovenweep to get back to highway 491. Obviously the satellite images where out of date because the previously paved road had deteriorated back to gravel! ;-). We hit 5 miles of groomed/packed county maintained road. Well crap. Backtracking would have been a huge detour through Cortez so Diane troopered on after a brief stop where we went over the fundamentals of riding packed dirt. We took it nice and slow, picking the lanes that had been mostly cleared of gravel by the cars. Easy peezy though Diane didn’t think so. She did good.
Through pure serendipity of routing to avoid highways we ended up on Colorado State Highway 141, also known as the Unaweep Tabeguache Scenic Byway. What an awesome ride through a sandstone canyon, along the river. We both enjoyed that ride not only because of the amazing scenery but also the smooth road and very light traffic. Would definitely ride that again.
For camping I had selected the campground in the Colorado National Monument (Saddlehorn) which was Diane’s second challenge for the day – riding up the monument. No gradual inclines here since the monument towers over Fruita and Grand Junction. Rather it’s four miles of tight turns and switchbacks with awesome views and technical riding (Oliver) or terrifying drop offs and extremely hard 15mph switchbacks and tight turns (Diane). Diane did great again and we talked about issues and how to do things differently afterwards, a good learning opportunity which she would get to use again since we were going down the same way the next day 😮