Thursday, 21 June 2012

Guffey, CO

Rt 76 sign reappears as US 50 closes
This morning was cool and cloudy. I wore a wind jacket on top of my cycling jersey. The route started on US 50 and began to climb straight away. It took me an hour and ten minutes to reach the Royal Gorge commercial area. Here the Trail turned off to the right on Route 9 heading north-west. US 50 was closed beyond this point due to a wildfire and all its traffic was diverted along Route 9 with me.

Although the day's ride was only 51 km, I found it hard. There were occasional flat and even downhill sections but mostly it was uphill, sometimes steeply, sometimes more gradually. I used lower gears than I would have done on comparable slopes earlier in the ride. I stopped frequently to regain my breath. I think the explanation lies in the rising elevation and the thinning air. At Guffey, two km off the route, I am 2,639 m above sea level, more than a km higher than Cañon City. I hope the overnight stop I am making here will help my body adapt to the altitude.

Guffey is the most unusual staging point on the TransAm Trail. It is quirky, not to say eccentric. I am staying in the most luxurious of the Rustic Cabins, the only one with electricity. Like the others it has no running water. There is a shower room a few steps away and an 'outhouse' (dunny). My cabin contains a book on Colorado outhouses, an illustrated survey of the field. Three of the 200 pages are devoted to outhouses at Guffey.

Charlie with Arnie outside the Guffey Garage
The place has been run by a character called Bill since the Bikecentennial in 1976. He is away today and I was shown around by his colleague Charlie, whose base is the Guffey Garage. The Garage and the nearby City Hall contain an extraordinary collection of curiosities. Outside, there is an eclectic collection of hand-built shacks in the midst of broken-down cars, abandoned bath tubs, old bedsteads, wheelbarrows, and bizarre sculptures, which often make use of skeletons.

Although Guffey appears to have a tiny population, it supports a school, library, post office, and three places that serve meals. I had lunch at Rita's Place and dinner at the Bull Moose. The Freshwater Saloon is closed today. At the Bull Moose, I met Tony and Linda, who have driven up here for dinner from their home in Cañon City and will drive home afterwards. Rita sells single bagels to take away, which has enabled me to provide for my breakfast tomorrow without having to wait for her cafe to open.

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