Slumgullion Bicycle Tour

Sara Hill

The first pass had me almost lapsing into unconsciousness, cars were honking at me because I was wobbling into the traffic lane and out of water, but at the top of the pass was good ol' smiley Ginny taking my photo as I struggled up to the summit totally defeated.” After that inauspicious start, John continues “soon the first day was history … and the rest of the tour was beyond my expectations!” Waiting in Saguache, John Cunningham, Mike Silver and Steve Fuhrmann really enjoyed hearing the tales from those of us that did not beat the afternoon rain to the motel. Steve also recalls “learning several ways to pronounce Saguache and which one the locals use.”

Day Two found us heading south through the San Luis Valley to breakfast in Del Norte before turning back west toward Creede. The scenery in southern Colorado can be quite amazing and this pathway across the various divides and passes certainly leveraged Colorado's beauty. By bike, sometimes traveling very slowly while gasping for air, all of the flowers, animals, and roadside artifacts became a real part of the journey. Skeletons of some long ago passed cow, discarded parts from all forms of machines, and even an abandoned stuffed animal duck were integral aspects of the scenery and the trip. Viewing this from a car window will never be the same again when we hearken back to smelling the air, feeling the sun, and actually being part of the environment through which we passed.

On Day Three, we followed a branch of the Rio Grande from Creede before finding our way over Slumgullion Pass. At the top, as Steve says, “take a half hour or more to enjoy the Slumgullion Stew at Slumgullion Pass. Kelly, Ginny and Jacinto put a lot of work into it--have another bowl.” After the stew, we rode down the north side into Lake City. Tom Newman followed his son, TJ, down the pass, “with gauntlet laid down and teeth clenched, even this part of the challenge was completed successfully.”

We woke up to a beautiful Day Four and followed the Lake Fork River through a peaceful valley. As usual, John C slept late, leaving Lake City at least 2 hours after the previous rider. Sara Hill recalls, “I was enjoying a wonderful coast on the downhill side of the first ‘hill’ of the day when he passed me at about 55 mph. We both stopped to chat with Ginny and re-fuel at the bottom before heading up the next ‘hill’ – Cunningham was out of sight within a few curves.” Steve Fuhrmann said it best, “John C sleeps late and still finishes first. How does he do that?”

While some chose to chase Cunningham over the passes, Wally and his wife set a steady pace, started early and finished before dark. They were not the fastest, but they rode the miles and enjoyed the scenery along the way. Marty also took his time, pedaling steadily along. After all, as Steve reminds us, “It's like the trip leaders say, ‘It isn't about speed.’”

Back in Gunnison with all 250 miles behind us, we all enjoyed a celebratory final meal. Tom Newman sums the weekend up well: “This adventure was all that such an adventure should be. It was painfully hard at times and demanded levels of exertion that I had previously not been aware I was capable of. It was joyful at times as we coasted through long descents and amazing scenery. It was memorable to associate with such diverse characters and personalities with varied backgrounds and interests. It was, in a word, unforgettable.”

John C has already signed up for Slumgullion 2011 and Mike S is planning on it. Are you up to the challenge? Will you beat Cunningham out of bed and to the next town? Or will you take your time while enjoying the ride, checking out the scenery and dipping your feet in the creek to cool off? John C throws down the gauntlet: “I hope everyone from last year comes back this year. Kelly told me she has some new out of state riders signed up already. We should have an advantage over those flat-landers, right ;^)”

There are two other bicycle tours, if you can’t make the Slumgullion Tour (July 27-30, 2011). Aspen Loop (June 22-28, 2011) or Wolf Creek Loop (August 8-4, 2011). All trips include a Welcome dinner and Celebratory dinner; some lodgings include breakfast, SAG wagon and light snacks, double occupancy lodging (including the night before the tour). With a 20 rider limit, the group is small enough to be on first name basis, and we can eat dinner together nightly! Join Kelly and Jacinto for a respite from real life on these lightly traveled mountain roads!

Register soon as space is filling up. And don’t forget that CSCC members get a 15% discount (up to one month before the trip). Visit the website at for costs and registration information. Kelly can also be reached at 970-618-2880 or

Bent Fork Chronicles - Vol 4 Issue 1, 1 February 2011

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