Today was one of the most strenuous days of riding yet. We cycled from Cañon City to Hartsel, Colorado, a distance of 57 miles with 6,000+ feet of climbing. On days like this, we prepare ourselves mentally for traveling at 3-4 mph and bring lots of food and water. After cycling for ten hours, we pulled into Hartsel (population 60) around 4:40 pm. One cool thing about Hartsel--Adventure Cycling’s Great Divide Route intersects with the TransAm route here, making for one big cyclist party! It’s not uncommon for the town café (Highline Café and Saloon) to host 7-20 cyclists overnight, allowing us to camp behind the Saloon.
Entering town, we’re looking for the library. And there is the street sign—the universal symbol of someone reading a book—pointing down a gravel road. We follow the sign to the Hartsel Community Library, a charming library in a historic 1899 building surrounded by a picket fence. John and I were disappointed to see that the library was closed on Mondays but stopped to take pictures and peek in the windows. We talked to a couple of people in town and they told us that community volunteers operate the library and that the books were donated through various sources. The library recently received a grant to update the interior and peeking through the windows, we saw a very welcoming space, decorated for the upcoming Fourth of July celebration. For a town of only 60 people, this really demonstrates Hartsel's recognition of the value of libraries.
If you are ever traveling through Central Colorado, stop in Hartsel to eat at the Highline Café and Saloon and visit their library. Bring money for a malt and maybe a few books to donate to Hartsel Community Library.