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Related Photos The Saratoga, WY to Pueblo, CO Stage (via Highways 130, 230, 125, 14, 40, 9, 50, 115, 67 and 96) Back
August 6, 2004
After a bit more work on our journal, we were able to bike out of Saratoga by mid morning. Today, we expected to do a bit of climbing with an overall increase in elevation of about 1,200 ft. We were already at 7,000 ft elevation, so another thousand feet shouldn’t be too big of deal. Continuing on Highway 130 south of Saratoga, we saw a number of large ranches along the road. The region appeared to be somewhat dry with lots of sagebrush. We also saw some irrigated alfalfa fields. Horses were very much in the scene as one sign along the highway stated, “Zoned Residential – Horses O.K.”
After eight miles, Highway 130 turned to the east. Our route had us going straight (south) onto Highway 230. The road had a nice, smooth shoulder. This was in contrast to the rough shoulder we saw north of Saratoga (where we had the two flats). Our legs were pretty well rested, but because of the climbing, our speed ranged from seven to nine mph for the first 15 miles. The new tires were holding up well as the last time we started out with both tires new was in Dawson Creek, Alberta.
Having had quite a workout over 18 miles, we stopped at the Bear Trap Cafe in Riverside, WY. We figured that we better have a pretty hardy lunch as there would be no more services for 48 miles. The cafe operator must have been a Minnesota Vikings fan as a very prominent Vikings sign hung out in front of the cafe. While enjoying our lunch, a lady was studying over our tandem in a fairly thorough manner. She asked us about the extent of our trip and the type of gear we were carrying. After learning about the scope of our adventure, she took her boys over to our tandem to explain the bikes features as it related to touring. We also met a man who was cycling the TransAmerica in daily segments of 50 miles while his wife providing vehicle support.
Leaving Riverside, we were now heading east with a gradual climb. We soon crossed over the Encampment River where a startled deer stared at us and then dashed into the woods. Down the road, a couple of horses were poking their heads into an old shack which was an interesting sight. After several miles, the road turned back to the south as we continued to see several ranches. There were also some large fields of wheat which had already been harvested. After passing the wheat fields, a two mile climb awaited. It wasn’t going to be a difficult climb but the fact that we could see this elevating stretch of highway for miles away gave us too much time to think about it. Once at the top, we saw a long, winding road ahead and lots of sagebrush.
A thundershower was building north of us. We had been keeping an eye on it and noticed some more rain clouds appearing directly to the west. We pedaled on, hoping to miss the approaching rain. The sun was still shining so we thought that was in our favor. In this sunny setting, huge rain drops began to fall. The drops were few and far between but were so big that they really made a loud splat on our helmets. Before long, our tanned arms were covered with wet spots that were the size of quarters. We looked around; where was the cloud? We had been watching the north and west so intently that we ignored this little cloud coming in from the east! After a couple of minutes of huge rain drops, the moisture then fell in a steady rain so we stopped to put on our rain jackets. Thankfully, it was a brief shower that stopped after two miles. It was amazing how much one little cloud could dump on us.
As we were being chased by the north thunderstorm, we reached the Colorado state border. We were leaving the horse country of Wyoming. Would we see any more horses? With the border crossing came a new highway number. On Highway 125, we could definitely see a change in the road as it was narrower and the shoulder abruptly disappeared. We continued to see ranches along the road. The ranches had the usual, decorative gate signs marking their entry. Just as prominent were the “No Trespassing” signs.
Not far into Colorado, we reached a series of climbs. A one mile climb just past the Platte River was protected from the wind. Before long, we realized that we had reached mosquito alley. Randall swerved as he swatted the pesky insects off of his arms. Since swatting while steering was not very safe, we stopped and applied repellant as quickly as possible. This neighborhood of mosquitoes soon became very memorable as they continued to attack us, going right through our clothes. Yikes! Our four to five mph speed up the hill was not fast enough to elude them (we needed to go at least 8 mph). They were very small mosquitoes but left a big, irritating itch. We had never been so motivated to get up a hill! Fortunately, once we got to the top of the hill and out into the wind again, the mosquitoes diminished.
After about a mile of downhill, we reached the small settlement of Cowdrey, CO. Since there were no services there, we biked right through without stopping. As we biked the final nine miles to Walden, CO, we enjoyed the mountain views to the east, west and south. To the north, the thunderstorm was still behind us, but not threatening. We had one long, four mile climb before reaching Walden. This area must get a lot of drifting snow as there was a snow fence to help keep the drifts off the road.
When we called to reserve a motel room in Walden, the operator told us that the only grocery store in the area was on top of the hill, north of town. We were appreciative that she pointed that out. We had plenty of food, but stopped for bottled drinks before coasting into town. As evident from their advertising sign, the Round Up Motel welcomed bikers and cyclists. They reserved us a room large enough to hold our tandem and gear. They had fans available if we needed to cool off (air conditioning is rare at the altitude of 8,000+ ft). However, as we entered town, a cold wind from the north was already cooling things off. We showered and went to bed, content with averaging over ten mph while gaining 1,200 ft.
Miles cycled – 66.3
August 7, 2004
Walden, as evident by the main street store fronts, was very much a “western town.” We ate breakfast at a cafe on this main street. The restaurant was divided into two large dining rooms. We saw a number on cowboys in the room opposite us and then later realized that they were in the smoking section (Marlboro men)? We indulged ourselves to a large breakfast as it was going to be 61 miles to the next town and there were no services in between.
Heading southwest out of Walden on Highway 14, it didn’t take us long to realize that this segment of our route was going to be a workout. We expected to lose about 500 ft in elevation from start to finish but the climbing in between was substantial. After just two miles, we warmed up enough to take off our jackets. We were getting closer to the mountains to the west. Patches of snow could be seen the mountain sides. Having gone up (mostly up) and down for eight miles, we reached Peterson Ridge after an hour of cycling. Looking back to the northeast, we could see the entire stretch of highway we had just biked out of town. The highway, sagebrush and the mountains were the dominate features.
Coasting down from the ridge, we watched a semi-truck that was delivering a farm tractor to a neighboring field. This was our tip that we were entering a stretch of farming/ranching. Reaching the low point beyond the ridge, we crossed Grizzly Creek. Hmmm, are we in bear country? As we stopped to rest on the plateau above this creek, a touring cyclist caught up to us. This was significant as we had not had a touring cyclist catch up to us since Coleman, Alberta (and he wasn’t very talkative). As today’s cyclist approached, we were pleasantly surprised that it was David who we met in Yellowstone. We quickly compared notes on our Wyoming experiences and took turns shooting photos of each other.
Launching back onto the route, David initially followed us for a while, but we were slower on the uphill so he pulled away. We later caught up to him as he stopped to talk to a retired couple from California. This couple was biking the TransAmerica from east to west. Rick and Sharon gave us lots of pointers on the route ahead of us. They reported that they had several encounters with dogs. They carried a small baseball bat which was more of a conversational piece than it was a defensive weapon. They used their can of Halt pepper spray to control dogs. Each time they had to spray Halt at a dog, they tracked the count by making a notch on the bat. We counted 17 notches carved on the bat. Rick said he told one guy he had tried yelling “Get home!” but it didn’t work on the notorious, unleashed, Kentucky dogs. This guy told him the problem was that he wasn’t using a Kentucky accent. Once he adjusted, it worked until they got well into Kansas where the dogs didn’t recognize the accent any more. Rick and Sharon had business cards which said “Because We Can.” Their website, http://www.syix.com/becausewecan/, has a journal and some photos.
Continuing on, we did more climbing until we reached a second high point called Mexican Ridge. Having biked 26 miles with a lot of climbing, we decided it was time for our lunch break. There was a 10 ft wide gravel strip along the side of the road which allowed for a safe place to rest. We seated ourselves on the sloping grader ditch on a patch of grass and gravel hoping to avoid the stickers and ants. Our lunch consisted of carrots, nuts, granola bars and apples. During lunch, Dave caught up to us. We were certainly playing tag today! After eating, we removed our tights and applied sunscreen.
After six more miles of up and up and up, we reached Muddy Pass (8,772 feet), our fourteenth Continental Divide crossing. Whew! We were getting higher up in elevation here in Colorado. At this point, Highway 14 met the busier Highway 40. There was a large sign which labeled the Atlantic and Pacfic (as printed on sign) watersheds. We were amused, as apparently, there was no spell checker at the sign manufacturer’s site. Another divide crossing, another photo op. With 21 miles left to Kremmling, CO, it was mostly downhill so things would speed up as we head south on Highway 40. However, there were still some hills to keep us honest. Flying down the winding road, a number of cars passed us along the way. A thundershower to the south was moving through as we kept an eye on its movement.
As we got closer to Kremmling, the mountains were more dazzling and closer to the road. We found them to be quite colorful. On our left, we passed by a reservoir referred to as the Wolford Mountain Project Recreation Area. Once past the reservoir, we rode a wonderful set of rollercoaster hills down into town. What a blast! Like Walden, Kremmling had a strong western heritage. The small town of 1,500 was celebrating its one hundredth birthday. We had reservations in a hotel with a common shower area (similar to the setup found in hostels). Our room was more deluxe than the others as we had a sink and toilet. Since our room was on the second floor, we locked up our tandem at the backside of the hotel. We joined David at a local restaurant for more bike adventure stories. We could have talked all night about our touring experiences but we had to get an early start in the morning.
Miles cycled – 61.0
August 8, 2004
We started biking at 5:45 AM, before the crack of dawn. Awaiting us was an overall gain of 2,000 ft in elevation. This considerable amount of climbing and the expected stay with Barb’s relatives in Breckenridge, CO were strong motivators in our early start. The morning temperature at this altitude was quite cool as we had our wool sweaters and stocking caps on for the first time in a long time. Right out of town (now going south on Highway 9), we climbed up a ridge which warmed us up a bit. The problem was that we then descended back down other side at 25 to 30 mph. Brrrr, that was cold! Despite moderate climbing over the first ten miles, we did not warm up until the sun consistently crested the mountains and shone on the road surface.
Our early start was exceptional as we had last started a ride at pre-dawn when entering Glacier National Park in Montana. As with any early start, there can be advantages and disadvantages. The shortcomings include difficult photography and the presence of fog in some settings. The increase in animal sightings, lighter traffic and the glow of light onto the west mountain sides are strong positives. On this morning, we enjoyed only one of these three advantages. The traffic was surprisingly busy and the critters were apparently burrowed in the low-lying areas, trying to keep warm.
After 12 miles, we reached a side road called County Road 30. Finally, we could pull off of the highway for a safe rest. This Highway 9 was proving to have a consistent theme of blind curves, narrow width, no shoulder and heavy traffic. As we were resting, a local stopped as he turned onto CR 30. He asked if we had biked the next section of highway before. We said no. He then asked if we wanted to get through without killing anyone. Our chilled ears certainly perked up to his inquiry! He then described the next eight miles of Highway 9 as being even worse than the previous 12 miles. The road has some notorious blind curves as it passes along Green Mountain Reservoir. He also noted that the southbound lane was next to a guard rail with no shoulder. Motorists have a tendency to pass bikers without concern for oncoming traffic and there have been some head-on collisions.
As an alternative to Highway 9, the local motorist suggested that we use the lesser traveled CR 30 around the west side of Green Mountain Reservoir. County Route 30 was three miles longer and the road surface was not as smooth. However, the local drivers won’t care if we use the whole lane. Plus, the view on the west side of the reservoir was outstanding. We thanked him for his concern and headed onto CR 30. This took us over the dam and involved a bit more climbing. However, our average speed did not suffer and our nerves were in better shape at the end. He was right about the drivers too. We only saw a dozen vehicles and all were extremely patient. David had left Kremmling after us and did not have the benefit of the local’s advice. He stayed with Highway 9 along the east side of the reservoir and said that section was terrifying. We emailed Adventure Cycling (the creator of our touring maps) to suggest this CR 30 as an alternative to other bikers. They responded that they were in the process of changing the route now that CR 30 is paved.
As we reached the south end of the reservoir, CR 30 then rejoined with Highway 9. We were thinking, here we go again, back to this stressful highway. We rested a bit and ate a snack. With a break in the traffic, we ventured south onto the narrow road. After a short distance, we were pleasantly surprised to see a wide shoulder appear. In fact, this was the best shoulder we had seen in the USA to date! The section we avoided was tucked between a mountain and the reservoir with no room for such improvements. Taking advantage of a very nice shoulder and very little climbing, we were able to speed along 12 to 15 mph for the next ten miles. Along the way, we stopped to rest and viewed one of the many creeks on the route. On this weekend morning, several people could be seen fishing in the creek.
As we approached Silverthorne, CO, we met some locals cycling outside of town. One couple was on a tandem and seemed to be having as much fun as we were. At the outskirts of town, we noticed a bike path that was besides the road. Given that the midmorning traffic was heavy, we opted to use the path even though it was very bumpy at the side roads. The north end of Silverthorne was full of condos and they were stacked high on the mountain side. We saw complex after complex but there were very few services. The first restaurant we arrived at had 20 people waiting outside to be seated so we went on. Arriving just north of Interstate 70, we found a Wendy’s restaurant. We were hoping for a late breakfast but settled for the fast food.
When we got our food and sat down to eat, we noticed a couple of people intensely studying our bike in the parking lot. Barb went out to give them one of our cards and to answer their inquiries. The first thing the man said was “You are as tall as your husband!” He noticed the heights of the seats were almost identical. This couple were missionaries from Loveland, CO but had formerly lived in Michigan. They were so intrigued by what we were doing that they made a donation despite their limited funds. People like that really warm our hearts. After lunch, we had to fix a flat on our trailer tire. The bike path we took into Silverthorne was rougher than we realized. Something poked a hole through the tire and tube. Randall used duct tape to reinforce the tire around the small hole and then inserted a new tube. For those of you keeping track, that was the only the second flat on the trailer tire with the first flat occurring on the Dalton Highway, north of Fairbanks, AK.
Traffic was really picking up as we headed south under the I 70 overpass. Given that we both grew up in Kansas, we felt a little closer to home when we saw the signs pointing to Interstate 70. This cross-country freeway cuts across the length of our home state. We have traveled this highway many times on our return trips to Kansas. As we approached the city of Dillon, CO, we found the entrance to the scenic bike path that was part of our route. This path started along the Dillon Reservoir and would take us the 15 miles into Breckenridge, CO. Just a few hundred feet down the path, we passed a pedestrian who exclaimed, “Alaska to Florida, Wow!” For us, it was a rare occasion where someone interpreted our “AK 2 FL” rear plate and was outspoken about it.
Given that it was a beautiful Sunday afternoon, there were lots of recreational cyclists on the path. We had to announce, “Passing on your left,” to get by them. The path went right by the water which was full of sailboats. Later, it wound through wooded areas. There were lots of ups and downs along the passageway, but our momentum carried us up the short climbs without difficulty. This was certainly a very nicely constructed path. The pavement was smooth and well marked. There were signs cautioning about curves and steep slopes. The long stretches of wood decking and bridges were in great shape. There was even a “Adopt a Trail Program” where volunteers took responsibility for looking after two mile segments of the trail.
When we reached Frisco, CO, the trail crossed the highway and continued on to Breckenridge. After Frisco, we noticed that the climbing became more difficult. Because Breckenridge is over 9,000 ft in elevation, we expected it to be a workout. Most of the time, the path was away from the highway which made things quieter and more enjoyable. One of the few times the highway was neighboring the path, Barb heard someone shout her name. She turned to see her relatives in a car that had pulled over to the side of the road. She shouted “Randall, they’re here!” Not seeing the car, Randall was confused as to who would be on the bike path that we knew.
We biked off the path to the side of the road to talk with Barb’s Uncle Alfred and Aunt Irene Lindholm. Cousin Linda and her daughters, Kimber and Kayla, also made the trip from the Denver area to meet us in Breckenridge. With such different routes and traveling speeds, it was amazing that we met up on the road. Aunt Irene was surprised to see Randall’s beard. She said she didn’t recognize him. Barb joked, “Oh Randall was no fun. I ditched him in Alberta. This is Ralph.” We got directions to the condo in Breckenridge and planned to meet them there soon. We still had about five miles to go. The path got steeper and in full sunshine, the day got noticeably warmer. As we entered the north side of Breckenridge, we met the Lindholms again. They stopped along the path as they wanted to be sure we made the correct turn onto French Street. Even with this extra help, we confused the north and south addresses and didn’t go far enough south. Barb had to call her uncle on his mobile phone for clarification. This disorientation made us wonder how we managed more than 3500 miles so far!
The condo stay was quite a treat. We were given the best bed and the Lindholms had brought food with them to prepare home cooked meals. We enjoyed pork chops and corn on the cob while chatting in this private setting. After dinner, we were given a tour of Breckenridge from the comfort of a car seat. The stores along the main street had wooden exteriors made to look weathered. The stores were not all the same style and color although all were consistent with the late 19th Century period. Barb went into the Starbucks to ask about Mary. She was cycling alone to Alaska when we met her just west of Watson Lake, YT. She told us she had last worked in that Starbuck’s and we wanted to know how she was doing. A woman working there said Mary made it to Alaska and was now working for a cruise line there. We were glad to hear that she was OK.
Miles cycled – 58.0
August 9, 2004
We launched at 8:30 AM with a warm send off from the Lindholms. Aunt Irene had fixed a delicious breakfast of eggs, bacon, toast and cereal. They wanted to be sure we had enough fuel to make it up to the pass. From the condo parking lot, we turned left and immediately began ascending. We took French Street to the south edge of town where we hopped onto Highway 9 for the start of ten miles of climbing. The morning was chilly but soon warmed up as we put away our sweaters and jackets. The first seven miles of climbing were not too difficult. We no longer had the wide shoulder we enjoyed north of Silverthorne but the traffic was somewhat light. We passed a beautiful lake as we entered the town of Blue River, CO. Both the town and the lake were at 10,000 ft elevation which was noteworthy to us. We had not encountered a town or lake at that altitude before. Of course, the highest we had been thus far on this tour was 9,600 ft. There was lots of new construction, even at this high altitude. It seems that everyone wants to live near Breckenridge.
A couple of miles after Blue River, we saw the sign, “Hoosier Pass Summit – 4 Miles.” One mile later, the shoulder was nonexistent and the volume of traffic was noticeably increasing. Seeing a steeply ramped switchback ahead, we decide to take a break. Once we were rested, we had one of most difficult launches that we could remember. The limited sight distance and the higher traffic flow were part of the challenge. Both the highway and the graveled turnout we rested at had a lot of slope. At the count of three, we successfully advanced our rig onto the highway and then stabilized as quickly as possible. Randall then shifted to our lowest gear as we were just 100 ft from the initial sharp bend in the switchback. As we made the turn, there was a span of 50 ft that was at 10 percent grade or greater. Our pedals, our chain, our gear sprockets and our bodies were all significantly strained for that brief span. With accelerated heart rates, we received slight relief as the road eased to 7 to 8 percent grade. As we increased our speed to a more comfortable 3 mph, we could hear a loud rambling noise below. What’s this, a big truck coming up? We glanced below to see five Harleys, all seated with couples, trekking up the switchback. We were not threatened with the loud noise or spacing but were amused at being passed by motorcycles after crawling up one, very steep ramp.
For three miles, we followed the switchbacks all the way to the summit. We stayed in the lowest gear throughout the switchbacks while resting at one mile intervals. We would have rested more frequently except that there weren’t many places to safely make a stop. Our granny gear played a huge role in the final ascent as it allowed for less strenuous pedaling for the mostly 7 to 8 percent grade. With the lower oxygen levels, we felt fortunate that we did not experience any dizziness or headaches. There were several large trucks going up but their arrival was well-timed as they passed during our rest breaks or when there was no opposing traffic. We saw three non-touring cyclists heading up. We met four motorcycles that were coming down from the pass. They all waved and one driver took our picture as he passed us. When we were about a quarter of a mile from the pass, a motorist coming down said “You’re almost there!” He was right as we soon crested Hoosier Pass at 11,542 feet.
This was our 15th and final Continental Divide crossing. A lot of feelings flowed through our minds at the summit. Satisfaction. Relief. Self-confidence. Wonderment. We had climbed up to the highest point on our tour. It was all “downhill” from here. Days earlier, we lost track of the number of divide crossings we would have and could only come up with 14. That would have meant we would end up in San Diego! After a recount, we thankfully came up with 15.
The view at the top was just splendid. We took a number of photos to capture the moment. Before we left the summit, we saw a big, burley truck driver with his open shirt exposing his ample belly. He was slowly walking his dog about on a leash and patiently waited each time the dog wanted to stop. What was so striking was the contrast between the two. The dog was a tiny Pekinese. This prim and proper dog didn’t know what to think of us initially. Finally, it decided we were indeed bikers and let out a meek bark.
So here it was, 12 noon, and we had only traveled ten miles. However, we weren’t too concerned as we had a lot of downhill ahead of us. The descent was quick and fun. We soon entered Alma, CO, the highest elevation town in USA at 10,578 ft. Just south of Alma, the highway bends to the southeast. We then hopped onto a bike path which took us almost all the way to Fairplay, CO. Although the path was a bit bumpy, it was a nice alternative to the heavy traffic. After enjoying a delicious lunch in Fairplay, we continued southeast on Highway 9 as we rode downhill for nearly 20 miles. Because we had a strong tailwind out of the northwest, we had our fastest 20 miles ever with an average speed of 22 mph. Covering the first 11 miles in 25 minutes, we stop for a break. We were “flying” and it was exhilarating! As we sped down this stretch of road we could see that we were returning to a ranch and farm setting.
We met a man on a recumbent bike just before arriving in Hartsel, CO. He was from Kentucky and was doing the TransAmerica route from east to west. He started biking in Virginia with his son on a recumbent tandem and then biked with his daughter for awhile. Now, he was finishing the route riding solo. With a headwind and a long uphill, we respected the challenge he had ahead. We stopped at a Hartsel convenient store for refreshments before continuing on Highway 9. Although we were still headed southeast, our downhill fun was temporarily over and the tailwind had diminished. Back to climbing, we went up and down some long hills for 16 miles before finally reaching Currant Creek Pass (9,404 ft). After the pass, we were back to mostly downhill. Along the way, a thundershower was threatening. We observed some flashes of lightning but we were able to get through the shower with just a few drops of rain falling on us.
Given that we had made good time after the long, Hoosier Pass ascent, we made reservations to stay at a B&B in Guffey, CO. The town was 1.5 miles off the route and the entire distance was a steep, uphill climb (elevation of town was 8,680 ft). The retired cycling couple we met before Kremmling had stayed there and recommended it as a unique experience. That it was. Guffey has only 27 residents, but the post office serves about a thousand in the area. The town is basically two blocks with a fine restaurant (open only Friday and Saturday), a saloon, a school and the Guffey Garage (antique shop) which also operated the B&B. The town seemed to be a haven for hippies and Bill and Colleen fit right in. When we called to reserve a place, no credit card number was needed. “Just let us know if you can’t make it,” Colleen said. When the skies threatened rain and there was distant lightning that afternoon, Colleen almost had Bill drive their truck north to look for us. When we arrived, we got hugs from Colleen and the offer of beer or water from Bill. When we preferred water, Bill said “Good, that leaves more beer for us!” They were a very happy and peaceful couple.
In this unique setting, it took awhile to absorb all that was about us. Various antiques were assembled in groups. We saw vintage wheel barrels, vintage stoves and everything imaginable. Bill and Colleen collected and restored claw foot bath tubs. They had just received more tubs, so they had about twenty tubs stored on the lawn next to their house. Bill used various materials to make artistic items which were scattered about. A number of rustic sheds and buildings had been built to house these collections. He had an old western prisoner’s wagon, complete with a caged prisoner being pulled by two horse skeletons. Colleen told us how the black cat we saw earlier resting on one of the stoves, was elected mayor of Guffey. Because of that distinction, the cat got mentioned on the TV channel, Animal Planet. The entire group of Guffey photos that we posted can be found in the album, Saratoga to Pueblo 3 of 3.
The B & B accommodations were shacks with electricity but no running water. There was an outhouse next to the chicken coup we could use (with each visit, the chickens squawked). The chicken coup had a peacock and peahen in addition to the more traditional birds. One of the chairs in our shack was a wheelchair like the one that FDR used. Colleen provided warm water for a sponge bath. When we didn’t respond enthusiastically to that idea, she offered the use of the shower in their house. That was refreshing and most appreciated. There was a television, VCR and microwave popcorn provided for the evening entertainment. But we were more interested in sleeping than watching the featured video, “Elvira.”
We walked to the saloon for dinner. Walking the two blocks through Guffey was like stepping back in time. The locals at the saloon were gathered around “Monday Night Football.” Back at our sleeping quarters, Randall found an old wheelbarrow to be an excellent chair while retrieving email via satellite. We then hit the hay. The shack was very quiet. It was so quiet that when Barb woke in the middle of the night, she was overwhelmed by the sound of the tic-tic-tic of a wall clock. She put the clock into in a dresser drawer and went back to bed. Now, the loudest thing was the faint stirring of a mouse. It would have been nearly impossible to keep a mouse out of an old shack like this. Barb checked to be sure nothing was on the floor that the mouse could get into. She eventually drifted back to sleep.
Miles cycled – 67.2
August 10, 2004
The breakfast provided at the B & B was bagels, cream cheese and juice boxes. We supplemented that with Pop Tarts. We were 21 miles from the next listed service area and hoped to have a more substantial meal then. There was a high dew point so the air was heavy and the grass was damp. Colleen waved and wished us a good trip as we pulled out on the street. We dressed warmly as we knew we had a downhill to start with. In fact, our total change in elevation today was expected to be 4,700 ft when we reach Pueblo, CO. However, it was not going to be all downhill as we would also have over 2,000 ft of climbing as well. Once back on Highway 9, we quickly came upon two hills which could have been spelled with an “e” instead of an “i.” We were now too warmly dressed and tried to quickly change as there was no shoulder to protect us from traffic. School would be starting soon as the school busses were out for their preseason test drives.
Once we got over the two very tough hills, we reached the top of a ridge and realized that we were in for a long, fast descent. Approaching speeds of 40 mph, we went down and down and down. Half way down, we met a touring cyclist heading the other direction. The best greeting we could manage was a quick wave. He will get his fast ride when he crosses over Hoosier Pass! We passed right by five domestic buffalo which included two mamas and their babies. We were certainly in an agricultural setting as we passed by a number of ranches. When we reached the bottom of our descent, we stopped for a rest. We looked back admiringly at the mountains we biked through. For nearly three months, we have been biking in or near mountainous terrain and soon we will be leaving the mountains behind
After going up a moderate hill, our route joined with the busy Highway 50 as we were now eastbound. A couple of miles later, we reached the service stop where we had hoped to eat a prepared meal. The establishment was no longer in business so we snacked on the food we had with us. We quickly descended eight miles to Canon City, CO. Canon City, with a population of 15,000, was fairly busy with traffic so we kept biking through town without stopping. We turned onto the quieter Highway 115 which would take us in a south and easterly direction. A couple of miles outside of Canon City, we stop in Lincoln Park, CO and got large, icy drinks at a service station. The ice would hopefully give us relief as it was starting to get really warm.
Reaching Florence, CO, we stopped at a Chinese restaurant for lunch. The waiter provided us with a Styrofoam take-out container full of icy water, to soak our Kool-ties in while we dined. We would be appreciating these cool neck collars after lunch as the temperature was now in the upper 80s. As Barb walked to the restroom, a customer noticed her bike clothes and asked about the banner on our trailer. She told them we were biking from Alaska to Florida and were raising money for Habitat for Humanity. The two people at that table then pulled out some cash for a donation. In a cascading effect, the couple at the next table handed Barb money. Before we could get their information, the mother and daughter at another table were handing us money. We were touched.
Leaving Florence, we turned south onto Highway 67. Our map indicated a significant climb ahead. The wind had picked up while we were in the restaurant and the skies looked threatening. We could see lightning in the distance as we passed a large correctional facility. Because of the correctional facility, there wasn’t much residential development in the area. We could tell we were climbing because we were going only 7 to 8 mph. The conditions for climbing weren’t bad as the passing thundershower covered up the sun and the grade was fairly constant.
We reached the top of a plateau just outside Wetmore, CO. This small town had a small collection of buildings. The one restaurant was only open on Friday and Saturday nights. Here, we turned east on Highway 96. We were on the high plains but still climbing and were now heading into the wind. We felt like we were just crawling along with our 7 to 9 mph speed. Our destination of Pueblo was a dreadful 30 miles away. Just three miles outside of Wetmore, we reached a steep downhill. The sign indicated that it was a 9 percent grade, the steepest we had seen since the Dalton Highway in Alaska. We were glad we were going down and not up! After this descent, we continued to fight the wind and climbed hill after hill after hill. We were now paralleling the Arkansas River and the highway looped around to the south of Pueblo Reservoir. We saw some antelope along the road and later we biked by some interesting rock formations.
As we got within five miles of Pueblo, we expected to see more development outside of town than we did. In the distance to the north we could see a large mass of houses that were apparently near Highway 50. Most of the traffic going from Canon City to Pueblo uses the more direct Highway 50 and that had been suggested to us as an alternative route by bikers going the other way. We choose to stay with our map route which was quieter and more scenic. We entered Pueblo at the southwest end and then rode through the City Park. As we were riding through the park, a local biker rode next to us and gave advice on reaching our hotel on the north side of town. Just before reaching the downtown area, we crossed the bridge over the Arkansas River. Our destination motel was on Elizabeth Street but it was a one way street heading south. So we went on a quieter street one block over for a couple of miles. Once this street dead ended, we joined Elizabeth which now had two-way traffic.
Having experienced a long, warm day, we were trying to decide where to stop for dinner. The first restaurant that appeared on Elizabeth was a Sonic Drive-in. This was a favorite restaurant of ours although they aren’t established as far north as Michigan. This was the first one we had seen on our trip. We then realized we have come that far south on our tour. We were now in Sonic country! We made a bee line to Sonic and ordered two huge Route 44 Cherry Limeades with our meals. After the dinner, we felt refreshed (and we hadn’t even taken our showers yet).
We arrived at the hotel to find that David (last seen in Kremmling) had already checked in. He had a slight delay at Frisco when he took a rental car to Denver to resolve a computer issue. He then biked from Frisco to Pueblo in two days. David had taken Highway 50 from Canon City to Pueblo and said it was a noisy, busy highway and didn’t save him many miles. He thought we took the better route. We all planned an extended stay at this motel as it offered high speed, wireless internet and we needed to update our websites.
Miles cycled – 85.1
August 11-12, 2004
It was nice to have a couple of days in Pueblo for R&R (rest and writing). Barb used the Palm Pilot to write down the daily experiences while Randall, using the laptop, reviewed and posted the photos. We had taken so many photos that the screening and editing was quite a chore. The hotel offered continental breakfast and a coin operated laundry, so we only ventured out for dinner. We walked to a nearby steakhouse with David as we continued to share our tour experiences with each other.
The second morning, Jack and Peg drove down from the Denver area to meet us for breakfast. We had met Jack in Saratoga, WY while we were staying in his vacation home. Now, we were able to meet his wife Peg. They are such a nice couple and very active with biking, hiking and horseback riding. It was great to hear about their past bike trips in Missouri and South Dakota. They were part of an organized group which ranged in age from their 60s to 80s. They plan to bike with this same group in western Michigan in October.
Also on our second day, we biked to the closest grocery store for supplies as there would be fewer services heading east. We picked up about 25 pounds of groceries (it’s all downhill from here?). We managed to get one more stage story posted in Pueblo. It was quite a feat to get a story published but our readers seem to be enjoying them. Now, we will be heading to Kansas, our home state, and both of us were quite excited about that.
Miles cycled – 4.5
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