Day: 34; Daily Mileage: 63.8; Total Mileage: 1,833.8; Stopping Point: Kremmling, CO
First thing I saw when I crawled out of my tent this morning was Todd standing like a zombie under the gazebo. We had locked our bikes under there for some protection from the weather. When I walked over to him I first noticed the man sleeping on the ground. I saw saddle bags and thought he was on a motorcycle, but when I saw no motorcycle I looked again. The man also had a dog, cowboy boots, cowboy hat, and a saddle. That's when I noticed the horse tied to the telephone pole.
We talked later while we packed up. Just watching him pack was something to note. His sleeping bag was inside a canvas cover that he probably used when it rained. His clothes got wrapped up in the sleeping bag. A blanket was rolled separately. In the saddle packs, I think was food, but I only saw dog food come out of it. While he was packing the dog ran lose and horse was untied to eat grass. The man took a belt like strap and tied the horse front two legs together. The horse didn't mind at all; when he wanted to move forward he would just stand on the back two and thump the front two forward. It allowed him to move some, but not get away.
I never got his name, but here's his story. He took a three year leave of absence from his job. In May of '97, he left his home in Kalamazoo, MI on two horses. Since then he has replaced those horses for a single horse that is used to this terrain. He's been traveling around going to rodeos and doing cowboy things. He travels in the back country and comes into town every four days to stock up on items. Last winter he worked on a ranch and that's where he picked up the dog. Now he is on his way home.
I compared the way he was traveling to the way we were. Cowboys still wear the typical blue jeans and flannel shirt and pack the same basic way. Biking has improved a great deal. We've come a long way since the bloomers girls used to wear biking around 1900. There's bright clothing and super light gear. It's almost like the cowboys missed the notice on the changing times, except those on four wheelers!
Our breakfast came from Coffee Pot Restaurant in Walden, Colorado. The lady that started the restaurant had been in the waitressing business for 54 years. She earned the nickname Coffee Pot because she has a collection of 1,600 to 1,700 different pots. The shelves lining the walls are full of coffee pots and I assume her house is the same.
Coffee Pot herself was full of energy. The night before she sent a boy down to the city park to give us free ice cream tickets. Dad and I went down. She came out and showed us her record of cyclist. Coffee Pot could repeat the stories of most everyone that came through. She explained all the different types of traffic she gets through there. There was a sign in sheet for motorcyclist, antique cars, foreigners, and backpackers. We signed her Biking with Vitamins sheet and she took our picture.
Day: 35; Daily Mileage: 60.7; Total Mileage: 1,894.5; Stopping Point: Breckenridge, CO
It was Christmas in July. We picked up our first care package filled with all sorts of goodies we packed last May. A friend at home shipped it to another friend here who met us at a campground with the package. What a wonderful support crew we have. Dried vegetables and hamburger will last us many meals and Girl Scout cookies will be an afternoon treat. We sent home our heavy sleeping bags in return for fleece liners because the nights will be getting warmer. Our next care package will be in Missouri about a month from now.
The last 15 miles we spent on a paved bike trail. It was nice to get away from the traffic even if you had to dodge pedestrians. With our extra weight, we really picked up speed on some of the downhills.
We met a group of six people traveling the Continental Divide Trail. This is a mountain bike trail put out by the same people at Adventure Cyclist. Mountain bikers don't travel as far in a day or carry as much weight as we do. The thing that is neat about this group is that if they make it the two women will be the first women to complete the trail.
Happy 21st birthday to my cousin Mike.
Our third day off. It was crazy. We took a day off and rented bikes to go mountain biking.
Breckenridge has a great ski industry. In the summer a few of the lifts are left open for the mountain bikers. The local mountain bikers will ride up and down, so the lifts are left open for tourists like us. Had we not been on a bike trip we might have ridden up ourselves, but we wanted to relax on our day off..
We rented dual-suspension Super V500 Cannondales for the afternoon. There were two peaks open, but, because of time, we decided to stay on the one peak. We did every trail once or twice. The chair lift ride took ten minutes, then it was a screaming downhill to the bottom. Overall the ride took about half an hour. We had fun, but I'm sure we'll feel it tomorrow!
* I was reading over some previous journals and realized that both July 1 and 2 were noted as day 25. To make up for this error I have omitted day 36. Sorry for the confusion.
Day: 38; Daily Mileage: 89.8; Total Mileage: 1,984.3; Stopping Point: Royal Gorge
Five miles down the road, I realized my Bike Computer (it calculates your distance and speed among other things) wasn't working. When I checked it, I found that the tire had been put on backwards. It's been done before, I guess I've got to check the wheel every time.
At 8:45, Todd and I reach the summit of Hoosier Pass, an elevation of 11,542. This is the highest point on the TransAmerica Trail. We parked our bikes in front of the sign and noticed a note addressed "Elenz Family." Safety pins were used like tacks to hold the letter in place. The note was dated 8:15 Tuesday from Dave Spitzer.
The note explained how Dave had been hearing about us since the coast and he wanted to talk sometime. He spent time in a library reading my journals. The night before he had seen us in Breckenridge. Dave is a fourth grade teacher at a Madison, WI. In 1976, he rode from New York to California with his brother.
We met a group of four traveling in the other direction. They were actually two groups of two that met up and have been riding together for some time. There was a couple from Holland and two women, one from Maryland and the other from New Hampshire. We asked them if they had seen Dave, because we hadn't caught up to him yet. They said that he was around the next corner; once you talk for 15 minutes around the corner becomes a few miles.
In Hartsel, we finally came across Dave. We talked for awhile and then he continued on and we ate lunch.
We didn't get in a century like Todd wanted, but we did some good mileage. The last twenty miles turned into a nasty headwind.
Day: 39; Daily Mileage: 58.8; Total Mileage: 2,043.1; Stopping Point: Pueblo, CO
We got up this morning and decided not to tour Royal Gorge. The gorge is supposed to be as spectacular as the Grand Canyon, but instead of the layers of rock, it is completely granite. We had been talking about going up and at least riding over the bridge. It is the highest suspension bridge in the world, but is no longer opened to cars. It spans the whole gorge. They allow you to walk and ride bikes across it. Everyone we had talked to recommended that we stop at Royal Gorge. The ride up was four miles and we had had enough climbing for quite a while.
Canon City is home to the territorial prison of Colorado. After ten miles, we arrived there and spent most of the morning touring it. The big thing that we kept hearing about was Alfred Packer. The story varied depending on where you read it. He was sentenced because of cannibalism when he was the sole survivor of a wagon party. Some say the others died natural deaths and others say that he killed them.
At three o'clock, we stopped for a meal in Wetmore. From there we called ahead to Pueblo, 20 miles up the road. We planned on staying at the city park and if you arrive after business hours they have to leave the key out for you. The lady in Pueblo said they were having thunderstorm and hail warning. Luck was on our side this time and we never got wet. Ahead of us, the sky was black and behind the sun was as bright as ever. The storm was moving south as we were moving in from the west. We stopped a few times to avoid the storm, and the fact of another nasty headwind kept our pace down.
Pueblo City Park had everything a normal park does and much more. We slept in a pavilion/dance hall. If we had gotten there earlier, we could have had free showers. Dinner was PB & J because we were all still full from our afternoon meal.
Day: 40; Daily Mileage: ; Total Mileage: ; Stopping Point: Ordway, CO
We rode a pace line all day because of the winds. They came right at our face and got stronger as the day went on.
Our big snack break was supposed to be free pie that Dingo's Café gives to all bicyclist. They were bought out by Pappy's Café and Pappy didn't want to give us anything free. So we ate our PB & J sandwiches and rode on.
We're staying at Ordway Hotel. They were around during the '76 ride and have records of the riders coming through. 1,300 bicyclist stayed with them that year. That's pretty impressive since only 4,000 did the trail. She told us that the organizers spent (2) two years planning that trip. The lady charges $5 per cyclist. The rooms are sparse, but after city parks this is luxury. There's one double bed covered by an old quilt, a desk, a chair, and a sink. You furnish the towels and bedding. The restrooms are shared by between the ten cyclist rooms.
Day: 41; Daily Mileage: 64.6; Total Mileage: 2,151.3; Stopping Point: Eads, CO
I got my first flat. We were leaving Hotel Ordway and I noticed my back tire was flat. The hole was just a pin prick; we think it was from a thorn. It delayed us an hour after we pumped up at a gas station.
The halfway point on the Transamerica Trail was nine miles from Ordway. We didn't take a picture or even celebrate, unless you call a flat tire a celebration. One mile short of halfway point, Dad gets a flat and we stop to fix it. We are now back in thorn country. Some of the weeds along the road have thorns and the bike tires seem attracted to them.
For miles we could see a grain silo standing in the distance. After 15 miles we find ourselves in front of it, in the town of Eads. The only places to camp is a city park or rest area three miles out of town. Both didn't have bathrooms. After running around for awhile, we talked to the sheriff and he said to camp in the fair grounds, where there is a community building we could use. We brought our bikes inside and are sleeping on the floor.
Thorns lined the fair grounds. Of course we didn't notice it until the tires went flat. We spent most of the night picking out thorns and patching tires.
Since we left the Rocky Mountains, the land has been drier. The grass is a golden brown for miles around. Even the sky has a dull, dried up look.