This is just a quick little update to let folks know that the road trip has ended and I am now on my bike pedaling towards Portland! Will give more details and pics soon!
First off, let me just summarize and say that the road trip with Megan went great. Lots of fun happened, but I won’t cover that here.
The bike trip started by Megan driving me to the top of trail ridge road in Rocky Mountain National Park, from which I joyously coasted back down to Estes Park. Is that cheating? Most definitely! But I say it’s justified since the last time I rode down that road, it was during a whiteout blizzard in August, and I was too focused on not being blown off the side of the mountain to really enjoy the 4000 foot descent.
I met Megan in town, and then made my way south out of town (unloaded, like a wuss). I met Megan again at a campground, but it was too early to start dinner, so we drove until we found a bar – the mill site inn in Ward. Thus began the first adventure of the trip!
We’re sipping drinks in this mountain town bar, when Rebirth’s Do What You Wanna comes on the jukebox. This is the last place I expected to hear New Orleans second line music. Megan goes to investigate and meets Charlie, a jazz guitarist from New Orleans who loaded up the jukebox. We tell him about the BLO, and he invites us to play music with him at a potluck down the road. (we brought our horns on the road trip). So we end up having out all night with these folks around a fire barrel, having drinks and trying to follow along with Charlie’s guitar keys. I think most folks had had enough drinks that they didn’t mind how sloppy we were. It was pretty amazing.
The next morning Megan left to return the rental car, and my ride began in earnest. Along the way, I stopped by Mike and Sherry’s (our potluck hosts from the night before) to say hi. Further down the road, i ended up back in the mill site inn for lunch, when in walked Mike, soon followed by Sherry and most of the folks who had been at the potluck, otherwise known as the “3:30 crowd”.
Even though I was taking lots of breaks and trying to take it slow and easy, it was a pretty tough day. There were a couple of pretty tough climbs, and I’m really just not in very good shape right now. My average speed for the day was only 8.9! Hopefully, I’ll get up to speed soon, because I’ve got the 4000 foot climb over Loveland pass coming up!
Okay, that was an epic post. Over and out!
Greetings from crazy expensive Vail, Colorado! I made it over the passes! Here’s highlights from the past few days. On Friday, i rode through the town of black hawk, co, infamous for banning bikes on city streets. Wikipedia quotes a city council member straight up staying “this is in the best interest of the casinos.” The ban was overturned by the Colorado supreme Court, but they left the stupid “no bikes” signs up. Turns out they also made a crazy steep grade for 2 miles to get out of town, which the courts seem to have upheld.
I’ve ridden along some really sweet bike paths, including a 25 or so mile path over vail pass that rides like a roller coaster through the woods! Unfortunately, i got news that one of the highlights of my route, the bike path through glenwood Canyon, is under water. Colorado got 150% of their snowpack, so flooding has been a common theme. We’ll see what happens when i get there – I’ll likely need to hitch.
So far, it’s been really gorgeous, although tough, riding through the mountains. I’m glad to be heading downhill now.
After my post the other day, i continued down from vail through very cold, very wet weather. Luckily, it was all downhill, else i likely would have blown three days budget on an overpriced hotel room. I set up my tent in the rain and holed up in there around 6:00 and just read all night. The next day (yesterday) i woke up to a bright, sunny (albeit chilly) morning. I let the tent dry while i finished my book, and hit the road towards glenwood springs.
When i reached the closed bike path, i decided to just go for it and see how bad it was. The part i rode was mostly okay, just a lot of spots covered in slippery river silt (which thoroughly covered my bike). However, there was one spot i needed to haul my bike over a floating log jam, and a few spots i needed to push through water, one of which was about three feet deep through a tunnel, so i had to shuttle my bags first, then my bike. I realized that this is another benefit of touring with other people: when you do something crazy (like wading your bike through the Colorado River), you have someone to document it, or at least verify that it happened! In the end, i still had to hitch a ride : I got to a locked gate, and at that point the river was pretty raging. Luckily, i was at a turnout for a hiking trail, and it didn’t take long for me to convince someone to give me a lift.
I’m definitely leaving the mountains behind as i slowly descend into the desert.
I made it to grand junction to pick up Andrew with no problems. The only real highlights of the ride between glenwood springs and there is that i found a great place to get pupusas for lunch, and i cracked out a 72 mile day.
After Andrew assembled his bike, i noticed he didn’t have a water bottle cage or bottle on his bike (all his water was tucked away in his panniers). I was just about to inform him of this when a guy across the street yelled to ask us if we needed any bike parts from his recycled bike shop right there, so we ended up getting Andrew hooked up for free.
We rode up into the Colorado national Monument – a gorgeous ride – and camped there the first night.
Yesterday was one of the toughest days I’ve ever had riding. It’s about 80 miles from Fruita to moab, and there’s nowhere along the way to get water. We thought we had plenty – over a gallon each – but we didn’t plan for the 25 mile an hour headwind. We rode for over five hours, averaging about 6.5 in the brutal wind, inching our way across barren desert. The hot wind sucked our moisture away, and we quickly went through our water supply. It eventually became clear that we had a problem, but luckily, we didn’t have to wave our empty bottles at traffic for long before Keith the Hero stopped and not only gave us some ice water, but offered us a ride. He had to turn around once because i had left my handlebar bag behind in my parched stupor, and then, after dropping us off at the next campsite, he drove all the way back from his house (about 25 miles) because Andrew had left his helmet in Keith’s truck. They don’t come much nicer than that.
Now we’re at a campsite in moab, but Andrew’s knee may be broken… We’ll have to see how things turn out.
Okay – overdue post again. Here’s what’s been happening :
After arriving in Moab, Andrew and I took it pretty easy to try and rest his knee. The next day, we rode – without gear – to Arches National Park. It was a spectacular ride – just amazing scenery. We did a short hike, and then headed back (it’s 18 miles each way). We were almost to the park entrance when Andrew’s knee started hurting again – bad. He couldn’t even stand on it, let alone ride. Luckily, the second truck i thumbed down stopped and gave Andrew a lift back to our campsite. Unfortunately, it was the end for Andrew’s bike tour. He’s promised to be ready for the next one!
After much brainstorming and research, we figured out that the quickest, cheapest way to get Andrew back to sf was for me to rent a car in Moab and drive him to salt lake city where he could rent a one-way for a reasonable price. That pretty much took a full day – along the way, we met a father-son duo of bike tourists – they were Mennonites from Chihuahua, and were riding from there to the Canadian Rockies. They said they were the only people from their community who had done anything like that, and everyone else thought they were crazy.
I returned to Moab, and began riding solo again. I had a pretty easy day to green river, where i met another tourist heading to Portland, but on a different route – he was going through Yellowstone, from Tucson, so we were actually going different directions in green river. After that, i had another long empty stretch across the desert. When I got to my destination, Wellington, I experienced yet another instance of road magic. I was in the town park, trying to decide whether to camp in an empty lot i had seen by the road, or shell out to stay in a sketchy-looking motel called “pillow talk” when a guy – about 17 years old, popped out the bathroom, saw me, and said “that’s a great beard.”
“hey, are you hungry? ”
“I could eat. Why do you ask?”
“Do you want to come over and have dinner? We’re having ribs!”
That’s how I met Clayton and the rest of the Rhoades family: Nick, Ben, and their dad Joe. Not only did they feed me dinner, but we watched tv, played poker, and I ended up sleeping on their couch – it felt like I was part of their family for a night. They’re all huge Steelers fans – Joe grew up within sight of three rivers stadium, and his family would often have dinner with the players – so it’s amazing that they still let me hand around after i admitted i was raised in browns territory. It really was one of the best unexpected hospitality experiences I’ve ever had – Clayton even woke up and cooked me breakfast before i left the next morning! Thanks Rhoades’!
After another short stint in the desert, i began another 4000 foot climb into the mountains (after stopping to scarf down an entire 14″ pizza by myself, that is). It was awesome to see how quickly the landscape changed from arid scrub to lush forest. I only just briefly entered the alpine before racing back down into the next valley.
I’m now in the great basin, and should make it into the greater salt lake metro area tomorrow. I meet Pierre in twin falls in five days!
Wow – long time no post. Here’s what’s been going on: i ended up hopping on the commuter rail from provo to ogden to avoid riding through miles of strip mall around salt lake city. From there, i began a stretch where i was only going through one town a day – lots of lonely country. Not a whole lot to report, except that a headwind has been my constant companion.
Pierre made it to twin falls with no problems. We quickly assembled his bike, grabbed some food, and were off! We camped the first night at some pretty sweet hot springs, the second night within site of some huge sand dunes, and last night in front of the sheriff’s office!
It’s been some really great riding since twin falls, changing back and forth between farmland and desert depending on the irritation (there are some really elaborate irritation systems here). We should make it to Oregon either tonight or tomorrow.