No Name Tour: Day 29 – Off Route to Norwood

I stayed up to watch game 7 of the Stanley Cup. Not that I cared but game 7s are usually exciting. This one was meh, mostly because this is only the second hockey game I watched all year. Time management is my middle name.

After my hotel breakfast. I rode westbout of Ridgway to Dallas Divide, an 8,900 foot pass through snow covered mountains and lush meadows. I hate the climbs around here but the scenery is amazing.

I was about a half mile from the top of the climb when I realized that I was killing myself to go 3 mph. I dismounted and walked the rest. The smile is one of relief.

Thank god that’s over

The ride down the other side was not as fast as I expected. Mostly I kept my speed under 25 mph.

I pulled into a general store in Placerville. I talked to a cyclist who had just ridden from Telluride. This was the route on my maps. He reported that he couldn’t find camping in town so he settled on a $180 motel room.

That’s a bit rich for my blood. I talked to the store owner. She confirmed that road over the mountain from Telluride is a killer climb and that the road on the downslope going into Dolores Co was partially blocked by a humongous boulder.

It would be cool to see the boulder but the climb would be to 10,200 feet. She, as did the people in Ridgway, recommended that I ride off route to Norwood, Colorado.

So I headed west to Norwood. This means I will miss Dolores and Cortez, Colorado. I’m sure they are scenic but the ride down the San Miguel Canyon toward Norwood was truly spectacular. The San Miguel River was gushing with snowmelt. The hills were red rocks, all jagged and menacing looking.

The road into the canyon
I started the climb of this “hill” way down there
The canyon looking west from near the rim

After ten miles of easy riding I hit Norwood Hill. I was lead to believe that this was no big deal but it was a climb out of the canyon. After a mile or so, I was once again grinding away for 3 mph. Time to push. I passed a crew working to clear fallen rocks off the road. I kept pushing and peaking over the edge of the road. There was no guard rail just a drop of several hundred feet.

I kept pushing and the base of the canyon kept getting smaller, until finally I was over the top and could ride into Norwood with minimal effort.

Norwood has three hotels. The working class motel had no vacancies. The tony Inn didn’t either. My last hope was the Back Country Inn on the west end of town. There was not a single car in the spotless parking lot. As it turned out this was because the motel’s guests were all road crews working in the area.

I asked the owner if there was anywhere I could camp. She offered me a space in the lawn behind the motel for $20 with shower, towels, and breakfast included.

Sweet.

No it’s time to head into town for some vittles. Tomorrow I ride over the mountains 70 miles with 4,000 feet of climbing and 4,200 feet of descending. I booked a room in the motel to be sure I won’t end up in the woods feeding Clif bars to the bears.

Miles today: 42

Tour miles: 1,689

Top speed: 31.6

By this point in a bike tour I am normally getting stronger. Not this time. The mountains and the thin air are very tough.

No Name Tour: Day 28 – Listening to My Body

After three 8,000+ foot summits, my body was really tired. I slept hard again.

After motel breakfast I hit the road, heading south in the general direction of Telluride.

I knew I was riding slightly uphill, so I decided to take in the scenery and plod along at 9 mph. The temperature was comfortable and the winds were light.

The scenery just doesn’t quit

Enough hops to make mucho IPAs

I spotted a coffee shop along the road at Colons don I took a break and had a coffee and a doughnut.

A customer in the shop started chatting with me. She recommended that I not follow the Western Express route over Lizard Head pass and ride off route to the town of Norwood instead. I am always wary of taking route advice from non- cyclists; the terrain looks different from behind the wheel of s car. I thanked her and we both hit the road for Ridgway.

The terrain was slightly hillier but not granny worthy. The lack of a shoulder and the idiots driving campers made sure I was adequately stimulated.

The last three miles into town were on a concrete trail. It went along a river, through a marsh, and into town. A big improvement over the highway.

I stopped at the town bike shop and talked to Nate about the Norwood thing. He agreed that it was a better route that would also bypass Dolores, CO.

Nate of Ridgway Wrench Bike Shop

I’ll see how I feel after riding through Dallas Divide, an 8,900 foot pass before Lizard Head.

During my ride today I never felt right. My right thigh cramped a few times and I felt light headed. I think my body is tying yo tell me something.

After talking with Nate I decided to have an early lunch and see if I felt like riding on. Lunch made me feel better but I was still a little lightheaded. I checked into a motel and called it a day.

Miles today: 28

Tour miles: 1,647

No Name Your: Day 27 – Three Pieces of Eight

The Wanderlust Hostel in Gunnison worked out great. I walked to dinner at The Dive, a not at all divey open-air bar and grill.

I slept well which is attributable to me being super tired, wearing earplugs, and taking a little something to help me sleep. About a week ago I bought some chewy edibles at a weed store. I bought them as s lark to see how high I would get. I barely felt a thing out of the ordinary the first night I took one but I slept hard and woke up with zero pain in my wonky left knee or anywhere else in my body. As a pain reliever, edibles worked much better than ibuprofen.

After a humongous gut bomb at a Gunnison diner, I headed west on US 50. I left my bike in the backyard of the hostel, not knowing that it has a sprinkler system for the lawn. My helmet and gloves were the only things that got wet. Do I began the day wearing my floppy hat and the long fingered gloves I bought for descending mountain passes.

I couldn’t finish this beast

The ride from Gunnison was virtually flat and the wind was low. This allowed me to enjoy the scenery in the Currcanti National Recreation Area. The scenery is amazing here. I took a bunch of pictures, too many to fit on this post so check out my Instagram page (Search for Rootchoper, of course).

About 19 miles into the day I came across Dan Hurwitz who is riding east from San Jose. Dan was at a pull out along the road. He was using a compact luggage scale to redistribute the load in his panniers, because his bike was wobbling during descents.

We exchanged info. He gave me his card. His blog is bikerdan.wordpress.com.

Speaking of blogging cycle tourists, my friends Mark and Corey have abandoned their TransAmerica trip after riding well over 2,000 miles from Yorktown, Va. I don’t know quite why they packed it in but I’m pretty sure thin air didn’t help. They were a real treat to ride with. I was hoping to meet up with them in Oregon.

He told me the hills between Sapinero and Montrose were difficult. I was amused when he said, “It is what it is.” This should be the touring cyclist’s mantra. He reports that today and much of his tour featured a tailwind.

Oh joy.

After Sapinero about 900 feet of climbing would take me to 8,500 feet in about 5 miles. That hill was hard and the headwind was no fun but the scenery of the Blue Mesa Resevoir at least took my mind off the misery.

After a short descent, the road rose up again taking me to 8,700 feet. Okay, that was hard too. A week ago it would have done me in but my wee granny gear and wicked awesome scenery got me to the tawp.

A ten-mike descent followed. The headwind was no match for The Mule in full gallop.

Snow melt filled the creeks all day long

Near the base of the descent I pulled into a general store. They had no restrooms or WiFi for dining customers. I would have walked out but my body needed something more than another apple. The sandwich, fries, and Gatorade hit the spot. I paid without leaving a tip, which is highly unusual for me.

He died waiting to use the restroom

A sign in the store said I could find a restroom 1.8 miles to the west. And, thankfully, the pit toilet at a pull out met my rather urgent need.

Then began climb number three. Oh joy. This one was about 900 feet in five miles.

I stopped every mile to let my legs and lungs recharge. The top came and I posed from the obligatory I-climbed-this-motherfucker photo. (Should I have hyphenated motherfucker? Discuss.)

After my selfie moment, I gradually descended over 19 miles to the city of Montrose. I passed by the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. From what I saw it has a lot of hills that look to be made out of adobe.

When I arrived in Montrose I discovered that I was now at 5,807 feet; this was the first time since Pueblo that I’d been this low. I also discovered that it was 89 degrees. I can’t complain. Other than the headwind it was a very good day to be on a bike.

Miles today: 64

Tour miles: 1,619

Top speed: 33.1 mph

No Name Tour: Day 26 – Conquering the Monarch

It was 39 degrees outside when I woke up. Not gonna happen. I ate breakfast of sorts on my room then hit the road at 7. Before even leaving the parking lot, I took off my long pants and my jacket. It had jumped to the 50s and I had a tailwind.

I was heading to Monarch Pass in US 50. A few days ago I utterly failed on a 9,000 foot mountain. How’ll I ever get over this 11,300 foot beast?

Don’t get too excited. The first four miles were a false flat, an almost imperceptible incline to the road. I gained 400 feet in elevation on what looked like level ground.

At Poncha Springs, the fun began: 18 miles and over 6,000 feet of climbing. I surprised myself by doing the first six miles in my middle chainring. The tailwind surely helped.

But at about 8,500 feet I started to feel the effort. I took a hit of albuterol to see if it would clear my lungs. No dice. Thin air is what it is.

With 12 miles to go I implemented my climbing plan. Stop when I get tired. Drink lots of water, eat something. Start again when my heart rate comes back to normal.

I did this five or six times. Once I stopped because a family of mountain goats were coming out into the road. I gave them lots of room.

As I climbed riders on (mostly) road bikes we’re flying down the mountain. Go ahead; make my day. The road very much reminded me of US 60 in West Virginia at Hawks Nest.

My itinerary called for me stopping 2 miles

Ride the Rockies riders descending
Hours of this

My itinerary called for me stopping 2 miles from the top and camping. When I got there I thought “Why waste a tailwind and eight hours of daylight?” I was prepared to walk the last mile, which had switchbacks that looked brutal. After a five minute break, The Mule and I managed to find a nice pedaling rhythm and went right to the top.

The parking lot of the general store was filled with hundreds of bikes and their riders. They were participating in Ride the Rockies, an annual event in these parts. They had just arrived at the top from Gunnison about 45 miles to the west.

I went into the store and bought a cup of coffee. It was about 55 degrees outside but I was shaking. The coffee helped with my body temperature but made me nauseous.

I was starting to feel the elevation big time. I got my picture taken at the pass sign then took off down the western slope of the mountain. It was a thrill ride comparable to last summer’s descent from Washington Pass.

My summit picture

There were hundreds of Ride the Rockies participants crawling up the mountain. I dropped from 11,300 feet to 8,450 feet in ten miles. All the curves were banked and the road was clear of debris. And, yes, I rode in the middle of the lane. I was passed four times on the way down.

At the base of the mountain I stopped hit lunch. A BLT, fries, and three glasses of ice water took me and hour to eat but it revived me.

I am Groot

The shop owner offered me a camping spot by the creek out back. I was tempted but decided to ride 32 miles to Gunnison.

Looking back toward Monarch
Bizarro rocks along the road to Gunnison

Stupid me. The wind had changed direction on this side of the pass. A strong headwind beat me numb the whole way. Once I got a cellphone signal, I called The Wanderlust Hostel in town. There I will stay until the morrow.

Apropos of nothing, I saw more dead deer between Sargent and Gunnison than I’ve ever seen anywhere.

Miles today: 64

Tour miles: 1,555

Top speed: 37.9 mph

No Name Tour: Day 25 – Resting Hard

I am staying at a motel just outside Salida. Last night the place was quiet. I slept well so I booked the room for tonight as well.

The motel manager told me of a breakfast place down the road but I couldn’t find it. The wind was blowing hard from the east and it was 53 degrees. Not shorts weather.

I headed into town letting the wind push me. I visited two coffee shops. Neither served a proper breakfast so I made do with coffee, a breakfast bagel (it had an egg in the middle), and a blueberry scone. After that I went to a grocery store and bought some things for tomorrow’s ride as well as a salad for lunch.

Salida mural

Then I went back to my hotel room and loafed. About mid afternoon I took my pulse to see if it was high from the altitude. Nope. 50. Just about right.

I heard from Corey. He reports that Mark and he crossed 11,000+ foot Hoosier Pass this morning after camping overnight at 9,000 feet. I’ll bet they are relieved.

I stayed in my room all day trying to avoid any more physical activity and to stay warm.

After too much TV (I sent my book home yesterday), meditation, and failed napping, I headed out for dinner. There is a McDonalds about a mile downhill from the motel so I headed into the still blowing wind. Even with long pants and a jacket I was cold.

I stopped short of McDonalds at 50 Burger which was about twice the cost. The food was twice as good. And I turned down a beer with dinner because I don’t need my tummy tossing all day tomorrow.

The ride back was a breeze, literally. I didn’t notice the incline. Since temperatures in the morning will be in the high 40s, I stopped at a gas station convenience store to buy some hand and foot warmers. They were out of stock so I did what any sane person would do: I bought some Bugles and some M&Ms.

I am trying to not get anxious about tomorrow. Just looking at the mountains is enough to freak me out. I plan on wearing March commuting gear minus the holey sweater.

Miles today: 6.5

Tour miles: 1,491

No Name Tour: Day 24 – What a Difference a Day Makes

I crashed hard last night after a burger and a beer at a Westcliffe bar.

This morning I pulled a pair of bike shorts, a pair of socks, a shirt, a book, and two Adventure Cycling maps. I mailed them back home to lower the weight on my bike. I also tossed my jar of Nutella. I’ll have to do laundry more often and get used to straight peanut butter on my tortillas but I had to cut weight.

I also went to Candy’s Coffee for, well, coffee. Emily made me a mocha and a breakfast burrito. Thanks, ma’am.

Emily makes a fine mocha java

My motel did not have a vacancy for tonight but I thanked Mo and hit the road for Salida.

Within five miles I hit a hill that my legs wanted nothing to do with. I thought that this would make for a long day. I persevered and my legs finally kicked it. It helped that I had a decent tailwind and the terrain was gently rolling. I was riding with the snow capped Sangre de Cristo Mountains to my left and a dry rocky ridge live to my right.

The curvy road made for a fun ride. I’d come around a bend and get blasted by a side or head gust. Then things would calm down and I’d grind away.

After about 25 miles I hit a fantastic downhill that reminded me of my scary ride around Square Butte in Montana last summer.

I was buzzing along at 35 mph when I saw some bike riders waving at me from the opposite side of the road. I hit my brakes gently so as not to overheat the rims. I had a long talk with Tom and Stephanie who were riding from San Francisco to Key West supported by Stephanie’s brother in law John who was towing an Airstream style trailer.

They told me tales of horrible weather and scary mountaintops. Cold, snow, rain, and hail. They were glad to be nearly done with the Western Express.

Tom, John, and Stephanie

I bid them safe travels and pointed The Mule downhill. This descent went in for a few miles and over 700 feet of elevation loss.

It turned out that I lost a little under 800 feet in elevation today nearly all of it on this one descent.

It ended at a stop sign where I took a left on good old US 50. The winding two lane road followed the Arkansas River through a gash in the rocky landscape. The river was running fast, probably fed by snow melt. River raft companies were doing big business today.

As I was going upriver I was gradually climbing. My legs handled the grade without complaint.

On arrival in Salida I went to a bike shop. The mechanic was swamped but referred me to the Sub Culture Bike Shop around the corner.

I’ve been having trouble with my rear derailed since I had a new chain and cassette put on in Pueblo. Cam, the bike mechanic, fixed it in five minutes. Then I mentioned that I could use a lower granny gear. (This is the smallest, easiest to turn gear used in climbing.) Cam dug out a chainring they had two fewer teeth than the one on The Mule.

In ten minutes he installed the ring and I took it for a test ride. Shifting into and out of the chain ring is clunky but it works. And those two teeth will make a big difference in my climbing.

Cam the Gearman

It turns out that Cam used to work in a ski shop in Incline Village, Nevada at the north end of Lake Tahoe. He remembered that Don Kanare, a friend from my college days, bought skies from him. Small world.

I have to admit that I had some trepidation about riding at all today considering the fact that yesterday was one of my worst days on a bike ever. What a surprise that despite my fatigue today was one of my best days on a bike. I had enough energy to enjoy the beautiful scenery I was riding through.

I took a room in a renovated old motel just outside Salida. Depending on how tonight goes, I might stay here tomorrow night too. In any case, I’m not leaving Salida until Monday. I need to rest.

Then I’ll begin the climb to Monarch Pass. I plan in going up six miles and camping. If I feel okay, I’ll do another six and camp. I seriously doubt I can get over the top in one day. We’ll see.

Miles today: 52

Tour Miles: 1,484.5

Top Speed: 36.8 mph

No Name Tour: Day 23 – Let’s Ride over a Mountain, Not!

I began the day by riding to a WalMart north of Pueblo to buy supplies. Then I rode to the Post Office to mail something.

I was on the road pretty early, well before 8. The route began by wending me through a city park and some nice neighborhoods of modest, well kept single family homes. One of the homes was apparently owned by a whimsical artist.

I love the glasses

After my tour of Pueblo, I headed west on Highway 96. Again!

The terrain immediately switched to rocky desert. There was s two mile hill leaving town that I didn’t pay attention to when planning the day. It wasn’t hard but, having not taken a day off in over 3 weeks, I felt like my legs were full of lead. Not a good sign.

Leaving Pueblo

About 25 miles into the day I was caught by Yoni Doron Peters who’s doing the Western Express with a friend whom he’s meeting in Canon City. He was loaded even lighter than Corey and Mark. How do they do it?

After 37 miles I met two men who were finishing up the Western Express Route. Jagdish and Steve told me of a place a mile ahead with water and bathrooms. Steve is ending his ride in Pueblo; Jagdish is headed for Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

It turns out that they ran into Corey and Mark there! It’s located in the town of Wetmore where the Western Express and the TransAmerica Trail diverge.

Of course, Corey and Mark we’re gone by the time I arrived. I stayed about 15 minutes then rode out only to spot one of Jagdish and Steve’s riding partners, Warren. I told him about the bathrooms and water. He was all smiles having descended from over 9,000 feet in 14 miles. He said the hill would be no problem. I noted that all three riders in his group had mailed home lots of gear to shed weight.

Jagdish and Steve
Warren, all smiles.

I bid Warren goodbye and began the climb he had just flew down.

Since I’m not acclimated to the thin mountain air I decided to take it easy. The scenery was beautiful, conifers and aspen trees all over the mountain slopes. I didn’t see much of it as I had my head down, grinding away.

After 3 miles of nonstop climbing my heart was racing so I stopped on the side of the road until it settled down. I did this again at 6 miles, 7 1/2 miles, 8 miles, and 8 1/2 miles.

A woman in an SUV rolled to a stop ad she was coming down the mountain. She asked if I was okay and offered me water.

This hill was the hardest climb I’ve ever done. And 8 miles into a 14-mile climb my legs were kaput.

Rather than risk a heart attack or a crash from the extreme fatigue, I decide to swallow my pride and walk. And walk. And walk.

From time to time I got back on the bike it my legs were gone. At one point my right leg muscles went into a cramp whenever I pushed down on the pedal.

Walk. Walk. Ride. Walk. Walk.

I had allocated 3 hours for what I originally though was a 10-mile climb. Suffice it to say it took more like 4 hours.

An ascent as pretty as it is painful
14 Miles of Up

My problem was a combination of not enough rest, too much weight, not eating and drinking enough, and age.

At the top the road gently rolled. A storm approached blowing me all over the place. Then I reached the descent. Wind howling, Mule flying. I saw a curve ahead with a 40 mph warning sign. I looked down and saw 37 and rising on my speedometer. I tapped the brakes to keep me from shooting off the road into the scrub and rocks.

It’s hard not to admire the landscape as you zoom downhill. Dead ahead was the ominous snowy peaks of the Colorado Rockies. Getting over them will be brutal.

I rolled into Westcliffe and looked for a motel that Jagdish and Steve recommended. The Courtyard Country Inn is a funky place with rooms arrayed around an outdoor courtyard with fountains.

Mo, the co-owner greeted me, and told me that there were no vacancies and probably none in town.

She took pity on me since I looked like I was about to keel over. She asked the Air B&B next door if they had anything. Only a $200 room. Then she remembered that some friends had booked tonight and tomorrow at her motel but said they might not come tonight. She called them and, indeed, they weren’t coming tonight. So I got their room!

Mo says they of anybody cancels for tomorrow night, I can have their room. I hope so; I like this place. Otherwise I’ll ride to Salida and get a room there.

Miles today: 63.5

Tour miles: 1,432.5.

No Name Tour: Day 22 – We Approach the Rockies

It was a goof thing we grabbed the hotel last night as the pleasant forecast turned into a thunderstorm. The park where we would have camped was already wet from a sprinkler system. We fit 3 in a room with Corey sleeping in his sleeping bag on the floor.

The morning began with a quick bite in our room. When I retrieved my bike out of its hiding place I found that the front brake was grabbing. Mark worked on it for 30 minutes and got it functioning again.

We headed off into another light headwind. The forecast called for tailwinds. Just like last summer’s tour. Local weather forecasts out here are very unreliable.

The first 15 miles had us rolling through high desert.

Pretty arid out there

The air is dry making me constantly thirsty.

We rode 15 miles then turned south off-route to locate a proper breakfast in the town of Fowler. Sadly, the town eatery was closed so we settled for Subway.

After an ATM stop, we stayed off Route and headed toward Pueblo on US 50 (Arlington Boulevard and New York Avenue to my DC area friends). It was a busy truck route but the paved shoulder was about ten feet wide with a two foot rumble strip. We were safe but for someone pulling a horse trailer with his pickup. He swerved toward the shoulder as he passed me and earned the first bird flip of the tour.

The Mule broke 53,000 miles today

Approaching Pueblo we saw two super long unit (all one cargo) cold trains. The last few miles it felt like all the water in my body was evaporating.

Coal train headed east in the BNSF

Once in town I caught up with Mark and Corey who stopped at the Great Divide bike shop. I purchased some long fingered gloves for the mountain descents in the days ahead.

We were going to eat at a Mexican restaurant across the street but it had no windows and, therefore, no way for us to keep an eye on our bikes.

Must be pretty old

So I stopped a passing letter carrier and asked her about local eateries. She was incredibly helpful and sent us downtown. We ended up at Bingos, a hamburger joint. I had a cheese burger and fries and a vanilla shake that really hit the spot.

I noticed that once again my brakes were grabbing so we headed back to the bike shop. One of my brake pads in front was unevenly worn and gripping the rim. The back one was having troubles too. The mechanic fixed them both, I hope, for good.

While there he also replaced my chain and cassette (the gears in the back). My chain had stretched the length of a full link in two months. Corey’s chai was also worn but he had an unusual drivetrain. My chain cost $25; the chain the store had in stock for his bike cost $100. The owner offered it to Corey at a generous discount but Corey wouldn’t bite. He is mighty thrifty.

We rode a few blocks to a motel that I thought was gross. Cigarette butts everywhere. The laundry room smelled of mold. Cars in the parking area looked beat up. The room was nice and inexpensive. Corey and Mark has tried to hook up with a Warmshowers host but couldn’t close the deal do they took a room at the hotel. We said our goodbyes. They head north on the TransAm tomorrow. I head west in the Western Express.

I found a hotel north of town that is pretty nice. The only choice for dinner is the Mexican restaurant next store so that’s where dinner will be.

Tomorrow, assuming my bike behaves, I’m doing a climb over a 9,000 foot mountain. (I’m at around 4,700 feet now.) it should be challenging.

I am now a day ahead of schedule. I planned a rest day for Pueblo but I’m not particularly tired. I’ll save it for a bad weather day.

Many thanks to Mark and Corey for keeping me company. I’ll have to rethink solo touring after my experience with them. I wish them safe travels and great adventures through the Rockies and beyond.

Miles today: 57.5

Tour miles: 1369

No Name Tour: Day 21 – Flying to Ordway

Last night after setting up our tents in the city park in Eads, a nasty thunderstorm blew into town. The clerk at the Sheriff’s office advised us to break camp and go to the town motel. We decided to stay put but to ride out the storm at the town restaurant about a half mile away.

We left just in time. The storm was pretty ugly. After waiting for it to pass, we walked back expecting to find our tents and bikes blown all over town. But everything was just as we left it. Water penetration in the tents was minimal so we camped out.

After breakfast at the same place, we lit out for Ordway, 60 miles to the west on Highway 93. The ride gained only 100 feet with some gentle uphills, downhills, and curves to keep things entertaining.

We are in desert or something close to it. Lots of sand, sagebrush, cactus, yucca, and such. The road service went from big expansion joints to smooth pavement and back. Winds were light and mostly gave us a nice nudge.

The day begins on Highway 96
Anyone know what’s up with this sign?
The desert-like terrain nearly matches the road
Corey sets the record as Mark looks on

Corey went crazy taking pictures. His phone was loaded with dozens of fantastic shots of flowers and the landscape. His picture of this caboose broke the TransAm Trail record for most pix on a tour and he’s still only halfway. He should try out for Jeopardy.

We decided to take a room at the Hotel Ordway. We could have camped in the park across the street but the sprinklers and the 4 p.m. cloudburst put us off. Good thing because the winds carried a noxious smell from the town feedlot after the storm.

We have two beds and Corey volunteered to sleep on his camping mattress on the floor, thereby saving all of us some money.

Tomorrow is the last ride together for our trip. After Pueblo they go north and I go west.

We both go up. They will be riding toward Hoosier Pass. I’ll be heading toward Monarch Pass. Both are over 11,000 feet.

Eek.

Miles today: 62

Tour miles: 1,311.5

No Name Tour: Day 20 – A Day “Off” morning

Corey and Mark are accustomed to taking days off about once per week, but since they’d met met me they ridden nine days in a row. So today we took an off day. Sort of.

We ride about 29 miles from Sheridan Lake, Colorado to Eads, Colorado. The winds were light and just off to the side. Although still on Highway 96, we no longer had the endless gradual climb of the last several days. Instead the road was gently rolling. Wheat fields were gradually replaced by cattle ranges covered in sage brush. It’s green here only because of high levels of rainfall in recent days. The road also, incredibly, curved a few times.

Corey got us started by making pancakes. I made coffee. Mark melted butter. Somehow it all came out fab. The food was supplied by our hosts, the Sheridan Lake Bible Church.

Breakfast at the church

I followed Mark for most of the day as Corey lingered over his photography.

Mark, my shadow, and me
Grain goes on forever
Sagebrush on the prairie

We saw an antelope today. Mark said that he spooked it and it bounced away. I saw it after it had calmed down.

Our route took us eight miles south of the site of the Sand Creek Massacre where several hundred native Americans, including women, children, and the elderly, we slaughtered in a surprise attack by the Colorado Volunteer Cavalry. White settlers in their lust for land and gold signed and reneged on treaties then ambushed a native settlement. Reparations were granted to the affected people but, of course, were never paid. The remaining Indians were moved to Oklahoma.

This area of the country is also where white settlers slaughtered millions of bison for their hides, leaving carcasses to rot in the blazing sun.

As I rode through hundreds of thousands of acres of nearly empty prairie this week, I couldn’t help thinking how utterly insane it is that white settlers couldn’t co-exist with natives and with animal life like the buffalo and passenger pigeons. I felt the same way last summer riding across North Dakota and Montana. White people won this land though massacre and disease and duplicity. What an ugly legacy.

The weather was amazing today.

After arriving in Eads we briefly considered riding another 60 miles to Ordway. We checked out the town park here and decided to stay the night. The grass here is perfect, a sure sign of an irrigation system. The grounds keeper told us he’d make sure the sprinkler system would be turned off while we were camping.

Tomorrow we hope for tailwinds and cool temperatures.

Miles today: 30.5

Mikes total: 1,249.5