Pictures of the Year 2019

Well, once again I wasted untold hours posting this inane blog. In for a penny, in for a pound. So here goes with the pictures of 2019. With one, regrettably from a few years ago.

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I finally made it to the Kenwood neighborhood in Bethesda. Cherry blossoms are one of the best things about DC in the spring.
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The bike valet at Nationals Park is the best. My bikes spent a lot of time here this year
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Nothing says bike touring fun quite like two weeks of thunderstorms.
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Springfield, Illinois just around the corner from the grave of the Corn Dog King
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Mark, Corey, and me taking shelter from a storm in a church in Kansas
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Kansas was an ordeal. Little did we know that the Rockies would be brutal. The sign was pretty neat though.
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Electrically equipped apartments in Pueblo, CO
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Flooding in western Missouri and eastern Kansas on the way west
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Part of a farm building that was obliterated by a tornado near Golden City, Missouri. Three people died here.
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I rode to the top of this beast. The ride down was epic.
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Indomitable French sisters in Boulder, Utah
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Rocks out west
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Stupidest sign of the year
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More rocks near Bryce Canyon
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Hoodoos in the Amphitheater at Bryce Canyon
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The Mule poses next to the Cedar Break National Monument snow bank in late June
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Survival indeed
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Gio and Christina from Italy in Eureka, Nevada
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I thought these climbs would never end
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Downhill through California wineries
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Salt flats in Nevada
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Morning view from my motel room – Caples Lake, California in the Sierras
Sugarloaf with sticks
Hiking Sugarloaf, Maryland
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Lotus blossoms at the Anacostia Botanical Gardens
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Apollo 50 on the National Mall
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The Mule comes home
Dinner view
They won the whole damned thing. Unreal.
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Tired? Not me. Emilia at the Great Pumpkin Ride
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Autumn in Fort Hunt Park near home
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A stellar human being killed by an out-of-control driver. Still hard to believe Miss you Dave.

 

 

 

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