Bike Tour 2022 – Ordway to Pueblo

I neglected to mention Olav’s close encounter with a grizzly bear in Yellowstone Park. He was riding fast down a hill when he saw a large vehicle with a camper stopped on the road ahead. He passed the vehicle on the left. Just as he came to the driver’s door, he saw a grizzly crossing the road in front of the vehicle. He said he was within five meters of the bear who paid no attention to him. I did not ask if he pooped his pants.

In case you are concerned about me, no worries; Mark who will be joining me soon usually takes the lead. Go Mark Go!

The Ordway Hotel was a good choice. The bed was comfy, the shower positively heavenly.

Breakfast was coffee and a cherry turnover. That’s pretty much what Ordway had to offer. Off I rode for 50 miles in the Arkansas River valley to Pueblo. (People in Missouri and Kansas pronounce it R Kansas. Coloradans say R Kansaw.) Mercifully I had a tailwind. And the road was either flat or slightly downhill.

The turnover was wearing off when I stopped to talk with Tony and Carrie, two eastbound riders. They were on their way from Denver to Bethesda, MD, almost certainly passing within a mile and a half of my house.

Tony, now a 62-year-old teacher, did the TransAm 36 years ago.

We parted ways and I made it to Boone and a rather poorly stocked convenience store. They had Gatorade, ice cream, and cheese and crackers. Gulp.

Of course , my snack messed my blood sugar all up and I rode like a drunk for a few miles. The last 6 miles into Pueblo was a bit of a shock. High speed traffic on a divided highway. People! Houses! Businesses! What happened to home on the range? In a strange contrast, my side of the road was briefly bordered by prairie dog habitat. As I rode along, they’d pop out of their holes and chirp.

I had a few things to do in Pueblo. First I needed a spare tube and a shot of air in my tires. I pulled into a curb cut to check the Google. Then I looked up. I was in front of a bike store! The same one I visited in 2019.

After that I went to an ATM. I’d nearly gone through $200 in cash since sometime in May.

A bike shop employee recommended the Shamrock Bar for lunch. Being a newly minted Irish citizen I couldn’t not go there. I had the green chili mac with bacon and an Irish Red brew. The plate of food was enormous. I have no shame; I ate it all.

Next I checked a hotel downtown for a room but it would have cost over $200. I reserved a room at the Baymont Inn three miles uptown. As it turns out, I booked the last room.

After checking in, I put a did a load of wash, everything but my rain pants and my torn t-shirt. After the wash I put the clothes in the dryer. It wouldn’t take my quarters. I complained to the manager. She refused to let me use the hotel dryer. She told me to take it to a laundromat. I reminded her that I was in a bike and that it was 95 degrees outside. She objected to the fact that I was upset.

After a few minutes of stewing, I used the Google to find a laundromat and rode there. A customer, obviously of modest means, pointed to a machine with 2 minutes of drying time left then added 75 cents to it. He wouldn’t let me pay him back. Laundromat karma’s gonna get you.

Tomorrow I’m heading further west, about 35 miles, to stay with a Warmshowers host. It’s supposed to be very hot but, as they say, it’s a dry heat. I will be gaining about 1,400 feet in elevation. Staying overnight at over 6,000 feet should help me acclimate.

Today was my first sighting of the Rockies. They are rather intimidating looking.

Tony and Carrie, two crazy kids on their way to Bethesda, MD
No more open range and mega farms. They got trees here!
Ice water and Irish Red. Hydration is important.

Miles today: 57. Tour miles: 1,159.5.

Bike Tour 2022 – Eads to Ordway

I am in Trump country. The city offices in Eads had the official President Trump photo in a prominent location. I didn’t see one of Brandon though.

While riding through the side streets of Eads last night I saw a towheaded little boy no more than two wandering alone in the middle of the street. It felt a bit like a Rod Serling moment.

I fell asleep way too early and slept like a fallen tree. I woke up at 2:48 a.m. I pulled my sleeping bag over my head and woke up again at 4:30. I tried again and got up at 5:35. I had been assured that the park’s sprinkler system had been deactivated but I broke camped exceptionally fast in case the maintenance man didn’t get the memo.

I rode the half mile to the roadside bathroom. The facilities were all metal. Sitting on the cold toilet woke me up muy pronto. Next I rode to a gas station convenience store to buy water and a sandwich for my ride. It’s about 60 miles to Ordway without any services.

Next up was breakfast at JJ’s where I was joined by Olav, an eastbound rider. Olav is from Norway. He’s doing 100 miles per day.

The breakfast was huge After eating every molecule, I headed west on The Mule. The road was very gently rolling as it passed through the plains, a railroad line on a berm to my right.

After 35 miles, two deer, 50 or so cattle, and some grain elevators, I arrived at Arlington. I ate my gas station sandwich. Eastbound rider Mike told me of how disgusting the Arlington comfort station was. Eww. Needless to say, I took a pass on using it.

The remaining 20 miles were a grind. The terrain however was gently downhill and, with the aid of a mild tailwind, I took full advantage. My speedometer read between 15 and 18 mph the whole way. The five miles after Sugar City were flat. Not one inch up or down.

I trucked into Ordway and found the only hotel in town where Corey, Mark, and I had squeezed into a room in 2019. I had plenty of camping options, but it had been four days since my last hot shower. Let’s just say that my BO confirmed that I didn’t have Covid.

I would have taken a slot alone in the hotel’s hostel section with its shared bathroom but two Belgian cycle tourists arrived immediately after I did. $30 more for a private room and no deadly infection won out.

After a fantastic shower, I went in search of edible plant medicine only to find the town’s weed store was closed. After a minute checking out the town saloon, I ended up at a pizza place where I had a Prison Break sausage sandwich, a wise choice.

I am several days early for the end of the solo portion of my ride in Canon City. I need to balance cost of shelter with scary heat arriving here in the next few days. My options include staying here another day, staying in a hotel in Pueblo, staying with at least one Warmshowers host on route, staying in a motel in either Florence or Canon City, and, I kid you not, staying in a dorm room in an abbey in Canon City.

Riding into Eads involved a fierce sprint of sorts through a highway work zone. It left my head spinning. My blast across the plains today did the same. Even at 4,500 feet or so I can feel the effects of altitude. Ordway is at 4,300 feet.

Miles today: 65. Tour miles: 1,102.5.

Educational sign at highway loo
My light breakfast. Held me in good stead for 35 miles.
Olav the speedy Norwegian
Arlington roadside comfort station
Two wild and crazy Belgians

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.


Miles today: 62

Tour miles: 1,311.5