Saturday, July 14, 2012

To the mountains!

After about 1000 miles of riding flat terrain and something like 2000 miles of not really hanging out with any other cyclists, I was probably starting to get a little batty.  Fortunately both of those things changed.  From Pueblo, CO the terrain turns from flat into the foothills of the Rockies.  Go a little further and you're then in the thick of it with 14ers all around you.  Today I rode about 70 miles and it was pretty much all continuously uphill.  Yeah.  Think about that for a moment.  Tomorrow is the big payoff when I crest the Continental Divide and get to ride nature's roller coaster.

Also in the past few days I have run into more cyclists and gotten to hang out.  Think about this:  in 2700 miles and 7 weeks, I think that I shared breakfast twice, dinner once, and a campsite perhaps twice with other cyclists.  That leaves a lot of time to talk to your imaginary friends.  The first day that I tried leaving Pueblo, I ran into two eastbound cyclists, Whitney and Promise, about 25 miles from town.  Since they had me laughing uncontrollably within the first minute of meeting them, I quickly decided it was worth backtracking to ride with them into Pueblo and even take a rest day.  Hanging out with them was a great recharge for my travelling spirits.  Then in Royal Gorge I shared dinner with a father and son, Jerry and Chad, from Lancaster, PA.  I was able to talk to them at length about how to connect the TransAmerica up to Lancaster since that sounds like what Chad is going to do.

In the next couple of days, it should get even better!  I will be reuniting with Geff and Mary Anne in Frisco whom I met in Vesuvius, VA when they were riding eastbound.  I was hoping to intercept my longtime friend Lauren Reed who is currently hiking the Colorado Trail, but I am not too sure that it will work out.  And then I am detouring off of the TransAmerica route and heading up to Steamboat Springs to spend several days with my uncle and a couple of friends.  I'm certainly looking forward to all of that!

Jon, I stand corrected.  Marmots are not the most annoying thing on earth.  Prairie dogs are.  Pueblo, CO
The foothills of the Rockies are finally within sight!  This was the first time that I left Pueblo.  I turned around shortly thereafter.
Whitney and Promise were a blast to hang out with and also quite inspiring.  This was their first bike tour of any kind and were steadily eating up the miles.  In fact, Promise bought and rode a bike for the first time only three months ago.
Blue Surly Long Haul Truckers are a tad popular amongst cyclists on the TransAm.
When I mentioned I was going to try and get a haircut, Promise offered to do it.  Since this was her first time giving a haircut and using paper scissors from the motel front desk, she was a little apprehensive at first.  If she had ever seen the haircuts I regularly gave myself she wouldn't have worried.  She and Whitney were concerned that a bad haircut could "ruin my chances with the ladies of Colorado".  Don't worry, I will ruin my chances regardless.  The haircut turned out great by the way.
I rode Route 96 through Kansas and Colorado for approximately 450 miles.  Without making a single turn.  I kid you not.  This junction marks the moment I finally got off of it.
I stopped to take a picture of what I first thought were sheep for Ieva.  The llamas are probably better suited for this terrain.  Which reminds me- Ieva, the next time we go into Tittycomb Basin to eat Cheezits and drink Wild Turkey, we're totally getting pack llamas.
A wild dork in his natural habitat.  Royal Gorge, CO
Surprisingly I did not notice any "No Trespassing" signs around this property.  I think this skull on the front gate is sufficient.
The reason that you can't see many of the high peaks around me is because of the numerous storms that are also surrounding me.  The last 25 miles of this day were riding into a strong headwind, uphill, with continuous rain.  It will come as no surprise to those that know me that I was enjoying myself.
This was the first time on the trip that I wore both a rain jacket and a long sleeved shirt over my jersey.  It was around 80 degrees in the morning but when the storms arrived, the temperature promptly dropped by 20 degrees.  Apparently it is in the forties in the mornings at these altitudes.
I wimped out and decided to stay in a hostel in Alma, CO since I didn't really know where to legally camp.  And I was tired.  And wet.  And cold.  Sue me.


  1. Pack llamas! Mountains! Precipitation! Cute girls giving you haircuts!

    Oh my. Good times for the Wild Dork.

    Hung out with some State College folk tonight, and we all talked very fondly of our friend Tom. Llamas > Sheep, btw.

    1. It reminds me of the time that you and Stacy straightened my hair in Edison, NJ out of boredom. And Rick Neill couldn't figure out why I looked like Bon Jovi the next day.

      How do llamas stack up against burros?