Friday, July 13. Arriba, CO to just north of Ordway, CO. 86 miles of riding in 5:12 hrs.
As I look back on it I kind of feel like I really put in a ninny of a blog yesterday – “Oh woes me!” Sorry about that. You know, it’s really amazing what a difference a day makes. Had a couple Fosters Oil Cans last night and just chilled with Judy as we both pretty much fell asleep at 9 PM watching TV. Got in a great night’s sleep and kind of had a gameplan as soon as I got out of bed.
It’s funny how your mood can ebb and flow on trips like this. I’ve found that you just cannot let a bad day or two get to you and ruin the long-term goal. Crossing the country, I’ve found, is best done one day at a time. If you look at the enormity of the whole thing it can just blow you away. Same is the case when you just have your ass handed to you with bad weather, bad mechanicals, bad terrain, and on and on and on. This trip – as opposed to the previous three - has had me on the ropes several times with all sorts of issues, and I’m really glad that I just slept on it and then got the ball rolling again the next day. Now, obviously this trip has not turned into the trip I had envisioned. I’m still so very far from truly attaining a coast to coast dirt trip that it’s staggering to contemplate that such a challenge can actually be pulled off. But I just hate quitting because it’s not shaping up the way I’d wanted it. I detest giving in like that about as much as I hated loosing when I was racing. So I’m just trying to do the very best I can with this and make it across the US whatever the situation and with whatever I’m handed. Enough of that.
Ok, back to today. Now I had an offer from my buddy Drew to come to Denver and stay at his house if we wanted and I could sort things out there. And that sounded pretty good, so our plan was for me to put in a half day of riding, maybe going from Arriba back to Limon for 22 miles, and then head south on Rt 71 towards Ordway for about 20 miles and get in a bit of a jump on the following day. Then we would turn around and drive to Denver around 11 AM and I’d go to Drew’s bike shop where I’d get all new skins and tubes and also get some inner liners to put in between the tires and tubes so I could run the bike back in sand and gravel again. I’d read some pretty good reviews on these liners for the kind of riding that I’m doing. That I think is better than doing a total retro fit on the wheels and install the tubless with the goop inside.
Ok, so that was the gameplan. I emailed Drew on the drive back on I-70 to Arriba where I’d start the day. We pulled into a rest stop at the Arriba exit and I just rode up to the onramp and right down to the interstate and got rolling. No wind this morning, round about 7:15 AM – a bit on the late side – and the interstate was pretty sparse on the traffic side. Judy was asking me about riding on the interstate and wondered how I could stand it. Now first of all, I don’t EVEN fancy this kind of riding, especially when I’d just done nearly 650 miles of gravel and sand through MO and KS. But it is what it is, and having that 8-10 foot berm on the interstate is often way safer than riding some of those state and county routes where there is zero berm and a gazillion trucks speeding by you. So in a pinch, the interstate riding out west is a good out. And it’s really bloody safe.
Knocked off the 22 mile stretch in about 1:15 min and met Jude at a big gasmart in Limon. I put down a couple sandwiches and a coke and off onto what we figured would be a short 20-miler south on Rt 71. Now you may be wondering why we’re suddenly going on a southern trend. I’d kind of looked at so many options on this trip, and my first inclination was to kind of parallel the route that I’d done last year, but to try to go dirt. As we got deeper into the trip this just that gameplan seemed to be much harder, especially finding gravel across some of CO and WY mountain passes. We had wanted to finish up in OR. Now the second part of it is that I’d really like to see some different scenery on this trip rather than just go through the same old from last year. Been there done that! So I began looking at going south in CO and then west in Northern NM and AZ and into San Diego, CA as an end point. Judy had a very good friend there and we could enjoy So Cal for a few days, then drive north to visit our friends in WA.
So that’s the scoop there – new area, new terrain, new adventures. Well, I got going on Rt 71 south and was just smoking it on the bike, averaging like 16-17 mph on a damned 26 in mountain bike. Wind yesterday was out of the southeast, and today it was out of the northeast, so I had a tad of a tailwind. During that 20-mile ride I had a lot of time to think about our day’s gameplan. Seemed like a lot of time and money – it’s flowing like a bloody faucet right now – to drive 100 miles to Denver and then do the same 100 miles back to Rt 71 tomorrow morning to begin tomorrow’s ride. I thought maybe if I rode south and then drove to Pueblo, CO for my tires, tubes, and skins, we’d save a lot of time and money. So at the end of the 20 I got in the van and ran the idea by Judy, who was totally cool with the plan. Done.
So I just kept it rolling. We did like 10 and 15 mile stretches for support stops. Now when you get on Rt 71 the first sign you see tells you that there are no services for 74 miles. Kind of daunting when you’re on a bike, especially unsupported. So I felt pretty lucky to have Powerade, food, and water in an ice chest whenever I needed it. My own personal sag wagon! And with today’s heat, that support was just awesome. And did it got hot quickly. Couple that with the road, this little ribbon of asphalt that went off, off, off into the southern horizon. Man, you can see a car go by and still see it 5 miles down the road off in the distance. Welcome to the beginning of the desert Southwest. The heat at least was dry. Not the nasty humid, stifling heat that we experienced in MO and KS. But it is hot! I wasn’t really sweating much, but my arms, legs, neck and face was just getting crusty with salt dust. Made sure not to piss my doc sister off so I chugged down like 3 quarts of Powerade today in addition to about that much in water.
Was able to keep the wheels rolling with a great pace with very few hill of any significance. Now there were a few long graduals, but I could still maintain a great pace on these. The last twenty miles were pretty damned hot, with the air rushing by me getting hot, like the air from a hair dryer. You know it’s hot when the air you’re breaking through is hot. I was really toying with the idea of knocking off the whole thing all the way to Ordway for a 90-some mile day. But tell you what, with about 10 or so miles to go, I was pretty smoked. So I jumped in the van and we called it a day. Drove just a short bit of time and we were in the little town of Ordway. We booked this little motel, the only one in the town, and I was pretty skeptical on what we’d get. But we were both pleasantly surprised to find that this little mom and pop place is very clean, quaint and well run. Cool little western town here. I have wifi, and we have great AC, cable, and a sweet little room.
Tomorrow I’ll do a short day of 30-40 miles – only to keep my streak alive (tomorrow will be 43 straight days in the saddle). And then we’ll drive to Pueblo for the bike gear. We’ll stay in Pueblo for the night and then drive back to where I leave off tomorrow for the ride on Sunday. For Sunday ride I hope to hit Trinidad, CO, close the NM border. That’s it for the day……..PeteP.S. Good luck all of you on your racing this weekend!!!!!