Riding North in Colorado

Day 49- July 19

We set off from Canon City a bit early….we had breakfast at the diner- Big Daddy’s at 6:30 then left. Right from the beginning we encountered some climbs. I predicted that this day was going to be the hardest on this map and, now looking back, I can say it was. We gained significant elevation. A little less than 4,000 feet during about 60 miles. We had to cross over Currant Creek Pass at 9,404 feet.

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About 30 miles in we decided to go off route a mile to a town called Guffey to refill our waters and eat lunch. A truck passed us carrying a bike fully loaded. We thought it was odd, but didn’t think much else. When we got to the turn off for Guffey we came across another biker coming down from Guffey. Of couse Guffey would be a mile uphill. He was from Cleveland, Ohio area and it was his bike we saw in the truck. It was his second day on the road and he hadn’t got his bike legs yet.

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We proceeded up the hill and spotted a deer. Then after a long mile we reached the small town. For a tiny town it had 3 eating places though one was the only one open at the time. We stopped at the cafe and sat outside as the inside wasn’t very cool. We got the specials, because we thought we learned that those are usually the better deal, but it ended but being the most expensive. The waitress was very friendly as she told us about her two sons in full detail. She lived right next door and she had a baby sitter looking after them. The baby sitter didn’t loo very old, maybe 9, but she believed she was older as she said: “I have to get away from those kids.”

The owner/cook came to talk to us and told us tales of his life- growing up in the Malibu, CA, then moving to Colorado. Such as meeting famous people, being sponsored in some motor race, and hitchhiking all over the place. We sat there for almost 2 hours, shared a piece of pie and ice cream then left. We had another 30 miles to go. We had to cross the pass then some downhill, some.

We crossed the path and it was getting dark as a storm was rolling in. Fortunately, this time, we didn’t get wet. But we, or maybe just me, was nervous and dark clouds were all around us and we could see very strong lightning and for some hear thunder. There was some confusion with how far to the small town- Hartsel, as some of the road signs said different things. We got to the first spot and saw no sign of a town. We kept pushing. We were anxious and getting irritated as we were tired. A car stopped to look at the moose on the side of the road and we asked them. They said about 2 miles out and once we climb the hill we probably could see it. Well, they were right.

The Cleveland man was already there. The map said to ask the bar/cafe where we can camp. They directed us to across the street in a junk yard. Well that’s not at all pleasant. Dad spotted a church and behind it was a pavilion. We all decided to stay there. However, it said no camping. Figuring we were moving on the next morning and no one would really care, we ignored it. We talked to a lady who lived next door and she agreed that no one would care. So we moved our things and then got dinner at the cafe. Our waitress mentioned that we could camp behind the cafe, but we told her we were all set. We had some good food then went back to the pavilion. We set up our tents and there was some commotion next door at the volunteer fire department. Now, these gentlemen have seen us walking about and it’s quite dark. Something triggered them and two came over with cigarettes in their mouths.

“You can’t camp on fire department property.” “You have to clear out.”

No hellos, sorrys, thank yous. They dropped their cigarettes on the ground and glared at us while we moved to behind the cafe. It was more irksome because we have had such warm and welcoming hospitality from these small towns and to be talked down to as such was very unpleasant.

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Day 50- July 20

We got breakfast at the cafe then continued on our day. Today was the day we were going to go over Hoosier Pass- the highest point on the trail. We planned on going from Hartsel to Silverthorne. The Cleveland man was aiming for Frisco.

We were all set to leave when Dad looks at my tire. It was flat. We stayed at the town to fix it. Apparently, when we fixed the last flat, several leaves/twigs got into the tire then proceeded to rub a hole in the tube. I patched it up and put in a different tube. Finally, we were on our way. The terrain was pretty smooth. It was uphill, but at a gradual incline making it barely noticeable. We had to climb about 2,000 feet to get to the pass at 11,500. We saw a group of buffalo in the meadow and caught up with Cleveland man. He needed to have something tightened so we helped him out then we continued. We made it to the first town of the day and stopped at their grocery store for supplies and a snack break.

A man came up to us and asked about the transamerica trail as he has always wanted to do it. We answered his questions. I miscalculated the next segment thinking it was 10 or 11 miles to the next town, but it was actually 6 on mainly a bike path. We were in Alma. Right before the 4 mile uphill (you knew it was uphill, no gradual). Upon entering Colorado, Dad and I were talking about dry counties (no alcohol) that we experienced in Kentucky. I realized that Colorado probably doesn’t have those as a certain green plant is legal in this state. Well, Alma was our first (and only) town, that we saw, that had Marijuana stores and paraphernalia stores. Interesting.

We split a sandwich and had lunch with Cleveland man. The higher elevation makes us less hungry. Then we tackled the pass. We got passed by some weekend bike riders who looked like they were training for a race and a bike tourer was going down the hill. He gave us encouragement. I stopped just shy of the top (I thought there was a mile left versus less than half a mile) to take photos, catch my breath, and wait for Dad. But we made it!! Hoosier Pass/Continental Divide.

We were not sure how far the Cleveland man was and after 15 minutes we headed down the mountain. We talked to couple of people who were impressed with our trip. It was a nice descent since we didn’t have to pedal. However, there were tight curves and not a big shoulder. As we were going down, the clouds started rolling in and we felt rain drops. We prepared for rain.

The Cleveland man passed us as he can fly down mountains. I then hear a car horn. I figure it’s someone saying I’m passing or way to go. I round a bend and see two people standing by a truck in a driveway. I think it’s a little silly for them to be standing in a soon to be bad weather. As I got closer I recognized the man. It was one of the Georgia guys (who now lives in Colorado) that we met in Missouri! Dad and I were estatic. Though we knew him a total of two days, it was really cool to see him again. He was the one who honked his horn. He recognized Dad’s helmet.

We talked for a few minutes to catch up and see how the rest of their trip was and then exchanged contact info as we forgot to do that last time. We said good byes and continued on. We got rained on. The scenery was really nice, but due to the rain and traffic stopping to take photos was not a priority. We made it into Breckenridge, a very nice town, a ski resort town. Lots of people surprisingly. We rode through main street then got on a bike path that would take us to Frisco. It was pretty straight forward. At Frisco, it got a bit complicated to get on the next bike path. This one was more recreational and after a long day we weren’t interested in windy curves along the water.

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Finally! We made it to Silverthorne. It was very obvious how much elevation we dropped. We made reservations at the Riverside Lodge Hostel earlier and rode there. Silverthorne has a lot of outlet malls….The hostel was interesting…. bit different than the hostels I’ve used in South America and Europe. There was no reception desk and a guest went to find the manager. In contrary to what he said on the phone, the women’s dorm was full so he gave me a private room while Dad slept in the men’s dorm. For the same price as he quoted me on the phone.

We showered and cooked dinner. We were both so tired. We were in bed by 8. My room was by the lounge, but the manager kicked everyone out around 8.30- “she’s sleeping, she’s going to wake up early.” I appreciated it. It was interesting that this manager is the longest endurance skier in the States, but maybe the world. He had an article framed that called him Mr. Fantastic or Terrific or something like that.

Day 51- July 21

Dad woke me up at 5.45. I was super tired. I wouldn’t have complained if it was a rest day. I was exhausted. We packed up and went to Wendy’s for breakfast. Right at the door when they opened at 7. We sat in there for an hour. Clearly not ready to move, but we did. We had some nice downhill today. Near the end of the day there were some climbs, but the morning was a beautiful ride as we had nice shoulders.

Besides some 76 bike signs, like 3 or 4, we have not seen anymore though Colorado. But, the directions are pretty straight forward. We had to go through 5 miles of construction. The flag lady was pretty rude to the cars. She acted nice with me. We were let through after the cars and it wasn’t till the end that they started letting cars the other way go. The Cleveland man hitched a ride with a truck.

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Today was also a big day as we were getting our new tent. The one we brought on the trip does not repel water and is a bit small. Soooo we got a new one. We sent it to Kremmeling where I thought we would spend the night, but due to the easy ride and about 40 miles we decided to keep going. We got our tent at the post office then got lunch at Subway. They were packed with people! We then went to the city park to do a quick test run of setting up the tent. A police officer stopped by and asked us what we were doing aka you better not be camping. When we told him and he saw the box he laughed and wished us a good day.

The Cleveland man showed up and chatted with is for a bit before getting lunch. We headed to our final destination- Hot Sulphur Springs about 60 miles. It was a bit rough the last few miles as I was really tired. We had a hard time finding the campground, it was actually very simple we just couldn’t figure it out haha. We flagged a police officer and he pointed us in the direction and said it was free. Side note, all the motels were booked full.

No restrooms, just out houses. We picked a spot and kept an eye out for the Cleveland man. Luckily we got our new tent as it started raining. We got in the tent and fell asleep. An hour or so later it stopped raining. At this point I knew I was sick. Dad got out and walked about. I continued to sleep. He found Cleveland man and brought him to our site. He sat out the weather at the previous small town. He proceeded to lose a contact that brought in the help of our next door neighbors- the two parents and the two kids. The two kids asked if there was going to be a reward.

The whole 10-15 minute episode, I was curled up in my liners. Finally Dad found it. So the family was driving around in a converted old school bus. It basically was an RV. Due to my state, I didn’t see the inside, but Dad said it was cool. The Cleveland man had a prime rib leftover and gave it to Dad. I really couldn’t eat anything so Dad got us milkshakes that were great, but my stomach only tolerated so much.

Day 52- July 22

We packed up and got breakfast at the cafe. It was cute and the food was good. I was still feeling under the weather, but I wanted to get to the next town, Walden around 60 miles. It was a rough day just because I was under the weather and we had some uphill climbs. It was all pretty gradually except for a few spots. We stopped at a National Forest Park campground, which was actually really nice. We had a snack and filled our waters. The hummingbirds were going crazy though. Buzzing around.

We crossed the pass, another continental divide, and headed downhill to the small town of Rand. There was a small shop that sold drinks so we got some cold ones and met a family of bikers- parents and their daughter. I’m still confused on their route as they were doing something different. They gave us some tips on our upcoming towns.

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After eating lunch, we continued on. In Walden, we were planning on staying in the city park and we heard we can take showers in the nearby pool. We weren’t sure when it closed so we booked it. We left poor Cleveland man behind as we sprinted to the town. As soon as I got into the town I Google map the pool and we headed straight there. Luckily they closed at 6 so we had plenty of time.

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There was some confusion on where we could camp in the park due to their watering schedule, but we found a spot near the play gym. Cleveland man showed up. Then we got dinner and found out that there was a trail race- 62 miles the next day. There were a couple of runners sitting next to us.

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We went back to the park and there were some kids playing, to which they had a right to. We figured when it got dark they would go home. Cleveland man told the kids to keep it down, which received “hey guys, let’s have a screaming contest.”

A little bit later, rocks hit our tent. This got Dad upset as our tent is brand new. He got out and talked to the kids. They said it wasn’t them, but left the area…..obviously it was them. It was quiet after that.

Day 53- July 23

I woke up and the three of us went to breakfast. I was not doing well. I was more sick than before. I could barely finish. I actually didn’t finish. I went back to the tent and fell back asleep while Dad and the Cleveland man went to see if there were any motel rooms available. It was a success!

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In the afternoon, we moved to the motel and I went back to sleep. Dad got some food and did the laundry. When I would wake I would eat a little. In total, I slept about 20 hours. It was basically our rest day.

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Day 54- July 24

We went back to the Moose Cafe for breakfast and I ate everything, a good sign. We got our things and biked away. Our goal was Riverside, WY. The terrain was simple. Some hills and flats. We had a longish climb that was a bit difficult. Dad and I met a motorcyclist on the road and we talked to him for a bit. We finally met up with Cleveland man at the Wyoming state line. He was talking to a biker who was doing part of the trail while his wife drives. She gave us some treats.

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It was a short day to Riverside at about 50 miles, which was good because of my health. Riverside was a very nice town. Consisted of only three buildings- restaurant, convenience store, and information center. We stayed at the campground, which was lovely and had dinner at the restaurant. There was at dog wandering around- so cute.

We had another biker with us from Wales. This trip was from Alaska to Houston to continue his last year’s trip of the bottom of Argentina to Houston. He really loves biking. That really helps when you are doing long term bike touring- you should love biking.

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We fell asleep quite early. I have been having problems with my air pad mattress. It deflates, so it has a hole some where, but it’s hard to find.

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Our mileage up to about here-ish…

 

Day 55- July 25

The restaurant wasn’t open. In the morning so we made instant oatmeal and headed off to Rawlins. It was a long day with few stops. It was about 65 mile day. After 18 miles we reached Saratoga that offers free hot springs. We had a snack and drink at the grocery store then stopped to look at the springs.

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We remet with the Cleveland man at a restaurant and then continued on. It was hot and tiring. This next section also had us go on Interstate 80. At this point we have riden on every rode possible- back roads, country roads, state highways, and no interstates.

We stopped at a gas station for lunch and a drink and then got on the interstate. The first mile was under construction making the traffic go on one side, but the workers allowed us to bike on the side where there was no traffic. It was cool.

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The shoulder was super wide so we could bike without fear. However, the whole day we were experiencing strong winds and now we had head winds. The wind plus hearing the cars and trucks zoom by us made us clutch the handle bars hard. We were on there for 13 miles. We finally exit at Sinclair, small town before Rawlins. It is the home of the oil refinery company Sinclair- the gas company with the green dragon.

Cleveland man showed up. We sat there for almost 2 hours. We then finished the 7.5 miles to Rawlins with some hiccups as Sinclair had detours and we got lost. I asked a lady working and she acted like I was speaking a different language, but there was a car there and the people inside directed us. When we got into town we went to the cheapest motel, but they were full so we went to the Day’s Inn. They only had one more nonsmoking room. With the tourist and workers in town, rooms were booked. Cleveland man had to go to the Comfort Inn. He got a flat on the last stretch before town.

We had some chores to do. We went to Walmart and bought a fleece blanket and extra long clothes for the mountain nights since we don’t have sleeping bags anymore. When we were walking back we were stopped by a man and we ended up talking to him for a while about our trip and his. He was great to talk with!

When we got back we saw I got a flat as well. I ran over a fish hook! We changed out the tube and I patched it up. We passed out.

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