Day 36 - Sunday, July 14, 2002
Total to date: 2506.00 miles (4033.0 km)
Moving time: 7 hr 47 min.
Average Speed: 12.7 mph (20.4 km/hr)
Total ascent: 3481 ft. (1061.0 m)
Minimum elevation: 7399 ft. (2255.2 m)
Maximum elevation: 8806 ft. (2684.1 m)
Ending elevation: 8135 ft. (2479.5 m)
Wind: Not an issue until the top of Muddy Pass. Brutal headwinds for the final 30 miles (15 - 20 mph north wind)
Want a workout? Take a bike, strap on a 70 pound trailer and haul it around the Rockies for 100 miles.
This was a big day. Joe and I left Silverthorne after eating breakfast at Denny's somewhere around 7:00am. It was cold again this morning. It was pretty much a downhill run all the way to Kremmling - a distance of 36 miles. A five mile stretch of road was under construction where the pavement was torn up and gravel was strewn across the road. If it had been gravel the entire way I would have had a very difficult time. Here are some shots of what the pavement and road looked like:
We had an early lunch in Kremmling at Mr. Z's Burger Barn. The owner reminded us of the "soup nazi" from the show Seinfeld. He spoke very fast and got irritable when we didn't understand what he was saying. We met four other westbound riders in town. They were doing a zero day and planned to move on the next day. They were riding with Sarah, who we met in Canon City (Day 33), and another rider but rode ahead of them three days ago. Joe was happy to meet up with them because one of the riders, Corrin, met Joe much earlier in the trip at the "Cookie Lady" hostel in Afton, Virginia. After our stop in Kremmling we had a long stretch with no services. It will be like this quite often for the rest of the trip.
Route 40 between Kremmling and Muddy Pass was exceptionally busy and quite dangerous. There was no shoulder on the road, it was twisty, and the tourists were making their way home on the weekend. Coupling the bad driving with the narrow road makes this the most difficult stretch to ride since I started.
I met a tremendous number of riders today. Usually I see two or three every few days but today I must have met at least twenty riders. There were two eastbounders with a sag wagon early in the day, a group of about six eastbounders a little later, two westbounders from Switzerland, and at least four more eastbounders on route 40. I think this means we are in the middle of the eastbound "pack" of people. There should be a nice gaussian distribution of people along the route.
The two from Switzerland were a couple in their early 20s. They were the first people I've seen without helmets this entire trip.
When we reached the top of Muddy Pass we met a guy who was following road maps on a loop from and to Fort Collins, Colorado. He had just come from Steamboat Springs where there is some wildfire activity. He has been on the road for three months and was deciding whether to head northeast on SR14 toward Walden with us or southeast on US40 from whence we came. After doing the famous wet-the-finger-and-hold-it-up-to-the-wind test he decided to join us toward Walden. Besides, he thought it might be an easier route.
Joe and I called him "Speedy Gonzales" because he rode so fast. He said he'd ride with us but he just bolted ahead out of the starting gate. Either he really was in extraordinary condition or wanted to show off. It turned in to the story of the tortise and the hare, though. He would ride fast, stop to eat, ride fast, get a flat tire, and then ride fast again. I couldn't keep up with him but I did beat him into town - a 32 mile ride. I hope he has a good oncologist back home because he's going to have a bad case of skin cancer. He rides without a shirt and probably doesn't wear suntan lotion because his back is terribly burned. There's a picture of "Speedy" to the right.
Northern Colorado has an abundance of small, furry mammals. There are rabbits, prairie dogs, and these little things that look like a cross between a squirrel and a prarire dog. I wanted to get a picture of one but they run fast and dive into their burrows on the side of the road.
There were some small forest fires burning off in the distance. I spotted at least three of them today. You can see Joe, my riding companion, coming around the corner at the bottom of the picture.
Here are some other views along the road to give you an idea of the beautiful scenery. We're not in Kansas anymore!
What a day of riding - it was tough. After Muddy Pass it looked like it would be nearly flat to Walden but that turned out to be false. The contour interval on our maps is 1000 feet and we weren't to cross any for that 34 mile stretch. It felt like I climbed ten 999 foot hills that just barely fit between the intervals. The wind probably made it feel like that. The last time I passed "Speedy" (while he was fixing a flat) he said "I forgot about these hills," in a disappointing tone.
Joe's friend Mike met us on the road about 20 miles before Walden and got us a hotel room - actually it was an entire mobile home that the hotel lets out. Walden is in the heart of the North Park region of the Colorado Rockies. Joe and I were both pretty tired when we reached town. We had dinner at the Cup of Coffee restaurant where we met two other riders. One, Mike, is towing a BOB behind his bike from Eugene, Oregon to Estes, Colorado. He's nearly done with his journey. We met another rider there who is doing a loop around the west.
Motel: Free (Thanks Mike!)