Since my last post a lot has happened - I've had 3 more 100+ mile days, left the state of Kansas and entered colorful Colorado, gone thru a dust storm, stayed on a farm and an exotic animal zoo in two of the coolest cyclist friendly set ups ever, had my first wipeout, and completed my section of the Transamerica trail. I've reached Pueblo, CO and will be taking a day off to rest up and hang out with my uncle before heading into the Rockies. According to my map set I've got about 1,590 miles left to San Francisco and I'm well ahead of schedule. As I take my day off Dre and I are saying our farewells, as he will keep riding. I'm looking forward to my first full rest day of the entire trip so far. I'm already chomping at the bit to get back on the road, but I do need some down time. Any who here's how the last few days have played out:
Day 25 - well so much for getting Mother Nature on our side - today was brutal. I would have thought that being woken up by a peacock at 7 am would have been a good omen for the day - I guess I was wrong. After yesterdays long day I was pretty sore and tired this morning and hoping for a break. However, we were battling 25 mph head/cross winds all day long and were only able to make it around 60 miles before calling it quits. Nonetheless, Dre and I made it to Larned, Ks. We stopped for lunch at an old, and what appeared to be abandoned, house just off route and were able to get some shelter from the wind. I don't want it jinx it, but the forecast seems to be clearing, and warning, up. There may still be some wind, but it shouldn't be as bad as the last couple days.
Day 26 - today was awesome. Dre wanted to get an early start so we headed out at around 730. It was a little chilly to start but the temp warmed up to a nice 65 by the end of the day. We started into a slight headwind that eventually turned into a slight tailwind by the end of the day. So it's safe to say that by the end of the day the riding was really well - 65 and slight tailwind. We actually made it a good bit further than we anticipated - about 118 miles into Scott City, Kansas. We were planning on only going about 90 miles to Dighton, but once we arrived in Dighton we were both feeling pretty good and it was too beautiful to call it quits then. We've stopped at a hotel here in Scott City and are looking to get out of Kansas in the morning - finally!! I'll also be glad to get to Colorado because once we hit Pueblo we'll have a lot more opportunities to hit up warmshowers hosts and hopefully some good camping weather and locations. Tomorrows weather appears to be similar to today's so we should be able to knock out another good chunk of mileage. I'm still eating about three times as much as Dre and am wondering how much longer he will last. He had a cup of coffee and 1 bowl of raisin bran for breakfast and a couple small snacks for lunch and somehow that sustained him for 118 miles today.
Day 27 - today started out as a cyclists dream (cool with a slight tailwind), and ended as a cyclists nightmare (last 10 miles into a headwind and dust storm). We got another early start this morning and were shooting for our 2nd 100 mile day in a row. I was a little sore and beat up from yesterday, but once we got rolling I was able to warm up pretty well. We crossed into our second time zone just before our lunch break in Tribune, Ks and into Colorado just after lunch. We could really tell today that we were making some gains in altitude because the majority of our ride was uphill, albeit gradual - nonetheless a hundred miles of gradual uphill is bound to amount to something. The scenery entering eastern Colorado is much like that of Kansas but regardless it is a relief leaving Kansas knowing that we've got some beautiful scenery on the horizon. Despite the brutal weather and sore knee towards the end, we did make it about 104 miles to Eads, CO - about 4200 feet altitude. I had some mechanical problems today for the first time - a screw came loose holding my rear fender in place and it was rubbing my tire. We ended up taking my rear tire off and fixing it pretty easily, but had some trouble getting the tire and disc brake to line up well. We got it back on, but there is a bit of drag that I'll get checked out in Pueblo in a couple days. For the most part everyone I've met along the route has been super friendly and hospitable, however today I did get the ol' one finger salute for no apparent reason from a trucker headed in the opposite direction - so I guess not everyone along the route is too keen on cyclists. Per the recent usual, we're staying in the only hotel in town - Dre wanted to avoid the winds/dust storm and tumbleweed. We will actually be splitting up soon as he will continue riding through Pueblo and I will be spending some time relaxing with some family before I head into the Rockies. Tomorrows forecast looks really good - warm and wind free - let's hope that holds up.
Day 28 - After a couple hard days we decided to take it pretty easy today and I definitely needed to - my knee is getting pretty tight and sore. Regardless today was a beautiful day for cycling. We had very little wind and the temps got up to the mid to high 70s while riding. We made it to Ordway, CO around lunchtime and promptly grabbed some food at a local cafe - this was the first time that Dre had eaten all day with the exception of coffee and a cookie about an hour into the ride - essentially nothing over the course of a 60 mile ride. He claimed that the steak he had for dinner last night was enough to tide him over. We didn't move too far up in elevation today (we're at about 4,300 ft), but the Rockies are now in sight. Per the directions on our map, as soon as we got into town we asked for Gillian and were given directions to her house. She's from New Zealand and offers lodging to cyclists coming thru town. She actually has a sweet setup - on her farm she has 2 trailers/campers set up just for cyclists. Dre and I are the first cyclists thru this year so we got the grand honor of cleaning the only camper available - everything was strewn about and covered in a very thick later of dust so we were delighted to clean up and give the place a bit of our own feng shui. Gillian also hosts people on her farm doing work exchange and two new workers actually just arrived today - Ina from Germany and Hunter from Austin, Tx. Together we were all able to pitch in at the grocery store and get some steak, brats (bangers as Gillian calls them), and potatoes and grill out. After dinner we played a game called 'Mexican Train' - it's too hard to explain, but it was tons of fun. We've called it a day and are looking forward to heading into Pueblo tomorrow - it will be our biggest city yet (~106,000) and more importantly I'll get to have some r&r with some family before heading into the mountains.
Day 29 - today was not my day. Before heading out Gillian made us some hard boiled eggs for breakfast and we all said our farewells. What started out as a beautiful day in Ordway quickly turned sour about 2 hours into our ride. As we neared Pueblo the clouds rolling in gave me an ominous feeling about the last couple hours of the ride.. And my intuition was spot on. First I noticed that the screw in my rear fender had come loose again and was rubbing my tire and making some noise/slowing me down, but then our beautiful morning really started turning sour when a horrible thunderstorm rolled in and started dumping rain on us. Lightning was striking all around us, but there was nothing we could do but keep riding. Bad turned to worse when I went to cross a railroad track just before Boone, CO - yep, that's right, I had my first wipeout of the trip. As I approached the RR tracks I looked ahead to see which direction to turn after crossing them, when I looked back at the tracks and tried to get a good 90 degree angle to cross, I realized it was too late and I couldn't get a my angle and sure enough my tires slid completely out from under me on the tracks and concrete slab. I wasn't really startled when it happened, but some R rated version of 'you gotta be kidding me' may or may not have crossed my mind as I fell to the concrete/pavement. Fortunately, my bike was fine and I was wearing my rain gear so the impact that I took on my elbow and hip wasn't so bad. I stood up and shook it off quickly. When I took back off worse turned even worse - the impact snapped one of the clips on one of my panniers and it fell off - I quickly improvised and was able to fasten it well enough to make it the last mile into Boone. I got even more frustrated when I got about 50 meters down the road and realized that my sunglasses were missing - I had already passed 4 or 5 cars and knew that my glasses were toast - however when I got back to the tracks I was shocked to find my glasses perfectly folded and nestled right on the yellow line. I gathered myself together and headed into Boone. Dre and I stopped at a grocery store that also just so happened to be a hardware store - we found some zip ties and were able to fasten my pannier back on for the time being. While we were working on my pannier and fender the rain stopped so we made a beeline for Pueblo. When we got here none of the local bike shops had replacement parts for my bag, however I was able to talk a bike store up in Boulder, CO to spare me a part off of a bag they had on the floor. My uncle is actually planning on coming down to visit tomorrow anyways, so he will bring me the part and I'll go from there. It will be nice to see a familiar face and take a rest day tomorrow. On the other hand, since I am taking the day off, Dre will continue on tomorrow and we will be splitting up and heading out on our own after that. It's been a great ride across the Transam trail with Dre. I'll begin the Western Express on Friday and who knows maybe I'll meet a new riding buddy along the way. The weather looks rainy for tomorrow and clearing up on Friday. I've got just under 1,600 miles left to go to San Francisco and I can only hope that the Western Express is as great a time as the Transam has been. I've got about 4.5 weeks left to make it - I'm looking forward to the adventure. Bring on the Rockies!