Monday, September 7, 2009

Day 47 Holiday Traffic and No Shoulder!

Flat #2 and once again the rear tire

Colorado Plate #2 was blown up on the hillside

Beautiful horses just outside of Kremmling, CO

Scary looking storm clouds

We ate lunch under threatening skies

Continental Divide Muddy Pass 8,772'

Rabbit Ears Pass

Wind blown grasses

Mike says Gregory is sandbagging if he has enough energy to climb this mountain of gravel!

Nice helmet head Dorrie!
Amazingly, I'm still smiling as we enter Kremmling after a brutal 65 miles with holiday traffic.

Date: Sept. 4, 2009

From: Walden, CO

To: Kremmling, CO

Route: Hwy 14 W to Hwy 40

Passes: Muddy Pass (8,772’ and a Continental Divide Crossing)

Miles: 65 miles

Top Speed on this trip: 49.2 mph

Weather: 35 degrees this morning, overcast with storms threatening throughout the day

License Plates Collected: 5 Montana plates, 8 Wyoming plates (2 motorcycle) and 1 Idaho plate (found in WY), 2 Colorado plates

As we wheeled the bike off the curb and out of the campground I heard a “clunk”, looked down and discovered our second rear tire flat. The rear tire is doubly discouraging because it is the more difficult tire to change and we were loaded and ready to go at 8 A.M. So much for the early start! I could tell Mike was frustrated but he handled it quite well. He just used our hand pump to inflate it enough to push it up to Main Street where we had breakfast before he tackled changing out the tube. That turned out to be the right move because we ran into Debbie (whom we’d met at breakfast yesterday and seen again at lunch) and she had a floor pump we could borrow to get our 145-psi. Mike changed the tire in the alcove outside the defunct theatre and between the tire change and talking to the motorcyclists outside the service station we finally got on the road at almost 11:00 A.M.

We opted for Highway 14 West versus Highway 14 East (over Willow Creek Pass and our Adventure Cycling route). Highway 14 West had been suggested to us as an alternate route with a wider shoulder and less elevation gain. Though it meant a 65-mile day we thought it would be easier riding. Whoever said there was more shoulder was deeply mistaken. There was no shoulder and I spent the whole day calling cars on this Friday of a holiday weekend. I would call, “Cars back. Five. Coming. Now. Five. Four. Three. Two. One. Clear.” This helps Mike know when he can move out from the white line a bit.” Sometimes I holler, “Semi!” or “Big RV” and often the proximity with which they will pass with “Coming around wide.” or “Not moving over and coming NOW!” Some folks will wait for oncoming traffic to pass before they go around us but there was so much traffic on the road that we had a lot of cars pass us simultaneously. This is very nerve racking when there is no shoulder and caused me to jump and audibly gasp, “Ohhhh!” Though the grade was more gradual we did still have a bit of climbing and I was physically and mentally wiped out by the time we rode into Kremmling at around 6:30 P.M. Once again we did a longer day than we like to but once again there was nothing between towns. If we had to do it again we probably would have ridden Willow Creek Pass and taken 2 days to get to Kremmling.

Backtracking a little bit, I wanted to expound on our morning. The first mile out of town should have been an indicator to us of the day to come. We had to make about five stops to finally get the gears shifting properly. It turned out that after the tire was changed and the trailer hooked on, a cable got hung up on a rack bolt and was causing all the trouble. While parked on the white line, semis blew past us as we disconnected the trailer and took off both rear packs to resolve the situation. As you can imagine, all of this stopping and starting put Mike in an especially happy mood. To top it off, Gregory and I made him stop for two more license plates in the first couple of miles (Wyoming #7 and Colorado #2). He was really pretty great about it though we know how much he hates to stop on a hill and lose all of our momentum. Gregory and I have to work extra hard after these stops to get us back up to speed. These finds did help brighten up the morning a bit.

All day long there were storms threatening and we even saw a lone lightening strike off in the distance to the west. We were blessed to have missed the rain at every turn. We even road across wet asphalt. We wore rain jackets all afternoon and we were sure our roadside lunch (in the weeds of a narrow shoulder) would be interrupted by a cloudburst. After lunch we rode through the junction of highways 14 and 40 and got our picture of the Continental Divide Crossing indicating the Pacific and Atlantic watersheds. We also got some downhill.

Finally after battling a headwind into Kremmling, we pulled into the grocery and tanked up on yogurt, fruit and drinks. The deli had seating, fountain drinks and coffee machines and the employee manning the counter let Gregory fill his water bottle with soda and let me have several cups of coffee for free. I think he felt sorry for us. While in the store Mike talked to Cowboy (as his friends call him) and got the impression he wanted to take us home. He saw us earlier on the road when we’d stopped to “talk” to the horses and figured we were good people. We had gone our separate ways and after our lengthy rest at the store we finally saddled up to ride the mile out of town to camp. We were almost there when Cowboy flagged us down in his truck motioning us to follow him down his street. It turns out he’d gone home and asked his wife if he could bring 3 cyclists home for the night. Her first reaction was, “What?” However, Sally greeted us with open arms and gave us beds in her basement, hot showers and fed us dinner and breakfast. Gregory hit it off with their daughter Jackie and her friend Kayla who was there for a sleepover. They played tag well after dark and found the bug zapper quite fascinating. We enjoyed visiting with Sally and Cowboy and we didn’t leave until after 10 A.M. It turns out Cowboy survived a terrible fall off his horse on the frozen ground in March of last year. He is the survivor of a shattered pelvis and open-heart surgery. He is still shoeing horses and helping folks bring in their hay and he just has a heart of gold. We were so happy that fate led us to their door.

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