Day #34) July 16, 2011. St. Francis, KS to Yuma, CO: 68 miles in 5:27 hrs.
Woke at 3am this morning and hit the imaginary snooze alarm. I’d figured last night that since I was going to pick up an hour today by moving into the MST zone that I was in ok shape to snag an extra hour of sleep. Woke up like a robot at exactly 4am and was totally out of my element. I mean it felt as though I was late for work or something? What’s more, I had zero coffee – no “in the room” coffee maker and nothing open at 4am outside. So I was kind of out of sorts. And that’s about the time I started thinking of taking an off day, just going back to sleep and calling it a mulligan for today. It was like I had the angle on one shoulder tugging at me and the devil on the other shoulder tugging at me. The angle – “you must continue your journey my friend. You’ll be happy that you did.” The devil – “ahh take a day off. You deserve it. Go back to bed and just forget about it.” My conscience got the best of me….I got up, started packing and then attempted to eat breakfast. And the 3 muffins I’d bought last night for my breakfast this morning, I just about had to force one down my gullet. Just couldn’t eat. I did manage to snarf down a Delmonte chunched peaches in juice.
Got out the door at exactly 5:30 am after checking out TWC for the latest forecast. And again, riding in the dark. This morning was probably the coolest it’s been for nearly 3 weeks of riding. I mean I’d hit these little hollows in the road where I’d go through some cooler air. That felt just wonderful, amazing, invigorating! Made a right on Rt 27 N and the climbing began once again. Kansas…you’re just not going to let me leave you on my terms! Nope, my last stretch of road in Kansas was this series of “Whoop tee Do’s” over and over and over. And these were just funky to do in the dark. I couldn’t see what was coming up other than the fact that I just had to keep clicking up to easier gears. I’d top out roll over the crest a bit and then descend at like 30 mph in the dark into the next whoop tee. Just me, the crickets, and the whoop tees on into the dawn of the morning.
But you know what, I was ok with it. It’s just a pleasure and privilege to be able to do a ride such as I’m doing, and to start out in the dark and just ride in this endless, monstrous Great Plains, well that’s kind a once in a lifetime experience that I’ll always remember. It’s been so beyond cool that I just cannot bitch about doing more climbing. Actually it seemed appropriate that I left Kansas in such a manner. The dawn was just stellar, with the sun, this massive ball of red rising over my right shoulder, creating this kind of red glow all across the plains. Must have stopped like 4-5 times to take pictures and just soak it all in. I think in the 2 hours that I was riding on Rt 27 I was passed by like 5 vehicles. I just had the place to myself.
Did this banger of a descent and bingo bango I came to the “Welcome to Nebraska” sign. Funny, that I’m getting the opp to ride in three states in one day. And the Nebraska sign really drove that point home. I entered this little town, Haigler, NB, almost like the town that time forgot. It was a pretty disheveled, broken down, had much better days kind of place. I was through it in about 2 minutes and then onto this awesome piece of highway, Rt 34 W. It was smooth with this berm that was about a half lane wide. And really the terrain was the very same as I’d experienced in that final stretch of KS. Nothing new just cuz the state changed. Within 40 more min of riding…Boom…..I was in Colorado. I just kind of let out a whoop as I passed the welcome sign. Once in CO, Rt 34 remained a very nice stretch of road with a generous berm to ride.
But tell you what, that infamous false flat began in earnest. And it’s really of no surprise. I mean Denver is at 5280 feet, and I need to gain about 1700 feet in the next several days of riding. So this false flat was to be expected, and it kind of went like this: it would stair-step upwards in stages. I’d do a false flat climb for about a mile, then just ride flats for a mile or two and then false flat up again for another mile. I could really never see a descent of sorts and there was always a higher section looming off in the distance. So you just keep climbing ever so gradually. You can feel it in the pedals and see it on the mph, but it so subtle. Like in a car I think you just wouldn’t notice it.
Now the nicest thing about today was that the temps were very good compared to the last couple of weeks. Almost feels like I’m getting into a dry heat instead of that sultry, humid, air I’ve been cycling through. I stayed pretty dry the whole ride, despite the climbing and false flats.
Went by this cattle feed lot in CO that was just massive. Really made me thing about the whole “harvesting animals for food” thing seeing those tens of thousands of cattle on that spread, all penned up, all getting fattened up and waiting for the inevitable. Cattle trucks and grain trucks were just moving in and out of that place as if it was a megalopolis. I mean it was, it was a small little city. It was crazy watching all of that traffic coming and going in and out of that yard. Then there were all the byproduct businesses next to it – the grain silos by the hundreds, the cleaning stations for the cattle trucks. You go in to a store and buy a couple lbs of steak and never realize what’s behind that piece of meat.
Got to the town of Wray, CO and stopped at a Subway for one of the breakfast flat breads and an ice-cold coke. My meager breakfast pretty much dictated that I stop for something, despite the fact that I only had about 27 miles to go to get to my day’s destination – Yuma. That was my first Subway breakfast, and I have to say that with just a half foot flatbread sandwich, I was pretty satisfied. Back on the road within 15 min and more false flat climbing. The further west I rode the more the heat seemed drier and more comfortable I was. Kind of felt like I was in a convertible with the top down just jamming on the sun and the fresh air. It was a really nice ride.
Now those of you who have never been to CO, well, going east to west, the first 150 miles are still Great Plains. And I don’t expect to actually see the Rocky Mts. until the end of tomorrow or even on Monday. They’re still a good ways off. This here in Eastern CO, this is cattle and farm country and it’s just as big, just as enveloping, just as intimidating as KS. It’s cowboy country out here for sure.
Made the city of Yuma by 10am MST. I passed a couple motels on the way in – one too far away from any of the food places, and the other, well it looked like the dive of dives. So I kept riding a bit further into town and found this place. Went in and inquired about a room and the gal told me that since I was a biker I could have the place for half price. Nice little place right across the street from a Chinese restaurant and a Subway about 2 blocks down. Ended up doing the Subway for a meatball marinara sub and then back to the motel to work.
Will probably do the Chinese for dinner. So that’s it. Another state down and headed for the mts. All the best………Pete