Sunday, July 17, 2011

Day 35: I am entering the Twilight Zone

Day #35) July 17, 2011. Yuma, CO to Ft. Morgan, CO: 61 miles in 5:01 hrs.

Last eve the temp had to be about 98-100 degrees out, so I just didn’t feel like making a long hoof to get food. Ended up just walking across the street to a little Chinese place - and it was just so amazingly good. Now, no buffet here. Had to order off of the menu, but wow. So I ordered the Hot & Sour soup, and there was the cup for 2.95 and the bowl for 5.95, so I love that soup and ordered a bowl. And the waitress does this double take, and motioned with her hands in a large circle telling me that the bowl is for groups of 5 or more! I was like, that’s ok, I’m pretty hungry, and then I ordered the House Special Pan Fried Noodles. That’s when she let out a bit of a giggle. I know she was thinking: “this idiot is going to be bagging ¾ of this meal to take home!”

So the soup came, and let me tell you…there was a big ladle in a very large bowl to serve out into small bowls. My only concern was: “I sure hope this is good, because that’s a whole lot of soup!” It was excellent. And then I asked for hot oil and more crispy noodles to put in the soup. Took me about 15 min but I finished that thing. And the waitress came back and did a dbl take with a smile. Next up….this heaping plate of Pan Fried Noodles. And again, a homerun. It had this wonderful brown sauce and the noodles were pan fired just right. Add some beef, shrimp, chicken and pork, and it was just Shangri La. I should have just eaten right off of the serving plate, but trying to be a proper kind of guy I ended up serving myself like 4 complete plates of that.

Now the next time the waitress came back she just starred at the empty plates. I gave here a good tip and then asked if I could have a fortune cookie for the road. Well, she gave me this handful of like 7 cookies. And I scarffed every one of those pups down before I got back to the motel room. I just had a monster in my stomach yesterday – hungry all day long.

Up this morn at a leisurely 4 am for a 5:30 send-off. I figured that since my ride today was a shortie, 60 miles, that I’d get on the road a bit later than the past week. But again, the heat for Eastern CO was still supposed to be above normal, and forecast at 100 degrees. So I couldn’t dilly dally too long or I’d find myself riding into 12 noon. Ate a footlong coldcut combo for breakfast and was on the road just as planned. Good thing about today’s start though was the fact that with the time change to MST, I didn’t need the headlamp nor the reflective vest at 5:30 am. It was really light out. Now as soon as I got rolling I was on a false flat. I mean you can just tell as soon as you take a couple pedal strokes that you’re going uphill. And when you look up the road you just see a mile or two in front of you, not the long ribbon of road stretching off into the distance. But heck, as I said yesterday, that’s pretty much to be expected in that Denver is at 5280. So I still had about 1000 feet to pick up seeing that Yuma is at about 4100 ft.

Kept about a 12 mph pace for a bit…until the wind picked up out of the SW, and it eventually began to blow at a pretty steady average – 10-15 mph. And that just took the wind right out of my average. Suddenly I was moving along at like 7-11 mph – and fighting to maintain that! Started doing the calculating again what with my speed going to hell, and I figured that even at 10 mph average I’d still make Ft. Morgan by 11:30 am at the latest.

So the road did exactly as it did yesterday, stair-stepping up in stages. And some stages were much steeper than others. By 6:30 am the wind was just a big issue, and I’d reconciled that I had finally rode out my string of luck with the westerly headwinds. Now I’ve not said a thing about how lucky I’ve been with riding east to west. But I have – in a big way! This warm front that covering like half the middle of the US, well it’s forced the jetstream way to the north such that air has been flooding in from the south/southeast for two weeks. Makes for some super hot weather, but for nice cross tail and tail winds. Honestly, I’ll take the heat and start early rather than do battle with headwinds as I did last year.

Not so today. And this was a piddly little headwind for sure compared to some of the monsters I’d dealt with last year. I mean hell, at least today I could maintain double digit numbers most of the time – 10 mph. But anyway, it certainly made riding that false flat double or triple harder. This lasted for about 27 miles, all the way to Akron, CO, and I was darned tired by then, and thinking: “this was supposed to be a super easy day today and I’m getting my ass handed to me!” Thought briefly about stopping in Otis for a coke, but I just wanted to get that headwind riding over with. I mean heck, the sun was already way high in the sky by then, and the temp was definitely up considerably from the 74 degrees when I’d started. By Akron the temp was 86 – still a way drier heat than in KS.

The elevation in Akron was 4600 feet, so I’d gained about 500 feet in my ride from Yuma, and I expected the same in my next section of 22 miles from Akron to Brush, CO. Just outside of Akron the road just really went up, and I figured “ok, here we go again.” But then I topped out , the road curved to the NW, and it just descended steeply and then I could see highway in the distance for miles and miles, as if it were flat or slightly descending. It WAS descending – the whole way to Brush! Suddenly I was cruising at like 14-15 mph with the wind ever so slightly at my left side and back. Just amazing how things change like this. And you’d only know it on a bicycle. In a motor vehicle – it’s just business as usual.

Yup, on a bike every little idiosyncrasy is magnified to the Nth degree. But man I was cruising again, and forget that idea of a 10 mph average for the day and a six hour ride. I was back to jamming. So I’m hammering away, just ticking off the miles riding slightly downhill with a cross tailwind and I see this figure way off up ahead of me – on the berm. I though bike rider, but could also be a horseback rider, a ATC, a minibike, anything. But I was closing fast, and withing 20 min I could see that it was indeed a rider, which kind of excited me. So I worked to keep gaining so that I might have some company for the last couple of hours of riding.

Now this is the bizarre part. So I catch the guy, and the dude kind of pulls off the berm and stops at an intersection and waves me on. Now this guy is on a 26in mt bike and it’s just LOADED TO THE GILLS with gear. I mean you think I have a lot of gear…this guy reminded me of Goran Kropp, the guy who rode his bike to Everest with like 250 lbs of gear on a dbl yak. I stopped despite his waving me on as I was in no hurry, and I was hoping to have a riding companion for a stretch. So I slowed and stopped. “Hey,” I said, “how you doing?” Dude just looks at me - kind of mean like. And then I said, “Man, you’re loaded where are you riding from?” And the guy didn’t say a word to me. He gave me a dirty look and then walked his bike over to the stop sign at this cross road. And then he just stood there. And I’m like….”am I just entering the freaking Twilight Zone, because this is nuts?”

And the dude just stands there ignoring me. So I’m dumb, but not stupid, and I could kind of tell that this guy was out there – WAY out there - and I wasn’t about to keep playing Mr. Chatty Cathy. So I just looked at him and said, “nice trying to talk to you, have a great ride.” And I took off back down the road. And I was laughing out loud to myself at how bizarre that was. Now I’ve had bad days on the bike and wasn’t very chatty, but I was civil. Don’t have any idea what the deal was here, but it sure was a new one on me.

Rolled fast into the city of Brush where I got 2 cans of coke to keep the blood sugar up. Tell you what, no way does a can, bottle, or plastic container of coke compare to a fountain coke with ice. So those cans, I drank 1.5 and poured the last half out of the second can. Just not what I’d been fantasizing about. Fountain coke rules my parched world!

The cross tail and the descent continued all the way into Ft. Morgan. Turns out that I lost those 500 feet that I’d gained by Akron, CO. No mind to me. That made this ride as easy as I’d wanted it. So I went by this first efficiency in Ft. Morgan, and it looked super seedy, like there were drug deals going down in the parking lot outside the rooms – reminded me too much of Berea, KY way back when. Nope there. So I rode a bit further and found an efficiency a bit more accommodating. Great price/nice little place.

Ended up eating lunch at ….drum roll….a chinese restaurant where again, no buffet, but an amazing House Lo Mein. Then back here to work for the past 4 hours in the AC. Tomorrow I’ll shoot for Ft. Collins to visit a bud from way back – back when I worked at RMNP (Rocky Mountain National Park) in the mid 80’s. That should be about a 70-mile ride from here in Ft. Morgan. And that’s about the time that I’ll actually see those wonderful Rocky Mts looming off in the distance!

Have a great Sunday everyone……..Pete


  1. Stay cool. It's in the 90's all week here in Akron too.

  2. If you have time in Ft. Collins, Colorado go visit New Belgium Brewery the makers of Fat Tire beer.