Day #36) July 18, 2011. Ft. Morgan, CO to Ft. Collins, CO: 86 miles in 6:26 hrs.
What a great day of riding. And meeting up with my bud Brad on his bike to help ride me into the Fort helped to make this just a stellar ride!
Up at a leisurely 4 am…knocked down a footlong sub (cold cut combo) at 4:30 am (I’m getting pretty good at blasting through massive quantities of food at such early hours)…packed by 5 am…and out the door at 5:20 am for my ride to the Fort. And the wonderful thing about this morning was that it was actually cool outside. Now imagine that COOL? Yup, it just felt amazing, and gave me the false sense of hope that I’d be spared riding in 90+ degree temps prior to getting to the Fort. So I rolled out of Ft. Morgan, not an idyllic place to say the least. I mean it’s just kind of one of those “freeway” towns that’s kind of grungy and hot, and it’s likely to have seen it’s better days quite some time ago. I think the only reason it still exists today is it’s proximity to the freeway. Plenty of seedy motels and dilapidated buildings, and a very funky population.
So it was on to my first segment of the day – Greeley, CO. Took Rt 34 W to the freeway and then rode on this road called Frontage Rd, which paralleled the freeway for about 10 miles. 34 merged with the interstate just outside of Ft. Morgan and I couldn’t ride on that. I was lucky that I set the resolution on my computer map high enough so that this Frontage road popped up. Because on the state map it’s just not there – like a gazillion other roads that aren’t there. I mean at point I was so close to the interstate that I felt as if I were riding a third lane of it. I mean I could see traffic coming at me in my rear view and then I’d realize it was on the interstate and not on Frontage Rd.
Rt 34 finally deviated off of the interstate and back to it’s own entity, so I rejoined that and began the grunt of the day – about 37 miles of just lonely, godforsaken, desolate CO Great Plains. Now Brad had warned me that this section of road was rolling – and by God it was. It started out as a fasle flat – like wow, what’s new there? And I could ride at about 12-13 mph with some effort. So that was good. But then the rollers started coming hot and heavy. I mean one right after another for about 10 miles. And I’ll tell you what: those pups had my legs screaming for mercy. I was in and out of the saddle for a solid hour. Good thing was though that on this one climb I was kind of looking off to the west - and lo and behold there, far off in the distance I could see the Rocky Mts That was awesome. To know that I’d just peddled from DC to the front range of the Rockies. It really took the bite out of all that climbing.
Finally the road went from dbl lane on both sides back to single on both sides and the rollers abruptly ended, and I was able to get back up to like 13-14 mph and made it to the outskirts of Greeley in around 4:10 hrs. Next up was Rt 85 N, and this was a grunt, because there was a shoulder that was like this deteriorated piece of *&^&%$ that was nearly unrideable even with my mt bike. I did it for a short stretch and then said the hell with this and just rode on the far right side of the lane. Eventually even that piece of garbage disappeared and I ended up with a berm of about 3 fee in width. Now I’d hoped to do a fountain coke break in Greeley, but I just whipped on through it so fast and onto Rt 85 that there was nothing to be found other than a gas station or two And my mind was dead set on a Micky D’s where the large fountain cokes are just a buck all morning till 11 am. Remember this: NOTHING beats a giant cup of fountain coke filled with ice on a hot ride!! No compromising there. So I figured that I’d just keep riding and find one on 85 up the road. Yet the temp was just going up way faster than I’d predicted, and by the time I was 2-3 miles into Rt 85 it was 92 degrees out. And all around me on 85 was like light industry, grain silos, and cattle feed yards. Hot, hot and more hot.
About 5 miles up on 85, with the temps continuing to rocket up, I found a Mickey D’s in Eaton, CO. Beeline straight into the parking lot. Did my large cup for a buck and refilled it 3x with coke, and then 2x with water. I’d told Brad that I’d call him at Greeley, but once I’d gotten there, and was making good time, I’d figured that I’d call him at my Mickey D’s stop further up the road, wherever that might be. Once filled up and gurgling with fluid filling my gut to the size of a bloody piñata, I called Brad and got partial directions to the Fort. There were so many directions actually that he told me to just ride for a bit on what he’d given me and then call back for more. So that’t what I did. Made it to my next turn, Rt 14 W to the Fort and saw a sign: Fort Collins 19 miles. Now I had thought that this would be like 8-10 miles on Rt 14, but 19? My 70-mile day had just turned into a 80-mile day. No worries though, as I was pretty happy to just be riding my bike right dead into the foothills of the Rockies, which by then were getting pretty damned big in my grill. I was almost out of the plains!
So I’m riding down 14, hitting these rollers the whole way, knowing that I’d have over a 6-hour ride today. Passed a dude on a road bike going the other direction on 14, to the east, and I kind of looked at him to say hi and give him a wave, but the dude just like hid his head with his arm, looking away. Was that dude related to the nutjob I’d met yesterday? I mean did I stink or something? Two bloody flakes two days in a row? So about a minute after we passed each other I was startled by a rider coming up on me from behind. Dude yelled something at me. It was Brad, and Brad had hid his face when he passed me so he could do a U-turn and sneak up on me as he did. Actually dude startled the hell out of me. His goof worked perfectly! I was played.
Brad had ridden about 17 miles out from his apt. to meet up with me and ride me through this maze of roads and bike trails. Turned out to be an awesome ride. I mean just having some companionship on the ride was great, but meeting up with an old friend on the bike, that was pretty cool. I was chirping and chatting like crazy, trying to catch up on the last several years of our lives. I actually started to get a sore throat I was talking and shouting over the traffic so much. Once we got off of the roads and onto this amazing bike trail system it was downright great. Had he given me those directions I’d of easily gotten lost a gazillion times. Many parts of the trail were shaded, and believe you me, after nearly 10 days of nothing but sun, desolation and heat, riding with trees around me and slices of shade every now and then, that was fantastic.
Got to Brad’s place. Do the kit up in the shower and hung to air dry and we headed out for some grub to this great little sandwich shop a few blocks from his apt. Super meal – I got the “Gargantuan” sub sandwich. Back here at Brad’s right now working and having an ice-cold Fosters he’d bought for me. We’ll be hitting a brew pub tonight for dinner and drinks.
Bit later we headed down the the “Old Town” district to a microbrew pub/restaurant called Coopersmith’s Pub. It was super. Sat outside in the shade in this wonderful downtown district where people were moving about everywhere. Very busy and very fun to be back in civilization again. Drank microbrews, ate dinner and did a bit of people watching. Both dinners and appetizers where super. The beer……ahhhhhhhhhh! Next up I needed to get my chocolate jones filled so we stopped at this homemade cookie/fudge shop, and that did the trick by bringing my blood sugar level up to my blood alcohol level. Evening complete. Day done.
No riding tomorrow – my first off day of the trip, and I couldn’t think of a better place to spend it. That’s it for the day. I’ll blog tomorrow and talk about what the hell…who knows on an off day?
Stay cool Ohio……..Pete