Thursday, October 1, 2009
A couple of Swagmen and a Bogen
I met Matt and Jermey in Steamboat Springs. They had also made some side trips since starting the Great divide route in Canada. So we're all running a bit late in the year for cycling in the high Rockies but whatever.
We rode together up steep passes and through yellow Aspen forests. Matty is from Australia and Jermey is from New Zealand. We talked and joked a lot about the differences between our countries and our shared language slang.
Our pace is petty sporadic. Some days we have done 50-60 miles while other days we did like 10ish. We got a tortoise and the hair type thing going on with this really funny Dutch couple. Karen and Martin have just ridden down from Alaska and are doing a pretty steady 30 miles a day. We keep bumping into them at random places. Karen is the most spastic and lively 50 year old I've ever met while Martin is carrying an unusual amount of gear including dear antlers and a license plate collection. I hope we bump into them again.
We've been doing a lot of cycling up around 9000 ft.(The highest pass being 11,482) The air is thin enough to feel like half my lung capacity is on strike or like trying to snorkel through a coffee stirrer straw. Regardless the scenery makes you want eat your eyeballs. Man, The Colorado high country is one beautiful chunk of the world.
Yesterday though was the day that tested our stamina and sanity. Its a long stretch of high mountain plateau from Hartsel to Salida. The wind howled and screamed in our faces. Scouring our cheeks and filling our mouths with cold sand. (Course I would have closed my mouth if the elevation and effort would have let me). We battled the wind all day, mostly straight on but some times it bowled us from the side. Once knocking me, monster heavy bike and all into a ditch.
By late in the day we had ground it across the Plateau and back into some trees. Thinking the forest would shelter us from the wind, but Nope! It roared on. We just then had to contend with branches hitting us and trees snapping. It really was awesome and a spectacular disaster to ride in. Adrenalin fueled my tired legs the rest of the way to Salida, where a hot cup of coffee tasted worth its weight in titanium.