Tag Archives: colorado

Fearing I would be trapped in the hostel till the cogs in my mind fuse into a solid state I decided to take a friend up on an offer and go for a hike for a day or two and make a decision on where to go next. In the car as we drew closer to the pass and starting point speckles of rain began to accumulate on the windscreen.  At the top of the pass we picked our packs out the trunk and set out up the hill. 6pm. The clouds were low and a cool breeze swept around the hill. Walking this part of the colorado/continental trail is refreshing, staying high on easy trail in and out of trees. I knew from 2 years previous of a 3 sided wooden shelter with metal roof 8 miles away. This was the target, we drew towards the shelter at around half 8 as darkness was setting in and rain becoming heavy. To my surprise there were tents pitched around but nobody in the shelter itself. Saving a tent from becoming heavy and wet and having space to move and think it was the only logical place to unroll a sleeping bag and heat some noodles. It rained the whole night. I tried catching rain dripping off the roof but every time i placed my pot the drips seemed to change landing patterns.

In the morning the tenters joined us for breakfast. The day continued much the same as the evening before, in a semi-concious zombie state soaked to the bone and hands numbed enough to move slowly when trying to use them. I was calm and composed, trying to be at one with the rain and embrace the cold, not entirely believing myself it was worth coming out.  I fashioned what I would call a pumpkin prom jacket out of an orange coated survival bivi bag, this added a small amount of warmth at the expense of my dignity and of Sabrinas’ who hiked with me. Towards the middle of the day we arrived at the summit of Sgt. Mesa. A beautiful high hill with meadows and trees and fluffy black storm clouds a mile or two off to the side.

Sabrina said “As least the storm cloud is over there”.

Moments later lightning forked across the sky close above out heads with a tremendous crack like a wagon plowing into a concrete bunker. Where most people would stop and sit or panic the thru hiker mentality of ‘stay calm and carry on’ shone through boldly and we kept hiking along the ridge line like a couple of idiots. The addiction to hiking building, adrenaline growing, and tree cover getting thinner. The ridge line narrowed slightly and the rumbles became bombs detonating very close. Another hiker called Steven was heading the opposite direction towards the Mesa summit. I wouldn’t want to be him.

We pitched tent about half way along the 6 mile ridge close to where a tree had been previously struck by lightning. They say lighting doesn’t strike the same place twice, a myth I was willing to believe for the evening with impending rain seconds away. Pitching early did not save us from rain splashing up between the fly sheet and inner tent. This did not put me in the mood to attempt to cook noodles alfresco so we went to sleep hungry questioning why it was so. I dreamt about bears savaging the tent and other wonderful things. My sleeping pad still deflates every couple of hours waking me to the real horror of trail life, the sound of everything becoming wet. This morning was glorious, not sunny, but not raining. It was nice being high up early and having a vile concoction of triple herbal tea with extra sugar from my unofficial trip sponsor ‘the hiker box’. Three miles down the path in fairer condition was where my and Sabrinas’ path would split. I turned north and down hill back towards the road and pass. Deep house tunes blasting out (a one hour kygo mix) I ran the next 6 miles. I felt alive, this is what outdoors was meant to be.

At the roadside I stuck my thumb out and the first truck pulled over.

“Jump in!!! theres a car behind I dont want to get past me” shouted the driver.

I hopped up, “Beer?”

“Yes” I replied. The next half hour back to Salida was nice. I was Acutely aware of how bad my trainers were smelling after fording a stream the colour of cow muck. The driver seemed to understand.

Salida! I’ve wound up back in Salida! Of all the towns in all the states in America, why am I going back to Salida again? With no decision on what I will do next the Vortex has me. The sirens beckon.

‘Wakey, Wakey Rise and Shine! and don’t forget your booties, its cold out there today’

 

Steamboat- going slow

I don’t think much can beat some tropical deep house music out on a porch overlooking a town while working on a bike. Today like yesterday has been a day of rest and recovery for me and the bike. I snapped a spoke about 300miles ago and have just got around to fixing it now. I had bought a spoke yesterday, went and sat in the park and stripped the back wheel to fit it, only to find the spoke was just too small to catch the thread. Round two today went without a hitch. and its satisfying to have straightened my first buckled wheel this trip, now spinning withing 1mm tolerance. I feel pretty good about this as its my first ever attempt at tightening spokes.

I’m stopped at a friends in Steamboat. Kathleen, a strong hiker I hiked a couple of sections of the CDT with in 2015 seemed more than happy enough to accommodate. She lives in a shared house with 5 other people. They are all healthy runners, cyclists and fitness trainers and fanatics. Eating healthy salads, and carrying pineapples to work for lunch. It puts my diet to shame but I make the excuse I’m burning more calories. I did eat a health dinner last night. Only to be wronged by an obtrusive box of chocolate cupcakes covered in choc mouse and white flakes this morning. (but they were really, really good!!). I washed it down with a couple of cups of strong coffee and carried on fixing and planning.

Colorado is a tricky place to cycle and climb, and stringing an efficient line through to 14,000 ft mountains without adding double passes each day seems no easy task.

 

My hair is now sufficiently down past my eyes enough to cause a hazard when cycling downhill or just around the town in traffic. Hopefully not long now till I can do the panten pro-v head shake to get it out of my eyes and look LIKE A BOSS!!

The skinny 40mm tyres I have been using have been just holding on the trail, allowing cruising at good speed on the smooth gravel and road sections. But negatively they have been wearing fast and skittering about on the downhill, the lack of traction is a minor concern. Its a surprisingly hard tyre size to get hold of from bike shops, bigger than the average hybrid wheel, but smaller than any other mountain bike tyre.

I think when i head off I will not look at the map but go by the route that looks visually most appealing. The wing it approach seems to serve well. With a 50/50 chance at any fork in the road. I’ve downloaded way points to the summits of the 14’ers roughly on route using Gaia gps showing me where i need to go. Ill cycle to Silverthorne have a easy day then begin (i don’t feel fully committed to this yet so the plan may change, I’m not sure where I can stash my bike while ticking peaks).

 

After The Basin, from Rawlin to Steamboat

I’ve just felt my face. It felt like it was covered in grit. I’ve looked in the mirror, its covered in salt, white from the effort and sweat. Today I cycled 85mile off road and 30 miles on. I felt unstoppable, until the climb, then i felt like a uncooked beef steak chucked over the handlebars. The end of the gravel cycle had a 1500 ft climb, but the road kept dropping hundreds of feet every few miles adding hundreds more to the ascent. All I could think is the surveyor who planned the road despised cyclists, he probably sits at the front of a log cabin on the way up. Smugly grinning each time he sees a cyclist collapsing over the handlebars with exhaustion, covered in sweat, trying to suck in air that doesn’t seem to exist. After the effort the reward was a smooth paved descent through a lightning storm towards Steamboat Colorado. It was brilliant.

 

This day started with the sun beaming at my face under the tarp sheet, the wind had been flapping it all night due to my lazy attempt of stringing it up, I envisioned it blowing away in the night but it held on.  I packed quickly, I drank a one dollar energy shot and hopped on the bike. Within a few miles a rattlesnake blocked the route, at first I thought it to be like every dead snake, stretched out along the gravel after a driver swerved to get it, but this one was slightly different in that when I drew closer and it snapped up into a coil. I hastily braked. I feel positive of my identifying this as a rattle snake due to the rattling its tail made. Fortunately the road was wide enough for both of us and I carried on with my odyssey.

I met a few CDT hikers, one called J who happened to be in the right place for a kinda cool photo. Later in the day up the pass where I rested for ten minutes I was entertained by many many humming birds. I have noticed the past couple of days the variety of birds along the way. I don’t know what they are called but keep meaning to snap some photos of the colourful ones, but it seems like effort to stop the bike and so I have only the two photos so far. I have made a few frantic grabs for my phone, but by the time the pin is typed in and camera activated, the desired shot is one hundred meters past already. And so, I sigh.

Its nice to have a motel bed tonight.

Ps. I have noticed when cycling and nearing or cresting a summit, Americans do this fist pumping action thing like a sign of victory along with an agreeing nod and big smile, sometime a ‘Yeah!!!!’. If it happens again tomorrow, I will fist pump back!! Goodnight world.