Colorado 2010 – Day 33

Sterling to Brush: The green patch

Monday June 7, 2010, 40 miles (64 km) – Total so far: 1,401 miles (2,255 km)

Today I’m riding Hwy 6 to Brush. The scenery is more Platte River valley agriculture, a hill or two here and there, and not all that much traffic. I’m roughly following the Overland Trail today (and have been since entering the state). The Overland Trail started in Atchison, Kansas and paralleled the Oregon, Mormon and California trails through Nebraska. It broke off at Julesburg and followed the path used by hopeful miners in the Pikes Peak Gold Rush. The Trail made a loop through northern Colorado before heading back into southern Wyoming and rejoining the emigrant trails at Fort Bridger. I used to live just off the street named ‘Overland Trail’ in Fort Collins which follows the old path of the trail. ‘Camp Collins’ (present-day fort-less Fort Collins) was established to protect this route. This trail was used by Bill Holladay and his Overland Stage Company to deliver mail and passengers in the early 1860s (he followed the Pony Express as a mail carrier and operated a home station at Rock Creek, NE – where I visited on Days 21/22). The heaviest use of the Overland Trail was during this time (the 1860s) as an alternative to the other trails. However, the stageline ceased operation in 1869 when the transcontinental railroad was completed and there was no longer a need to send mail and people by stage.

I’ve also been paralleling rail-lines (which were built along the paths of the emigrant trails) for the past 8 or so days – today is my last day for this. I get passed by several trains taking coal toward the busy Front Range communities. I also see a disproportionate number of dead skunks on the road today. It is not necessarily a pleasant sensory experience, and I’m left perplexed by the sudden concentration of them today. The biting gnats are in abundance today, too, so much so that I quickly abandon the idea of stopping for any breaks. So I don’t really stop at all between Sterling and Brush.

There is still quite a bit of activity in Brush. Lots of highways converge here. Before Brush was Brush, it was a station on the Texas Montana cattle trail. Herds of cattle were driven from Texas to Wyoming and Montana to build up herds there. However, some cattle would be sold off in Colorado to supply the demands of the many miners in the state at the time. The local museum has information about this, but was closed when I was in town. I’ll be following the trail tomorrow on my ride to Limon.

I’ve crossed the interstate on Hwy 6 into town, but I head toward a different interstate exit to get Wendy’s for lunch. The staff are all quite friendly. The one young, overweight Mexican guy thinks I should ride in one of the big charity events. He says he’d like to do so himself but he has never found a bike seat that was comfortable enough. He thinks it’s great when he sees people out challenging themselves and fulfilling personal goals. He fills up two large iced teas for me so I don’t have to worry about coming back for a refill. Thanks. I’m running a bet with myself whether any member of the construction worker crew a few tables over is going to have the balls to come over and talk to me. They are fairly obviously talking about me and keep stealing glances over at me. I dated a roofer once, so I don’t want to know the crude jokes they’re passing around. None of them has the balls to come over, but one of them smiles and nods at me as they leave. Doesn’t count!

Motel map showing the ‘green patch’. Like Brush, much of Australia is semi-arid, and those locales have ‘green patches’ instead of lawns, as well.

There’s camping available in the city park, but I’m spooked by last night. There are storms predicted again, so I head over to see if the Econo Lodge has rooms under $60. I’m in luck, and even though it’s only noon, they’ve got rooms ready. I get one that’s in the corner of the ‘L’-shaped building, so I have to get my bike through a doorway and then at a sharp angle into a hallway to get to my room. But the room is huge and clean with new furniture and carpets, even if it is an older building. I go back and explore town a bit and then spend the afternoon napping and watching TV – not something I’ve had the chance to do much in the past three years. It reminds me how much I’ve missed taking naps and how much I haven’t missed TV.

Ave speed: 12.1 mph Max speed: 22.8 mph

Elevation start: 3935 ft. Elevation end: 4229 ft.

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