Limon to Falcon: There’s mountains ahead somewhere
Wednesday June 9, 2010, 61 miles (99 km) – Total so far: 1,538 miles (2,475 km)
When I wake up it’s drizzly and foggy. I pack up wet, put on my rain jacket and tights and head off at 7am. I pick up two donuts at a shop in town (it’s pretty impossible to find good donuts in Oz) and head off on Highway 24 towards Colorado Springs. There’s plenty of climbing to do today. Lots of little hills between these towns as well as the general upward trend from Limon (elevation 5377): Matheson (5801), Simla (5978), Ramah (6118), Calhan (6535), Peyton (6780) and Falcon (6831).
I find out today that it can be foggy AND windy. There’s sufficient visibility to ride safely but not sufficient visibility to see Pikes Peak in the distance, as you normally can from this road. (I’ve been in a car on this road a couple times). And all day I’ll have a 15 mph headwind and will catch the windy bow wake off the oncoming cars. With temps in the low 60s, it isn’t overwhelmingly pleasant. However, with the exception of some road work between Peyton and Falcon, I’ll have a huge shoulder all day, too. The bad and good always seem to even out.
They’ve just finished repaving the road between Limon and Matheson in the past few days. Nice and smooth for me, but unfortunately they’ve taken a page out of the Aussie paving book, and done it on the cheap. This stuff is gonna get grooved and chunked pretty quickly. There’s a heap of traffic heading east this morning as I slog my way uphill towards Matheson.
About four miles before Matheson, I get a downhill steep enough that the eastbound side has a climbing lane. Whoo-hoo! I’m getting some great speed. But then, I become a cycling illustration of the Bernoulli effect. There is a truck behind me about to overtake me. There’s a truck in the oncoming passing lane overtaking an RV in the climbing lane. As I’m flying along at 25 mph downhill, the truck behind me overtakes me and I get the ‘suck’ into his truck. At the exact moment, I’m passing out of his slipstream, I get smacked by the bow wake blowing off the truck in the oncoming passing lane. Shall we say that there was an incredible moment of turbulence and instability at 25 mph? I saw it coming, but there wasn’t much I could do. I just held on and it all turned out okay. But I’m sure the people in the cars going the other way thought for sure I was gonna go down. I’m sure it looked more wobbly than it felt. However, I’m very thankful for the wide shoulder to wobble in.
Excitement over for the day, I stop for my donuts in the driveway of a church in Matheson. All day it’s either mist, drizzle or light rain and I just sit there in the drizzle and eat my donuts. On to Simla which sits on a bend of a creek and then it’s more uphill toward Ramah. I’m ready for lunch by the time I get to Calhan. There’s plenty going on here in town and I get a sandwich at the gas station. Once I start to get chilled I head back out to get moving again. There are some old ‘paint mines’ and badland topography south of here that I’d thought about checking out, but not in the crap weather of today.
By the time I get to Peyton, the clouds are starting to break up a bit. I stop there for a rootbeer. It’s amazing how much land has been developed out this far. Last time I was this way in 2000, there was nothing out here. As I get closer to Falcon, my stop for the night, I see a road cyclist out for a ride. He waves, I wave back and try to time the traffic over a couple of bridges where the shoulder disappears. There’s heaps of traffic now in both directions.
The road cyclist comes up behind me and then slows to talk. He says, ‘Hey, I saw you a few days ago outside of Sterling.’ Really. ‘Yeah, I was on my new motorcycle travelling with another lady and I asked where you were headed.’ Oh, it’s the guy from the couple at Crook that I didn’t stop to talk to. Cool. He’s very quick to tell me that the woman he was riding with wasn’t his girlfriend as they were supposed to have gone on a much longer ride into the Dakotas, but she couldn’t hack it, so they had to come back. I know this guy has really slowed down to ride with me, but I’m killing myself to keep a 15 mph pace especially at the end of a day of climbing into the wind. He doesn’t seem to want to pull over though, so he keeps a conversation going while we negotiate roadworks and everything else. We get into Falcon, where I’m planning to camp for the next two nights. I tell him so, and he says he knows places I could stay in the Springs and wants me to ride in with him. But I’m very done for the day and I don’t want to head into the big city until I have to. Unfortunately it is hard to communicate this while we’re riding and I’m killing myself to keep up. So it seems like he feels that I’m trying to blow him off when I tell him I’m turning off at one particular road. If only he’d been willing to stop for a moment to talk, I gladly would’ve taken his number and called him to go out for a beer when I got to town in a couple days. I lived in the Springs for a couple summers in the mid-1990s and would be curious to know what the bike scene is like now. Darn, roadies!
I stop in the shopping centre area (which is huge and was nothing but a field the last time I was by here 10 years ago) and grab some food for dinner. I then head down to the Falcon Meadows campground and am glad to be finished for the day. The sun is breaking out now and the tent sites each have an Adirondack chair to relax in. After a nice shower, I sit and watch the constant flow of rush hour traffic heading east to all the suburbs that didn’t exist 10 years ago.
Ave speed: 10.2mph Max speed: 26.4 mph
Elevation start: 5377 ft. Elevation end: 6831 ft.