Colorado 2014 – Day 117 – Sixmile Gap CG – Walden: Waging war

Saturday September 13, 2014, 28 miles (46 km) – Total so far: 5,217 miles (8,396 km)

The morning is brisk to say the least. I’m pretty sure it was as cold, or colder, last night than the night before. This morning we are treated to more clear skies. I’m up early because the weather forecast, when I checked it in Saratoga a couple days ago, suggested that I would have some pretty full-on and unfavourable winds today. So even though it is just a short ride down to Walden, the plan is to get it out of the way before the wind picks up. Read more

Colorado 2014 – Day 118 – Walden: Waste of time

Sunday September 14, 2014

I wonder what it would feel like to fall to the far right, or somewhere in the middle, of the introvert-extravert continuum. What would it be like to be a total extravert with a zillion shallow friendships and the need to be around other people to get energy? What would it be like to fall in the middle and want to be around people sometimes but not others? As a pretty extreme introvert, I wonder what it would be like to live in someone else’s extraverted shoes for a day. Maybe extraverts don’t find friendships as disappointing as often as I do. Maybe, because their energies and relationships are spread over so many more people, they don’t have as much invested in individual relationships as I do. Sometimes, when people let me down, I just think, “why do I even bother”? Read more

Colorado 2014 – Day 119 – Walden – Kelly Flats CG: Heading down a familiar road

Monday September 15, 2014, 63 miles (102 km) – Total so far: 5,280 miles (8,498 km)

I know the road. More or less. The curves, the climbs and the descents are all there in the back of my head somewhere. I rode this route to finish off my 2010 tour. I spent many hours playing in the Poudre Canyon during my years at Colorado State. I’ve been through Walden and North Park on trips to Steamboat Springs. The memories are all in there somewhere. Some have stayed fresh, as if a particular trip was only a few weeks ago. Other memories do not surface easily. They exist somewhat foggily, a moment here and there from an entire adventure clings to the surface of thought. The other moments drift away. They are held down and swamped by the many adventures and experiences I’ve encountered between then and now. Read more

Colorado 2014 – Day 120 – Kelly Flats CG – Ft Collins: Dear 18-year-old self,

Tuesday September 16, 2014, 37 miles (60 km) – Total so far: 5,317 miles (8,558 km)

Almost 70 percent of Americans are overweight or obese; 66 percent of Australians fit that description. I’m beginning to think it has warped our views of what a ‘normal’ weight person looks like. What we would have seen in the 1970s as ‘overweight’ is now seen as ‘normal’. A conversation with a guy at the park in Walden has made me think more about it. He saw me snacking and came over to chat. After asking the standard six he said, “I don’t see how someone so underweight could pedal a bike like that up all the mountains.” What? I’m in the best shape of my life. I’m thinner than I normally am, but I’m also heaps stronger. And I feel like I could climb just about anything you put in front of me, if you give me sufficient time. At the beginning of the tour, when I was about 10 pounds heavier, people called me ‘thin’ when I was a very normal weight of 135. Now, people are calling me underweight – when I’m very fit? Read more

Colorado 2014 – Days 121-124 – Ft Collins 9/17 -9/20: Catching up with old friends

I don’t know what it is about the friendships you build in high school and college, but these are often the ones that last forever and retain a depth and richness that friendships developed later in life often lack. Even though I only see my high school and college friends once every year or few years, I still value some of those friendships as highly as my day-to-day friendships back home. Perhaps it’s because in high school and college, your friends are more like family, and you do most everything together. You are not distracted by family, responsibility and full-time work. There is more time to devote to each other and joint activities. Friendships developed later in life may not be as strong simply because they form a smaller part of your life. I would be interested in reading some academic journal articles about it – anecdotally, I just know my friendships in Oz are rather shallow, meet-for-drinks friendships versus the rich and deep friendships I share with old friends from times past. Read more

Colorado 2014 – Day 125 – Ft Collins – Estes Park: Big Thompson Canyon

Sunday September 21, 2014, 41 miles (66 km) – Total so far: 5,358 miles (8,624 km)

The city is still asleep as we pedal south down Taft Hill Road. The streets lie in the grey darkness of first light, and the humans still lie in their beds. The sun slowly cracks open the sky with shafts of light and radiation. The sun hasn’t yet poked itself above the horizon, but it emits warning rays upward that the day is about to begin. I roll down into the Spring Creek drainage and climb out the other side. It brings back memories of the flash flood in 1997 that killed five people and sent water into places you never thought that water would ever go. I have photos of a guy kayaking up West Elizabeth Street from the intersection with Shields Street on that fateful night. Read more

Colorado 2014 – Day 126/127 – Estes Park 9/22-23: Waiting on the weather

It rains overnight and off and on again Monday morning. The skies clear somewhat by noon. My friend Wayne comes up to visit in the afternoon, and we head into the park for a drive and for him to get some information about accessing a couple peaks he’s hoping to climb for SOTA activations. As usual, I have a good time with him and am sad he can’t stay longer. Soon after he leaves, the rain comes again. I’m glad I didn’t try to head over Trail Ridge today – it would have been wet, windy and tough. Read more

Colorado 2014 – Day 128 – Estes Park – Hot Sulphur Springs: Trail Ridge Road

Wednesday September 24, 2014, 74 miles (120 km) – Total so far: 5,433 miles (8,743 km)

In the darkness and silence of pre-dawn, I roll over to turn off my watch alarm. Then I squint into the light of my iPod to check the NWS weather forecast for Trail Ridge Road. I want to see if they have changed their minds about today’s forecast since last night’s suggestion that it was going to be “Clear. Winds west 5-10 mph.” What? I blink and look again. No way. Get out. I look again. Current conditions: 25F, wind calm. Forecast: ‘Clear. Winds light and variable, becoming southwest 5-10mph after 12 pm’. Wow! Patience is not always rewarded, but it was this time. Let’s get this party started! Read more

Colorado 2014 – Day 129 – Hot Sulphur Springs – Silverthorne: Why tour?

Thursday September 25, 2014, 55 miles (88 km) – Total so far: 5,488 miles (8,831 km)

The touring season is coming to a close. The longer you ride into September and October in the Colorado mountains, the more likely you are to encounter periods of snow and cold temperatures. The upside of September and October, however, is that there are periods of stable, clear and warm weather between cold fronts. Those days are glorious. And I’m in the middle of a string of them. The downside to September and October, though, is the mornings are cold, regardless. This morning reinforces this anecdote. When I crawl out of the warmth of my bag, I immediately shiver. There is frost on the tent, and wispy layers of moisture create a haze of cold, clamminess along the river. Read more

Colorado 2014 – Day 130 – Silverthorne – Salida: The final miles

Friday September 26, 2014, 96 miles (154 km) – Total so far: 5,583 miles (8,986 km)

Should there be a ceremonial way to start the last day on a tour? It seems like there should, but it’s too early for me to figure something out. I just can’t get my brain to do more than the standard routine at 6 am. All I can do is just get down to business. Business today will include a morning climb to 11,318 foot Fremont Pass.

The day begins with the unceremonious 6 am start in total darkness. It doesn’t seem that long ago that first light was at 4.40 am! Where has the summer gone? Yeah, I know, it has slipped away underneath the tread of my tires as I pedalled to and fro around Montana. I wonder if it is easy for anyone to relinquish the long days of summer and the freedom of a tour. It certainly has never been for me. Read more