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Colorado Daily Journal

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Utah border to Grand Junction

Grand Junction to Rifle

Rifle to Eagle

Eagle to Siverthrone

Denver to Strasburg

Strasburg to Anton

Anton to Idilia

Idilia to Kansas border

Dillon to Georgetown

Georgetown to Denver

 

Activation of the Bailout Plan

Using the AMTRAK bike boxes

The train adventure to Grand Junction

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 ...snow in August on Loveland Pass?

 Ride Across Colorado

car free adventure ____________________

 

 

The RAAOSTNPOD continues.  We had completed bicycle adventures across California, Nevada, Iowa, Illinois and Utah.  We had a gap between Iowa and Utah that we needed to fill.  We would have to ride across two states to fill the void.  We decided the first state would be Colorado.  It was time to climb the Rockies. 

 

The altitude and climbing had been a challenge for me in Utah but we did not want to ride in the southwest.  We would ride across Colorado but could I climb over the Rockies on a bicycle?

 

We had used Adventure Cycling maps to guide us through California, Nevada and Utah and we were considering their route across Colorado.  But following the Utah ride we visited Denver. We began our return to California along the I-70. 

 

Bike paths ran along the interstate and cyclists were riding along the shoulder of the I-70.  Do bike paths run the full length of the I-70 and could they be used to bicycle across Colorado?

 

I investigated in LA.  The bike paths did not extend the full length of the I-70.  US-6 ran parallel to the I-70 in places and could be used to support a bike ride.  In other locations a frontage road could be used.  When no other options existed bicycles were allowed on the shoulder of the interstate.  Local bike club contacts and the “Colorado Bicycle Map” indicated that the shoulder of the I-70 could be used as a bike path across the entire state.   

 

We planned to start our Colorado Adventure at the Utah border and ride along the interstate to Denver.  From Denver we would take US 36 which is a direct shot to the Kansas border.  Our base of operations would be our daughter’s home in Denver.  We would ship our bikes to Denver and back home using FEDEX.  We would fly to Denver, build our bikes and then transport our equipment and ourselves by train (AMTRAK) to Grand Junction.  We would begin our adventure west of Grand Junction on the Utah border and bicycle over the Rockies and then onto the Kansas border.

 

We selected the month of August to insure that the snow had melted and the Colorado River had dropped below the bike paths along the I-70. 

We were also aware that the Democratic Convention would be in full swing by the time we reached the Kansas border.  As a post ride adventure we planned to join the throng that had converged on Denver for the event. 

 

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..we made it to Kansas..

 ...so far so good....

 

 ..dressed in the local attire..

 

..at the top of Vail Pass...

 

 ..bike path from Copper Mountain to Silverthrone...

 

 ..the truck above me is two miles ahead...I am 3 miles from the top of Loveland Pass..

 

RAAOSTNPOD - Ride Across America One State at a Time in No Particular Order or  Direction

 

After my son Jack and I rode together in France in 2000 he became an “ultra-cyclist.” He had introduced the "old man" to the world of bicycling and it was time to move on to "Lance's world." He competed, and finished, as a team member in the Race Across America (RAAM) in 2003 and again in 2005.  My wife and I crewed for the 2005 race. 

 

We passed through an expanse of very beautiful country at 15 miles an hour which matched or exceeded anything we had seen in Europe.  After my son successfully completed the ride to Atlantic City my wife and I discussed the possibility of doing the RAAM.  We would put together an 8 person team to allow us to sleep along the way.  Our experience organizing bicycle rides in Europe had been that it was very difficult if not impossible to get 8 like minded cyclists to join us. 

 

We scrapped that plan but, we still wanted to ride through the US from the Pacific to the Atlantic.  It was the perfect excuse to take a bike tour. We decided we would ride across one state each year until we had ridden from the Pacific to the Atlantic. The RAAOSTNPOD was born.

 

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RIDE ACROSS COLORADO -  Utah border to Grand Junction - 35 miles

 

       

 ..delivered to the Utah border by a Colorado cyclist..

 ...at the border sign...

 ...note the elevation in western Colorado....

..just to the left..two cyclist..bring your camera?

 

We planned to use the first day as a shake down ride from the Utah border back to hotel in Grand Junction.  It turned out to be an excellent idea because my wife’s bicycle developed a gearing problem and we had the Rocky Mountains ahead of us.    

 

We had been in communication with the Grand Junction Bike Club and solicited a ride to the border.  They put us in contact with one of their members and he graciously agreed to drive us to the border.  We contacted him by phone after we arrived in Grand Junction and agreed to meet at 8:30 AM at the hotel.

 

When we got up the next morning we dressed in our bike clothes, prepared energy drinks, filled our pockets with “quick access” support items and went down to enjoy the hotel’s complimentary breakfast.  We finished our breakfast and I brought my bike down to the parking lot to road test it while my wife checked email using the hotel’s computer.

 

The bike club member arrived in a pickup with a bike rack in the back and we loaded the bikes.  We exited the Marriott parking lot, turned right onto Horizon Street and after about a quarter of a mile turned right again onto G Road going west.  We drove on G Road until we reached US 6.  My Google search indicated that we would begin our ride at the border on state road 50 and US 6.  I am unsure what happens to state 50 but US 6 would be our path back to G Road on today’s ride and our exit road from Grand Junction tomorrow. 

 

As we drove along G Road our driver suggested an alternate route. US 6 had very heavy traffic.  He suggested instead we use a road which ran parallel to US 6, River Road.  We would take the suggested route in the car on the way to border.  When we reached US6 we continued across it as we exited G Road.  On the opposite side of US 6 the name changes to Railroad Boulevard and after about half a block the road turns right and the name changed to River Road.  

These name changes drive a cyclist crazy.   I remember riding in Seville and the street changed name 3 times in 5 miles.  My cue sheet had one name.  Experience had taught me to keep going straight, ignore the name and monitor the mileage.  This is the advantage of a cue sheet.  Mileage is constant.  If the cue sheet says ride 5 miles then ride 5 miles before looking for the turn.

 

We drove along River Road for several miles and then turned right over the I-70 into the small town of Fruita.  I noted in my memory that the name of the street that took the bridge over the I-70 was "Cherry Street.”  At the bottom of the ramp we turned left and made what appeared to me to be an immediate transition onto US 6.  We continued on US 6 for several miles until we reached a marker indicating that we were at the Colorado Utah Border.

  

We removed our bikes from the truck and took pictures standing with our bikes at the border sign.  We thanked our Good Samaritan from the Grand Junction Bike Club and he was off driving back to Grand Junction.  We immediately followed on our shake down ride and the first leg of our adventure.  We stopped several times in the first few miles to make bike adjustments attempting to get our bikes back to their training configuration.  

 

State 50 and US 6 head due east towards Grand Junction.  The wind was blowing east to west so we rode into a very stiff head wind.  We cheated and left our “clothes trunks” at the hotel and the reduced weight helped.  The road was basically flat with a few rollers but the wind made it difficult.  The wind continued to blow hard in our face all the way.  The skies were clear and sunny.  The temperature averaged about 85 degrees.  I was comfortable in a short sleeve shirt. 

We averaged a disappointing 10.3 miles an hour.  We lost time when we stopped several times to adjust seats, remove clothing and take pictures but 10.3?  My wife developed a problem with her gears and had to ride with only two gears for half of the return.  We made it to Grand Junction in less than 4 hours.  We had not stopped for lunch but I saw opportunities in the small towns for food if we had chosen to stop.  I carried my Camelbak filled with an energy drink mixture.  I never felt tired or weak during the ride. 

We passed through three small towns on our return to Grand Junction; Mac, Loma, and Fruita.  The traffic was light until we left Loma.  About a dozen cars and 3 large trucks had passed us up until that time.  After Loma the traffic began to pick up.  There was not a paved shoulder along this part of the road but the traffic was courteous.

In Fruita we transitioned onto River Road following the route suggested on the way to the border.  The transition was a bit confusing looking at it from the opposite side.  We were approaching an I-70 overpass and I was concentrating on maintaining my 10.3 mile and hour average when my wife said "I think this is where we go over the I-70."  The road we were on, US 6, went under the I-70 overpass which I did not remember.  This confusion often happens to me on my bike trips but we turned anyway. 

After the turn we looked for something familiar along the road which would take us to the ramp.  After about an eighth-of-a-mile the scene became more familiar and we could see the entrance to the on-ramp.  As we approached the on-ramp I read “Cherry Street” on the street sign and knew we were right.  Or, I should say, I knew my wife was right. 

After crossing over the I-70 we entered a round-about and took the third exit onto River Road.  We retraced our steps along River Road until we turned left onto "Railroad Boulevard" and crossed a very busy US 6 to G Road on the opposite side.  We actually got off our bikes and walked with our bikes to the opposite side pausing in the center momentarily.  We retraced our morning exit from Grand Junction along G Road turning left at Horizon to the hotel. 

We looked up a bike shop in the phone book and called to verify they were open. We bicycled to the shop and the mechanic told us the derailleur had been bent.  He straightened it and a test ride proved the gear problem was solved.  He told us the repair was free but we tipped him anyway.  He also supplied me with some good information about our proposed route to Denver. 

 

We had told the mechanic that we had shipped the bikes from LA in a bike box.  He told us that it was easy to bend a derailleur in a bike box.  He suggested that we should remove the derailleur before putting the bike into the box and demonstrated how to do it. 

 

After thinking about it we began to suspect that the damage had occurred during shipment in the “cardboard” train box.  The bike's gears had shifted ok in Denver after the repair at Performance Bike and did not after the train ride to Grand Junction.

On the way to the hotel we stopped at Safeway and bought sandwiches to eat at the hotel for dinner.  The ice cream shop we had discovered the day before on or way from the train to the hotel was closed!  Bummer!  When we got to the hotel we relaxed, ate our sandwiches and watched the Olympics. 

During a break in the action I cleaned up, got my water mix ready for the next day and crawled into bed and fell asleep watching TV.  Tomorrow we bicycle to Rifle.

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RIDE ACROSS COLORADO - Grand Junction to Rifle - 64 miles

 

       

 ..if it's August try the peaches grown around Palisades..

 ...bike path sign on the I-70 on-ramp east of Palisade ...

...entering our first I-70 section of the bike path ..

 ..preparing the Palisade preaches to eat with the GUE & power bars..

Each day on a bicycle ride begins about the same.  We get up and began preparing the bikes for the days ride.  We had mounted the trunks on our bikes the night before.  I was using my Camalbak and had prepared a mixture of water and energy mix the night before.  The room’s refrigerator chilled it during the night in anticipation of a warm ride the following day.  I changed into my bike clothes, returned my long johns or pj's to my bike trunk and zipped it up.  I secured the stuff bag which contained my Cortex jacket to the top of the trunk and slung my Crocks from the rear of it.  My bike was ready. 

It had taken us about an hour to exit the room.  I monitored the time each day and one hour was about the average.  My daughter had warned us to expect heavier winds in the afternoons with the possibility of rain.  Thus the earlier we could get started the better the riding conditions.   Also the days we were climbing over the Rockies would be slow days and the more time we had the more comfortable I felt. 

To complete my analysis of “time required in the morning to get our act together” we ate breakfast in 30 minutes and we would spend another thirty minutes on the web before we left so it took us 2 hours to get on the road each morning.  But experience had shown that rushing to get on the road each day can make one a bit tired and cranky before one gets on the bike.  “Lessons Learned:” Be disciplined about an early start but don’t stress out making it happen.  

We went down to the complimentary breakfast at the Marriott.  It was very good.  It was an excellent start to the morning.  We had decided to reduce the weight on the bikes by dumping some of the warm clothes we were carrying and mailing them to Denver.  The weather we had experienced on our first few days in Colorado indicated we would not need them.  The night clerk had seemed confused about the hotel process which we had used on other bike rides to ship gear so we waited for the day crew.  They took care of it. 

After our web browsing we got on our bikes and exited the Marriott parking lot onto Horizon Street.  Our goal was Patterson Road which was US 6 and our ride east to Rifle would begin on US 6.  We planned to take Horizon Drive to 12th Street which would intersect with Patterson Road.  Our decision had been driven by the fact that we had used this route twice and had passed the intersection to Patterson Road while on 12th street.  This experience had been gained locating the hotel after we arrived on the train and finding the bike shop after the border ride.  I had planned a different exit route in California but we decided to avoid another “adventure of lost” trying to exit Grand Junction.

Horizon Drive has a bike path and after we entered 12th street at the round-about the bike path continued.  About 5 blocks before Patterson Road (US 6) the bike path ends and it is every vehicle for themselves.  This was our first day of riding with the clothes trunks on the bikes and it takes a bit of adjustment.  We made it ok to the corner with the help of several polite motorists and turned onto Patterson Road. 

We had not ridden on Patterson Road before while we were roaming around Grand Junction.  I was surprised to find that it was a very wide street.  A bike path appeared after a few blocks and the traffic was moderate.  The miles along Patterson Road allowed time for the brain to adjust to balancing the extra weight of the clothes trunk on the bikes.   

The bike path along Patterson Street or US 6 provided a comfortable bike exit from Grand Junction.  After leaving the city limits the road narrowed but there was a wide shoulder along the road.  Unfortunately it was covered with gravel in numerous places which forced us to ride very close to the traffic.

After a few miles we entered a small community named Palisade.  Our daughter had told us that Palisade grew the best peaches in the state.  Since we were cycling through Palisade during their peach harvest we had to stop at a road side stand to try them.  They were very good and we bought two to eat later along the road to add a little flavor to our power bar lunch.

A few miles east of Paradise we would experience our first ride on the shoulder of the I-70.  We continued to ride through what appeared to be farm land east of Palisade on US 6.  We were riding about a mile south of the I-70 and could not hear or see the interstate.   Ahead the cliffs of the pass the I-70 would take us through rose dramatically above the flat landscape.  As we approached the cliffs the road curved to the North along high canyon walls for about three miles.  The canyon walls were immediately to our right as we approached the on ramp to the I-70.  It was rather majestic.  We were approaching our first I-70 experience.

The mechanic at the bike shop in Grand Junction had told me that we could ride all the way to Denver on the shoulder of the I-70 if we wished.  He even told us that he had ridden through the tunnels!  My email to the Colorado Highway Patrol basically said the I-70 could only be used when there was no other path for a bicycle available along the interstate.  The “official” bike map for Colorado indicated that what the bike shop mechanic had said was true.  A cyclist could use the interstate.  The point is why bicycle on the interstate if an alternate is available.  Our goal was to ride on the interstate when we couldn’t find another paved road off the interstate to ride on.  We only had to ride on the interstate 3 times as I remember getting to Denver from the Utah border.

We followed US 6 to exit 44 of the interstate and then rode onto the I-70.  We would leave the I-70 at exit 62.  That is 18 miles as the crow flies or rather the I-70 goes.  As we started up the on-ramp there was a "bike path" sign along the on-ramp.  So far so good! 

We rode along the two east bound lanes of the I-70 with a “very” high canyon wall to our right.  On the northern side of the interstate a river flowed west and was responsible for cutting the path through the rock wall that we were now riding along. 

Traffic was what would be expected.  Large trucks which moved to the center before they passed.  Cars as well moved over.  The shoulder was at least 10 feet wide.  It was larger in places.  The shoulder did not have as much debris as on the 101 freeway shoulder in California which allows cyclist to ride along the coast for small stretches when the bike path disappears.

The canyon we rode through on the I-70 was beautiful but it was not Utah.  The red rock canyons in Utah were unique.  The walls of the canyon along the I-70 were very close at times as the canyon walls were in Utah which I find awesome.  The river with its white water rapids in places was across the interstate from us and added to the surroundings. 

After a few miles we approached the Beaver Trail Tunnels.  The tunnels are for the cars and a bike path is provided which follows the river around a sharp bend and returns to the interstate.  The Beaver Trail tunnel loop was spectacular.  The river ran immediately along the bike path and turned with us as we rode.  A place to stop and picnic along the route had been constructed.  The river cascaded over rocks producing a very relaxing sound and view.  The walls of the canyon were very close to the river and towered above us as we rode.  The ride through the canyon was maybe a mile and a half and very flat.  The road surface was excellent.

We exited the road around the Beaver Trail Tunnel and returned to the I-70.  The canyon walls remain very large on each side of the river for several miles and then begin to retreat leaving a large valley.  Farms began to appear along the interstate.

Interstate 70 is located about a mile from the northern edge of the canyon.  The canyon walls are much smaller and due to the distance almost disappear to the south.  Farms fill the valley to the southern edge of the canyon.  We continued through the canyon and took exit 62 leaving the I-70 just before we reached the small town of Debeque. 

I had used Google Maps in LA to determine how to navigate along the I-70 from the Utah border to the Kansas border.  I discovered that the I-70 had replaced US 6 and parts of the highway remained along the interstate.  There was also a “frontage road” in some locations that could be used for cycling.  Exit 62 took us onto the frontage road which changed to US 6 after a few miles. The name of the road from frontage road to US 6 and back along the I-70 seemed to change at will.  I assumed that the US department of Transportation leaves the maintenance of the frontage roads to the local community and we cover the cost of the rest.  Otherwise the change is confusing. 

Google Maps does not show the bike paths. The information I had received from Colorado did not show all of the opportunities either.  We were pleasantly surprised to find many bike paths along the I-70 on our trek which we were not aware of when we left California.

For most of our ride to Denver US 6 and the frontage road surface appeared to be the same.  Good to bicycle on.  There was no shoulder in most places but the traffic was very patient.  That said, after we exited the I-70 on our way to Rifle the road surface (US 6) was rough and beaten up by what we assumed to be the truck traffic.  We had been warned during the research in California to expect many large trucks on the roads along the I-70 in western Colorado supporting the oil shale industry.  We were passed by numerous trucks which we assumed were supporting the Colorado oil boom. 

After about 3 miles the road became noticeably smoother and remained that way for the remainder of the day.  There were small ruts like those seen on TV while watching the Tour de France but those were part of the sport.    

We stopped and enjoyed the peaches we bought in Palisade.  Our break came just before we reached the small town of Parachute.  We were on US 6 where the truck traffic was heavy and selected a driveway to "somewhere" to stop. We sat and ate our peaches followed by GUE and a power bar for me.  We leaned the bikes against each other in the center of the driveway a technique we had learned on our first state ride across California.

We continued on to Parachute and stopped at a Subway for a coke.  It was in the high 80s during the day and felt hot.  We had been riding on US 6 with the I-70 about a tenth of a mile south of us.  Parachute is small town but as we were leaving it looked as if a Mall was being built.  The complex also had a small park which appeared to be new.  It would be an excellent spot to relax in and eat ones Paradise peaches. 

We reached our goal for the day, Rifle Colorado.  Our hotel was across the I-70.  We saw the bridge across the I-70 but US 6 continued on under some large trees which gave the appearance we could get onto the overpass by continuing along US 6.  “Lessoned Learned,” we stopped and asked a guy putting gas into his car for advice.  He said we would have to take the on ramp across from the station (don’t continue on US 6) to get on the other side of the I-70.  He also warned us of construction on the other side of the ramp which would not be bike friendly. 

We climbed onto the ramp over the I-70 and he was correct.  The traffic lane narrowed to just about a car width.  We had seen our hotel from the overpass and we edged though along with the traffic at the bottom and turned left toward our hotel.  Our path took us onto the new constructed road which was causing the traffic problems. 

A worker stopped us and after we told him what our objective was he said ok I will let you through.  We continued on the new road surface until we could exit onto the sidewalk which led to the street where our hotel was located.  We rode up to the hotel and checked in.    

My odometer read 65 miles. We had climbed more than 1000 feet to get to Rifle but there had been no noticeable climbs.  I remembered one 5% climb of about half to three-quarters of a mile.  Everything else was less than 3%.  The weather was clear skies with zero clouds.  The temperature had been predicted to get into the 90’s but it did not feel that hot.  The wind was light but the added weight of the clothes trunks on the bikes, the climbing and what wind there was made for a grinding day or I could be still getting into shape!

After dumping our stuff we went to the desk and asked about places to eat within walking distance.  They suggested a restaurant near the intersection of the street construction.  It was a block and a half away.  It was the closest restaurant to the hotel and we went there.  It was not a time to explore.  We were famished and we had a great dinner while working on our NY Times crossword puzzles. 

We returned to the hotel room which was very comfortable. The hotel offered breakfast, pool, Jacuzzi, computer and all of the TV stations.  We used the Jacuzzi and the computer.  We prepped for the ride the following day.  We watched TV until we fell asleep.  Another good riding day.

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 RIDE ACROSS COLORADO - Rifle to Eagle - 58 miles

       

 ..a few cars before Silt,then no shoulder with traffic...

..open road again..the traffic turned onto the I-70 in Silt...

..a bike path begins at the eastern edge of Glenwood Springs..

 ...our destination town...

We prepared our bikes for the days ride, ate the breakfast provided at the hotel and exited the hotel on our bikes heading back toward the construction on the street that would take us over the I-70.  This time we were stopped by the guy in charge as we entered the new road surface area.  There was no talk of "get off my construction," instead he told us to ride on the new road surface on the right side where the cars were not allowed and climb up to US 6.  His path would give us a clear route through the congestion.  It was very nice of him.   

We followed his plan, rode across the bridge over the I-70 to a round about and turned east onto US 6.  The traffic produced by the oil shale and natural gas industry continued their presence on the road.  We were thankful they were all bicycle friendly.  The trucks gave us a wide berth as did the cars along the road.  

At one point a bus, a pick-up truck and I met along a narrow part of the road and successfully made it through.  The truck slowed down using a bit of the lane the approaching bus was in to pass me and the bus compensated moving onto the shoulder on the opposite side of the road.  A courtesy we were afforded by the traffic all day.

There are several towns located along US 6 between Rifle and Eagle; Silt, New Castle, Glenwood Springs, Dotsero and Gypsum.  The first town on the route was Silt which was very busy with truck traffic which I assumed was caused by the oil business activity.  Silt was a working oil town and little if anything had been designed to support the tourist trade. 

We rode through the town stopping in the congestion gathered at the one major intersection on the west side of the town.  The congestion was made worst at the intersection because it was under construction to expand it. I would assume the change would allow the intersection to support additional truck traffic.   

The next town we entered was New Castle.  New Castle was the direct opposite of everything we had encountered thus far along our route.  Trees lined the streets blocking any view of the I-70 and there were fun shops, restaurants and old homes along the street.  Benches were located along the sidewalks with plants and flowers along the street.  It looked like a touristy town. 

During planning we look for an inexpensive hotel which offers a complimentary breakfast to stay in at the destination towns.  A complimentary breakfast allows us to be a little more relaxed about our start time in the morning.  We can get up at different times if we want and use the time we would have spent looking for a place to eat after leaving the hotel anyway we want before the start of the day’s ride. 

If it is impossible to find a hotel which offers breakfast which occurs about 50% of the time, an alternative we have found that works for us is to find a small town 15 to 25 miles down the road where we stop and eat breakfast.  Delaying breakfast for a few miles allow us to organize our morning and be a bit lazy about leaving or at least seems less hectic.  If we had known about New Castle we could have adopted our strategy of riding 10 to 25 miles before having breakfast. 

The "breakfast after a short ride" strategy was developed on the ride across Iowa (RAGBRAI).  We had to have our luggage on board the truck which transported it to the next destination town by 7 AM sharp.  My wife suggested we skip breakfast in the destination town and find breakfast after we had ridden to the first town along the route.  It became a good break in the morning and we were ready to eat breakfast.

From New Castle we rode to Glenwood Springs which is noted as a tourist attraction.  We bicycled into downtown looking for a friend of ours from our Colorado days who owned a restaurant.  We had hoped to surprise him and just show up. 

We could not remember the name of his restaurant but we knew it was a Mexican Restaurant.  After following the directions of the locals to the Mexican Restaurants located in town we found a phone book and called him.  He was not at home but the answering machine gave us his cell phone number.  We called and he answered but he was in Denver.  He was disappointed he would not be able to visit with us and said he had sold his restaurant.  He also told us he bicycled 150 miles a week.  Glenwood Springs is at altitude.  That's a lot of cycling. 

A bike path begins at Glenwood Springs and is located between the east bound lanes of the I-70 and the river.  It is actually located below the I-70 on the bank of the river.  A novice finding the entrance to a bike path is always interesting.  After our phone call to our friend we asked several people for directions and started our hunt for the bike path entrance.  We spied a bike shop as we wandered in the direction we had been pointed.  I wanted to stop and top-off the air pressure in our tires.  As I pumped up our tires my wife asked for directions.  We were close to the start of the bike path. 

After leaving the shop we took the street per their directions and found ourselves facing a barricade across a service road.  The road ran along the side of a business building with dumpsters at the back where we were standing at the barricade.  Interstate 70 ran along the other side of the service road.  A large sign outlined the bike path but was this, the bike path we had planned to take?

"Lessons Learned" had taught us not to ride down a road for several miles only to get to ride back several miles.  It could be very exhausting.  As we were standing looking for more clues a cyclist rode up to the barrier from the east.  We waved him down an asked if this was the entrance to the bike path that would take us to Eagle.  He conformed it was and told us that after a short distance we would cross over the I-70 and enter the bike path that runs between the river and the I-70.     

After bicycling a short distance on the service road the trail turned right and entered a bridge over the I-70.  On the opposite side we entered the bike path.  The bike path entered several parks along the route which served as rest stops for both cars and bicyclist.  These stops were hidden in very beautiful areas near the I-70.  At times the bike path ran immediately along the river where we saw several white water rafts filled with intrepid soles tackling the rapids in the river.  As we rode we watched several of these rafts maneuver through the rapids on their way along the river.

The bike path left the river and transitioned to the north side of the I-70.  It continued to follow a bike path that ran adjacent to the I-70 which I had not realized was there.  Again it was located far enough from Interstate 70 that it seemed independent of the highway.  We exited the bike path onto the frontage road or US 6 at a small parking area which may have been used as a park and ride for cyclist.  Not sure.  The bike path had ended west of Dotsero a small community along the I-70.

Immediately after we exited the bike path onto the frontage road a truck pulled onto the road from a side road.  I waved him down to ask if this road would take us to Eagle.  He said yes that this would turn into US 6 which would take us all the way into Eagle.

The road we were riding on came to a crossroad with a road heading north and south crossing our path.  I knew we did not want to go north but the road went under the I-70 and the road we were riding on jogged South a bit and then disappeared East.  Which route would be US 6?  I waved done another truck and the driver said take the road south under the I-70 to the 6.  We rode under the I-70 and found the road ended immediately in a resort area.  A bus waited along the sidewalk and I enquired about US 6.  I was told to go back under the I-70 and turn east onto the road we had seen.

We rode back under the I-70 and took the road east.  After less than a mile the road forked again.  One lane went on along the I-70 while the other turned under the I-70.  The part that continued east along I-70 was marked "no outlet."  We choose to ride under the I-70.  An on ramp onto the I-70 was located immediately on the opposite side and the road also continued south.  I told my wife that since the road was headed south that maybe we should get onto the I-70. 

A pickup pulled up with a dog sitting in a seat behind the driver.  The window rolled down and the driver asked if I needed help.  I said yes we are looking for US 6.  He asked where we were headed and I said Eagle.  He said just continue on the road I was standing on, the one that headed south, and it would turn east and take us to Eagle.

He asked where I was from and I said Los Angeles.  He looked surprised and I added “don't hold it against me.”  After a brief pause, he laughed and said “you must be glad to be out of Los Angeles.”  I laughed knowingly shook my head "yes."  I do not argue with people’s opinions in pickup trucks!  

We headed south and within a mile the road turned east.  The truck traffic was heavy but polite and exited the road when we reached a factory area leaving us alone on the road.   We continued on along US 6 into the small town of Gypsum which we rode through and continued on towards Eagle. 

We entered Eagle south of the I-70 on US 6.  We stopped to get our bearings.  I knew the hotel was north of the I-70 but where to turn.  Using my cue sheets we began to look for Eby Creek Road.  After a mile we entered a round about which was the entrance to Eby Creek Road and took the exit which headed north over the I-70. 

Our hotel was on Pond Road.  The route north was a gradual uphill and we rode with traffic over the I-70 and began to look for Pond Road.  There were many places of business along Eby Creek and we stopped to ask where to find Pond Road.  It was a quarter of a mile further along Eby Creek Road and was basically a service road along a ridge overlooking Eagle.  Our hotel was located at the end of the road. 

We got to our hotel and checked in.  We dumped our stuff in our room and began to look for dinner.  The clerk in the lobby gave us the choices we had that were within walking distance.  No more bicycling for the day.  We decided on Mexican and headed off back across Eby Creek Road to the restaurant.  The food was good and we were hungry.

After our meal we walked back to the hotel and prepared for the next days ride.  We watched the Olympics until we fell asleep.  Tomorrow Vail Pass!

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 RIDE ACROSS COLORADO - Eagle to Dillon/Silverthorne - 61 miles

 

       

..higher and greener ... 

..finishing frontage road 4 mile (6%) climb from Vail..

 ..decending Vail Pass heading to Copper Mountain Ski area..

 ...our destination town..(note the elevation)....

 

We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in Eagle which has a room rate that is a bit more than I want to pay but they offer a great breakfast.  Their complimentary breakfast consists of scrambled eggs, bacon, biscuits and gravy and all of the extras.  I should also note that I do not eat like this at home. Its oatmeal! 

 

The gourmet rule on a bike ride is “eat what you want and recover at home.”  The “pig out rule” provides one a little incentive for putting up with the hurt on a bicycle ride.  All was very tasty and a good start to the day. Most places save me from myself and don’t offer the same “breakfast treats” to get me going on a riding day.     

Today would be the first mountain stage of the Tour de Colorado.  We were at 6400 feet and change in Eagle and we would climb to 11,400 feet over Vail Pass.  The information that I had received about the climb was meager.  I did not know what to expect.  I was prepared for switch backs which were prevalent on many of the rides in California.  

The climb over Vail Pass would be at the end of the day which I always try to avoid if possible.  The town separation along the route versus the daily riding distance did not support climbing Vail pass in the morning.  I had not climbed well in Utah and my training regimen in California had not reduced the dread so the climb ahead was always on my mind.  I was in much better shape than I had been in Utah but I had not trained at altitude.     

We exited the hotel and turned onto Eby Creek Road.  We were quickly at the bridge over the I-70 bridge, followed by the round about and then at US 6 where we turned east. 

The trucks supporting the oil boom were present west of Eagle we continued to ride with them. The road we were using heads south before we reached Vail Valley and becomes the 24.  Highway US 6 and the I-70 become one and we were forced for the second time to ride on the I-70.

We rode onto the I-70 at the 171 exit and got off at exit 173.  The traffic on the interstate continued to be courteous and the shoulder was a lane wide.  At exit 173 we exited onto the frontage road.  We were in Vail Valley but had some riding left before we got to Vail.  Vail Pass was east of Vail.

Vail is divided into East Vail, Vail and West Vail.  We found bike paths everywhere which supported our trek which we had been unknown to us.  We may have missed some of bike paths along our route because our research was poor or the paths were not published on the web.  I would assume that the bike paths are listed on the web and research on our return to California will prove me right. 

We bicycled on a bike path through West Vail into Vail.  The bike path continued through Vail.  We asked a cyclist as he rode past us if the bike path we were on would take us to the bike path over Vail Pass.  He indicated it would and said follow him.  We could not maintain his pace and he quickly dropped us in about a quarter of a mile.  He slowed down and took us under his wing and rode with us through Vail. 

We separated again when we stopped in Vail at the Information Center for water, but when we got back on our bikes after about a half a mile there he was coming in the opposite direction along the road.  He crossed over and explained how to get to the bike path over the pass, but quickly decided he would direct us personally to the bike path.  We probably had that old and tired look.  He had already explained when we first met that we had a lot of climbing ahead of us. 

The climb over Vail Pass is 8 miles long and begins about 3 miles east of Vail.  The first 4 miles are along a "frontage road" or access road.  The remaining four miles begin on the opposite side of I-70 on a bike path that climbs along a large area which separates the north and south lanes of the I-70.  The second half of the climb is “awesome.” It is beautiful.

After riding about three miles east of Vail the road crossed under the I-70 and we were at the start of the frontage road part of the climb.  We had climbed at about 2 % all the way from Eagle to Vail.  To get onto the frontage road after passing under the I-70 we had to climb a nasty 8 % grade that lasted long enough to make me aware it was there.  At the top of the “nasty entry climb” it leveled off and we began a four plus mile slog of 4%, 5%, 6% climbing. 

Our Good Samaritan continued with us for about a half a mile of the assent.  He said he had to return to Vail so we thanked him for his help, took a picture and he bid us goodbye.  We continued our climb.

It was always up and for the majority of the 4 miles was 6% but it would level off once in a while to 5% then 4% then back up to 6 again.  Once I had mentally convinced my body that this was the way it was going to be, I adjusted to the rhythm and slogged to the top.  I averaged better than 5 miles an hour so it took us about an hour to complete the climb.

At the top of the climb along the frontage road a bike path drops off to the right and the access road continues.  We were not sure what to do.  There had been a lot of cyclist along the road so we waited.  A group, or rather a family, arrived on the bike path and said we were to follow the bike path and notified us that we had 5 more miles of climbing on the bike path on the opposite side of the I-70. Yuck! 

The bike path dropped off sharply to the left and we did not want to go down to the bottom of the bike path only to get to climb out again.  We decided to ride further along the service road after they left to convince ourselves they were right.  Lucky for us the road ended after about a half a mile.  Decision made.  We rode back to the start of the bike path.

The bike path dropped down and took us under both lanes of the I-70 and then climbed back up to a bike path on the south side of the east lanes of the I-70.  When we turned east again we came face to face with the "wall."  Two cyclists in Vail had told us about the wall.  It is 300 yards of 10% that must be climbed to get onto the bike path.  I told our Good Samaritan during his definition of the climb that I would walk and he agreed. 

I climbed about a third of the way up the wall and came up behind my wife and was forced to make a decision.  Pull out and ride along side her to the top in the wrong lane or stop and walk.  "Not being one to place bike traffic in danger because I wanted to be macho" I got off my bike and walked the rest of the way to the top.  I needed this excuse because my wife climbed to the top on her bike.  Actually a cyclist came zooming past as I trudged to the top so I may have made the best choice!  What a guy!

Even walking to the top was difficult and I was exhausted when I got there.  Having believed that the first 4 plus miles of climbing on the frontage road would complete the climb I was now faced with 4 more miles of the same or worse.  To add to the adventure we were now riding into a tough head wind.  I told my wife that I was wasted and she should keep and eye on me in case I slowed down to the point that I fell over.  My mind had capitulated and assumed that “he is going to do this so give him the blank screen!” 

The second 4 miles was on a beautiful bike path and I would assume is considered the real climb over Vial Pass.  The bike path again was 4%, 5% and 6%.  It would grind away at 6% and then level off to 4% for a stretch and then tip up.  There were places where it tipped up to 10% but they were short.  The bike path itself was great.  It turned away from the I-70 for about a quarter of a mile and was hidden in tree lined foliage.  We rode pass "Black Lake" and another whose name I don’t remember.  The path at this point transitioned onto an access road used by motorist to get to the lakes.

A mile beyond the lakes we were at the summit.  The road we were on ended at an intersection.  A rest area where cars were parked was across the intersection and a sign to the right indicated “bike path” but the bike path was not obvious.  We rode as the sign had directed and soon found ourselves riding around the rest stop back to the bike path along the I-70. 

The bike path quickly moved away from the I-70 again and we were riding through a tree lined environment.  The bike path down from the top of Vail Pass is awesome.  It is located between the east and west lanes of the I-70 in a canyon with the interstate above.  The bike path is surrounded by lush foliage.  The path is steep and curvy and we were lost in wonderland.  I could not hear the traffic on the I-70 which must have been at least a mile from the path and at least 1000 feet above us.

As we snapped pictures along the decent it began to threaten rain.  We were not dressed for rain.  We had been forewarned because the clouds got darker and darker but we were too busy taking pictures of wonderland to prepare.  I had put my cortex jacket on and my wife had a light rain jacket on when it began to rain but it was not enough.  We were immediately wet and cold.  We cranked down hill assuming we would be found frozen to our bicycles on Vail Pass.  A couple of naďve flatlander’s who foolishly attempted to bicycle in the Rockies in August!

Suddenly roof tops appeared above the trees followed by a sign that read “Welcome to Copper.”  We were entering the Copper Mountain ski resort where we had skied before.  We rode as fast as we could to the middle of town, looked up a restaurant, went in, an ordered hot cider and soup and began the process of recovering body temperature. 

The weather had been warm until the rain started as we were riding down off of Vail Pass.  I had been hot in fact until we started down off the pass and only put my cortex jacket on during a picture interlude because the weather looked a bit scary.  The clouds were dark.  It might rain.  It was cool enough that after I put my jacket on I had not gotten uncomfortably warm so I had luckily left it on.

On the way into Copper I had paused to ask a shop owner carrying his wares in out of the rain for directions and the weather forecast.  “Snow tomorrow on Loveland Pass” he replied.  Tomorrow we were to bicycle over Loveland Pass.  Darn!  What can I be thinking?  I am bicycling across Colorado in August without snow tires on my bike.  As we sat recovering in the restaurant I called our hotel in Silverthorne and reserved a room for an additional day.  It would be a tour rest day!  A day just in case the storm continued.

By the time we had finished our porridge the skies had cleared and the sun was out.  The temperature was mild but we left our rain gear on.  We set off for Silverthorne where we would spend the night.  We exited Copper Mountain and rode toward the I-70.  Directions from the restaurant staff indicated we would find a bike path that would run along the south side of the I-70.  We located it and again rode through a beautiful area hidden from the Interstate by trees and foliage.  We came to an intersection where a sign indicated that if we continued straight we would be in Breckenridge.  A turn to the right would take us to Frisco.  We knew Breckenridge would take us to another ski area which did not compute.

We were saved by a fellow on a bike talking on a cell phone who arrived at the intersection.  We waved him down.  He stopped and hung up on the guy on the phone.  We told him we were trying to get to Silverthorne.   He told us to take the Frisco route.  The other path would take us to a climb over a mountain pass.

He rode with us into Frisco and we stopped at an intersection which I assumed was “Main Street.”  Frisco looked like a fun town and would be worth another look but that would have to be another adventure.  As we waited at the intersection he explained how to get onto the bike path around the lake at the edge of town to Dillon where we would make a left into Silverthorne.  Silverthorne was located on the north side of the I-70 and Dillon was across the interstate on the south side.

We could not find the bike path around the lake and stopped to consult with a shop owner who did not settle our confusion.  As we were leaving the shop we spotted a cyclist coming toward us and waved him down.  We told him what we were trying to do and he told us he was riding on the bike path to Dillon.  Just follow him.  He led us onto the bike path and “slowed down” so we could keep up and rode with us along a lake. 

Dillon was on the opposite shore of the lake.  The bike path took us across the dam which paralleled the I-70.  We stopped on the east side of the dam where the path turns south along US 6 and runs through Dillon and north through Silverthorne.  Our bike buddy told us to turn north along the bike path and it would take us under the I-70 into Silverthorne.  We did as directed and after a couple of consultations with the local population located our hotel.

We were staying at the La Quinta which was very large.  I would assume for the ski trade in the winter.  They had a Chicago Restaurant on site which meant that we would not have to leave the hotel to hunt for a place to eat.  It would be an excellent place to stay while we waited for the skies to clear.  The food selection at the restaurant was very good.  We stuffed ourselves, watched TV and hit the sack.  We had climbed Vail Pass.  Next, Loveland Pass!  Bring it on!   

I assumed the weather report I received from the shop owner in Copper Mountain was pessimistic and the weather would clear quickly allowing us to ride the next day.  That night however, it rained and hailed most of the night.

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 RIDE ACROSS COLORADO - Denver to Strausburg - 38 miles

       

..the destination town...

  ...stopped to shop, great variety and conversation, the owner gave us a free coke after hearing about our trek across the state..

 ...little red school house at the Strasburg museum, 19th century lessons plans on display, local children attend classes in the summer...

 biscuits and gravy, a personal favorite! ....told to expect climbing on the way to Anton.

While in Denver we changed the plan developed in California for the ride to the Kansas border.  The origin plan had our daughter dropping us off at the Kansas border and we would ride back to my daughter’s home in Denver.  We decided to ride from Denver east to Kansas instead.  My daughter would meet us at the destination town near the Kansas border on the last day of our ride.  She would stay with us overnight and then drive us and our gear back to Denver.  Our destination town was 15 miles from the Kansas border so we would complete the ride to the Kansas border on the morning of the day we headed back to Denver in the car.

We had to redo the entry map we had prepared for Denver in LA to an exit map.  We wanted to avoid Colfax Avenue, a busy Denver street, so we selected Smith Road instead.  We would take 23rd Avenue to High Street, turn left on High Street to 29th Avenue, turn right on 29th Avenue to Beeler Avenue, left on Beeler to Martin Luther King Boulevard, then right on Martin Luther King Boulevard to Havana Street, left on Havana Street to Smith Road, right on Smith Road to Smith Way, right on Smith Way, across the I-70 on the overpass, left to Colfax Avenue where a sign indicated go left onto US 6 along the I-70.  There will be a quiz later.   

We exited Denver using the route plan with only a minor discussion at Beeler and Havana Street to avoid problems.  We had never been on Smith Road in a car or on a bicycle and discovered it had a few miles of heavy truck traffic and no shoulder.  Smith Road appeared to provide access to and from several industrial areas along the I-70.  After a few miles we got beyond the truck traffic and were alone riding through open land. 

As we continued on Smith Road we became insecure about the route and my wife asked a construction worker along the road what was ahead.  He said the road ended and became a dirt road! Oops! We took out our maps and tried to determine where we had gone wrong.  There was no easy way out from where we were standing but there was a busy overpass about a mile ahead of us. We decided to ride on and investigate.

We rode under the overpass and found “Smith Way” leading to the right.  A quick check of the map indicated this was our route so we turned right.  After a short distance it got more confusing as we rode up to an intersection with a road that lead to a ramp over the I-70.  The map indicated that US 6 would be found on the opposite side of the I-70 so we turned right and climbed to the bridge and turned left and rode across the bridge. 

On the opposite side we saw a sign which indicated “Colfax Avenue” immediately to the left.  We turned onto the exit and were greeted immediately by a sign that indicated US 6 went to the left and we could see that it turned along the I-70.  That was our route.  We stopped after a short distance to confirm our choice with the driver of a truck parked on the shoulder.  He confirmed we were on the right track.

We had one more puzzling intersection where the road crossed back over the I-70 and was unmarked.  The road continued on the south side but abruptly ended after a quarter of a mile we discovered.  We rode back to the bridge and crossed to find US 36 on the opposite side of I-70.  US 36 was the route we planned to take to the Kansas Border. 

Along the route we rode past a place which I thought was a farm implement store.  My wife said it was a store that sold everything and wanted to stop and take a look.  What ever was sold it would be a good place to pause and relax.   It was only 30 plus miles from my daughter’s house to Strasburg so we could spare the time. 

It turned out to be a store that did sell a little of everything.  I stayed out front with the bikes while my wife explored.  I was sitting on a bench looking at the maps when my wife appeared with two cokes.  She said the lady in the store had given them to her after she had told her about the purpose of our bicycle adventure.

As we were preparing to leave the woman came out and talked to us about cycling and we told her about our other adventures.  She was very interested but said she was locked to the store.  My wife convinced me that I should look in the store so I made a brief tour.  We said goodbye and continued on to Strasburg.   

As we entered Strasburg we spotted a museum and decided it would be the perfect place to stop and inquire about where our hotel was located.  Three lady volunteers manned the place.  We were asked if we wanted a tour.  The unexpected along other adventure routes had always been worth the wait so we decided to take them up on their offer. 

We were told that Strasburg was where the final rails were laid connecting the east to west by railroad.  The official spot was further west in Utah but the actual spot was in Strasburg Colorado.  Many of the town’s old, historic building had been moved to the site.  The old school house, the train station, and a barn had been moved there.  There were also two buildings on the sight that were filled with antiquities collected in the community.  For me one of the most fascinating ideas they had come up with was to use the school house in the summer to teach children using the same methods from the early 19 hundreds.    

As we left we asked for directions to the Strasburg Inn where we were staying.  We rode to the second street in Strasburg as directed and turned right.  The Inn was at the end of the street.  We went in and a lady appeared and checked us in. 

We were in bike clothes and the conversation turned to cycling.  She bicycled to stay fit.  We talked for a long time about cycling and encouraged her to join us on the road.  She said she rode every morning for several miles.  We told her that was enough training to start touring.

The lady at the “multipurpose” store we had stopped at had told us where to eat in Strasburg.  She told us about a Mexican restaurant.  She said you have to go there for dinner.  We asked the lady at the hotel where it was and she gave us directions.  It was about a mile away so we decided to walk. 

The food was excellent. We told the waitress that the restaurant came recommended and soon the owner was at our table discussing the restaurant.  She was pleased to hear that the restaurant had been recommended and that we had agreed with the recommendation.

As we were walking to the restaurant we were looking for a place to eat breakfast.  We were not staying at places that offered complimentary breakfast on the way to the Kansas border on US 36.  We saw a Café on our walk where we decided to go for breakfast the next morning.  

We were still thinking about New Castle where we found the fun restaurant in western Colorado and wondered if there was a town located 15 miles from Strasburg where we could find a unique place to stop for breakfast after a few miles of cycling.  We asked at the hotel if we could find a place to eat a short distance from Strasburg.  We were told that we could stop in Byers which was about 10 miles away. 

After looking at the map I found that we would have to take a loop south under the I-70 and then back onto the 36 to have breakfast in Byers.  It would add about five miles to the riding day and we decided to do the Café in town.  But, when we left Strasburg in the morning we reached an intersection, took the route to the right and ended up in Byers anyway!

The bathroom in the hotel was not in the room.  We shared a bathroom down the hall.  When we left for dinner I asked my wife, “Did we have a TV?”  When we returned we found the TV located on a shelf on the wall.  I skipped taking a shower and added “bathroom” to my desired list before Jacuzzi and the web for the hotel.  Actually the room was very pleasant, the hotel was charming and we have stayed in Europe in hotels which provided the same arraignments.  We had a good stay and I would recommend the hotel, the Strasburg Inn.

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 RIDE ACROSS COLORADO - Strausburg to Anton - 61 miles

 

       

 ....did you see the tree we passed?

 ..must have had a few confused travelers...

 ...Japanese cyclist riding across the US...turns south to Colorado Springs in a few miles  

 ...our destination town...

 

At the Strasburg Inn our bikes were kept in a storage-workshop for the evening so loading the bikes was left until the morning.  It complicated our exit.  I filled my Camelbak with water from the bathroom and mixed in an energy drink.  We dressed in our bike clothes and packed our evening wear into our bike trunks and carried them down from the room and loaded the bikes.  We checked out and bicycled to the Café we had selected the night before to eat.  We parked the bikes where we could see them near the front window where we saw two empty seats for us inside and went in.

 

They had biscuits and gravy which were a treat.  My Kentucky background was coming out again.  We added the usual eggs over easy, toast, potatoes and coffee.  The place was packed.  We had our bike gear on so it was obvious we were cycling.

As we ate a lady turned from the next table and asked us where we were riding to.  We told her the whole story of the ride across the state.  The others at the table joined in and the last quip as we exited the café was “you will run into a lot of hills on the way to Anton.”  One of the fellows at the table also corrected my pronunciation of “Anton.” He said they may not take kindly to my interpretation.  

We missed a turn a short distance east of town and were headed toward Byers before we realized the mistake.  We stopped a cyclist before we had gone too far along the route to ask if we were doing the correct thing.  He said he did not know where Anton was which stuck me as odd.  It should have been an early warning that no one travels on US 36 which is only a half hour drive from an interstate.  “Lessons Learned:” Commerce along an interstate replaces "all" commerce within a radius of 25 miles or more from the interstate.  

 

The cyclist was riding in the same direction as we were and we knew from the map that the road took us back to US 36 so we continued on into Byers.  As we entered Byers we were immediately met with a sign that said “route 36” to the left.  After we turned a sign read “Anton 55.”  We were now on our way and after riding about 3 miles further along the 36 our cyclist buddy reappeared along the road and told us we were on the right path and have a good trip.

The hill predictions at the café were correct.  We were riding against a stiff wind and the road followed the contour of the land.  We would roll down into a deep valley with a mile or more to climb out the other side.  In some places the hills would tip up to 5%.  On one climb I noticed as I reached the top of the hill that it had been cut through to reduce the climb.  I assumed I would have been on a 10% climb if that had not been done.  We continued to climb over one hill and down the other side only to climb back up again.  The wind was in our face the entire way. 

Typically on a long hard day we hang out in the small towns along the route to recover a bit with a cold drink.  Not in eastern Colorado on US 36.  The businesses in the small towns along the way, Last Chance and Cope, were boarded up.  There was no place to stop and buy that drink to ease the climbing boredom.  Everything was closed.  The local commerce had been killed by the I-70 which was 25 miles to the south of us. 

We spent the next 5 hours struggling through the hills into wind making very slow progress. We were beat to our socks by the time we got to Anton.  As we rode pass the few building on the way into town we were afraid we would find nothing open or for that matter find nothing existed to be open.  We had learned on the other towns we passed through that it was possible to find no commerce at all!

We located a store at the intersection of US 36 and state road 63.  There were no cars out front and I rode up cautiously hoping that I would not find a closed sign.  I peeked around the corner and saw a person onside.  I motioned to my wife that I had found a store.  She was investigating a second building near by. 

When we got into the store we asked if there were restaurants in Anton and were told “no!”  We would have to eat what the store offered.  We bought cheese, peaches, ice cream, crackers, chips, dip and a decaffeinated drink.  Hoping the motel had a microwave, we bought yogurt and a microwaveable biscuit with egg and sausage for breakfast.

I had called the motel when we arrived at the store to alert them we had arrived, to find out their location and to inquire if the room had a microwave.   A “very” small girl answered the phone and when no one took the phone from her I was sure I had dialed the wrong number.  As I was about to hang up mom came on the phone to tell me that “yes” I had the motel and “yes” they had a microwave. 

We discussed Anton with the lady at the counter of the grocery store as we searched for dinner and breakfast.   She and her husband owned a large farm 12 miles further east.  They raised cattle.  The store was sponsored by a farmer’s co-op which is why it had not failed I assume.  Her only daughter was attending college at Oklahoma State University to become a “big animal” veterinarian.  Big animals described as being cows, horses, etc.  I grew up on a farm and did not realize there was a distinction.  I would describe her as an intelligent, tough lady of means who was very interesting to talk to.

After some discussion about balancing the bags of groceries on our bicycle, the lady at the counter said she would drive our groceries to the motel.  She pointed it out to us and said it would not be a bother to take our stuff for us.  The motel was about an eight of a mile from the store behind another building.  We bicycled down highway 63 to the building pointed out to us and found the hotel behind it. 

We knocked at the door we assumed was the office and our hostess answered.  She apologized for her daughter answering the phone and checked us in.  The room was large and comfortable.  Our groceries arrived before we could get the door open.  After we settled in we kicked back and ate the ice cream first.  My aggressive attacks on ice cream in the past had proven too much for a plastic spoon so I had asked for and gotten a “real” spoon from the kitchen of the motel lady when we checked in.      

We watched the Olympics on TV and ate our fill.  I showered in my private bathroom and prepared water with “energy mix” for the next day.  I did a little pre-trip gathering of stuff which I had found very helpful to getting a quicker start in the morning.  We watched TV and fell asleep.  It had been a difficult day on the bike.  

 

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 RIDE ACROSS COLORADO - Anton to Idalia - 61 miles

 

       

...the most prized word on US 36 is "open."  Even a sign that read "free money all you can carry" would not attract the same attention.....

  ..the motel in Anton was very clean, large and comfortable and the folks who owned it were very pleasant...

 "...am I lost again and we are not in Colorado?  It is August right?"

 ..our destination town...

 

We got up to a very different riding day in Anton.  It was overcast or foggy and the visibility was less than 100 yards.  I went outside to get a feel for the chill and decided to wear arm and leg warmers with my Gortex jacket.

 

We used the microwave in the room to heat our breakfast sandwich purchased from the grocery and ate it.  We skipped the yogurt and left it in the room.  We repacked our night clothes into our bike trunks.  I put the water I had prepared the night before in my Camelbak and pulled it onto my back and I was ready for the day’s adventure. 

 

We checked out the room for anything we might have left and pushed our bikes through the door.  It was Sunday and the lady that had checked us in and her family were leaving for church.  We thanked them for a pleasant evening and the husband said “at least you will not be hot today.” 

 

We rode the quarter mile back to US 36 and turned east toward Idalia.  The moisture from the fog began to accumulate on my glasses making it difficult to see.  I was concerned that it might begin to rain.  The road had no shoulder so it was a little hairy.  We were passed by three cars on the opposite side of the road.  There was the sound of a car and then faint head lights followed by the image of the car for 300 feet.  We had one car that passed on our side of the road during the worst part of the haze.  It was Sunday so we hoped we would not have to play mongoose and snake with heavy traffic. 

 

There was no wind.   The road was flatter and the rollers were shallow.  It could have been we were so concerned about being seen that the up and down was in the back of our minds.  Except for the fear of not being seen the road conditions were ok.  It was the middle of August and I never expected this type weather in eastern Colorado.  I had not expected snow at Loveland Pass!

 

After about 10 miles the skies began to clear and within 20 the visibility had improved to several miles.  The sun remained covered by clouds.  I did not get hot in my cold weather clothes.  I was warm but not uncomfortable.  Again there were no places to grab a bite to eat or get a drink.  We rolled on and the road became very smooth.  We were riding through farmland.  I do not remember any crops.  The fields along each side of the road appeared to be grazing land.  There were no barns and houses on the horizon.   No traffic.  We were alone riding through green fields. 

 

The lack of wind minus any climbing allowed us to crank along at a clip we had not been able to achieve on the trip thus far.  We reached a bend in the road and had no choice but to turn due south.  We continued for about two miles and approached civilization; a couple of building that did not belong to a farm or ranch.  I was confused.  I thought we should have been going east.  I was keeping track of the mileage on my odometer and the mileage indicated we should be in Idalia but going south did not compute. 

 

I was in the lead and as we approached the buildings that were on the opposite side of the road, I rode across the road into the parking lot of a small store.  I found that it was closed but spied a picnic table and sat down.  I pulled out my map to look at it.  My wife stopped on the opposite side of the road and asked “why are you stopping?”   I told her I was confused and needed to consult the map as to how to get to Idalia.  She said that sign behind me said this is Idalia. 

 

Oops, problem solved.  I rolled up my map and got back on my bike.  We continued and located several more building and I turned down a street that ran perpendicular to US 36.  I asked someone walking along the street where to find the Prairie Motel.  They said return to US 36 and turn left and it would be immediately on the left. 

 

We located the motel and went into the restaurant that was adjacent to it.  We told the woman behind the counter we had arrived.  She checked us in and we went to our room to dump our stuff.  We returned to the restaurant for a late lunch.  We had asked how late they were open and were told they closed at 3 PM.  We had learned to find out the hours of the stores and restaurants along US 36 because they did not support a lazy bicycle schedule. 

 

They served the best home made peach pie that I have every eaten.  It was prepared by one of the women who worked there.  The three women who worked there did everything, took your order, baked pies, managed the cash register and cleaned up.  They were all very efficient and the food was excellent. 

 

We went back to our room and turned on the Tour de France and relaxed.  My daughter arrived later in the afternoon.  She had decided to retrace our route on US 36 and we discussed our experience.  She was surprised about the amount of climbing she found between Strasburg and Anton.  This was the prairie and was supposed to be flat. 

 

The restaurant at the motel had closed but across the highway from the Idalia sign that I missed was a restaurant in a large warehouse building.  A sign on the front indicated it opened at 5 PM. 

 

It was after five by the time we had gotten our fill of the Tour de France and telling my daughter stories about the Tour de Colorado.  We walked down to the restaurant and ordered steak.  What else does one eat on the prairie?  This was Colorado.  We should have been sitting around an open fire with our steaks hanging off a stick as they cooked.  The food was good but nothing special.  

 

We went back to the motel and sacked out.  Tomorrow was a free day.  No clothes trunks, no water preparation just a quick 15 miles to the Kansas border.

 

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 RIDE ACROSS COLORADO - Idalia to the Kansas Border - 15 miles

 

   

 ..the philosophy along US highway 36...

..having completed the ride from the Kansas border to Idalia my wife and I are relating the story to our daughter about the difficulty we experienced keeping our speed below 25 miles an hour while at breakfast

 

We again changed our plans.  My daughter would drive us to the border and we would bicycle back to Idalia.  The next morning we loaded the bikes absent the clothes trunks.  I carried only a water bottle leaving my Camelbak at the motel. 

 

My daughter drove us the 15 miles to the Kansas border.  The route jogged north just east of Idalia for about two miles and then turned east again to the Kansas border. We passed a road crew working on the highway after the jog as we drove to the border. 

 

I noted the route had one roller before it flatten out.  The weather was a bit overcast and it was cool.   We took pictures at the border signs for both states and then we were off.  My daughter drove back to the motel to wait. 

 

We were riding west.  It was about 11 miles before we reached the jog in the road but first we had to get past the road work.  Today would complete the ride to the Kansas border.  We were cranking.  We nailed the roller and approached the road work. 

 

When we reached the road work we were stopped for traffic to pass from the opposite side.  We were first in line and a large truck pulled up behind us as we waited.  When our turn came we stood up on our bikes and cranked.  There was no shoulder so we did not want to piss off the truck driver.  We had about a quarter of a mile to the end of the road work and we made it without being run down by the truck.  He pulled around us as the road returned to a two lane highway and all was well. 

 

When we reached the jog and turned south we were met by a stiff wind.  I cranked out in front and my wife drafted on me.  The jog only lasted for 2 miles and then we turned west again toward Idalia.  My wife again took the lead and we cranked into town.  My daughter was standing in the driveway of the restaurant talking on her cell phone.  I heard her say “they are already here” and hung up the phone.  It had taken us just under an hour to cover the 15 miles even with the stop at the road repair.  I am a specialist on the flat. 

 

We dumped our bikes in the room and went to celebrate our completion of the ride across Colorado with breakfast.  We still had to climb over Loveland Pass to be official but this bike ride was being put together like a movie.  We had filmed the beginning and the end and now we had to perform the middle.  

 

We sat at breakfast and told more stories about the ride and shared a plate of biscuits and gravy with our eggs and potatoes.   It was an excellent breakfast and the perfect end to a good wake up ride.  We tried to buy a peach pie to take with us but they would not be ready for a couple of more hours.   

   

return   

 

       

 ..post office in Joes...

 ..post office in Linton

 ..post office in Anton...

..post office..



 RIDE ACROSS COLORADO - Dillon to Georgetown - 30 miles

 

       

..note that we have climbed 5 miles of 3,4,& 5% to reach the sign...

 ..the truck above is 2 miles ahead on my route leaving me 3 miles to the summit.. 

.. home made ice cream in Georgetown brings a smile to one's face.. 

...Georgetown is a fun place to end the riding day..... 

 

To complete our ride across Colorado we had to complete the leg of our journey from the mountains west of Denver into the city.  Snow on Loveland Pass had caused us to abort our attempt a week before. 

 

My daughter drove us to Dillon where we had terminated the ride.  Our two grandsons went along and we all stayed overnight at the Super 8 in Dillon.  We drove to Dillon after spending the day at the Democratic Convention.  We had “done” convention till late in the afternoon so we arrived, unloaded the bikes, checked in and went to bed.

 

We got up the next morning and ate the complimentary breakfast provided by the motel.  After breakfast we took pictures and my daughter headed back to Denver.  We got on our bikes, turned southwest onto US 6 and began the ride toward the bottom of Loveland Pass. 

 

Highway US 6 runs through Dillon which is located south of the I-70.  We were staying in Silverthorne which is located across the interstate from Dillon when we got caught in the snow.  We knew from our previous stay that we would have to climb out of Silverthorne and then climb through Dillon to reach the start of the climb up Loveland Pass.  To reduce the climb we made our room reservation in Dillon. 

 

We were prohibited from riding on the I-70 and avoid the climb over Loveland Pass because the I-70 passes through the mountains via the Eisenhower and Johnson Tunnels.  The tunnels are quite long and I would assume bicycling through them is prohibited even though the bicycle mechanic in Grand Junction had told us he had ridden his bicycle through all of the tunnels on the I-70.  This was “water cooler” talk as my son Jack would say.

 

While thanking our Good Samaritan who had directed us to the bike path on the ride from Frisco to Dillon we learned from him that the climb over Loveland began just around the bend in the road a few miles from where we stood adjacent to US 6.  What I did not realize was the grade from the motel to the start of the climb was 5% for the first couple of miles then leveled off to 3%  After climbing at 5% or more a  3% grade feels as if the road is level.  I have had the same felling after climbing 8%.  Five percent feels like it is level.

 

After crunching along at our level grade of 3% for a mile or so the road tipped up again to 6%.  This was the beginning of the climb over Loveland Pass.  Our Good Samaritan or Frisco Savior had told us the climb was 9 miles long.  We labored along at 6% and reached a sign that said 8 miles to the summit of Loveland Pass.  He was correct.  We had climbed for at least a mile at 6% and now only had 8 left.

 

Luckily we did not have our clothes trunks on the bikes.  We had opted to sleep in our bike clothes and have bad breath rather than pull the load over Loveland Pass.  I entered my “do not think about how far you have to climb” mode and dropped into a mind game where the legs just keep turning but the screen in the brain is blank. 

 

My son-in-law had printed an article from the web before we left Denver that discussed the merits of riding Loveland Pass from the east or the west and it was my  understanding from reading the article that we would be faced with a 9% climb before we went over the top of the pass.  My experience had been that road designer’s have a habit of saying “oh what the hell lets quit crisscrossing back and forth and just go straight over the top.”  As a result the final mile and a half to the top of a climb would become a 10% grind.  It is always fun to end a climb on a 10% grade.  My brain sent a message not enter into any heroics on the accent so I had something left to climb 9% without falling over at the top. 

 

We climbed and climbed enjoying the view.   I could have snapped pictures from my bike if I had not been afraid to fall over.  We finally reached a series of switch backs which I assumed took us to the top even though I could not see the top.  Trucks and cars coming down the switch backs looked as though they must be descending at 9%.  I thought there it is.  My moment of truth has arrived.

 

We turned onto the first switch back and it remained at 6%.  I thought ok the one above will kick up to 9%.  Don’t get excited.  I turned on the next switch back and it was 6%.  After the next turn I could see the top and the grade remained at a doable 6%.  The climb was eight miles of 6%.  The road was designed by my kind of engineers. 

 

When we reached the top it was freezing.  I had worked up a sweat on the climb and now it was freezing to my body.  I had zipped the arms off of my jacket along the way and trying to get them back on the jacket in the wind is a skill that I had not perfected.  As I fraught the wind and zipper I got so cold that my brain no longer processed signals that I was freezing.  I was in shock!  Finally I got both sleeves zipped on and had enough clothes on that I was protected from the cold wind.  I would survive. 

 

The top of the pass was filled with folks traveling through the Rockies.  They were all enthralled that we had climbed the pass and were bicycling across Colorado.  Of course we told them every detail.  People even took pictures with us that I assumed later brought inquires from friends, “who are the ones wearing the strange clothes in this picture?”

 

Our camera decided it did not want to function in the cold and we got zero pictures from the summit of Loveland.  The camera produced 5 blank pictures.  The frame is there in the camera memory but there is nothing in it!  Bazaar!  My engineering background makes me think that the memory interface where the picture is stored malfunctioned but I did not think it was that cold.  The camera recovered after we got back to the level of the I-70.  Maybe it suffered altitude sickness.  Operator error!  No way!

 

Having our fill of bragging and failing at camera we started down the opposite side of Loveland Pass.  Even the down is a little scary.  We had one more day to ride before we got to Denver and I was not tired enough to say “oh what the hell” so I took my foot off the gas.  We could see the Eisenhower and Johnson tunnels from the top of the pass and we descended quickly down to the interstate near the eastern entrance. 

  

At the bottom we passed the entrance to the Loveland Ski area where we have skied often being the closest ski area to Denver.  About a half a mile further on we rode onto the I-70.  We rode on the I-70 for three miles and exited.

 

Two highway patrol cars were setting behind an SUV at the exit.  I rolled up beside the first car to ask how to find the frontage road that would take us to Silver Plume.  The patrolman rolled down the window and I asked.  He said to turn right at the top of a bridge in front of me that went over the I-70.  The frontage road to Silver Plume was within a few feet after the turn.  The second patrolman who was standing at the back of the car agreed.  

 

Then before I could leave the patrolman in the car began to lecture me on coming up on an officer engaged in police work and that I should be more careful in the future.  Surprised at the out burst I told him that I understood and that in the future I would be more careful.  His partner seemed embarrassed by the out burst and again told me that the frontage road was at the top and to the right of the exit.  When the lecture stopped I thanked him for the information and I rode to the top of the exit and turned.   

 

The frontage road was obvious once we got to the top of the exit.  We turned east and began the trek toward Silver Plume our destination.  It was a good road and we were riding at least a quarter of a mile south of the I-70 which gave the impression we were alone in the countryside. Within a few miles we rode into Silver Plume an old mining town. 

 

We found a store which was open and stopped again to ask for directions and seek refreshment.  The store had a little of everything including amber necklaces from Poland a favorite of my wife’s.  She bought a necklace which she particularly liked.   

 

We asked about the road before we exited the store.  The clerk pointed to an overpass which turned right a short distance from the store and ran under the I-70.  We were told that there was a bike path on the opposite side of the I-70 which would take us into Georgetown. 

 

We followed her instructions and rode through the interstate overpass.  On the opposite side we discovered that the on ramp to the I-70 and the bike path appeared to be the same!  But as we got closer we realized that the bike path ran along the right side of the on-ramp.  A fence which was covered with a red plastic covering separated the cars from the bikes. 

 

The bike path turned immediately away from the I-70 before it reached the interstate and became a dedicated bike path along the I-70.  After a distance of a mile or so the path made a hard right and dropped down toward a river and entering a train station parking area for the rail line between Silver Plume and Georgetown.

 

We stopped to look at the station and talked with the station master who told us we should take the train.  He described it as the major tourist attraction of the area.  We declined and continued on the bike path until we reached the western edge of Georgetown.  We entered “old Georgetown” which is located at the western end of a network of businesses along a street that ran parallel to the I-70. 

 

We stopped at a jewelry store at the edge of “old town” to ask for directions to our motel.  Our motel was located about a half mile further along the road.  We decided to check in first and then shop so after a quick look at the jewelry we rode to the motel. 

 

We found the hotel, checked in and dumped what we had carried.  We asked the desk for a recommendation for a place to eat.  The one that sounded the most interesting was back in old Georgetown so we rode back to eat.  We asked the restaurant folks if they could keep our bikes for us and they put them in a storage area behind the restaurant so we could shop. 

 

The meal was relaxing and good.  We wanted to end our meal with ice cream and our waitress told us about a shop down the street.  We walked down the street and had ice cream. We returned collected our bikes from the restaurant and rode back to the jewelry store.

 

My wife negotiated with the owner until she agreed with the price and purchased a turquoise necklace.  We stopped by a grocery store as we exited old town and bought dinner.  We rode back to the hotel and watched the conclusion to the day’s activities at the Democratic National Convention on TV.  We ate our dinner as we watched and sacked out.  There were high fives all around about making it over Loveland Pass.

 

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RIDE ACROSS COLORADO - Georgetown to Denver - 48 miles

 

       

 .clean,comfortable,economical, & a complimentary breakfast..

 ..about 20 miles to home base...

 ..we climbed the rockies!!!!

 ..Denver....home base

 

We stayed at the Super 8 in Dillon and Georgetown.  The cost of the night’s stay was within the budget and the room was comfortable.  Breakfast was complimentary but it is a bit dull.  We have stayed at Super 8 on our other bicycle adventures and we knew what to expect.  Getting up in the morning and hunting down breakfast on a bicycle is to be avoided in my opinion.  Super 8 may not serve my favorite breakfast but our goal is to find something to carry us through the start of the day’s ride and then replenish with energy food like Dairy Queen on the road.

 

We ate breakfast, returned to our room and loaded the bikes.  Today’s goal was our daughter’s house in Denver.   Before we left I returned to the desk to return our room keys and asked the clerk for directions to Idaho Springs the next town of size on our ride toward Denver.  She told me that the street in front would turn into the frontage road and the frontage road would take us to Idaho Springs.  We were about 15 miles from Idaho Springs.  

 

The road was rough and pitted for the first 5 miles as we exited Georgetown.  This was the section of road traffic from Georgetown used to get onto the I-70 and was thus heavier.  After passing the I-70 on-ramp the road was smooth and we had a pleasant ride with very little traffic the remainder of the 15 miles.  Again trees isolated us from the I-70. 

 

The surface road went though an underpass into Idaho Springs but the bike path continued on the left hand side of the I-70.  We continued on the bike path hoping to avoid civilization a bit further but it stopped abruptly about half a mile further.  We returned and went under the overpass, which had been our understanding while planning the route into Golden in LA.

 

As we rode through Idaho Springs we ran into two cyclists at the edge of town.  We asked for directions and they said if we continued across the I-70 on bridge in front of us we would find US 6 on the opposite side which would take us on towards Denver.  Along the way we would transition from US 6 to US 40 which would take us the rest of the way into Golden and then from Golden we would ride into Denver.  Again this matched the route we had planned in LA.

 

We continued across the bridge and turned east onto US 6.  After a short distance we again crossed over the I-70 and found ourselves riding through thick forests with the I-70 above us.  There were beautiful homes with yards cut out of the forest along the way.  

 

It was rather easy riding until we came to the junction of the US 40.  Immediately after we turned onto US 40 we began to climb.  After a quarter of a mile I looked at my inclinometer and it read 9%.  The climb was 2 miles in length and half of it was 9%.  The remainder did not drop below 5.  This was Floyd Hill.  We could see the I-70 above us and we were climbing back to it.  US 6 had dropped us below the interstate and now to get into Denver we had to climb back to the height of the I-70.    

 

We had climbed Floyd Hill in the car on our bailout to Denver following the unexpected snow on Loveland Pass.  It was steep.  I assumed we would have to climb the same hill on our way to Denver.  I had asked the cyclist we met in Idaho Springs about the climb and they said no problem.  I asked about the grade and they said it was 9%!  

 

After conquering Floyd Hill we continued on US 40 until it crossed over the I-70 and continued along the south side of the interstate.  Although running adjacent to the Interstate US 40 was isolated from the I-70 by a forest.  US 40 entered a small community called El Rancho.  US 40 ends on the opposite side of this community and I knew from my LA “Google map” exploration that I would have to enter the I-70 and ride on the shoulder for about 2 miles. 

 

We rode onto the I-70 at exit 252 and continued for 2 miles to exit 254.  When we came up to the bridge across the I-70 a sign indicated we were to turn right across the bridge to US 40.  A cyclist was crossing the overpass and we stopped him to ask how to get to Golden.  If we could get to the Coors plant in Golden I had ridden a training ride with my son-in-law from my daughter’s house to the Coors plant in Golden.  Although it is never guaranteed with me I had a good idea of how to get to downtown Denver from the Coors plant. 

 

We told him the path we planned to take and that it began at the Coors plant in Golden.  He suggested that we exit US 40 and climb up to Lookout Mountain and ride down the other side.  The bottom of Lookout Mountain was near Golden and the Coors plant.  

 

We crossed the overpass and turned right or west onto US 40.  After turning onto US 40 the road continued down hill.  We buzzed along at a good clip.  My wife was leading me by a quarter of a mile and she buzzed by the turn to Lookout Mountain.  We would not be using the Lookout Mountain entry into Golden today! 

 

US 40 terminated into another road which I believe to be Colfax Avenue.  A sign indicated it was also US 40.  Colfax seems to be everywhere in Denver area and seems to go north, south, east and west.  This is obviously not the case but Colfax Avenue was ubiquitous springing up in unexpected locations all along our route around Denver.  

 

We turned left and continued on our down hill approach.  I saw a sign for Heritage Road our exit from US 40, according to Google Maps, to the Coors plant.  We moved to the center of US 40, it was a four lane highway by now, and turned left.  We rode on Heritage Road across US 6 where it transitioned into Jefferson County Parkway.  After a mile or so on Jefferson County Parkway we turned onto a bike path, which had not been part of my Google search. 

 

When the bike path reached the edge of a park, which was actually a golf course, we stopped and asked a fellow riding a mower for directions to the Coors plant. He pointed across the gold course to a rock cliff and said the Coors plant is under that cliff.  It was south and on the right side some distance beyond the golf course.  He told us to take the bike path we were standing on across a bridge and on the opposite side turn right along a “dirt path” for a short distance and then follow the street that it transitioned into.  It would lead us to the Coors plant.

 

We followed his instructions and found ourselves on Illinois Avenue after the dirt path.  We followed Illinois Avenue until we got near Colorado School of Mines.  We stopped a student and asked how to get to the Coors plant.  He pointed us down a street to the south which we rode on until it dead ended and we turned east again.  After a short distance we passed a gathering area where folks who wanted to tour the Coors plant gathered.  I recognized the area from the training ride with my son-in-law.  We turned east onto 32nd Street and within one block we were at the Coors plant and on our way to my daughter’s house. 

 

It would be a “slight” downhill from the Coors plant to downtown Denver.  We followed 32nd for about 7 miles to Kipling Street where the bike path ended.  Immediately after we crossed Kipling we turned right into Crown Hill Regency Park and rode on the bike path across the park to 26th street.  We turned east onto the bike path on 26th and rode to the REI store which is located in Confluence Park in downtown Denver.  We were told that all bike paths in Denver begin and end at REI store in downtown Denver.  We had difficulty getting to Confluence Park because I missed the bike path we should have taken and ended up at Speer Boulevard which is a busy Denver Street. 

 

At the intersection we found a bike path which would take us down to the park and did so.  When I reached the parking lot which serves the REI, I made some clumsy choices but finally got onto the bike path in front of the REI and onto 15th Street across the river to Little Ravens Street through Commons Park to the street which we had used to get to the train station for the trip to Grand Junction and the start of our adventure. 

 

We retraced our path to my daughter’s house.  My daughter was out on an errand and had left a text message on my wife’s cell phone about her exploits.  My wife called her to tell her we were headed to have lunch at a restaurant we enjoyed near her home and she joined us for lunch. 

 

We had successfully climbed over the Rockies and we were pleased with ourselves.  I forgot to mention that the weather had been beautiful on the two day ride to Denver with very little wind.

 

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 RIDE ACROSS COLORADO - Activating the bailout plan 

       

..we declared a rest day to wait out the rain at the hotel and used the time to plan our escape if we had to..

 ..it continued to rain all night, cleared briefly the morning of the rest day...then began to rain hard again...we activated the "bailout plan" at noon..

..it had rained all night and the next morning the mountains were covered with snow..

..driving to Denver on the I-70 it was obvious that our route over Loveland pass was covered with snow..

The weather forecast we had been given by the shop owner in Copper Mountain about rain and snow that night followed by rain the following day was correct.  When we got up at 6 AM it was cloudy but it was not raining.  The clouds were hanging on top of the mountains off to the south which was the location of Loveland Pass our next climbing adventure.

At about 8 AM it began to rain.  We spent the day inside hoping that the next day would prove to be clear but the weather forecast said to expect three more days of the same.  Our experience on other bicycling adventures had demonstrated that we should prepare an exit scenario for an adventure just in case it was needed.  We call it the “bailout plan.”   

As the rain continued it was time to activate the “bailout plan.”  We looked for buses or shuttles that would take us to Denver.   I called all of the sources of exit transportation that we could find in the area and all required the bicycles to be boxed and required that we pay full “passenger” fare for the bikes. 

A rental car provided everything we would require to transport the bikes and we would be in control of our departure time from the hotel and our arrival time in Denver.  But the cost of renting a car for a one way trip (drop off in Denver) would be expensive.  The car also had to be large enough to guarantee that a bike would fit inside the trunk.  A larger car would be “more” expensive than their smaller counterparts.    

The Hertz rental agency was located at the shuttle station in Frisco.  The Hertz car folks had vehicles available in Frisco but we had to find transport to Frisco to pickup the car. We discovered that a free shuttle bus could be taken from Silverthorne to Frisco.  The shuttle station was located several blocks from our hotel but reachable on foot. 

We now knew the options, we decided to rent a car from Hertz, we just had to execute.  We watched the weather grow worse over the course of the day.  "Lessons Learned" had taught us not to push the envelope, listen to local advice,  pack it in if conditions are ugly and bail when it was obvious that continuing to cycle would be miserable. 

I had been told when I called Hertz they did not have a large supply of automobiles to rent.  About noon we decided to activate the “bailout plan.”  I called Hertz and reserved the small “cheaper” car.  We would find a way to fit the bikes into it. We would take the shuttle the following morning to the terminal in Frisco where we would find the Hertz office located there and pick up the car.  

I have learned that after a decision has been made do not dwell on what could have been.  We would drive to Denver and start the Kansas border portion of our adventure.  Loveland Pass would have to wait. 

It rained and hailed all night.  The weather forecast was correct!  We enjoyed more Chicago food, watched the Olympics on TV and used the “free” web.  We went to bed.  What weather would tomorrow bring? 

       

 ..the escape vehicle..

 ...both bikes fit easily into

the trunk of our rental car..

 ...wheels, clothes trunks, etc..fit easily on the back seat

The next day the weather was worst.  It had rained all night and continued into the late morning.  The mountains were covered with snow.  The weather forecast was for more of the same.

We ate breakfast and prepared to leave for the shuttle station but it was raining very hard.  How to get to the bus in Frisco without drowning?  Another "Lesson Learned" is to go to the hotel desk and ask for help.  It works 95% of the time.  We asked the disarming question at the desk “Do you have a shuttle that could take us to the bus station?”  We were told they did not provide a shuttle.  As we stood there looking dismayed, a guy came to the desk and said he would take us. 

When we got into the car I asked if he worked for the hotel, assuming I would tip him, and he said he owned it!  We had the same experience in the Chez Republic. We had gotten lost trying to get to the train station in Cesky Krumlov.  We saw a van pulling away from a hotel as we walked and we flagged it down.  We told the driver our plight and he looked hesitant but finally said “hop in I will take you.”  And a good thing he did because the trip was much further than I realized.  When we got there I offered him a tip but he handed me a brochure for the hotel and said “Pay me back by staying at my hotel the next time you come to visit!” (P.S.  Its bad form to tip the owner.)

He dropped us off at the terminal.  The bus to Frisco had just arrived so we ran through the rain and jumped on.  We asked of course if this was the bus to Frisco, another "Lesson Learned."  In Frisco we easily located the Hertz office at the shuttle terminal.  Fortunately the down pour had turned to light rain by the time we got there. 

We went in and they gave us an upgrade to a larger car at the small car price.  We were on a roll.  We drove back to the hotel in Silverthorne and disassembled the bikes and loaded them into the car.  Of course we had to shop at the outlet stores in Silverthorne on our way out o town.  It was a tour rest day!  During our stop we picked up a Wendy's hamburger meal and were off to Denver. 

There were several inches of snow on the side of the I-70 and we were at 5000 feet.  Our route over Loveland Pass must have been covered with snow.  When we arrived in Denver it was still pouring rain.  The forecast was for more. It continued to rain all night in Denver.

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STORY - Riding the train to Grand Junction

 

Ride Across Colorado

car free adventure _______________________________________________________________________

 

We bought the tickets for our Denver to Grand Junction train ride in California.  I do not remember the cost for the train but it was less than the cost of renting a car.  We would have paid extra because we would not be returning the car to Denver. 

 

The train trip offered other facets that interested me.  I have a fantasy of a train supported bicycle adventure across the US.  The Colorado train trip would be our first experience on a train in the United States outside of California. 

 

I also find it interesting if not challenging to incorporate a unique experience into a bike adventure.  I am a cautious person but our bicycle adventures have demonstrated to me that taking advantage of an opportunity to experience something different is worthwhile, and I have met some extremely interesting people on these excursions.  Driving a car is very sterile.  Also I can just kick back and not worry about driving. 

 

When we arrived at the train station in Denver we went to the luggage area with our bikes.  At the luggage counter we were told to pick up our tickets and pay for the bike boxes and come back.  We went to the ticket window.  They looked up our reservations and we purchased two bike boxes.  While at the ticket window we were told the train was running about an hour late.  The night before on a recon visit to the train station we had been told that the train typically ran late.  AMTRAK’s attitude seemed to be no one cared which is an attitude that needs repair.

 

We returned to the luggage area and packed our bikes into the cardboard boxes we had purchased recording the event using our cameras.  Afterwards we went to look for coffee and a newspaper but found nothing in the station.  On our quick tour we did find the train station’s library which contained books left by passengers who had finished reading them and left them for those who follow to read.  Great idea!

 

We exited the station to find coffee and a newspaper.  The train station is located in downtown Denver.  Within walking distance of the station the city has turned a street into a pedestrian walk several blocks long.  The area is filled with businesses, small coffee shops, restaurants, and hotels.  We exited the station and walked in that direction but located a coffee shop with many types of coffee after walking only one block.  We then discovered a hotel across the street that offered the New York Times.  We had our “boredom abatement supplies” and returned to the station.

 

We drank our coffee, read the New York Times and waited.  The surroundings were pleasant.  An announcement was made that the train would arrive soon and we were asked to line up and receive boarding passes.  When we reached the front of the line we were given a boarding pass of a particular color which I believe denoted the number of people traveling together.  Three or more received a green card, couples received a second color, and singles a third.  After receiving our “couples” pass we again sat down and waited for the train to arrive. 

 

When the train arrived at the station the group travelers were called first, the couples were next and the singles were last.  We boarded the train and found that there was a choice of seating. Being “train” novices we did not know that the cars were divided into two floors.  The upper floor or deck offered a great view and we knew that the Colorado countryside on this trip would be worth seeing.  The lower windows would give us the same view we had in California of the foliage, construction and warehouses adjacent to the tracks.  I sat in a seat on the lower deck with our “ton” of bike support gear while my wife scouted the higher areas for two seats. 

 

She was successful having convinced the conductor that a single person should not be allowed to consume two seats.  The conductor agreed and the fellow generously moved to join another passenger.  We had our seat in the upper deck. I carried the bike gear up the steps and stored it in the over head area above the seat.  We then set off to find breakfast.  

 

The breakfast area was located in the observation car.  The observation car had tables running down both sides of the car with a counter serving area located in the center.  Across from the serving area were single seats turned towards the windows of the car.  The hot breakfast selections consisted of items that could be heated in the microwave.  This we had experienced on our California excursions so we knew what to expect.  We bought coffee and a breakfast biscuit sandwich of meat, egg and cheese.

 

We looked for a place to sit and noticed a fellow sitting alone at a table which could seat four so we asked if we could sit with him.  He said of course and we sat down.  We then talked for a couple of hours about Buddhism.  He was a retired architect who now lived in Thailand.  He had returned to the US to ride the train from Denver to San Francisco something he had wanted to do since he was a kid living along the railroad tracks.  We spent the next two hours talking about Buddhism.  It was a fascinating discussion. 

 

We returned to our seats.  We took in the view of the Colorado countryside and worked on the crossword puzzle from the New York Times. The conductor came through and asked who wanted to eat lunch.  We wanted the total experience so we signed up.

 

The passengers were called in groups.  When our turn came we sat with another couple from Pennsylvania.   They were both lawyers and had taken the train at the last minute because they had difficulty scheduling their time and needed a vacation.  They chose the train because of a great time they had on a previous trip in the east.  They were very disappointed with this trip.  They had to take what they could get because of the last minute decision and they described the sleeping compartment as primitive.  They were troopers and laughed about the experience.  We of course shared stories about our bicycle adventures with them.  Everyone is interested in our bicycle stories! 

 

The food arrived and it was interesting.  We ordered the special from the menu.  To me the special means this is something we know how to cook.  When the food arrived it was in the category of what I remember the cafeteria food being in high school.  The presentation was non existent.  The food was bland.  In contrast, the food served on the trains in Europe is first rate.  It is something to look forward to.  The AMTRAK food service needs some help.  The excuse of no one will pay big money for train food is not correct.  I would suggest they hire some mom who puts out all of that inexpensive, great stuff that feeds the family and read a couple of magazines about simple ways to make it look gourmet and do it.  

          

The train makes three stops in Colorado; Denver, Glenwood Springs and Grand Junction.  The train travels through some great country as it makes it way through the state.  We were provided with many beautiful views of the mountains and the river.   I would think that there were more places of interest that passengers would use the train to get to along the route, but maybe those two stops provide adequate access to the rest. 

 

We arrived in Grand Junction and exited with our bike gear and waited for our bicycles.  They arrived lying flat on a cart piled one on top of the other.  I helped the person driving the small tractor that pulled the cart to unload the bikes.  We opened the boxes, retrieved the bikes and did the necessary reassembly.  The reassembly of the bikes and loading the assembled bikes with our gear took less than 30 minutes.  We gave our boxes to one of the station attendants and pushed our bikes outside to the street in front of the station.  After consulting my cue sheet and getting our bearing we rode to the hotel which was about 5 miles north of the station.  

 

..breakfast was similar to my California train experience..a biscuit sandwich of egg, cheese, and bacon with a cup of coffee..

 

 ..the upper deck is preferred to view the beautiful Colorado countryside...

 

..the train was equipped with comfortable seats..

 

 ..the professor..we discussed Buddhism for two hours...a very interesting give and take

 

..standing on the platform at the Grand Junction station waiting for the bike boxes to be unloaded..

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STORY - Bike Transport via AMTRAK  

 

Ride Across Colorado

car free adventure _______________________________________

 

 

We decided early in our trip planning that we would use Denver as the base of operations for the ride for numerous reasons.  There were two practical ways to get our bicycles to the Utah border; rent a car and drop it off or take the train. 

 

We have used the car solution before on other adventures so other than the cost of the rental there was not much to investigate.  But the train idea needed research.  We have used AMTRAK in California for several local bike adventures and they provide bike racks in “some” of the cars.  We called AMTRAK to ask if the train that would take us to Grand Junction would have a bike rack.  The response was “we are not sure.”  A second call produced “some trains leave Chicago with cars that have bike racks, some do not.”  I responded with “how do I know if a car with a bike rack is on the train that I plan to us?”  “Not sure.” 

 

Finally I sent an email to AMTRAK and the response was “There are no bike racks on any of the trains that leave Chicago for Denver.”  We would be required to put our bikes into cardboard boxes and they would be transported in the luggage car to Grand Junction.

 

Typically in Europe my bicycle travels with me in the same car as I am sitting in.  The car is split into two sections.  One section of the car is dedicated to the bikes and the second contains seats for the cyclists.  A door separates the two areas. 

 

In California we are not quite that sophisticated.  The bikes stand on their back wheel at the end of the car held in place by an arm that holds it snugly to the wall of the car.  There are two racks in the cars that have them.  They work well. 

 

I have this fantasy of cycling across the US on my bike using the train.  The plan would be to ride the train to an area in which I wish to ride and then I get off and ride for a couple of days and then get back on the train.  All of this would be accomplished without any boxing or disassembly of my bicycle.  This is possible to do in California why not everywhere. 

 

In Europe if the train does not have a bike car, the bikes are secured in the luggage car without any disassembly.  The bike is simply rolled into the car and secured for the trip and taken off at the destination.  I hope AMTRAK adopts this philosophy.

 

For the ride across Colorado we decided to take the train to the Utah border from Denver which meant that we would put our bicycles into cardboard boxes for the trip.  We arrived at the train station in Denver early on the morning we were to leave for Grand Junction.  When trying something new I want to leave sufficient time to perform all of the experiments that may be necessary.  If I have missed some detail critical to “AMTRAK bike box success” I want time to solve it without interrupting my bicycle adventure. 

 

Today our experiment would be to successfully put our bicycles into cardboard bike boxes for a trip to Grand Junction.  We pushed our bikes to the luggage area.  The attendant told us we needed to purchase the bike boxes at the ticket window.  We went to the ticket window and purchased the bike boxes and during the discourse discovered the train was an hour late.  We had more than sufficient time to overcome complexities in “bike to box” finesse.  

 

Box receipts in hand we returned to the luggage area and packed our bikes in the cardboard boxes we had purchased.  The bike box cost was $15 so we added thirty dollars to the trip cost.  The boxes are large in the length and height dimension but are not wide enough to allow the handle bars to fit in to the box.  To allow the bike to fit in the width provided the clips or pedals must be removed from the bike and the handle bars have to be rotated and turned down to fit into the box.  The handle bar maneuver can be accomplished without putting any stress on the cables. 

 

Two tools are needed to remove or adjust the bike parts to allow them to fit into width dimension of the cardboard bike box.  The “bike” tool normally carried in the tool bag under the seat of a bicycle has the “hex wrench” required to loosen the “three” handle bar bolts that must be released to make the necessary position adjustments.  The hex wrench option provided on this tool could also be used to take the clips off, but I carried a wrench with me that allowed me to take them off using the hex nut at the pedal arm of the clip or pedal.  I can get leverage using my foot to push down on the wrench to loosen the clip or pedal. 

 

On bicycle trips we typically transport our bikes in hard shell cases.  We used these boxes to FEDEX our bikes to Denver.  The problem with a one way trip, which is what the trip to Grand Junction would be, is how to get the boxes back to the start of the ride.  FEDEX again could have been used. But I thought the use of cardboard boxes would be a test to determine if they protect the bike.  When we rode across Iowa on RAGBRAI many of the other rider’s bikes arrived in cardboard boxes and I did not hear of any problems. 

 

I have had minor damage to my bike even in my hard shell boxes caused by packing errors on my part.  I was concerned about the protection a cardboard box would provide.  I would have felt much more secure about the bike being placed in the luggage car, up right and strapped to the wall of the car. 

 

Our fears were realized when the derailleur on my wife’s bike developed a problem on our shake down ride from the Utah Border back to Grand Junction.  I did not see the bike boxes being loaded in Denver, but when they were taken off the train in Grand Junction they were placed on a cart on their sides with no particular care.  The problem is that there is no where to grab and hold a large cardboard box.  A bike can be easily picked up and moved without physical effort.  The likelihood of damage is reduced. 

 

My wife’s bike was repaired at a bike shop in Grand Junction.  It had suffered a blow to the derailleur and I am quite confident that the damage occurred because of the lack of protection of the bike box.

 

I should add that we carried our bike “clothes” trunks and other gear we carry on our “self-supported” bike adventures onto the train with us when we boarded.  After boxing the bikes we were standing with our “pile” of support gear and one of the guys helping with the bike boxes suggested we use a plastic trash bag to carry them onto the train.  The plastic bags were the heavy duty variety and the gear did not poke a hole in the bag as it was carried onboard. 

 

Once on the train we removed the gear from the bag and put it on the rack above the seat.  If the people in the luggage area had not suggested the garbage bag solution I am sure it would have taken two trips to get everything onboard the train.  It should be noted that the people in the luggage area were very helpful.

 

 

 ..the folks in the luggage area were very helpful... 

 

 ..turn the handlebars parallel to the front wheel, then turn them down; remove the pedals or clips..

 

 ..the bike then fits easily into the cardboard box..

 

..note the derailleur is on the right side of the box and the cardboard is weaken in this area..

 
  ..hope my friends are ok..

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"car free adventure"