Day 45 – Eads to Ordway CO

Tomorrow, I will see the Rockies.

Well, I think I will. It’s possible in Pueblo and even though I knew that today that I wouldn’t see them, it’s hard to not scan the distant horizon looking for their first appearance. I’ve taken dozens of trips by car across the plains, following I-70 across Kansas to Denver and beyond, and I can’t help but start looking for majestic, Coors-can worthy, peaks high above the horizon. And though I know it doesn’t work that way, I look anyway because I love these mountains.

My love for the peaks of Colorado started in the 5th grade when I was lucky enough to have a chance to go there as part of an Environmental Education Program offered through my school. A bunch of us piled into a big orange school bus with sleeping bags and outdoor gear and made the 2 day trek from Rolla MO to Brekenridge CO. All that week we went for hikes, learned about the local species, and soaked up the pine-scented clean air. It was the first time I heard that Colorado had a water crisis (yes, even in 1975) and it sparked my interest in trying to protect the environment. Well that and Frankie, one of our camp counselors who I, and every other boy on the trip (and probably some of the girls) developed a huge crush on. The point of the trip for my teachers was to engender concern for the environment and it worked. I came back home with my only souvenir, an image of a mountain climber silhouetted against the setting sun with the slogan “Get high on mountains” on the front. I wore the hell out of that shirt. So this little story is, in part, why I feel connected to this state, and why I’m looking forward to getting into the mountains soon.

Today’s Trip

I “slept in” today until 5:00. Luxury. I’ve planned out my next couple of days to stay with some friends, or friends of friends, in Pueblo, so no need to rush the last couple of days to get there. It felt good reach today’s destination early in the day, have a chance to nap, and catch up on a couple of biz items for home.

Sweet Mariah smiled upon me again today and I had a lovely breeze at my back all morning.* There’s also been little traffic since Leoti KS, which has been great. But it also means I need to keep vigilant because it’s easier without the traffic to get careless and complacent about the cars and trucks that remain. But usually I hear them coming from about a half mile behind me so it’s not that much of an issue. Just don’t get too lost in my thoughts.

I’m already at about 4500 feet elevation having climbed almost 1800 feet on my way to Eads yesterday. I didn’t really realize it, it was so gradual but check out this elevation profile from yesterday’s ride:

Pretty steady climb

Yesterday I finally perfected my aero-tuck too which helped some. I salvaged a swimming noodle from the side of the road and made some pads so I can rest my forearms on the bars. This makes a huge difference in how hard you have to work against the prarie gusts. Plus it gave this engineer something to tinker with geek out on while otherwise bored by the scenery.

The swimming noodle aero bar (TM). Just hold on to the handlebar bag for stability and you’re tucked in.
Sometimes it’s the little things that catch your eye. Do you think I’d notice this from a car?  He’s about an inch and a half long & the photo doesn’t do it justice.
I passed through Haswell which looks kind of ghost-townish. It still has a post office and a few homes though.
Haswell is apparently home to the smallest jail – quite a distinction.
I met Scott and Louise who are traveling fro Portland OR to Portland ME.

Some riders want to stop and chat and some just go on their way. I had a nice chat with Scott and Louise (you can follow them here), and also with Richard, who’s retired and from Eastern Oklahoma.

Richard’s retired and is a serious cycle-tourist. He’s done a TransAm and a lot of other loops around various parts of the US (including Alaska).
Wish I had this in my park as a kid. Sugar City CO
The coupling was beautifully worn and textured.
You could do a pretty great photo book of nothing but roadside memorials. It’s disturbing how many of them there are – rarely do I go a day without seeing one.
Roadside memorial detail

Tonight there are thunderstorms due in shortly so I opted for the local hostel. It’s in an old Hotel in downtown Ordway. I’ve got some more exploring of Ordway to do this evening.

 

*For those of you tuning in late, we do not say the four letter word that starts with “W” here. It’s working for me so I’m not ready to put my superstitions down yet.

 

7 thoughts on “Day 45 – Eads to Ordway CO”

  1. Fascinating how the landscape, which was so monotonous in Kansas, suddenly changed to the west. I wonder why the sudden change?

    1. I think its the ridge I crossed. If you look at the ride profile, I actually steadily gained altitude for a long time. I think that if you think of it in terms of clouds from the west, when they hit that downward slope they drop their water. I’m no meteorologist but it sure was drier as soon as I got up to that higher plain.

  2. Great story about Envirionmental camp in Colorado. Hope you get the mountains today.

  3. Hi Jim,

    I’m so impressed with your noodling. Great repurposing of a potential landfill item!

    I love the story of where your environmental awareness came from. I really wish we all lived closer, especially since I have known you for years but didn’t really know you. Thanks for sharing yourself with us, and taking us along for the ride.

    1. Thanks for all your encouraging words, Wendy. It helps keep me going and I almost never feel alone on this trip.

  4. Hey, I thought I knew all your stories but never heard the one about the environmental camp in Colorado!

    Julie’s wife Maria did a great project on roadside memorials a few years ago, she did a talk at PINC on the role they play in mourning.

    Super happy you made it to Pueblo and are taking a rest day there. Enjoy geeking out on koans and mountains!

    Love you!

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