Saturday, July 4, 2009

Day: 38
Date: June 27, 2009
Town: Walden
Weather: Glorious
Where we slept: City Park

We got up just as Greg was returning from a breakfast at (insert animal) Creek Restaurant. And guess what!? He had leftovers! For those of you who don't know, Greg is an eating MACHINE, so for him to be conquered by a breakfast burrito is some feat. After checking his pulse, we devoured the remains, and cooked up a big pot of oatmeal to supplement.

We had aslow morning, chatting with the folks staing at Lazy Atcres, more with Mike and Nancy, who we noticed had a bumper sticker of an American flag that said, "fear this!" and a retired English teacher from PA named Judith.

We met lots of fellow TransAmmers going the other way today, although everyone was a little salty that the crosswinds were slightly more in our favor.

We crossed into CO and took a celebratory picture. As we crossed, we gained the scenic Rocky Mt. backdrop, but lost our shoulder. For the most part, however, the trucks and trailers gave us space. About 10 mi from town, a UW bus drove past and parked on top of a hill in front of us. Kendal reached them first, fearing the worst...a guy gets out of the bus and pulls out two cokes and snickersbars! Apparently he and his son did 3,000 mi of the TransAm on bikes last summer, and want to finish it next year. He and his wife are driving from WA to IL to visit their son, and decided to drive along the TransAm route with a cooler full of goodies to hand out to grateful riders! How cool is that!? We werevery grateful and impressed. While we were chatting, three girls our age pulled up on their bikes, heading West. It was great to see more girl bikers, as the predominant TransAmmers thus far have been retired men.

We pulled into Walden just as the rodeo was coming to a close for the day. There was a square dance from 9 pm-2 am, but none of us could muster the energy to make ourselves presentable. Instead we set up camp in City Park, carefully dodging the sprinkler system, cooked up a big pot of chili, and hung with a father and son who were headed West on recumbants, and Mac, also heading West, riding solo on a Trek (holla!). We shared advice for the terrain to come, and found out that the dad of father and son duo is riding with MS! We couldn't salute him enough!

We went to bed early, full of chili and glad to have our own tents to digest in!

Day: 39
June 28th
Captain: Rachel (again)
Town: Hot Sulphur Springs
Weather: Lovely
Where we stayed: Ute Trail Motel

Kendal and I woke up at 8, just as Greg was returning from a delicious but expensive raspberry french toast b-fast. Kendal and I cooked ourselves oatmeal, and as we were about to clean up, realized that the Walden rodeo parade was starting RIGHT NOW! We left everything out and booked it to Main Street while Greg headed out to start his ride.
It was FABULOUS. Every float threw candy, even if you were not five years old. The floats mostly consisted of various class reunions on pickup trucks. Class of '59 threw popsicles! There were also LOTS of cute firefighters handing out goodies. Kendal got an American flag and I got a hat! Smokey the Bear made an appearance, but knowing the hell of a first-timers parade, we left him alone.

The parade came through town twice, so twice the candy to supplement our oatmeal. We walked back to camp with a serious sugar high, packed up, and headed out. The day was mostly uneventful--no shoulder, no trees to pee behind. We started climbing about 2-3 hours into the day. Kendal and I both felt unusually droopy after our breakfast of champions, but we made it to the summit of the pass, where we met 2 motorcyclist brothers who stopped us halfway down the other side of the mountain to point out a fully racked moose bull about 100 yds below the road. He was magnificent!

We pulled into Hot Sulphur Springs about 6 pm right up to the motel, where we were graciously greeted by Deb and Fireball. After giving us an armful of samples--kotex, granola bars, cough drops, and more!--we headed to our FREE motel room, where we found not one bike, but TWO! Our fourth wheel had arrived!

About 5 minutes later, I heard a yelp, threw open the door, and tackled my long-lost sister, hot fudge malt in hand. Amelia had been generously dropped off by Benny and Sergio, (firefighter John's family) in Kremmling, so had a wonderful, leisurely 18 mi ride into town. We sat around the hotel room, stretching, catching Amelia up with all of the weird language and inside jokes that have developed thus far. We fell asleep to Bruce Lee and spanish TV in warm, wonderful beds, surrounded by masculine pictures of animals. Hooray! Amelia is here!

Day 40
June 29, 2009
Captain: Amelia!
Weather: Nice morning, dark scary clouds chased us through afternoon, but didn't win!
Slept: TK and Judy's!

We were pleased to discover from Mother Hen Dee that the local breakfast joint was called "The Glory Hole" and just down the way. We celebrated our first four-wheeled pow-wow with French toast, omelettes, biscuits and gravy, mucho pancakes, and at least a pot of coffee, which we were told by our friendly elderly waiter prolongs the female life span by 15 years. Alright! I think Rae and Kendal were happy to add a third communal food-orderer to the team--a Graber/Sparks family trademark.

Hit the road about 11, and rode a lovely shoulder into the Kum and Go in Kremmling, where Rae, Kendal and I high-fived Greg, who was happily eating sour worms, and sped off again towards Silverthorne. After a few errands, we rehitched and picked up highway 9 towards the Green Mountain Reservoir. After a beautiful ride around the lake, I was highly ready for the leisurely swim and hummus lunch in Heeney that I had envisioned for the last 30 miles, but was shocked to discover that it was already 3:30, we were not yet halfway, and a dark blanket of menacing rainclouds was barreling down on us.

Now, I have known Kendal Sparks all of my 23 years, and I have never seen the boy move more quickly. Apparently rain is not his thing. He politely told me to wrap up my hummus experience and get my butt on the road before we all got dumped on. Fair enough!

We pedaled like mad-children (at least from the perspective of my below-sea level lungs!) and safely skidded into Silverthorne at about 5:30. We hadn't figured out a place to sleep, so we ordered a few dozen pounds of burrito-mass at the strip-mall Carniceria and made some phone calls. Severals plates of pickled habanero later, we mopped our brows, met a lovely ski-bum from Mobile Alabama, who directed us to the local campground in Frisco. We decided to scoop up Greg, who had made new friends at the Starbucks six miles up the mountain, and try our luck at a free campsite a little past town. It soon became clear that our pickled pepper adventure had only just begun, and we slowly and hot-bellied schlepped up the (certainly longer than...) 6 miles to Frisco.

Greg's new friends turned out to be beautiful and charming baristas Bekah and Kim, who told us exactly where to camp, how to schmooze a free shower at the local marina, and made us smoothies. A jolly, white-bearded man and cute, ruddy-cheeked lady, both in hiking gear and sipping hot chocolate overheard our conversation, and without hesitation told us that we would be assured hot showers at their place just two blocks away. As we discussed plans to set up camp and meet our new barista friends later at the local brewpub, TK and Judy decided that it would be much easier to conduct our socializing from their condo yard, saving us a 3 mi of dark, uphill dirt road, and thousands of mosquito bites. We giddily followed our hosts in their kayak-topped car to hot showers, towels!, adventure stories, and a panoramic view of the lake and mountains from their second-floor condo. We discovered that Tk and Judy had only met a year and a half ago on a nearby ski-trip. Most gals, TK reported, throw in the towel after three days of hard skiing, but this lady, a Wisconsinite friend of his sister, was ready for more after 30, and he was a smitten kitten! They have been adventuring together since--on skis, kayaks, white water rafts, and bicycles. Judy still officially lives in Wasau, where she has just retired her post as an information retrieval specialist (not to be confused, she says with a wink, with a spinster university librarian!) but is considering making Frisco her permanent adventure-hub. She confided that she has a fear of wedding bells, but agreed to wear a ring from TK that simply "shows the world how much I love you." Enough to make a troupe of cynical 20-somethings misty.

After getting cleaned up, TK and Judy gave us a key to their condo, and sent us off to the brewery with front and back lights for all, and the caution that one beer equals four in altitude.

After a pitcher or two at the Moose Jaw, we had made friends with an East to West TransAmmer named James, who had made a friend named Charlie, who insisted on giving the team backrubs and more information about his bulimic, transvestite?, triathelete fiance, and plans to bathe James later that night than made us completely comfortable. So we stole James, who was celebrating his 29th birthday, slowly navigated the dark path home, thankful for our many bike lights, wrote TK and Judy a note, and put James safely to bed!

Day 41
June 30, 2009
Captain: Kendal
Town: Fairplay/South Park!!!!!
Weather: Mountainous!
Where we stayed: Fairplay Beach

The first thing I heard this morning, around 5:30 am, was TK chuckling and whispering to Judy, "They've multiplied! We have 5 now!" Good thing I had left a note explaining how and why we had "rescued" James.

We got up early because today was a big day, and of course had a lot of talking to do with our new buddies TK, Judy, and James. We shared a massively delicious breakfast of fresh fruit, pancakes, turkey bacon, eggs, and coffee, served up by the host and hostess. It felt like a family reunion with relatives you were just getting to know; like we had so much in common, and would certainly keep in touch for a long time!

Many hours later, we pried ourselves away from TK and Judy's hospitable arms, and headed accross town to the bike shop. I needed new tires and brake pads, and the crew wanted a check-over by the "best mechanics in the state" over at Wilderness Sports. I especially appreciated Phil, the mechanic, letting me watch him work, so I couls learn a thing or two about fixing my own bike. A couple hours later, (almost 1 pm!) we lef the shop with a squeaky-clean, just-visited-the-dentist feeling all over our bikes, and rode a slick 10-mi bike path into Breckenridge, where I practiced my moving bike-business card-handoff to many cyclists who asked us where we were going.

After a quick pitstop in Breck, we began the 10 mi haul up Hoosier Pass, to our highest elevation of the entire trip: 11,542 ft!!!

It was a pretty steep climb: we gained nearly 2000 feet on that stretch. There was loads of heavy traffic, steep switchbacks, and gusty winds. We even dodged a man carrying a giant wooden cross from coast to coast.

Amelia, our below-sea-level gal, kicked our butts up the pass. I got a little nauseus, or light-headed, or at least that's the excuse I made for all the tears streaming down my cheeks at the top. I was extremely proud--of my team, and myself--for reaching this milestone. And better yet, we got to share it with Paul and Tom, who happened to reach the top about the same time as Greg did.

We took lots of pictures/video and then high-tailed it down to Fairplay, where a headwind and incoming storm forced us to call it quits.

Fairplay happens to be the new name of an old town called South Park, CO, which may sound familiar to fans of the Comedy Central cartoon. Turns out, one of the writers/creators of the show was born here, so many pictures were in order.

We met the mayor and town clerk, who were so excited to host us, they met us at the fancy restaurant in town to give us free camping permits and take pictures together. We were so happy that the weather slowed us down: Fairplay was extremely good to us.

After a giant, worth-every-penny celebratory meal with Tom and Paul at the Italian joint in town, we rolled down the riverbank and set up camp right along one of the forks in the PLatte River.

A few phonecalls were made to my college roommates (BIG South Park fans) and I was out cold.


IAmWatchingYou said...

Way to go guys - glad to hear how your trip is going. Good luck and happy fourth.

Mattison said...

Ok, so I forgot my username was set to "Iamwatchingyou" from a previous joke to creep someone else out.