You see... sometimes in life, one needs to do the unthinkable in order to be everywhere at once. After crossing the entire state of Colorado, I officially dismounted by bike in Craig, CO, just a few miles from the Utah border, and packed it in the van for a few short days. The group continued through the Northeast corner of Utah and a portion of Wyoming, while I pulled a reverse Clark Kent- out of the spandex and into a three-piece suit, and flew to Portland, OR to be a witness of the union between my sister Martha and my new brother-in-law Bernie. What a joyous occasion to have the entire family in one place, and to celebrate their occasion with dancing, laughter, and possibly one of the most fun nights in my life. Congrats!
However, I need to focus this B&B blog on the trip. Our last meeting was in Kansas, and it would be unfair to deprive you of stories from icing of this trip's cake... Colorado, and its Rocky Mountains!! I could write for hours, but given my current fatigue, I think it best to write about the random memories and highlights from this wonderful state.
- This is how we looked when we crossed from KS to CO. It was the beginning of a long 93 mile day from St. Francis, KS to Lindon, CO. When asked to describe Lindon, our destination for the day, Andrew replied "It's more like.... an area, than a town." Possibly the smallest community in which we've stayed on this trip thus far. It consisted of one church, a few homes, and a cafe that had no intention of ever re-opening. However, it places like this that I will never forget. Showers with a spicket in the back of the church, watching incredible thunderstorms roll in, and times when all we have is each other for entertainment. We came and left Lindon, CO without seeing anyone from the town or the church.
- The ride into Denver resembles KS to to capital T. Flat, flat, flat, and windy. Until that moment where you come over the ridge and see the entire Rocky Mountain range spread out like a table cloth from as far South to as far North as the eye can see. The sight of snow capped peaks make the last 500 miles completely worthwhile.
- One might expect to ride the last sixty miles into Denver in some state of euphoria while drooling of its beauty. My ride was overall OK, except for the wind, exhaustion, and ruthless traffic. Some of our co-rider were not so lucky! A storm developed, while the wind and rain intensified, a small tornado developed east of Denver. Riders had to resort to a ditch off the side of the road. Everyone was safe, but its at that moment that we all realized how vulnerable we are as cyclists on a journey across the country.
- Denver was phenomenal with a build day and a day off in order to rest the legs before four days in the mountains. Its funny how a trip low and high can take place in one afternoon. As a former employee of Habitat for Humanity, I know that the most idiotic thing one can do on a construction site is step on a rusted nail. Guess what? I managed to accomplish it! Before you stop jumping to conclusions, I should clarify that I was walking through high grass. Regardless, a local Habitat volunteer, Jan, offered to drive me to urgent care in order to get a tetanus shot. All was fine, but I offered to buy her lunch at a local taco place next to the urgent care in order to thank her for driving me 20 miles. What an amazing person/story. We talked for so long, and she was so enthusiastic and encouraging as she was amazed at some of my recent adventures during these last few years. After maybe a little too much thinking time in Kansas, I needed someone like that.
- Coffee and ice cream with Ashley Haas in Boulder, CO. Such a highlight! Thanks for showing me Ash's Boulder!
- We biked from Boulder to Estes Park, via Lefthand Canyon and Peak to Peak Highway. It was our first real climb since the Appalachians. We ascended nearly 4,000 ft in maybe 10 miles. After being passed by a nationally ranked triathlete at the bottom, I rode alone up the pass with a lot on my mind about my future career. Wondering if I would ever accomplish anything great in my life, or if I would ever make any real change in the world, I noticed the irony. Here I am on a cross-country bike trip, biking up and over the Rocky Mountains, wondering if I will ever do anything extraordinary with my life. What a unique setting to have that type of an epiphany.
- We stayed at Eagle Rock School outside of Estes Park in a canyon. A school focusing on reachig at risk youth via alternative education and cross-curricular courses. I mean, who wouldn't want to take a class like the Physics of Mountain Biking or a geology course on Colorado Rock Climbing. This school is entirely funded by Honda, but you won't see a single Honda logo anywhere on campus. Such an awesome place!
- From Estes Park, we rode into Rocky Mountain National Park and up Trail Ridge Road- the highest paved road in North America at 12,090 ft in elevation. Astonishing views, a herd of elk, group dance party at the summit, and the best 12 mile descent ever!
- I'm finding that it's quite late, I'm lacking wit in my writing, this blog post has become excessively long, and I can't find a climax for this post. Therefore, I just want to say thank you for all your support and the opportunity for me to relive some of these random memories that can so easily be forgotten on a trip like this if not written down. I look forward to seeing you all soon.