Thursday, August 2, 2012

Over the mountains and through the woods

Riverside, WY was the city we were to spend our last night in before entering Colorado. It has a population of 64, so we were expecting a quiet night. But the night we arrived happened to be the kickoff of Whatfest, a local bluegrass festival. It was held in and behind the two bars in town (we can't figure out how those bars support themselves in a town of 64 every other day of the year.) We decided to stay a day to see some more of the local music. The next morning we were hanging out in a river near the festival, and a party van showed up. A band unloaded and came down to the river- and brought us great beer from a brewery in Fort Collins where one of them worked. They were all so kind, and we saw them play later that night- They were awesome, the Lindsey O'brien band.
After our break we weren't really looking forward to getting back on the road because as soon as we got into Colorado, the Rockies (and our highest summit on the entire route) were looming.


Wyoming was very interesting with all it's tiny ghost towns leftover from mining booms, but also lonely and disorienting because of so much open space and so few people. So the WHAT festival was a perfect last day.

Colorado so far is filled with much bigger and more outdoorsy towns (REI version of outdoorsy versus living off the land outdoorsy of WY). They are more eco-conscious (the coffee shops provide uncooked fettuchini noodles to stir your coffee instead of stir sticks). They also follow the rules, cyclists here have clip on shoes and spandex. And there are roads you must stay off, which we found out the wrong way.

The day before our largest pass (Hoosier) we were headed to its base in Breckinridge. We turned onto what we thought was the bike path, and proceeded to climb the steepest 5 miles ever. When we got to the top, there was a real fun surprise little loop-de-loo back down the hill to where we started. After google mapping ourselves, we realized we were going the opposite direction of Breckinridge. So we headed back down and decided instead of trying again to find the bike path, we'd just take the direct route. So we climbed through a wee bit of barbed wire and headed east on the interstate to our destination. Soon we heard sirens and a kind officer pulled us over to give us a warning (he could have fined us 22 dollars each, but didn't). He told us to just be careful and get off the next exit, which we gladly agreed was best (since it was the Breckinridge exit anyway).

The next morning, after stopping for champagne and OJ to celebrate with mimosas at the top, we headed up hoosier. The climb wasn't actually much worse than any other, it was more symbolic of all the climbing we'd done up to that point than anything. But reaching the top felt amazing because when I planned to do this trip, that pass was the one obstacle that made me nervous. And now I've done it. From here on, all rivers flow to the Atlantic.


After the climb, we spent 80 miles today coasting downhill into Canon City. Apparently it's all downhill to Kansas, and then we have to start planning for triple digit heat in the plains.

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