Monday, August 17, 2009

Day 14 Trying to punch through the Rockies Steamboat Springs – Gould, CO 78 miles

I will call this Day 14 of the ride. And it was an uneven day of riding, one where I never really got into a groove. Got a late start out of Steamboat Springs. I’ve been riding with a busted helmet all trip, courtesy of UPS shipping. So I got as new one in the Springs, and also picked up my bike after major repairs. Indeed, I have been putting some torque into the pedals lately, and it was time to have the machine inspected.

There are two passes to exit the Rockies from Steamboat. Around noon I started to climb Rabbit Ears Pass, a long slog (~8 miles) at about 6 percent grade. I then entered a beautiful mountain valley between the Medicine Bow Mountains and the Front Range. Sixty miles went down pretty easily and I thought I’d have a shot by dark to take Cameron Pass, the last obstacle heading east before sliding downhill enroute to the still-faraway Mississippi.

Outside of Walden I heard a ‘snap,’ and looked down to see a broken rear spoke. I then limped into Gould, pedaling gingerly to avoid any wheel catastrophes. Now, at close to midnight local time, I wonder whether my repair job will suffice. Fort Collins and reputable bike shops are 80 miles away, and the other side of Cameron Pass. Certainly there is no good time for a breakdown, but I have been very fortunate with the bike in over 6000 miles of bike touring.

While the day was cut short, it was nonetheless a wonderful ride. The high temperature was roughly 70, and I was buoyed by a west wind for a good deal of the day. A beautiful glowing sunset laminated the cloudy Front Range I was pedaling towards. I saw numerous large mammals: antelope, mule deer, and my first elk of the trip. The mountain valley in the Walden-Gould area is spectacularly beautiful.

Tomorrow, bike, body, mind, and traffic willing, I will try to pull off a long gainer. On the steep climb up Cameron Pass I will hope that that the only sound I hear is the gentle hum of the chain on the rings and my heart pumping heavy to the top of the Continental Divide. I left some energy in the tank today. It is time to see the American grain belt.

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