Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Day 15 Eastward Bound Gould – Briggsdale, CO 120 miles

A rich and varied day of pedaling. In the cold morning at Gould (30 F) I awoke to bike maintenance still undone. My replaced spoke had to be trued, and I decided to go with the thinner tires that I had been riding the bulk of the trip. In a small kitchen in the campground in the morning I replaced the front tire and tube. Something went wrong because the front tube blew out upon replacement – like a shotgun blast in a small room!

A brief talk with my bike mechanic in Pennsylvania relieved my fears about doing the spoke replacement improperly. Then I was off. Cameron Pass from the west side was not too bad since I was starting in a town this morning that lies at 9000 feet elevation. I stopped at the pass for a bit. I realized that the last climb in the Rockies had been completed. A large part of the trip - the American Rockies – had been accomplished.

The bulk of the day was spent on a wonderfully long and gradual descent through the Cache La Poudre River Canyon. This is a spectacularly beautiful river corridor. The transition from spruce and firs to arid-tolerate pines and junipers attested to my significant drop in elevation as the ride progressed. This river ranks as one of the prettiest I have seen; tremendous boulder-strewn rapids followed by long tail-outs where the water runs as clear as gin. The riverside mountains are a jagged formation composed of rocks and cliffs of all shapes and sizes.

The friendly folks at Full Cycle bicycle shop in Fort Collins gave my bike wheels a through examination while I toured the city a bit. Fort has a similar feel and appearance to Corvallis, another town I pedaled through on this trip. It is no coincidence that the two towns share a similar verve, for they are both home to major public universities with good reputations. In the bike shop I spoke to a wildlife professor at Colorado State University. He had praises for the school for which I now work.

Fort Collins and cities south – Boulder, Denver, Colorado Springs – lie along the Front Range of mountains, and thus sit at the sharp boundary between the Mountain West and the Great Plains. In the late afternoon I left town and started east. I was sad to see the mountains go. The greater the challenge, I believe, the more poignant the memory; the visions of steep, twisting climbs into the thin air of Santiam Pass and Flaming Gorge will stay with me for a long time. As twilight faded to darkness on the long straight road ahead, a rich light developed over the Front Range. I kept craning my neck over my shoulder to have another look at Longs Peaks and its mountain neighbors off my back. I didn’t want to see them go.


  1. Hi
    Meaning to check in-looks like you are making great progress--

    Take Care

  2. Hey Paul, thanks for the updates. Sounds like a lot of fun. It's neat seeing your progress across the country. But, I fear some boredom in your future -- Kansas/Neb in mid-summer = dry, windy, and hot = suck.