I said goodbye to Wyoming on Tuesday. Wyoming's Yellowstone and Tetons have been a highlight of the trip so far. The people were great, the weather was perfect, the butterflies returned (too cold in MT) and I was relieved to have no tire issues. I was not sad to say goodbye to the roads (pretty torn up) and drier part of the state (not as pretty).
Colorado welcomed me with a sign that said "Welcome to Colorful Colorado". Although upon approaching from afar, I thought the sign said, "Welcome to Unlawful Colorado." My first thought was, 'wow, this is gonna be a fun leg of the trip!' As I approached I realized my mistake. Bummer.
I stopped for a late lunch in Walden CO after about 50 miles starting in Riverside that morning. I had a few options...
1. Stay in Walden (free camping in city park) but possibly not make it to Silverthorne and then Vail for the Fourth-where I have reservations for a few days
2. Continue on to Rand area and climb Willow Creek Pass and find camping in the National Forest
3. I had two ways I could cycle towards Kremmling- one meant I had to bike 60 more flatter miles on top of my already 50 to Kreemling (it was currently 3:45pm)... But HAD to do the full 60 miles, or go over the Pass, but have a 40 miles stop option.
I opted for #3, the 40 miler, even though it meant climbing the Continental Divide for a 9th time!! I had energy, the temperature was perfect and the scenery was gorgeous. Very different from the day prior leaving Rawlins in WY (mostly high desert-like vegetation, sagebrush). I camped alone in the forest along Willow Creek. I got into camp around 9pm with about an hour of light left. Set up my tent, boiled water for a luxurious meal of Top Ramen (I wasn't super hungry but knew I needed to eat and get more fluid and sodium in me). I drank a ton of water as a result of fear of dehydration at 9600 feet and due to the exertion of climbing the Pass. While my Top Ramen cooked, I bathed in the creek which was cold but felt good to clean off after a day's collection of sweat, sunblock, bike grease and bug spray (I went through an area with enormous mosquitoes). Unsure if I was in bear country still, I hung my food away from my tent and climbed into bed. I awoke at 2am, having to use the 'facilities' and I don't think I ever seen so many stars. What a sky! My feet never quite warmed up all night even with my wool socks on. When I clambered out of my tent in the morning, I figured out why. My water bottles were frozen and there was a layer of frost on everything including my bike! (See frosty handlebar photo below) It was cccold. I started my ride by 8am with many layers on. I ate a quick breakfast while I packed up and drank some tea, however, I was looking forward to eating a real breakfast in Hot Sulphur Springs. I figured there was a place that would make me eggs!
I passed a German guy going up the hill while I was going down into town, he wanted to chat, so I stopped. However, I think the etiquette on the TransAm should be if you are the one going downhill, your call if you want to stop or not. I mean, I could have blown by him, even though he waved and crossed the road to chat. I had a ton of momentum and didn't really want to stop. He talked and talked and I didn't mean to be rude, but I was almost out of water and HUNGRY and had 22 miles to get to my eggs. I told him I needed to get going and we said our goodbyes. Usually I'm fine chatting, but the hunger trumped chatting with another cyclist!
I must be in Colorado because this breakfast spot (The Glory Hole Cafe), offers veggies, including spinach in their omelettes! YES! And, The Shins are playing. Must be in Colorado. And, Diana the server was a doll and another customer, Nancy gave me $20 for my trip!! There's a photo posted below of Nancy and I with her new bike since she's trying to exercise more. Keep up the riding Nancy! I'm proud of you!
Tuesday was my longest day so far at 89 miles. I'm saving my first century for Kansas ;) Yesterday was 74 miles and by the last 36, I was done. Like OVER biking. After 14 days with not one day of rest, my body was done. I made it to my Warm Showers hosts here in Silverthorne- Cindy and Dave (married) and their roommate Aubrey. Awesome people. All cyclists. Dave is a carpenter and Aubrey and Cindy work for the US Forest Service. They live in a beautiful home and they cooked an amazing meal. We talked of common international travel sites (New Zealand, Bolivia, Europe), got updates on the day's tour stage and I fell fast asleep in a comfy bed of my own. I'm headed to Vail today to spend the weekend with a friend. And, I found out yesterday another friend decided last minute to fly in and spend some time here this weekend! Parade today, fireworks tonight, symphony tickets tomorrow night... I think this weekend may feel like culture shock. A far cry from taking an extra peanut butter packet from the motel last week!
I woke up feeling incredibly thankful (no chamois butter for 4 days!)... but seriously, to live in a free country where I think nothing of saying what I want, being who I am, and feeling safe to ride across the USA as a woman alone. Happy Independence Day everyone and thank you to those of you who help continue to support our freedom.