Thursday, August 28, 2008

Day 43: Riverside to Walden, Colorado

The day dawned, miraculously, without wind. I saw Peter and the kiwi couple again. I had just finished breakfast at the local cafe when they arrived. Peter and I compared notes for the day ahead. I was going a short 48 miles to Walden; Peter was aiming to make it 110 to miles to the town beyond that. I had begun to hate him.

I made an easy ten miles, expecting at any time to see Peter at my back. He had to pass me, and I only prayed that he wouldn't catch me walking up a hill. It was during a two mile climb that I first saw the black speck in my rear view mirror: my nemesis. All I wanted was to reach the top of this hill before he caught up with me. I was spurred to a 50% increase in my climbing speed, from 4mph to a whopping 6mph. I fought to maintain speed as the black speck grew.

Peter and I reached the top together, where a new valley spread out below us. "I don't know if you saw me stop back there," he said. "That was the A Bar A Ranch. A lot of celebrities go there. Jimmy Fallon was up yesterday. Those're some good granny gears you've got. Looks pretty comfortable. I met a couple of guys touring on recumbents. One of them fell asleep in his seat, went off the road. He banged himself up." I vaguely shared story about once almost falling asleep on a bike after overworking. He politely waited for me to finish, said "I'm going to ride ahead. See you on the trail."

I rode my brakes as I watched him slide away. I used to speed down hills for the fun of it, but now they were my best chance to rest.

I crossed into Colorado two hours later, and took a break in the only shade available: the shadow cast by the "Welcome to Colorful Colorado" sign.


From where I was sitting, it didn't look appreciably different from Wyoming, though mountains loomed in the distance. After a week of windy plateaus, I actually looked forward to returning to the mountains.


Still no end in sight


I reached Walden early, at around 4pm, and found that every hotel room in town was taken by members of a 70-man seismology crew that was part of an oil survey. Camping in the town's public park was legal - and apparently even encouraged, as the town had the notion that campers helped chase away hoodlums - but not my first choice. I availed myself of Walden's surprisingly good community pool to shower and swim laps for a half hour. At least I was clean and cool.

I found one more motel, asked if a room was available and got a maybe, pending word from the seismology coordinator about a group of four in the field who hadn't yet shown up, and wouldn't I check back in an hour? I cruised Walden for dinner, checked back, and lucked into Walden's last room. I celebrated with a pint of Ben & Jerry's and a load of laundry at the local laundromat.

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