Friday July 17
Does everybody feel fine and refreshed after a night at Yogi’s place? Nope, didn’t do the trick. We were all a bit sluggish today as we felt the effects of the effort from the day previous. But we had a plan that would in the end make everyone forget about the hardships that were endured late yesterday. We had a measly 50 miles to get us close to Pueblo. A token ride of 10 miles would find us in Canon City so that’s where we headed after packing up. We were going to have breakfast there and then have a relaxing 40 mile ride to get us to the State Park at Pueblo Lake. Then after spending the night at the lake, we would ride the final 12 miles into Pueblo the following day for an almost day off.
The early part of our ride into Canon City was not too bad except for the flat tire that needed to be changed on the tandem. This was only the second flat of the trip which is actually quite remarkable, considering between the two bikes, over 4000 miles have been ridden. So after a short stint on the side of highway 50 replacing the tube, we were back in the saddles. We stopped at the visitor center of Canon City and found out about the Canon Coffee Café where wifi was available, so we headed there. A hearty breakfast was had by all. I chose a tex mex breakfast burrito that was really delcious. This part of Colorado is well know for it’s Mexican food. A reservation was made at the Super 8 in Pueblo as there is no other option once you get inside the city limits. We had some business to take care while in Pueblo and the hotel room was the carrot that I dangled in front of Donna and Lewis the day before when we ended up riding the 90 miles!
While eating and relaxing and checking e-mails etc. we discovered that a Walmart was located just a few miles down the road so we headed there next. We had promised Lewis that he could purchase another one of the Transformer action figures when we hit Pueblo. In addition, he had misplaced his sunglasses a couple days earlier and was currently without. So this had to be remedied as well. But if you ask Lewis he would without a doubt tell you that the Transformer (Barricade) was the most important purchase to be made. This killed just a bit more of the early part of the day. When pulling away from Walmart there was still nearly 40 miles to be riddent before we hit the State Park. Did I mention that the light and variable winds had become once again significant (20mph) and predominantly from the southeast. Today we would be riding either south or east. Dang!
One other factor that we haven’t really discussed until now would be the effects of dropping in elevation from over 11,000 feet to just over 5,000 feet at Pueblo. It’s a lot warmer the lower you get. Cold feet at night is a thing of the past. The last 2 nights I’ve slept on top of my sleeping bag, not in it. How does this come into play you ask? When leaving Walmart the temperature was already into the high 80’s and it was barely noon. So we had a hot headwind instead of a temperate one. It really made a difference as we couldn’t seem to put enough water into our bodies. And the water bottles that we normally rely on for rehydrating us, contained hot water. Have you ever tried drinking hot water when you’re really thirsty? It’s doesn’t really satisfy a thirst although I’m sure it kept us alive.
We had a 6 mile ride to get to the next community which would be Florence Colorado. This ride was wouldn’t you know it, mostly uphill and of course into the wind. It took us an hour to get there and when we finally hit the town the thermometer on the bank building was flashing 98 degrees! We immediately began looking for a place to get a cool drink, maybe a lemonade. My initial suggestion was maybe a bit off the wall but Donna decided to take me up on it. We went bowling! They had open bowling for a buck a game and of course there was air conditioning to boot! We big spenders from Shelton Washington orered a pitcher of ice water and spent the next hour relaxing and living in the past. Some of you already know that at different times in my life I’ve spent quite a bit of time at bowling alleys. Donna was a spectator while Lewis and I battled it out on the lanes. An hour later and most of that pitcher of ice water, we were ready to tackle the rest of our ride.
Upon exiting the bowling alley I glanced up at the bank building thermometer which now was flashing 100 degrees. So much for waiting the heat out. The next community (place to exchange some of our remaining hot water for cold water) was 11 miles distant (and it turns out almost all uphill again!). So at 3:00 we begin the push to see if we can make our allotted miles to end up at the State Park. Two hours later, we pull into Wetmore Colorado only to discover that the restaurant that we had hoped to spend some time and money in, was closed. The owners had gone on vacation. We had no choice but to knock on doors to get some water. Donna led the way and selected the first house that didn’t have a “NO TRESPASSING” sign posted. The lady who answered the door was very kind and led us into her house where we drank and drank and drank until water was coming out our noses!
It was now after 5:00 and we were still nearly 20 miles from our destination. I was questioning whether we would be physically able to make it that far before night set. The average speed we had maintained for the previous 3 hours was barely 6 mph. Donna was undaunted. So we took off. The terrain was in our favor for the remainder of the ride and the wind did abate somewhat. We managed to pull into the campground at the State Park just before the sun set behind the diminishing mountains. The campground was officially full, but we ignored this and found a vacant handicap spot and set up our camp. Some really threatening clouds developed while we were setting up which were soon followed by some really screaming angry winds. The tent was ripped from the ground and would have been blown into Lake Pueblo had I not been there to grab it. I doubled up on the tent stakes and this time it held. Too windy to cook, we had peanut butter and jelly burritos, and cherries, and fritos, and plums, and chocolate cookies and lots more water. This day was not expected but we persevered! 53 miles of mind numbing bicycling. It doesn’t get any better than this!?