Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Wind Won Again

Tuesday July 14

You’ve already heard about the stinking sprinklers so I wont go there. I failed to mention the biting cold. Brrrrr! It must have been in the middle 30’s last night and our lightweight sleeping bags are only rated for 40 degrees. It’s easy to correct for this deficiency by wearing clothing to bed. Trouble is Lewis fights this and then pays the price. But this cold really caught us by surprise as it was so warm the night before and equally warm all day before the thunderstorms rolled thru. Must be the elevation.

So I’ve been awake since 4:00 and Donna woke at 4:00 but managed to fall back to sleep. Lewis didn’t wake up until we shook him out of his bag at about 7:00. At this point we had already taken care of our stuff and the tent was empty with the exception of Lewis curled into a fetal position inside his sleeping bag. With some grumbling on his part, he was up and dressed by 7:15. We finished packing everything except the tent and proceeded to walk back to the Moose Creek Café for a warm breakfast. The plan was to let the tent dry off from the overnight drenching that it received while we recharged our batteries with food! It was another spectacular blue sky morning with no hint of what might come. Still very chilly though.

I had the eggs and bacon and hashbrowns as did Donna. Lewis opted for the $3 cinamon roll which he ate only half of. But not to worry, this family doesn’t have enough food as it is so someone else took care of the rest of that cinamon roll! Barely an hour later we returned to our tent to find it still wet. It had been sittiing in the sun so barely one side of it dried. We rotated it and wiped some of it off with a rag and 20 minutes later we were ready to depart.

The morning ritual hasn’t changed much from the time we’ve started. Donna and I take down the camp and Lewis finds something to occupy himself until it’s time to leave. Today he met a group of elementary aged girls who happened to be rollerblading through the park. He followed them around for a while and eventually was given the opportunity to try rollerblades himself (photo). Now he’s decided that he wants rollerblades when he returns home, just not pink!

The winds from Wyoming that had followed us into Colorado had begun to blow. By the time we left the city park, they were significant 20 to 30 mph, mostly in our face. We had planned on pedaling to Hot Sulpher Springs Colorado today which was 59 miles distant. Our first decision of the day was just a half mile from town. We happened on a road sign that indicated if we took a different highway than the one shown on our cycling map, we might find ourselves in the community of Kremmling by the end of the day. This would be a ride of 61 miles. The beauty part of this is that if we followed our maps and stopped at the Sulphur Hot Springs, we would hit Kremmling the following day after a 17 mile ride. We had stumbled upon a 17 mile shortcut! Donna and I debated the pros and cons of one way versus the other and finally decided to take a chance and go for the shorter route. The route that was mapped for us had no services all day although there were several places to camp which meant we would be able to refill our water bottles at any rate. The unknow route was basically that, unknown.

Boy did we struggle with the wind today. It even took it’s toll on Lewis who is normally unfazed by anything that we have to endure. After 4 hours of pedaling we had covered about 23 miles. I remember 3 years ago when I ran my last marathon in Olympia and I completed the 26 mile course in just a bit over 4 hours. So we were riding into the wind at a speed slower than what a formerly fat 48 year old guy could run! The terrain was definitely rolling with slightly more uphills than down. But it was the wind that won today.

I was so mentally fatigued from the howling in my ears and the painstakingly slow pace we were riding that I chose to get off and walk at least a half dozen times while Donna chose to ride on. I can handle smaller hills, or I can handle wind. But when you combine the two, I just gave up. While Donna seems to be enjoying the fact that she is able to ride these hills while I prefer to walk, you have to remember that I’m pedaling a tandem that tips the scales at somewhere above 150 pounds before my weight is included. Donna is riding a bike that weighs in at less than half that. And when you think about wind resistance, the sheer size of the tandem would make it slower into the wind all other things being equal.

You probably noticed that I didn’t take into account the benefit of having a nine year on the back of your tandem. That’s because there is no significant benefit. While Lewis will pedal for a while when I ask him to help me conquer some particular hill, he eventually stops putting out effort , usually well short of reaching whatever goal I’d asked him to help me with. I can’t get angry at his lack of enthusiasm as I had expected this. But it wears me down. By dismounting and walking, I end up attacking these hills at 3.1 mph with significantly less effort involved compared to pedaling with Lewis and going all of 4.6 mph. It just isn’t worth the extra effort required to pedal. A side bonus is that Lewis ends up getting more exercise by walking than what he would from riding. He is beginning to realize this and when I ask him if he’s ready to walk, he starts to pedal!

We continue plodding along as our destination for the day seems impossibly far away. We are extremely fortunate that the temperatures remain pleasant in the lower 70’s as anything hotter would have exhausted our supply of liquids. The carrot that I hold out to both Donna and Lewis is the fact that at mile 28 there is a different road that we take. We’ll be turning 90degrees and by doing so, should be able to convert the head winds into side winds with possibly even a chance of them coming from behind. It was nearly 5 hours in the saddle when we finally change direction and sure enough, the winds are definitely not in our faces now. In addition, we’ve reached the high point in elevation for the day as we cross the continental divide, ascending to 9400 feet. We met a couple of guys from Texas going in the opposite direction; they are relaxing after having ridden up the pass that we are now preparing to fly down. They expected we would have an easier ride for a while as they had been struggling with head winds coming up the pass.

We flew down the pass, and continued to ride mostly downhill to reach our destination of the day, Kremmling. The final 33 miles took just over 2 hours while the first 28 miles I already told you about. What a change. But it wasn’t enough of a change to make this an enjoyable day. It was just fortunate that it happened as I was beginning to think that we would be camping on the side of the road after reaching the point of exhaustion.

We grabbed some groceries and headed towards the Hotel Eastin. This is a European style hotel similar to a hostel. For about $40 we get a room with 2 beds but no private bath or no TV. Doesn’t matter to Lewis as a TV is in the lobby and he’s watching Sponge Bob while I finish up this posting. Donna had a rough night as she reported a bout of diarrhea and woke with a headache. Might be the altitude or might be a delayed reaction to what we endured yesterday. We’ve got a llittle while to get things taken care of here including a breakfast of muffins and coffee and yogurt. And then it’s on to Breckenridge.

1 comment:

  1. I like Lewis' pink roller blades. This is such a broadening experience for Lewis, and as you guys said, what bonding! We write the towns down and go on the map to see where we are with you guys. Great trip!