The Rockies

I’m writing this post from a computer at the Lander, WY public library. We’re now well into Wyoming, with yellowstone happening in a few days. I’ve ridden a bit more than 2700 miles, with 2000 ish to go to the coast (I think?).

Colorado was a blast. The scenery was magnificent, and Meredith and I were able to catch up with some good friends along the front range. From Pueblo, CO, we took a red-gravel road to Colorado Springs, with the Rocky Mountains looming in the distance. In Colorado Springs, we stayed with an excellent warmshowers host, Martha, who gave us tips on which roads to ride to get to Denver safely (highway 105 was great). I was able to meet up with my college buddies Chris and Eli (in Denver and Boulder, respectively). We also met Eli’s second child Fia in Boulder. The last stop on our front range vacation was Fort Collins, where we stayed with Meredith’s friend Marie. We’d been using Marie’s address to ship packages to for a few weeks, and we took advantage of our rest there to do some bike tune-ups before tackling the Rocky Mountains.

After Fort Collins, our goal was to reconnect with the TransAmerica trail route. Most of the cyclists we met suggested that we take the infamous “trail ridge road” up and over Rocky Mountain National Park, saying it was, “always something they wanted to do.” At 12,200 feet elevation, this is the highest continuous paved road in the USA. Riding a 75 pound loaded touring bikes up it would be no easy task.

From Fort Collins, we rode to Estes Park, a beautiful and steep ride on Devil’s Gulch Road. Estes was teeming with tourists, but served as a necessary staging point for the big climb. We set out the next day around 7 AM, knowing that we should make it to the top before noon, as storms were supposed to roll in “like clockwork.” It was a breathtaking ride, and our legs and gearing seemed appropriate for the grades. However, as we got higher in elevation, the winds picked up speed. Around 11,000 feet up (above the treeline, with steep drop-offs on either side of the road), the wind made riding conditions unsafe. We were walking our bikes at this point, just trying not to get blown off the road. We found a pull-off for cars, and decided to try our luck hitch-hiking to the visitors center, knowing that almost all of the traffic on this road was going there. A nice couple from Wichita took pity on us, and shuttled us and our bikes to the top in their pickup truck. We had a nice (and expensive) lunch, then bombed down the other side of the mountain.

We’d planned to stay that night in Granby, CO (back on route), but found a nice campsite (timber creek) in the park, so we called it a day there. We didn’t have much food in the panniers at this point, so dinner was peanut butter and tuna on tortillas. A neighboring camper shared some burritos with us, which was huge! The following nights were spent in Granby, CO and Walden, CO. Big shout out to the Rand, CO store, which was closed when we arrived, but had drinking water stashed under their sign. This wasn’t literally a “life-saver” for us, but it sure was refreshing.

We crossed the border into Wyoming on Monday, June 19, finding a nice campsite in Riverside, WY. I’ve got a lot to say about Wyoming so far, but that will have to wait for another post (the timer on the library computer is at 5.5 minutes, and I still need to add photos to this post).

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