Wednesday, July 15

Up and Over!

As suspected, the gang of four parted ways on Monday after a great ride into Pueblo, CO. Eastern Colorado, up to Pueblo, is about as flat as Kansas, but more Western looking. Though I was without my three compadres, I was joined by my friend Jenny. Like Grace and Ash, I know Jenny from that camp in Minnesota where I drove boats. She lives in Denver and came down for the night where we camped just west of Pueblo on this beautiful lake/reservoir. Like so many others, Jenny prepared an incredible meal (one of the largest sandwiches I've ever seen!) but went above and beyond by bringing a few Fat Tires (appropriate, I know). We sipped them under the stars and caught a number of shooting stars. I said it then and I'll say it again, I hadn't seen stars like that since I lived in Yosemite National Park a couple summers ago.

The next day's ride took me to Salida, CO - a small river town located at the headwaters of the Arkansas River. There's a bike shop there and since I needed a part, I was shooting for a 6:59pm arrival. But by 6pm it was clear I was not going to make it in time and since it closes at 7pm, I called ahead to see what they could do for me. Apparently the folks at the shop run into this sort of thing pretty often, because the cashier had a ready solution before I could finish stating my problem. She ended up taking my credit card over the phone and hid the part in the flowers outside the store, where I later found them around 8:15ish. That was the start of the constant hippy-ness that I've been continually confronted with since arriving to Salida (not a complaint).

Today I woke up on the banks of the Arkansas River, just behind the bike shop, and headed out to tackle Monarch Pass, towering at just 11,312ft on the Continental Divide. The peak itself is 12,000ft but of course most folks don't build roads to the actual peak. I mean, what fun is that, at least make them work for it. Speaking of working for it - I sure did! It was a good 12 miles uphill at probably a 6% grade, not as steep as some of the Appalachian climbs, but still. For the most part, the climb was double laned, allowing the semis and RVs plenty of room to get around me as I clung to the 2ft-wide shoulder.

Once I reached the top, the view was breathless. Or maybe it was just me. Regardless, we're talking about a view yet unmatched on this journey. Folks at the top called me crazy, speculated on the strength of my heart, and asked all kind of questions. One woman, the one who made the heart comment, prepared me a sandwich even. Guess it's good for the heart...

So going up was great. Tiring of course, but great nonetheless. Going down. WOW! 10 miles of 35 miles an hour at the very least. I even caught up to a semi at one point. The whole lane was mine, as cars needn't pass since I was keeping up with them. Frankly, it was incredible!

Did the math, last 8 days I've gone 816 miles! Tonight I sleep in Sapinero!


Anonymous said...

DUDE fat tire what a great drink! Good choice I like your friend already! Seems like you doing swell call me sometime so we can chat.

Take it easy cuz!

Future Cycling Partner

Alice Fleet said...

Nate, what a freakin sweet trip! So cool that you're doing this and writing about it...I'm loving this blog.

kendithomas said...

i rode monarch pass about 3 summers ago! honestly...i hated it because there were so many semis and barely a place to ride because the shoulder was so littered with rocks and debris. sounds like you had a more pleasant experience, i do remember the descent being a fun one though. i'm glad you didn't quit!

walter said...

my brother, this is Walter (from Union). There is only one thing I have to say to you...awesome! I'm proud of you and your accomplishment across the U.S. May God Bless you and your desire for something different. Peace and God Bless.