Saturday, June 30, 2007
Friday, June 29, 2007
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Dodge City is on the Arkansas River, and was famous first for buffalo hunters, who quickly slaughtered the large herds. Then the town became a center for the cattle trade. It was particularly "lawless" from 1872 to ~1880. I read that in 1872 there were at least 30 gunfights when the population was only ~ 500 people. Famous lawmen such as Bat Masterson, Bill Tilghman, and the legendary Wyatt Earp served in Dodge(and, of course, sheriff Matt Dillon was on Gunsmoke for ~20 years as well!).
This evening we enjoyed a song and dance and corny joke routine at Miss Kitty's. All who attended had a good time. However, about 2/3rds of the riders remained at the hotel--I guess they were tired. Most of the cast of the show are locals, many of them pursuing degrees in dance or theater at various colleges.
Oh yeah--we also rode this AM. It was a short ride of 51 miles, and I arrived in Dodge by 12:15 p.m. Nice to have a shorter riding day for a change. The afternoon and evening were well spent, as you can see.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Every evening at a new hotel, the AbB staff puts up this map of the US, and adds in black marker the distance we travelled that day. We are now in eastern Colorado, having travelled 1461 miles (mileage varies depending on side trips, missed turns (it happens to all of us, occasionally), and other variables, so I list the miles I have travelled). It's really amazing to realize that we've travelled over 1/3rd of our route.
We have about 121 miles tomorrow, and have to "load up" at 5:30 AM. I will be sad to see Carol leave (flying home from Denver), but we hope that she and Bekki will be able to join me for a few days as we cross from Missouri into Illinois over July 4th.
Friday, June 22, 2007
Pictured here is the "Rock Shop". Rocks from all over the country are available here for landscaping and other uses. We pass all sorts of interesting places every day, but I thought that, as we left the Rockies, we should at least celebrate rocks (I feel it might be inappropriate to show the photo I took of one of my fellow riders posing at the sign for the "Half Assed Ranch"!)
Before officially leaving the Rockies, about half of us rode a VERY STEEP CLIMB to the Royal Gorge Bridge, which is billed as the World's highest suspension bridge, at ~ 1060 feet above the Arkansas River. The road to the bridge was terribly bumpy, and when we arrived, we were told it cost $19.00 to ride across the bridge and "enjoy" the associated (honky tonk) park. Most riders felt it should be renamed "Rip-Off Gorge" after that. The views were spectacular, but really....
After a well earned descent, and lunch, we continued until our first major thunderstorm. Six of us took refuge in a stable as the lightning got closer, and the rain and hailstones fell. It was fun waiting out the storm--I'm sure this will happen again as we get further east this summer.
We will spend the next two days in Pueblo (at an altitide of 4690 feet) as tomorrow is our second "rest day". We have ridden 19 days, a distance of 1461 miles, with total climbing of about 60,230 feet (and descending of ~ 55,540 feet). The Rocky Mountains are now behind us, and the riders feel very proud of their accomplishments to date. Eight riders will be leaving the trip (they had signed up for either the 1st 20 days, or the last 8 days, and a "new" rider will join us. His name is "David" (which he prefers), so that works well as I can continue to be "Dave" or "Dr. Dave". I'm looking forward to spending some time tomorrow with Carol, who has been a big hit with the riders.
At the top of the pass, there was a tram (like an enclosed ski lift) that rose an additional 500 feet. From there, you could see high, snow covered mountains in all directions. We were on top of the Continental Divide--until now, all water had flowed (eventually) into the Pacific Ocean (except the water in the Great Basin which simply returned underground (see prior posts)). After crossing the Divide, water flows (ultimately) into the Atlantic Ocean (for the next several weeks, the route we travel will be in the Mississippi watershed, flowing into the Gulf of Mexico).
I had a special visitor last night, who took the photo on top of the tramline at Monarch Pass today (who insisted I use this photo--sorry for the mis-aligned "do wrap", but I had been working hard!). My wife, Carol, flew to Denver, then drove to Gunnison yesterday. Today she was fantastic, bringing peaches to the first SAG stop, then offering water and encouragement to the riders as we climbed. Her rent-a-car was a welcome sight going up (and occasionally back down) the mountain, stopping to offer aid. She will be with us four days, before flying home. It's her first trip to Colorado, and, like me, she is enjoying the sights.
After an hours stay at the top of Monarch Pass, we rode 23 more miles into Salida, Colorado. It was all down hill (the first 9 miles steep and fast, fairly similar to what we had climbed). It was fun to go fast without having to work any more! We have a long ride tomorrow to Pueblo, then another day off the bike to rest and relax
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
After a fast and fun descent we started a second climb that took us up another 1500 feet, to about 8700 feet above sea level. It was getting warmer (and the wind had died down). Pictured here is part of the second climb. I pulled over to wait for the riders shown on the right--although the photo flattens out the altitude changes, they were riding hard, and still took a few minutes to reach me! Most people rode in their lowest gears for long periods of time.
We then enjoyed easier riding with smaller "ups and downs", and rode along the dammed up Gunnison River, upstream of the beautiful canyons we had visited yesterday. Everyone arrived at the hotel in Gunnison, ready for our big climb over Monarch Pass tomorrow.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
We started climbing today, and are staying in Montrose, Colorado, at an elevation of ~5900 feet. In the next two days we'll climb over Monarch Pass at 11,312 feet! Today's ride led us closer to the tall Rockies, many of them with lots of snow, esp. to the south of where we'll cross the Continental Divide (at Monarch Pass).
After arrival and showers at the hotel, we were then given the chance to explore "Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park", but only about 12 riders decided to ride in the vans to the park. I guess folks are pretty tired!
We rode in the vans about 7 uphill miles from the hotel (a preview of tomorrow's route), before turning north and climbing 7 fairly steep miles to the park. Interestingly, there is an option for riders to climb to the park on their bikes tomorrow, then return down the same way and continue the route up the Rockies. Last year 12 riders did that--more power to them!
We then explored the canyon, carved through softer volcanic, then (lower down) through harder, older crystalline rock (over the last 2 million years) by the Gunnison River. We had earlier seen the Gunnison at its downriver junction with the Colorado River at the aptly named Grand Junction. Again, I have lots of great photos, though none show how vast and deep the canyon is. At it's deepest part, it is over 2700 feet high. In the area shown, I think the canyon is about 1500 to 2000 feet deep. If you "double click" on the picture (did you know you can do that?) you should be able to see part of the Gunnison River in the left-middle portion. Look to the right of Mike's head (he's the man on the left), and you can see the green water.
We were again at ~8000 feet here in the park, and the air was thinner. After returning to the vans, we again descended to ~5900 feet, where the air seems much "thicker". It was 96 degrees as we walked to dinner (a dry heat, fortunately). We should have nice weather tomorrow as we start the big climbs. It will be interesting riding up to those high altitudes--we've talked about the importance of riding more slowly, drinking more fluids, and resting when needed.
Monday, June 18, 2007
Add another large western state to our list, as we entered Colorado after about 71 miles into our 96 mile ride today. We're staying at Grand Junction, where the Gunnison River joins the Colorado River.
Pictured, right to left, are my "riding mates" Andrew, Wayne and Bob. On my right (left in the photo), is Steve, who normally rides well ahead, but who was with us as we entered the state. BTW, Steve is a very fast, competitive rider. Yet I did have a moment of glory today, shortly before this photo was taken. Steve was about 200 yards ahead of me, when we came to a fairly steep descent. As I pedalled hard and "tucked", I quickly caught and passed him, travelling at about 45 mph. I called over "Hey, I thought you were supposed to be FAST". He grinned back, and before he could "drop me" on the next hill we arrived at this sign! Ah, one has to savor the moments where one can.
Steve has ridden across the country several times, and he's riding this time until Pueblo. For Andrew, Wayne, Bob and me, this is a first time cross country ride. While we ride with many different people every day, the four of us have spent lots of "road time" together, mostly because we agreed on the first or second day that we wanted to really experience the country, take lots of photos, see the sights and the people, and not just ride fast from one hotel to the next. All three are strong riders. We have lots of laughs every day, and help each other if one of us is tired, etc. Gerard, the AbB mechanic has dubbed us "Team Stops Alot"!
For those who want more info re: this ride, here are the webpages for Andrew's, Bob's and Wayne's blogs. Like me, all three men are riding to raise money for a charity. Andrew's blog is "wicked funny" (he's English, don't you know); Bob's blog has the most photos (I haven't been able to get him to delete the uncomplimentary shots!); and Wayne's blog is more inspirational. There are other blogs as well, and the folks who are more computer savvy than I know how to "link" them.
Andrew's is at: apaxusa.wordpress.com
Bob's is at: bobrodwellersride.com
Wayne's is at: imperator.ca.uky.edu/turnerchallenge
Tomorrow we start climbing up and over the Colorado Rockies, and after 4 days in the high mountains, we'll arrive In Pueblo, for a second rest day.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Pictured is "Boston" Greg, a funny guy and a stong rider from some northeastern city in the U. S. Greg is posing below "Tunnel Arch", one of over 2,000 catalogued arches, ranging in size from 3 feet to 306 feet, in Arches National Park in Southeastern Utah, near Moab.
These arches, and the spires, balanced rocks, eroded monoliths, etc. which we saw are the result of 100 million years of erosion. Water and ice, extreme temperatures and underground salt movement are responsible fot the sculpted rock scenery we enjoyed after the bike ride today.
Our ride took us through more desert until we reached the town of Green River (surprisingly, it's located along the Green River) in SE Utah. Despite headwinds, we made good time on the 67 mile ride, mostly due to the gradual descent from ~5500 feet to ~ 4100 feet. Everyone was at the hotel by early afternoon. After much needed showers, we loaded the two vans with riders for the 60 minute ride to the Arches National Park, where we spent several enjoyable hours. Our van was driven by Gerard (our mechanic), while his girlfriend Angie sat up front with him. Nine men sat in three rows behind them, and made sure Gerard kept his eyes on the road!
My daughter, Bekki, wished me a Happy Father's Day by phone, and she laughed when I told her that I was riding with a group of guys in their 30's, 40's, 50's and 60's, and that they were joking around like the kids on her school bus trips!
We saw incredible sights, and took lots of photos. It was hard choosing which one to post here, but how can you go wrong with "Boston" Greg and a beautiful arch?
Saturday, June 16, 2007
We really had it all today--a 75 mile ride that took us over the Wasatch Mountains (to an altitude of 7447 feet) then down through beautiful Price Canyon, into the wide valley that separates the Wasatch mountains from the more eastern branch of the Rockies through which we'll travel this coming week.
Leaving Provo, we started a gentle climb until we reached the valley through which we would ascend (more steeply as we progressed) for the next 35 miles or so. The headwinds were unbeleivable. I had some problems with my rear tire (we ultimately changed the inner tube, which seemed to help), and after my riding friends had waited for me several times, I asked them to go ahead. After Gerard, our mechanic, worked on the bike I started after the other riders. Fortunately, Andy and Michelle (our ride leaders) rode by at this point, and I was able to tuck in behind Andy as we road into the strong headwinds. I stayed as close to his wheel as I could, and was breathing very hard just to keep up with him (he was probably doing 30% more work than I was!).
It took alot of energy to deal with my mechanical problem, than catch the group, even with Andy's help. I felt tired most of the day, but don't worry--past experience has shown that when I'm tired, it's best to slow down and take it relatively easy. By doing so, I actually felt better as the long day progressed. And I owe a special "Thank you" to Andrew and Tim, who road with me during the long climb over the mountain.
The descent through the canyon was fantastic, with gorgeous (yes, I chose that word with "gorge" in mind!) views, as seen above. Rock formations of all shapes and sizes surrounded us. The area through which we passed was the "haunting ground" of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. We even saw a photo of the Kid, pictured with the grandfather of the proprietor of a roadside "country store"!
Tomorrow, should be a gentler ride, before we start ascending into Colorado. A group of 17 of us (chosen by lottery) will be going to Arches National Park tomorrow afternoon. Folks who didn't get chosen will be able to visit another national park in Colorado. More about "Arches" after we visit tomorrow.
After dinner about a dozen riders got a ride to the local Walmart in Price, Utah, where we're staying. It was funny seeing people looking for "saddle creams", pain relievers, suntan lotion and other rider necessities. And we all have the funniest tan lines!
Friday, June 15, 2007
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Our route went from the Nevada-Utah border, across the Bonneville Salt Flats, to the Great Salt Lake and Salt Lake City. It was a challenging day for everyone, riding into the wind. We only had a few hills to climb, and it seemed quite hot as we pedalled up them.
For the first 40 miles, we had a group of 7 to 8 riders taking turns "pulling"--i.e., riding in front, into the wind, while the other riders "drafted" behind. We experimented with single and "double" pace lines (e.g.two lines of riders, riding beside one another). Each man (sorry, that's not sexist--only guys were in my pace line) "pulled" for one mile, then rotated to the back. The scenery wasn't the best unless you were upfront, riding hard!
We stopped a few times to take pictures of the salt flats (that's Wayne, above, who even tasted the salt--"hmmm, I think it needs a little paprika"). At our first SAG stop (after 40 miles), we still had 77 miles to go!
The group broke up in the middle part, after we left the flats. Andrew had two flat tires--we ultimately patched a small hole in his last inner tube, then used a granola bar wrapper to "boot the tire"--i.e., we found a small hole in the tire as well, and placed the wrapper as a barrier between the inner surface of the tire and the outer surface of the inner tube. It lasted to the end of the ride, but he'll buy new tires and tubes tomorrow on our "rest day".
Between the heat (mid 80's), the constant sunshine, the exertion against the wind and the long distance (added to the previous two challenging days), some folks were really tired when we arrived. However there was a spirit of accomplishment as we celebrated at the hotel. We've ridden 855 miles in 11 days, and climbed over many high mountains, big hills and even those overpasses which burn the legs when you're exhausted!
BTW, the Bonneville Salt Flats cover ~ 30,000 acres, and, along with the Great Salt Lake, are the remnants of ancient Lake Bonneville. Wind and water combined to create the flat surface of salt, and in winter a shallow layer of standing water floods the surface of the salt flats.
The first recorded crossing of the Great Salt Lake desert region was in 1845 by Capt. John Fremont's survey party, with scouts Kit Carson and Joe Walker. The salts include potassium, lithium, magnesium and sodium chloride. (Info courtesy of the Utah park service).
Tomorrow I hope to explore Salt Lake City.
The photo was taken halfway up the climb--unfortunately pictures tend to "flatten out" elevation changes, but as I stood there looking around, I knew I wasn't anywhere in the Eastern part of the Country. There was some minor road repair going on, so we climbed on the left side of the interstate, with the barrels between us and the cars.
Andrew and I enjoyed some excellent downhills as a reward for our climbing efforts. I reached 52 mph on one part (don't worry, they road was clear and smooth, and there was no other traffic except this 6 foot 4 inch, large British guy on a bike!). At another part there was a 4 mile descent that was less steep, so we were having a nice chat at 37 miles an hour riding side by side. That's easier than chatting when we're climbing the steep hills at 5 to 8 mph. Our friends sometimes wait for us at the tops of hills, but even if they don't, we still often catch and pass them on the downhills.
Today was the longest ride so far, at 108 miles. Four of our riders did their first century rides today (a ride of at least 100 miles). They were Arlene, age 67, Erin, age 24, Jeff, age 34 and Tim, age 36. (Jeff and Tim are brothers from Michigan). Quite an accomplishment--and they get to do it again tomorrow!
We have been lucky so far with the weather--highs only in the 80's which is warm enough when you're sweating up a mountain in the desert! The AbB staff keeps busy getting us cold water and snacks--vital for a day like today.
Tonight we're staying in the Rainbow Hotel & Casino. What a place! Glitzy, shiny and bright, with bells and whistles everywhere. The rooms have wall to wall mirrors with plenty of purple and red decor. I was briefly tempted to play blackjack, but after watching others play awhile I decided to keep my money. Interestingly, they deal from a single deck, and the players cards are dealt down. This is much nicer than the Atlantic City method of dealing from ~ 6 decks at a time, and showing the players card(s) right away.
Tomorrow is a 117 mile ride to Salt Lake City. Nothing like giving our first time Century Riders a chance to become veterans really quickly.
Monday, June 11, 2007
Pictured today are Andrew and Bob, riding on what was the old RR bed. The Humboldt river is flowing toward them one the right. It's a small river, but Nevada isn't known for its rainfall! Unfortunately, pictures tend to "flatten out" hills, so it's hard to see how steep the canyon walls really are. We are so lucky to be able to enjoy this beauty!
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Sunday, June 10, 2007
Saturday, June 9, 2007
Today we rode 73 miles further into the Nevada desert. We crossed arid lands, including the 40 mile stretch from where the Humboldt River disappears into the Humboldt Sink (Yup, it just drops into the earth) to the fresh water supplies 40 miles to the west. The emigrants to California usually took two days to walk across this waterless plain, and people/cattle/horses suffered cruelly. Today, thanks to "pedal power" and a tailwind, that stretch took us just over two hours!
We rode again part of the time on the interstate. Last night, at dinner, ~12 or 14 people (including me) raised their hands when asked if they had a flat tire. Today, only Andrew in our group of 10 or so suffered that indignity.
Cars and trucks are mostly courteous as they fly past us. Many wave or give a friendly "honk". And when folks find out where we're going and what we're doing, they are amazed. And for some unknown reason, they often express more astonishment to me than to the thinner riders. Go figure!
We are staying in another motel/casino tonight. I walked a mile to a laundromat, and a friendly lady gave me a ride back to the hotel after talking to me there. Nice folk.
Pictured is Erin, with whom I rode many miles today while our friends were ahead or behind. Erin had only ridden a few hundred miles on her bike, and never more than 35 miles in a day before this trip. Now, she's ridden 91 miles in a day, and--like the rest of us--has cycled 500 miles in a week, climbed the Sierra Nevada mountains and travelled well into the Nevada desert.
Like I said, these folks are amazing!
It was quite fun riding up and down the streets of San Francisco, then through the Presidio, and across the Golden Gate bridge. As expected, the fog cleared as we rode through Sausalito. We then travelled north of the San Francisco Bay on a causeway , while climbing over 2 small coastal mountains. Our long, very hilly challenging first day ended in Fairfield, CA (of all places!) as all the riders came thru with a real sense of accomplishment.