Friday, August 12, 2016

Summer Tour - part two

It is pretty easy to get up and moving in the morning when camping, there is busy work to do. I packed up my stuff, it was a wet rain fly and ground fly because of last nights storm. Brewed up a typical camp breakfast of oatmeal with sliced bananas. I am already thinking about 2nd breakfast and I know just the place to ride to get it!!! I have a Jet-Boil stove and those little suckers boil up a pot of water very quick and efficiently. I give it a strong A-plus review on the Jim scale of bicycle camping.

Nice morning out, warm and a few rain clouds scuttling about.
I cross over the Colorado River a few times back and forth. The headwaters are just a few miles away up in the National Park. The beginnings of a great western waterway!
I was hoping to get to Hot Sulpher Springs and the Glory Hole Cafe before the rain, but, it begins and I am required to pull over and gear up in rain suit and put the rain covers on the panniers. Isn't it always the way that after you get all the gear on and then the need to head out to the bushes for nature's call?!?!?!?
A nice soft rain that I know the countryside needs even though it is a minor inconvenience for me.

A few miles and then in for 2nd breakfast!!!
While enjoying my meal I see on my phone that a friend was in the area on his motorcycle and wanted to meet up. I had no service to respond so I hope we can luck out with a meeting. It rained the whole time I was in the cafe while eating and charging up the phone. I head back out into the rain and after going through Byers Canyon I pop out on the west side and get service again. Sure enough my friend catches up with me and there are three of us!! Elementary, Junior High and High school classmates and we arrange to meet in Kremmling for a beer. I make good time getting there and they have lunch while I am riding. I get there just as they are ordering dessert (pie!) and we have the best time and conversation and catching up on life!! What a treat for me!! The time gets away from me a bit and after saying our goodbyes I head on up out of Kremmling on US 40 to Colorado 134 and Gore Pass.  It is already almost 3:30 and I am looking at about 3 hours of climbing up to the top of Gore pass and my campground.
I am shocked at the road and its lack of shoulder. US 40 between Granby and Kremmling is a cyclist dream with a huge paved shoulder except for the last four miles. The no shoulder thing continued going north. An uphill grade, but not steep, had me going slow and suddenly I was feeling very vulnerable on my bike. Sure enough in about a ten minute time I had four big semi-trucks pass me. The first one had no oncoming traffic and he pulled into the other lane. I see the next one coming and I pull off into the dirt shoulder to let him by and the dirt was soft and the ties catch and I almost go down. The next one I stay up on the pavement but there is a car coming the other way...and ROAR!!! I can reach out and practically touch the trailer. I pull off because I am FREAKED OUT. This is crazy. not only is it unsafe for me, but also the truckers and any cars that might be rolling past. Now, I have nothing against truckers, they are doing their jobs which is very important to our way of life in this country. They are not looking to hurt me or anyone else. My beef is with the infrastructure of our highways and why we let this happen. This is US federal highway with a 65 MPH speed limit and this is the condition.
Whether there is a cyclist present or not, this is not a safe road for trucks and cars to be traveling at a high rate of speed. We can build trillion dollar fighter jet programs and their only purpose is to kill people but we can not do the infrastructure work in our country that would save lives.
Alright, that is my soap box, I'll climb down. This is supposed to be a fluffy little piece about bike travel!!!
First time I have been nervous about the place I am riding so I beat a retreat back to Kremmling. My confidence might have been shot because it was the end of the day and I had had a beer, so I decide to stay in Kremmling Monday night.
Talked on the phone with my family and decided to wrap up the trip early. My son Matthew was staying an extra day before he headed back to KC and I have some maintenance projects that need some attention at home.
I get up and packed up and on the road back to Grand Lake where Debbie and Matthew will meet me at Grand Lake Lodge for a late lunch!!
I am in a much better frame of mind and the four miles back towards Hot Sulpher Springs does not bother me as much, although I keep a very defensive style of riding until my nice shoulder appears again.

This

Back to this!!
This is beautiful hay ranching country out here and I am enjoying a pretty Colorado Morning!!
This is a nice little Saw Mill operation going here. Looks like they are milling studs. Busy. Trucks heading in with logs and heading out with units of lumber.


Now just some views of this valley before you get to Byers Canyon.


Back into Byers Canyon
I was really enjoying myself today. Just me turning the pedals, a nice day, at peace with my thoughts. On this third day I was very comfortable on the bike and was used to the weight and handling. The Surly LHT is a very capable machine for this kind of touring.
Here a few of the things that caught my fancy as I pedaled along towards Granby.


Pretty soon I turn off on US 34 and head back up to Grand Lake and my late lunch date.
Heading back towards my mountains!!
A few cows for my friend Richard to look at!!
This fellow has built a little pitch and putt holes on his land. Not sure if he lets people play on it or it is just his little personal course . Looks like two or three hole through the willows.
And, just like that it is over. After a nice lunch I pile everything back into the truck and head for home. What originally started out to be a six day loop around Northern Colorado was only three days. It is OK though, it was great to be out on the fully loaded Trucker. I know I can still travel this way for future trips and I had fun except for that ten minute stretch north of Kremmling.
The house chores were calling and I'll brew up another trip ('s) for next summer.

Thanks for riding along!!
Jim

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Summer Touring

I itch for many months to get out on a tour that is self-contained and solo. This is finally the week to use up some of the stacked up vacation time and just roll away. There is a plan that started out as a six day ride but things change and shit happens and even before I leave I am down to four days. All good, lets just head out!!

As usual I head west into the Park and on over Trail Ridge. It is a Sunday and a lot of people in cars are up here, but, everybody is very kind to this slow moving dude pedaling on up the mountain. The bike and gear always looks so neat and organized at the start of a tour.

It is a nice morning up on the tundra. 60's and very little breeze. Here we go with the obligatory picture of Longs Peak!!

About my set up here. I originally was going to take Ogre because my original ride had some dirt roads involved up above Steamboat over Buffalo Pass. That was nixed so I geared up the LHT since it was all going to be on pavement. I put on my front rack which creates a whole different ride to get used to. Wow!! that first morning with panniers on the front was a crazy feeling to master again. I was all over the road wobbling!! Last time I had those on was when I rolled down through Teesie's neighborhood, What was that Teesie?? Four, five, summers ago??
Here I am past Forest Canyon overlook looking forward to getting to Rock Cut where there is a bit of some downhill to get you to the last push to the high point.


Just some pictures of what you get to see as you pedal over the rooftop of Colorado.



Right before I get to Rock Cut there is a big herd of Elk taking their time crossing the road blocking traffic. I ride up to the front of the line and zip on through and then have about 30 minutes of traffic free full lane to myself riding!!! Thank You Mr. and Mrs Elk!! I got a lot of encouragement from the cars that were parked in the downhill lane waiting.
Coming up on Rock Cut and the nice down hill break


The last push going up past Lava Cliffs and then the high point.
Lava Cliffs

Looking west to The Never Summer Mountains

Looking back to the east

Looking back to the high point, 12,000 some feet of elevation


Whew!! Time to head down, down, down. Rode my brakes a bit to begin as I had to get a feel for the bike  again with that weight on the front wheel.
I got to Grand Lake and stopped at a deli for sandwich and got another one for dinner at my campsite. I tried a different campground than last year and it was very nice with my site being right on the lakeside of Lake Granby.
The family that were in the site in the background were so nice when I first pulled in. They came over and said they had seen me go by when they were stuck in the the great Elk jam and asked if I would like a cold beer?? Hell yes!!! We enjoyed a nice talk. You can see the storm brewing there and they had to retreat to their car for a bit about 10 PM when their tent blew over. I was fine in my little REI house!!
Good first day, I slept pretty well after the storm blew through.
Thanks for reading, We'll pick it up again tomorrow
Jim