Really good day of progress. I got up around 6 and went downstairs for some breakfast. I’d picked up some Cheerios and milk the night before so I got to enjoy those. Rob and I talked a bit then got to packing. He was ready well before me and said goodbye then took off westbound. A bit later I got everything in the house sorted (dishes, windows locked, etc) and was all packed and got on the road. Right out of town, within 2 minutes of leaving 3 things happened: I hit a steep climb, as I was climbing a semi drove by spewing wood chips out the top, as I was trying to blink away the wood chips a private jet flew just 50 feet or so overhead to land at an airport to my right. All of that was sensory overload happening all at once. I got to the top of the climb and collected myself, then got going again. A few minutes later I came across this truck stacked on haybales which I found strangely hilarious
I came to the nice little town of Riverside, located a mile from the much larger town of Encampment. I went into a convenience store and got some orange juice and a Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwich. The store had a booklined bathroom hallway which was nice but a bit out of place. I rolled out of town to the East (I’d mostly been heading South) and saw a sign indicating 25 miles to the Colorado border. Yay! First I had to get there though. A few miles past Riverside were many large rolling hills. I sprinted the first one and got a headache from the altitude, >7000 feet. I slowed down and just grinded my way up the climbs. The penultimate one was steep enough that it appeared to climb forever, past the atmosphere and into space.
I made one final long relatively gentle climb and rounded a bend and got a magnificent view of the road I’d be riding for the next few hours. It wound through the hills, vaguely going upstream of the North Fork Platte River. I had one of my scariest descents down into this valley, with a steadily narrowing shoulder and rumble strips. The crosswinds picked up and I could feel the bike vibrating under me. I made it down without incident, barely, and kept going. More rolling hills ensued and it was definitely starting to warm up. I drank a bunch of water and kept pressing on, knowing I was getting closer to the border. There was a lot of mustard plant growing on the side of the road
Most of the land here was owned by a single farm, Big Creek ranch. It was massive. In one of the stream crossings there were several beautiful dark birds with a large white spot on each wing. They may have been magpies, but I don’t know. Not much longer later I arrived at the border. I saw a large group of people standing in the road right at the border taking photos. They were from Michigan, and were a family and friends in three cars. They crowded around and asked a bunch of questions about the bike and trip. One of the guys was especially interested, and asked if he could ride my bike. I apprehensively let him, and he was very appreciative. He said he was originally from Romania and had done some touring over there. He was super into biking in general. His wife was very unhappy that he’d met me because she was worried that now he’d want to do my ride. They were nice enough to take my picture.
Colorado marks my 5th state, and is the home to the largest climb on the route as well as the halfway point apparently! As soon as I crossed the border the shoulder disappeared, unfortunately. I guess the nice wide shoulders of Wyoming are done with :( Interestingly the route also became more hilly, perhaps roadbuilders in Colorado have more freedom to go up and over hills than Wyoming, I don’t know.
I passed Watson Mountain, a relatively minor peak to my right The scenery also seemed to change to, to large stones and trees, from the wide open treeless plains of Wyoming. It was probably just the elevation.
Another highway joined the one I was on and traffic picked up. A minor shoulder appeared which made things easier. I rode steadily for about 15 miles to my stopping point for the night, Walden. It’s a really charming little town. They let me camp in the park, and I cooled off in the library. There’s a nice public pool that I paid to use the showers. I also got some lunch at a fantastic barbeque place, All Smoked Up. The owner was super nice and let me bring my bike inside. He said that last week a $10k dollar bike had been stolen in town 😳 I got pulled pork nachos and some Mac and cheese and it was fantastic. I went over to the park and got my tent set up and met two other cyclists, Tim/Tom (can’t remember) and Robin. Robin is Westbound and Tim lives in the area and is doing a short section of the route. I told them about the tasty restaurant, and said I would go back for dinner. I’ve heard that it’s somewhat loud in this park at night so hopefully I will get a good night’s sleep. For now, I’ll sign off and go and get some dinner. Night!
- Cliff bar
- Jimmy Dean sandwich
- Orange juice
- Pulled pork nachos
- Mac n cheese