Day 32, Breckenridge, CO – Walden, CO 122 miles (2347 total)
July 12, 2008
Time on bike: 8:59:41
Daily Ascent: 5248 ft (66 ft/mi)
Max: 41 mph
Downhill is a good thing. Leaving Frisco, CO was certainly that. Downhill! We cycled for about 20 miles in what was almost completely downhill. We learned a bit of a lesson from the other day and got a later start. No more 5am wakeup times in these mountains. We started at 9:30 to avoid the bitter cold. Pat rode with me this time so that Mark could do some snowboard shopping in Breckenridge.
We stopped for lunch in Kremmling, CO which is on US 40 which runs through Greenfield, IN a block from where I used to own a home. Something little like that draws me home and reminds me that this is the United States of America and that we all have a common thread that runs through us, from coast to coast, mountainside to mountainside and ocean to ocean.
We traveled east on US 40 to Hot Sulphur Springs. On the way we passed through Byers Canyon, a gorgeous canyon which had a river running just below us and a train track running along that. It was just incredible and such a change from where we had been biking through. The rocks seemed to just be sitting one on top of each other ready to fall into the river below.
After Hot Sulphur Springs we headed north along 125 towards Willow Creek Pass elevation 9,621 ft. It was the 2nd time we crossed the Continental Divide.
We headed down hill 6 miles to the next town we were going to stop at, Rand, CO. The map said there was tent camping available. Mark drove ahead and met an 80 year old man there and was greeted with a , “What do you need?” Not exactly a friendly hello. Needless to say, he didn’t want people camping there, only hunters who were staying for a month or so. And Rand only has a Post Office about the size of a storage shed if that gives you any indication of how big of a town, or should I say ghost town, it is. Well, once we got there, Pat didn’t want to go any further. He wanted to ‘stealth camp’ behind some buildings. Mark, on the other hand, feels like these back woods mountain folk may not be the most understanding. His feeling is that since towns are spread so far apart and there aren’t exactly sheriff around, the townsfolk may take the law into their own hands at times and it’s best to just move on. So, Mark and Pat traded and Pat drove ahead as Mark and I biked along. I had already gone 100 miles by that point and it was 7pm, so I was ready to be done, but you gotta do what you gotta do, so we pushed on 22 miles to Walden.
We rode through a valley, leaving the big mountains behind us. Let me just say that Colorado hasn’t been the friendliest of states. In fact, it’s pretty clear that they don’t like bicyclists in general. Servers are blatantly short with you at restaurants and we’ve met people who’ve told us that cyclists don’t deserve to be on the roads because they haven’t paid state taxes to build the roads. Mark and I were passed by 24 vehicles on our way to Walden. Mark said he very intentionally waved to all 24 of them and not a single one waved back…
About 10 miles from Walden the sun ducked behind the mountains. And then it got cold. Really cold, really quick. I did have my cycling sleeves on to keep my arms warm, but other than that, I was just cold and ready to get to town. I swear I saw snow on the side of the road, but I may have been hallucinating. I couldn’t get to town fast enough. I just wanted a warm meal. 10 miles is about an hour of cycling and I was past my 7pm stop time and my body and my mind knew it. I thought Walden would never come, but come it did. Pat said he wasn’t sure if we would make it by the time the restaurants closed which was 9pm so he bought cold cuts. Despite the nice gesture, Mark and I wanted hot food, so we looked for a restaurant.
The roads were closed off on main street and they were having, what appeared to be some sort of festival. Really it was about 10 people dancing in the streets, but I think that was the festival. The town’s only about 700 people strong. The restaurant we stopped at was nice. Log cabin like with really friendly, young girls working there. Mark and I gobbled down our food and hot chocolate, but still couldn’t get warm. We ate our meal while Pat headed to the city park to set up his tent. Mark and I joked about getting a motel and leaving him out to camp but then showing up early the next morning to act like we had camped there! We left the restaurant, looking for a motel to stay in, but they were all occupied (they actually had 3 motels). So we headed to the city park to set up our tents. It got so cold in the night that Mark gave up camping and slept in his car. My sleeping bag is rated for 25 degrees F so I was ok, but it was super cold!! I awoke the next morning to FROST on the ground!! FROST! It’s JULY for crying out loud and it’s not like we’re in Canada, but we are up 8,500 feet.