Sunday, June 28, 2009
Day 22 - Pueblo, CO to Lamar, CO
Today's blog is dedicated to those of you who have been waiting for this ride to turn a corner... "He makes it sound so easy... He's enjoying every single moment... Just wait, that'll all end..."
Yesterday, I spent a wonderful rest day with Susie exploring Colorado Springs, CO. She flew to Denver and drove to Pueblo. We visited the Focus on the Family Visitor Center, Garden of the Gods, Manitou Springs, and Old Colorado City. We even had lunch with a fellow Eastside Foursquare Church staff member, Michael Chenoweth, who was in Colorado Springs with some wrestling coaches. After a full day which was actually quite restful, I said goodbye to her this morning and headed east to find out what was so great about the Great Plains.
Today was our longest ride of the entire Cross Country Challenge. And once again, we discovered why it's called the "Cross Country Challenge" and NOT the "Cross Country Easy." The day started well. We left early enough to try to beat some of the heat. Our route was on Highway 50 all day. As we left Pueblo, we appreciated the cloudy sky that was keeping us cool. The wind was slight. Both of those attributes of the day would change soon enough. As the wind began picking up, we tried once again our double pace line.
We passed flat, green prairie and farmland. We occasionally crossed or paralleled the Arkansas River. We rode through small, Great Plains towns like Fowler, Manzanola, and Rocky Ford. Just outside of Manzanola, we passed our first of three cattle feed lots. I can capture the image with my camera, but there is no way to capture the odor. Be glad for that.
Our second of three SAG stops was in Swink. Who makes up these town names? After riding 62 miles, I was feeling good. It was mid-morning and the scenery wasn't bad. It lacked all that Western Colorado offered, but these quiet farms and pastures had their own enjoyable qualities. As we left Swink, the heat began to climb, the terrain flattened, and the winds increased. We had a headwind only a few times, mostly the wind was a crosswind coming from the south.
We arrived in Las Animas, CO and made a beeline for a Dairy Queen. We passed a Sunday afternoon flea market, kids running down the street, and people working in their front yards. We entered the Dairy Queen thankful for air-conditioning and cold drinks. While there, I commented on how great it was to blend in and not stand out in a crowd. Everyone in the place, dressed in jeans, cowboy hats, or "country casual", sneaked cautious glances at us in our bright, skin tight cycling apparel. A few brave ones asked us about our route and where we were going. One lady described herself as a homeschool mom and was genuinely interested in what we were doing. I handed her a flier and expect she and her kids will be reading this blog tonight. If so, "Hello!" Another family commented on how it was hotter last week. Really? It had to be 100 degrees out there.
After finishing our drinks, Jack discovered a flat. Guess that makes it a "DQ flat." After repairing the tire, he went to fill it with a CO2 cartridge and filled it too full. It exploded. He replaced it a second time while carefully choosing some colorful language to describe his feelings about it all. Then we hit the road. It was hotter.
Shortly after Las Animas, we passed a pickup truck with "Cross Country Runner Ahead" emblazoned on its tailgate. Up ahead we found two runners, Joy and Mat. They are Filipinos running from Los Angeles to New York over 120 days. They left LA on Mother's Day. They are running 30 miles a day. Actually Joy is doing most of the running. Mat recently had heart surgery and is running only a portion of the route. They are raising funds for a Philippines Tuberculosis Center and Heart Foundation. We took photos with them and rode away thankful we were getting this done in just 52 days. Wow. Impressive. I did a quick Google search and found some more info on them here. Read it. It's a pretty incredible adventure! I gave Joy one of my fliers and only learned later in the day their full story. I'll plan to get in touch with them by email and follow her cross-country adventure!
After leaving Joy and Mat, the road got hotter, the wind a little stronger, and the day a bit longer. Our third SAG stop was at mile 102. Everything is a little fuzzy, but I think we were at a country store, filled our water bottles, and ate a little food. We were counting down the miles now. Just 20 more. As we neared Lamar, we passed our third and largest cattle feed lot. So, what did we do? We stopped for photos. And to imbibe the great stench emanating from this vast facility. Let's see... add "Lamar, CO" to my list of cities I DO NOT want to live in.
We turned south and rode headlong into the southerly wind for the final mile to the hotel. As if someone had planned to pull every last vestige of strength out of us. Chris called the last mile to the hotel "interminable." I looked it up. It means "seeming to be or being without end; endless." Fair summary. We rode into the hotel and paused for a final photo to sum up the day. You see mine at the top of this blog. Welcome to the Best Western Cow Palace, Lamar, CO. Good times. Hot, sticky, malodorous, windy, good times.
Tomorrow we'll ride nearly as far as today, 105 miles, to Garden City, KS. And yes, we'll not only cross a state border and enter Kansas, we'll also lose an hour and enter the Central Time Zone. So, come join me in the fun as we begin our six-day trek across Kansas and the Not-Yet-So-Great Plains.
For more photos of today's interminable journey, visit http://gallery.me.com/eternaldesign2#100243
For photos from a more enjoyable day--my rest day with Susie, visit http://gallery.me.com/eternaldesign2#100229
For more about the Ride for Impact and to show your support or to at least offer something for the laughter you've experienced in reading today's tome, go to http://www.rideforimpact.org
Time: "Interminable" or 6:53:21
Cumulative Miles: 1624
Cumulative Flats: 5
Elev Gain: 1193 ft.
Max Elev: 5198 ft.
Avg Climb: 2%
Max Climb: 6%