Days 27 & 28: Bike Traffic Picks Up on the TransAmerica Trail
It has been an interesting start as I move onto the TransAmerica Trail. I am seeing many more cyclists coming from the east. I think a lot of people start the trail in May. So many of those who started on the east coast at that time reach Colorado about now. My first miles on the TransAmerica Trail, Day 27 from Pueblo to Ordway (51 miles), I saw three groups of cyclists (two riding solo and one as a pair). We just waved and rode on. There were four more cyclists staying at the Hotel Ordway—I learned a lot by talking with them.
On Day 28 I rode from Ordway to Eads (62 miles) and saw three more groups of cyclists on the ride (all heading west) and met more (heading east) in Eads. The first people I ran into on the road were three guys who cheered me on “Go, go, go! You can do it!” At first, I just thought they liked to support on fellow riders and something similar back to them. After they passed, I realized they thought I was a competitor in the TransAm Bike Race, which claims to be “The premier self supported road race across America.” The race started on June 5 on the western starting point of the TransAmerica Trail (Astoria, Oregon). Some of the participants are moving across Colorado today (others are further ahead and more further behind).
During my lunch today, I met one of the racers, Marcos Bueno, a Brazilian who does some very interesting stuff. We chatted a bit. He told me he is averaging 180 miles a day. Marcos is 9th of 35 riders. I expect to see other racers pass me in the next few days. Marcos mentioned that because of the heat and wind, he was going to change up his strategy and start riding at night and sleeping in the day. The wind and heat were brutal today (and forecast to be that way for the next few days), but are generally better early in the morning. This evening I met another racer, Laurent Bouchard, who is right behind Marcos in the standings. Laurent was checking into my hotel. He rides a recumbent bike and I couldn’t believe he rode in the crazy wind (gusts of 35-40 mph) and heat (97) we had this afternoon. Laurent is French, so communication was not fluid, but he said the race has been brutal with three days of rain and two with strong wind so far.
On Day 28 I met Doug from Louisville while on the road. He was heading the other way but we chatted for a few minutes. Then, about 10 miles up the road, I met Trina, Doug’s wife, who calls herself “popsicle lady;” she drives their RV, stops cyclists and offers them popsicles or fruit juice. I took a juice. I also met Tyler and Jen from England who were finishing drinks from Trina when she called out to me. See photos of all of them below. At the hotel I met Charles and Jean from Arvada, CO who are riding their way to Maine, mixing camping and hotels. The subculture on the trail appears to be quite interesting and so far I am enjoying it immensely.
The actual rides were pretty normal stuff. The roads are relatively flat and the terrain is kind of boring. There are not big descents (no wheeeeees!) though I might have to add a new wind-related “aarrgghh” category as that may be a future issue. Riding in strong winds is no fun.
Day 26: 51 miles, 377 elevation (0 wheeeees, 0 aarrgghhs)
One note on this ride. I got new Rene Herse tires put on in Pueblo. Then, six miles into the ride I got a flat. A shard of metal (maybe 1 mm) got me. Ugh! I was thinking how excited I was for the new tires. While changing the flat a commuting cyclist named Seth stopped and talked. As he left, he said my story inspired him (probably that a guy as old as me can do this) and he now hopes to ride across country himself one day. Otherwise, the ride was smooth.
Day 27: 62 miles, 751 elevation (0 wheeeees, 0 aarrgghhs)
Today was another flat and less scenic ride. It did get hot and windy as the day went along and I can really tell the difference from going into the wind or even just riding up or down 1% grades. These subtle variations matter when the terrain is mostly flat.
Meeting fellow cyclists on the road
The folks you meet on the ride are one of the real joys of doing an Adventure Cycling Association ride. The organization attracts enough riders, especially on TransAmerica trail, that you see many fellow travelers.
This gives me an opportunity to reflect on some of the folks I met while riding the Western Express (first half of the ride)—note that I have met almost as many in two days on TransAmerica. I have photos of some of them (and the earlier ones) in the space that follows:
• Thomas. I met Thomas in Utah. He promised himself he would ride across country before he turned 40 (he is 39 now). He is from Pennsylvania. He hoped to ride with his wife, but they couldn’t find someone to watch the kids for three months. So his wife and family is sagging him in an RV. I saw him over a few days but I think we pulled ahead in Utah.
• Gerhardt. We met Gerhardt (who is from Switzerland) in Utah. He was riding pretty slow so we only saw him one day. The last time Dave and Bruce saw him he was looking for a place to buy cigarettes.
• Jen and Diana were riding from Salt Lake City to California (I think). It was a three-week camping vacation. The day before they rode through snow, hail, and rain. One of the two went to University of Colorado - Boulder and works in marketing analytics.
Pictures of some of the folks I have met…
First, I share some pics of people I met on Western Express. Then, you can see some photos of folks I met today alone.
Folks I met along the Western Express
Thomas heading out one morning.
Jen and Diana bundled up after a couple of tough weather days coming down from Salt Lake City.
Gerhardt talking to Dave.
Below, see some of the folks I met in just one day on the TransAtlantic Trail
Doug and I talked from across the road.
10 miles later, his wife Trina (“Popsicle lady”) offered a cold drink from across the road. She follows Doug and offers popsicles and cold drinks to cyclists she meets along the way.
Jen and Tyler are from England. They were anxious to get a move on, as they said “We are British and need to get out of the heat.”
These are just some of the names and faces I have seen and met so far. There are as many stories as there are riders. I look forward to making many more new friends over the next month.
Tomorrow may be all business. Day 29 looks to be hot and windy. The best way to beat that, (besides not riding at all) is to get out there early. With a plan to ride 103 miles, I am going to try to be on the road by 5:00 a.m. and hope to make Scott City by early afternoon.