Easing Back into the Saddle

What we’ve been up to lately

As Joy mentioned in in her post Mountains in the Rearview Mirror, we flew back to the west coast to visit Joy’s mom in Seattle and my dad in San Francisco. We also squeezed in a few visits with a small subset of ourBay Area friends.

We then flew back to Denver and spent several days driving around Colorado to see National Parks and National Monuments with long-time friend, Marc Fajer (Tony’s friend from Stanford undergrad days, Joy’s “starving grad student apartment-mate”, and the best man at our wedding). Among other sites, we drove to destinations that we had previously cycled near (or somewhat near) but that were too far for us to detour to visit on bicycles. Sitting inside an air conditioned car, we thought nothing of driving hundreds of miles to visit sites we’d bypassed previously. Cars are truly revolutionary in terms of how we think about distances!

We got to Rocky Mountain National Park, Dinosaur National Monument (which required that we cross back into Utah), and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. In Rocky Mountain, we were lucky to see both elk and moose. We also swung by Georgetown so we could ride on the narrow gauge Georgetown Loop Railroad. I particularly recommend visiting Dinosaur National Monument.  The three-story quarry wall with hundreds of exposed dinosaur bones is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. I also highly recommend Black Canyon. It’s an astoundingly beautiful canyon, though the viewpoints are not kind to folks who have a fear of heights.

And we’re off! (again)

This morning we resumed our bicycle trek. Our goal was to ride from Boulder to Greeley. Because we’d been out of the saddle for ten days, we wanted to start with a reasonable ride – roughly 55 miles with not much climb (roughly 1,000 feet of climbing). By and large it was a great ride. The initial portion of the ride was on Colorado’s wonderful bike trails, which keep you far away from car traffic and often wander along lovely streams which are both interesting to look at and provide respite from the heat.

Google map lady had us zig zagging along country roads (not all of them paved) and except for a stretch along highway 119, we mostly spent the day cycling through farm land, including expansive fields of chest-high corn and broad swaths of knee-high wheat. (I had always assumed wheat was as tall as corn, but, apparently, most strains of wheat are short). It’s worth noting that these were the first corn and wheat fields we’ve seen on the trip. Certainly not our last! We also experienced our first cicadas of the trip. To my west coast ears, the high pitched cicada song sounds like a barber’s electric sheers and not something natural. 

Although today’s ride wasn’t too horrible, the last few hours were pretty tough. The route we were following through farmland meant that there was rarely any shade. Official temperatures got up to 97 degrees and Joy’s Garmin recorded 108 degrees (the asphalt radiates heat up at us) so hot days particularly suck. The heat also warms up the water and Gatorade in our bottles. Warm Gatorade is not a pleasant culinary experience. In mid-morning we took a long break in a coffee house. In the afternoon we took temporary shelter from the heat by wandering the aisles of a Walgreens, examining everything they had to offer before heading out for the final hour of cycling.

We know that we have a lot more hot days of cycling ahead of us and we’ll likely resort to what we were doing in Utah – getting up at 4:30 or 5:00 am and starting our cycling day no later than 5:30 so that we can be done before the brutal heat sets in. 

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