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Traveling Will & Robin

Current travels: Three months in the wilderness of Siberia, Mongolia, and the South Pacific

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Sat
31
Jul '10

Damn! I crossed the Rockies, yo.

I’ve been ensconced in my grandparents’ mountaintop retreat for the last week. I’ve been far too busy chilling all max and relaxing all cool to write here, but as I’m about to get back on the road, it seemed time to squeeze in a little world communication.

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Wolf Creek Pass - 10,800 ft. This is the top!!!

24 hours after leaving Durango (and 23 hours after discovering that 6 days off from biking will make a man wonderfully sore and tired) I summitted Wolf Creek Pass. At 10,800 feet it is the highest point I’ll hit in the country. It’s also part of the Continental Divide; as I stepped across the decorative gold line on the ground I entered middle America, a land of honest people who do an honest day’s work, and honest water that flows eastward to the Mississippi. I assumed that this meant that I’d be able to coast downhill the 1500 miles to the great river, but I guess we’ll see about that. The climb to this divide was fairly brutal — 3000 feet in 8 miles — but the views were fantastic, and once I reached the top I dropped like a rock through the National Forest until I found a delightful spot by a river to sleep for the night.

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My camp by the river, coming down from Wolf Creek Pass

Continuing to descend the next day, I cruised through small towns, following streams and crossing farmland for the first time. Colorado also marked my trip’s first encounters with rain: first some sprinkles while camping on Wolf Creek, then the standard afternoon showers while riding into Saguache, and finally a full-on nighttime downpour in Villa Grove. Luckily I was sleeping under this shelter in the city “park”, so I stayed mostly dry.

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I went on down here and had myself a time!

My next destination for sleep was South Park, CO. Yes, I came on down, and yes, I had myself a time, but not until I found the biggest pasta dish available in town. This was my second consecutive 80+ mile day, and I’d not been as responsible as I should have been about eating. The great turning point, however, was when I decided, despite feeling worn out from biking and tired from sleeping in the open air during a rainstorm, to try to make it to Boulder the following day — 100 miles away. Doing a century on Friday would also let me arrive at my grandparents’ mountain retreat on Saturday, a day earlier than I had planned.

What a ride! Based on my feeling the previous night I was concerned about my biking energy, but it was a needless worry. After crossing my final two passes of the Rockies (including Kenosha pass — shout out!), I went down, down, down… From 10,000 feet I had nearly a vertical mile to loose, and I took that mile with pleasure, rolling down familiar-feeling twisting river roads. 40 miles in I caught my first real glimpse of civilization. It’s amazing the excitement that a few multi-lane roads and chain stores can generate when you’ve been in 100-person towns for weeks. I cut north, past Red Rocks, and by mid-afternoon had reached my day’s Mecca: the bike lanes of Boulder.

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Chilling on Pearl St on my way out of Boulder

BOULDER! The biggest city I’d been to since Sacramento, it was even more of a delight than I’d remembered. I had a wonderful host in Robin’s friend Alyssa; she’d only been a resident of the city for a few weeks, so we got to explore together. With my short and final next day, I felt the freedom to stay up late and really just hang out: from a friend’s BBQ and 2am pizza to the Saturday farmer’s market and an Illegal Pete’s burrito, I crammed as much into 20 hours as dying man finishing his bucket list. My favorite realization what that every part of the trip reinforced how livable Boulder is. There’s a creek to lounge near and bike lanes everywhere, there’s culture and liberalism, and the entire city, it seems, is engaged in a love affair with the outdoors.

I left with a small tear in my eye, but Sunday afternoon was to take me the remaining way to Estes Park: familial homestead, home away from home, and vacation within a vacation.

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