Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Dodge City, Ks - Day 24

Hi from Dodge City, Ks!!!
This was a super day for me – everything just seemed to go right – after two very long days, it was very nice to be able to sleep in an extra hour – breakfast at 7 and load at 8 and only 51 miles to ride!! Breakfast was a Belgian waffle with peanut butter and syrup, yogurt, a small omelet, oj, and coffee –I can’t begin to eat more than that!!!

It was quite warm as we started out and three angels appeared to help me for the first 22 miles – they either rode beside me to block the wind or in front of me to pull me. Chuck in this picture was beside me unless he had to drop back due to traffic – we had some big trucks that when passing each other on the two lane highway created quite a suction.

Zero rode beside me too and we had a great chat – he is training to do an Ironman and his raising money for a Korean culture center in Chicago.

Chris rode in front of me and pulled – he is the one with the blog – Chris-pedals-for-pete.blogspot.com

All of these guys are a lot faster and stronger than I am, but were kind enough to stay with me today on this shorter day. We had a rest stop at mile 22 and then the shoulder became wider and was more comfortable to ride even when the big cattle trucks came by.

This area is interesting for those who have no experience with farm life – there are many feed lots where they fatten the cattle for market. It was interesting at one point there were signs about an overlook ahead and I was anxious to see what they would show – this is what I saw!!! Then I gave a lesson to some of the “city people” who didn’t know the difference between a cow, steer, and bull. We passed many many fields with acres up acres of corn at all different heights – eventually the corn will be big enough to hide in!!

This picture is for those of you who have done this ride before – can you guess where we were!?!?!?

If not, look at the next picture and you will be sure to have fond memories of the delicious milkshakes from Clark’s Drug Store. I had an “Oprah” orange sherbert smoothie myself!!!

This was a much more successful stop than our promised Dairy Queen (that was closed yesterday). It was doubly successful for me because they actually had “Bag Balm” and I bought a can – yes, it is used for cow’s udders, but we are using it on our seats now.

We rode another 16 miles into Dodge City and are staying in a great hotel with a pool, volleyball net, laundry, bar, restaurant and all kinds of amenities. A couple of us had lunch at the restaurant and we met the local sheriff, US Marshall appointed by President Bush. He is standing here with John and Charlie gave me a card and told me to contact him when I get home so he could send info. for classes at school. Bike repair at 4:45, route rap at 5:45 and dinner at 6 at Montana Mike’s.

After dinner several of us went to the variety show at the Long Horn Saloon – yes, Ms. Kitty and all – we had lots of laughs and took pictures afterward.

In this picture, Tom Terrific was throwing Sean (our mechanic) out of the bar!!!! Tom has been waiting for quite some time to throw someone out of Dodge!!
It has been a great day for me – tomorrow another long 85 miles – hope it isn’t too hot!!!

Today's hurrah goes out to my friend Linda and her husband, Ken, and all of the other farmers in this country for the incredibily difficult job that they do in working on our farms!!

Thank God for the safety, health, and energy!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Garden City, Kansas - Day 23

Hi everyone from Garden City, Ks.,
Yes, we really are in Kansas for our first night of 6 or 7 – the last part of Colorado was very similar to Kansas. As you can see from the welcome sign with my roommate, Marilyn, we really are here!!

We started riding around 7 this morning and I didn’t get in until 6 because the time changed today – we are now in Central Time – just 1 hr. behind the east coast. This was cruel on a century day! We had another long day and I had another PR – two back to back centuries!!!
The cue sheet just said get on Rt. 50 East – go 104 miles, exit and go another ½ mile into the motel!! Basically the ride was more of what we did yesterday – very hot – no shade trees to be found – nice wide shoulder and basically nothing to look at but fields as far as you can see!

I did have one interesting part of the ride – I was chased uphill by a dog – but, when I screamed “No”, “Go Home” and he finally relented!!

They do have some very long trains here - yesterday I counted the cars on one and there were 118 cars and 4 engines - two at the beginning and two at the end!

It is interesting that a lot of the towns have the same name as those back home – “Syracuse”?!!?

There are lots of irrigation systems just like we had on the farm and we saw several cattle fields and a couple of field farms.
Tomorrow we have a short day – I say this cautiously because it seems every time I say that, for some reason or another it turns into a long day. Today I had 50 of the 107 miles done by 11:15. We have 51 tomorrow, but aren’t starting to ride until 8 and we will be riding into Dodge City!! This should prove interesting and hopefully give a little time to recoup after our two long days today and yesterday!!

Today's hurrah goes to my roommate, Marilyn, because she stayed with me when I was really hurting - she got me through to the end so I can now say I have done two back to back century plus rides!!

Thank God for the safety, health, and energy!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Lamar, Co - Day 22

Hi from Lamar, Co,
It was a very long day today with lots of miles - 121 - a PR for me. The cue sheet was pretty simple - go East on 50 from hotel and 120 miles later go right into tonight's Best Western Cow Palace.
The scenery has changed quite a bit - no more beautiful mountains from the left and right - if I didn't know any better, I would have guessed that we were already in Kansas! Take note the picture of the grain - this is what we saw along with some corn fields for most of the day.
We had 3 rest stops - one at 37.6, 62.1 and 102.2. We also fit in a Dairy Queen stop at 85 miles!! The weather was beautiful blue sky with puffy clouds, but temps really climbed as day went on - up to 92-94 degrees and quite a bit of wind from the side. We actually had dry weather and I drank from 10-12 water bottles of water.
At mile 102, I was really close to bonking and was considering getting back into the van for the last 20 miles. But, after some encouragement from Gerrard and eating a sandwich, pack of GU, and a soda decided to give it a try. I made it, so thanks Gerrard!

The picture of no picking up hitchhikers is one I have seen several times over the past few states - not sure where all of these prisons are located!!!

We finally ended the day by passing a very large Cattle Farm where the cattle are raised and then sold for food!

Today's hurrah goes to my Sunday School kids - 2-3 year olds and the other teachers - Kelly, Jeff, Pegg, and Jamie!! We will have to get together when I get back!!

Thank God for the safety, health, and energy!

Pueblo, Co - Rest Day - Day 21

Hi from Pueblo,
Today is a rest day and everyone is just lying pretty low - not much to do here and we are all fairly tired! This is a picture of me climbing Monarch Pass - take notice how far above the trees I am!!!

The next three pictures of are of some old cars that were parked at our hotel - there was a big car show in town that some of the guys went to. I spent the day walking to Walmart twice and going to the bike shop. I also worked on computer for quite a while and just hung out - the day went quickly and tomorrow is the longest ride of the trip - 121 miles!!

Today's hurrah goes out to Dorothy at the gym - I thought of you today as another girl and I were singing Queen's "I love to ride my bicycle" yesterday while riding along Arkansas River!!

Thank God for the safety, health, and energy!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Pueblo, Co. - Day 20

Hi from Pueblo, Co. Day 20,
We started our day by loading luggage and then riding to the Pancake Palace – and as promised, they had the best food – buckwheat pancakes with pecans – it doesn’t get much better than that!
This was the best day I think I have had so far – they have all been good ones in their own special way, but those of you who ride with me at home and in spin class know how much I love my “creek rides”. Well, the first 50 miles this morning was just that – one long creek ride only it was the Arkansas River that we were beside. And what is better than a creek ride?? – A meandering steady, but gentle downhill into the valley. Yes, out of the mountains and into the valley – I just was smiling all morning long and every now and then left out a holler too!!

Our first stop was at the Five Points Rec Area – the weather was comfortable and the sun was shining – the water was rushing very very quickly and I even thought of brother Randy and niece Sonja – for miles, we saw many white water rafting boats – I took several pictures because they all appeared to be having so much fun!

We had our big hill of the day – 2 ½ mile climb up to Royal Gorge and some people did an added tour of the suspension bridge. The downhill into Canon City was 6-8 miles long and I did it okay – I can’t really say that I enjoyed it, but it was one I could do, so that was good.
After lunch, we rode about another 20 miles to our next rest stop – as we approached here, the skies behind us were starting to darken and were very ominous!!! Our stop had been set up under a tent – similar to what you would take to the beach – I warned them that they might want to take it down. I didn’t waste any time here, because those of you who remember nephew Bryce, when he was about 3 years old at the beach, and someone mentioned storm-how his eyes got very big and he made a bee line as fast as he could go back to the house. There was no stopping him!!! Well, picture Carole on the bike trying to outrun the storm with eyes equally as big!!! Our staff member, Gerrard, told me “piece of cake, just enjoy the ride in”! Then he and another rider ended up getting 2 flat tires each on the way in.
The winds picked up – it gave us a very strong tail wind and I rode from 20-32 mph for 20 miles – most of the time not even pedaling – just the wind pushing me into the town of Pueblo. I did get a couple of drops on me, but made it in before rain. Several other riders weren’t as lucky, and had to take shelter from the storm. Oh, and the tent – went flying across the highway shortly after I left the stop!!!
So, we rode 94.7 miles today and I did it in 6:03 thanks to the winds!!! Now we have a day of rest and regrouping – not sure what I will get into tomorrow because there is a car show in town – hope to get to Walmart and bike shop sometime!

This is two of the guys after our ride today - notice the "Jelly Belly" jersey on the Tom Terrific!!! The other guy is Norbert and a lot of fun to be with!!

I wanted to mention to Kendra that I had breakfast the other morning with a rider who has a brother with CP . Chris is using the ride as a fund raiser because his brother used to be able to ride a bike with help. In our conversation we discussed the baclofen pump and he was very familiar with it and knew of the man who invented it. Small world! You might want to check his blog that I listed yesterday - http://www.chris-pedals-with-pete.blogspot.com/

Today’s hurrah goes to sister ,Judy, who is celebrating her birthday! Not sure which one?!?!?!

Thank God for the safety, health, and energy!

Salida, Co. - Day 19

Hi everyone from Salida, Co.!
Well today was the last big mountain for a long time!!!! We left the hotel early again and headed for Monarch Pass and the end of our Rockie Mountain riding! Several of us left early again and then headed out for a 28 mile ride before the big climb.

It was a great morning with overcast skies and we did wear our jackets. The scenery along the way was absolutely spectacular. I am so glad that we are moving from west to east because the Rockies have a whole different type of beauty than the Sierras and the peaks in Utah. We started through a valley that was very lush and green and began to see some more signs of civilization.
We had our first rest stop at Monarch Valley Ranch attended with a lot of mosquitoes and very primitive restroom facilities – like
“ladies room on side of trailer”!!! Four miles up the road we stopped at a local store for the last signs of civilization before climbing the Pass.

We rode up Monarch Pass stopping every ½ to ¾ miles to stretch – my speed hovered around 4-5 mph and the climb was 9 miles long. The higher we went, the less oxygen to breathe and the warmer it got – also the fewer guard rails and steep drop offs. It was beautiful, but I had to always be looking uphill. About 3 miles from the top, I felt light headed and a little shaky and decided to get in the van to the top.
At the top is the Continental Divide –elevation 11, 312 feet – see picture. Lots of photos were being taken and congratulations were being offered to those who rode the whole way up. A visit to the gift shop left some of us poorer and others full of ice cream (me)!!

There is a ski gondola that you can take all the way to the top where the elevation is over 12,000 feet. Believe it or not, I chose to do the ride because it was an enclosed gondola – you could see for miles in every direction and the view was overwhelming!! There was an enclosed observatory on the top that had a line which is the actual “Continental Divide” (see picture). I had gone up with a wonderful man named Jim who encouraged me to go outside and we took pictures of each other with the snow covered peaks in the background. It was a very moving experience!!

Since I have not had luck doing the descents on these mountains, I enjoyed the scenery the whole way down in the van. When we arrived at the hotel, these little ladies had set up a lemonade stand and were a lot of fun to chat with!! Dinner tonight was at Pizza Hutt – still really love eating all of this food – tomorrow breakfast at a special pancake place – can’t wait!!!

We have a long day tomorrow of 94 miles and the option of doing an additional 16 miles to visit a huge suspension bridge – are you surprised that I opted out of that – the whole group chuckled and said they didn’t think this would be a wise thing for me to do.
It is amazing to realize that we have covered1348 miles on our bikes. After tomorrow’s 96 mile ride, we get another treat of a rest day in Pueblo and can sleep in the same bed for two nights before heading into Kansas. The staff periodically reminds us that this isn’t called the “Cross Country Easy”, but rather the Cross Country Challenge for a reason.
Our group of 12 cyclists who joined us in Salt Lake will be leaving on Saturday and two new riders will join us for the next leg. We also learned tonight that Jim will be leaving us Saturday due to a medical concern that he will have to go home and have repaired. Hopefully, he will join us again at a later stage – he has become a great friend and will be sorely missed. At that time the group of 21 will continue our trek the rest of the way across the country.
Here are several other rider’s blogs that you might like to check out;

facebook – LukeManohan, Glendora, Ca.
edgeoftheroad.com/ridings.php (Brian’s – search for ABB CCC)

Today’s hurrah goes out to my niece, Emily, who is celebrating her birthday today!!! Good luck in college, Em!!

Thank God for the safety, health, and energy!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Gunnison, Co. - Day 18

Hi from Gunnison, Co.,
What a day, what a day, what a day!!! Three of us started out an hour earlier than everyone else and we weren’t caught until mile 9.5. As we pulled out from the hotel, we were met with the same strong head wind (as one rider put it, they were soul sucking)that we ended with yesterday afternoon!! It was a beautiful morning outside and I didn’t even wear my jacket.

This picture is for those of you who have often worried about me not finding a man - see what I found in the wild wild West!!! What more could I ask for and he was sitting by a little store that had the most delicious pie!!

We had a climb from 3.6 to 5.3 miles and then a more significant one for the next 7 miles – all of this into the headwind!!! I was bragging about how good my legs have been, but can eat my words today.

After the first climb and downhill, then we had another steeper climb, but without headwinds. This is a picture of our two “Bobs” – young Bob on the left and younger Bob on the right!!

After a fast decent and beautiful scenery, we came to Blue Mesa Lake – it went on forever and ever – I really enjoyed riding the last 23 miles into Gunnison with the lake to my right! It was very soothing and refreshing – you might also notice more green in the pictures of the mountains today!

I crossed this bridge and did well and was quite proud of myself!

These tepees can be rented for the night - a little campground that we stopped at to have a root beer.

Interesting sculpture outside a bike shop in Gunnison!

Today's hurrah goes out to nephew Brandon, who sent me the neatest card wishing me well today - if I were home, it would go on the refrigerator.
Thank God for the safety, energy, and health!