Friday, July 8, 2011

Colorado continues. Sane but aloof.

I got rolling a little late after an extended horseabout at Java Lava in Granby, Colorado. I got going right after stopping at a small bicycle shop and chatting with the owner about Sturmey Archer. And handlebars. Nerds!

This is good. I'm recharged. Or maybe uncharged. Yesterday all my art was falling off the easel. Today's ride was mostly fantastic. One bit of photographic fodder after the next. Panoramas. Mountains and rivers. I was content to become enveloped and consumed.

I cruised along a lightly traveled road along the Colorado River. I didn't see any moose, but I was told I might. I could have ridden right by one... I'm not the most observant person around. I don't have an eye for details. I am either uplifted by general beauty, or I'm cussing at the road, wind, or weather. That's my full range. I will cuss at small details in near-perfect conditions. If my situation scores a B+ then I will bemoan it like I'm traipsing through a D. It doesn't mean that I'm not enjoying myself. In fact, I'm aware of how silly this is, and I'm often moved to great amusement. Laughing at myself is one way to keep my brain's bullshit in check.

I climbed over a relatively easy pass - only 9,000 something feet. It was an easy grade. The road crossed the continental divide at the pass. I stopped at the top to take a photo, and at that moment the clouds became a storm. Bad location for this. Nowhere to hide. I descended, got cold, stopped. I put on my rain jacket, went, couldn't see, stopped. I put my glasses under the bungee cord that straps my sleep-shit to the front rack, went and continued to freeze. The rain was a cold stinging rain. I thought I might need to man up, but then I realized I was being pelted with hail. I eased up on myself, and went harder on the pedals.

I'd been going fairly light on the pedals all day because I didn't want to aggravate my knee. I diligently stretched and took a couple Advil. As soon as the hail started to fall, my knee healed itself real quick. I was on top of the pedals charging toward town and the edge of the clouds. Rand is a town with nothing. I wanted a damn coffee, but that wouldn't be possible for another 22 miles. I got there before you could blink.

I crushed the pedals and employed my secret aerodynamic position - forearms on the northroad handlebars, hands together, crouched over the front. With my goofy foam handlebar covering, it's actually a comfortable option. It only works well if you're going over 20mph on a flat straight road - preferably with some tailwind. Just like aerobars. The conditions were right, and I took full advantage.

I guess I'm not feeling that social. Or maybe other people aren't. I ran into both groups of bicycle tourists I saw yesterday, but they were either 1) in a hurry, or 2) in a group with it's own thing going on. It didn't bother me much, but I noted the difference between this and the beginning of the trip. In Virginia it seemed like all bicycle tourists would stop and be excited to chat and introduce themselves. These kids must have thought I was weird or something. I'll take it as a compliment.

I went to get a burger and sit in the bar. Bars are a good place to talk to random people, but this one sucked for that. Or maybe I sucked for that. Someone played Amarillo Sky on the jukebox, and that's my long-lived ringtone. I called it a success.

I'm reading a book about the solitary motorcycle travels of Neil Peart - the drummer for Rush. Karl recommended it; I'm reading it. It's nice to read about the travel adventures of others. Especially a lone traveler whose life has all but come completely unhinged. When I think of the tragedy he went through (losing his daughter and wife in the same year) it totally puts my cakewalk in perspective. I like that.

I was waiting in the bar for some rain to stop falling, but that scene started to get pretty lame. I crossed the street to the liquor store for something more to the point. I went to a pavilion at the south side of town and sat by myself. I charged everything I have and wrote in my notebook.

The scenery is amazing here. Mountain views 360 degrees. I'm in a valley surrounded by snowy peaks where clouds stack up and barge around constantly. A truck pulled a 5th wheel trailer emblazoned with two words: "Never Summer." There's something awesomely amusing about that. Me? I feel the polar opposite. This place kinda creeps me out. I see that it's pretty, and I'm happy to visit - but you can keep it.

I laid out the bivy under a pavilion in the town park and set to the task of trying to find sleep. Learning how to sleep in a skinny bag takes some work. I remember loving it before. Maybe I just need to get used to it again. After awhile sleep finally found me and we caught up.

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