The Bikin' Fools
East of Hudson to near Atwood CO.
Our sleep was deep and solid. We awoke to clear skies and fair temperature. We now felt established on our mission. The scenery was flat and not so spectacular. Yet beauty abounded. The mighty Rockies were beginning to take a back seat in our vision. We felt the task at hand: 2000 miles to pedal in less than five weeks. That would be an average of over 60 miles per day. We were thinking that this challenge would be easily met. Austin and I had ridden several century rides in the past. However those were under ideal conditions and on the tandem.
We headed east on Highway 52. We would have to, at some point turn northward to stay parallel to I-76. We were angling towards the SW corner of Nebraska. Our first of three goals on the journey was to visit the small town of Winside Nebraska. This is the town that my father and Austins grandfather first settled when he came to the U.S. from Germany in the 20s. I smugly thought that eastern Colorado and Nebraska would be a snap. The flat lands should create conditions for days of long, long miles. My hubris would meet its demise.
The long flat view of Eastern Colorado
Upon consulting the map we determined that our only choice was to take a dirt road northbound. This was not necessarily bad news. The road was well graded and smooth. There was virtually no traffic. The only vehicle we saw was a huge tractor that took up the entire roadway. We pedaled for five miles or so through the Colorado farm land. We assumed that there would be a service road next to the freeway. We were right. We pedaled along the freeway for an hour or so. Railroad tracks also navigated the same route. Eventually we arrived at the small town of Roggen. The town had a distinctly different atmosphere than what we were used to. The glitz and glamour were absent. There was a sense of utility about the little town.
We would see trains constantly for the next week
As we passed through the town the road became dirt again. We pedaled by the on-ramp to the freeway. We noticed that there was missing the usual "No Motor Driven Cycles or Pedestrians" sign. We seemed to have little choice so we simply pedaled onto I-76 and found to our amazement a sign that said; "Bicycles stay far right". Holy Mackeral! We were floored. This would make the navigating easy. Not only that but we began to experience a phenomenon that existed all the way across the Midwest. Even though we were far from the lanes, scooting along the edge of the berm, vehicles, especially trucks would take the left lane when passing by. This seemed unnecessary to us but appreciated. Then entire trip across the country would reinforce what I have experienced with trucks. They are pro. The drivers are alert to the road environment, sensitive to the traffic situation and always gave us plenty of room
Black sky threatens to take us to the land of Oz
The day would be defined by hours of the same scenery and terrifically sore asses. It became an effort to constantly change position to maintain minimal comfort. The miles clicked past. As the day wore on the cumulus clouds began their daily cycle. Around mid-afternoon we pulled into Ft. Morgan, Co. It is a large town for the area. It has a library that we visited and much to my delight discovered they had computers with internet access. We took a long lunch break as the sky became black. A massive storm cell was approaching as we watched with excitement. We had taken our break in the town park which had, thankfully a gazebo to protect us from the intense and exciting deluge/thunderstorm that occurred. We had been lucky with the timing. This downpour would have been no fun huddled under a tarp.
Rain and hail in Ft. Morgan
After sending e-mail, eating lunch and taking a sizeable break we once again mounted our sore posteriors on the saddles and began peddling. We pedaled for several hours. The weather remained unsettled and occasionally rain threatened. At one point we stopped and donned our rain gear. We continued through intermittent light rain. Somewhere near Merino we observed another dark, sizeable cumulonimbus cell approaching rapidly. We scanned the area for any possible shelter. We considered any barns, sheds or implement housing. It was a race. The wind started blowing intensely. We were about to get clobbered when we spotted a haystack and decided to hightail it to the downwind side of the structure. It worked. The driving rain missed us until the wind shifted. Then we had to duck around to the other side. By now the wind had slowed so the rain shadow wasnt present. We quickly assembled a tarp and huddled underneath until the rain relented.
Another emergency shelter
It was late in the day. The sun was nearing the horizon . We had to decide where we would spend the night. It didnt take long to decide to stay right there. We rearranged some of the bales of hay and constructed a small room with the tarp covering us. It was comfy and weatherproof although the sky continued to clear providing us with another phenomenal sunset. Tired from another exciting day, we crawled into our sleeping bags and slept.
The Haybale Hotel