Pueblo, CO to Canon City, CO
Total Miles: 3845
Seeing as how yesterday was a rest day and we could sleep in for a change, we decided to take advantage of a Saturday night in a new city. We went to this brew pub to get some food and beer and I noticed that they had a corn hole board outside. Now I love me some corn hole, so I challenged Terry to a game and was of course talking so much shit. I learned to play corn hole from my BFF Amber Miller who comes from a long line of corn hole champions (talking about you, Bruce) so I thought I was gonna smoke this California rookie. Nope. Not even close. Terry wiped the floor with my cocky ass. I learned a valuable lesson during that game: Don’t fuck with Terry 🙂 Afterwards we went and had a beer at another bar a few streets up then Sebastien and I broke away to go on a proper Saturday night bar crawl. I’m pretty sure we hit every spot in town before the night was out. I had strategically planned the last bar we were gonna hit so that it was close to our motel as we were pretty toasted at this point. There was some kind of ridiculously awesome/awful happy hour thing going on at the last place from 11-1. Buy one get one beers. The bartender didn’t even give me a choice in the matter, she just brought out two pints of what I ordered and said, “Have fun!”. Yeah, it was a good night.
The actual rest day was spent doing exactly that: resting. It felt amazing to sleep in, in a real bed, take a shower and use a real towel, just all around refreshing. But like all good things it came to an end entirely too soon and I found myself waking up to a 5:30 alarm and wishing it would just shut the hell up. I heaved myself out of bed, got Forrest packed up and we hit the road. It was surprisingly chilly outside this morning despite how wickedly hot it gets during the daytime here, but nothing bad enough to make me put my shirt on 🙂 A few miles out of Pueblo I experienced the first hill of the day, it wasn’t too bad but after the last few hundred miles of nothing but flat I was a trifle out of breath by the time I got to the top. Maybe it’s the elevation or all the beers I drank the other night but my legs were feeling like lead the first couple hours of the morning. Just pushing and pushing and it seemed like I couldn’t get any speed.
After coming down that first hill of the day it was like someone had turned off the flat Kansas scenery and turned on the mountainous Colorado. It was stunningly beautiful, a wide, shallow valley full of blooming yellow wildflowers silhouetted by sharp towering mountains in the background. It was all so perfect. Too perfect almost. I began to get cocky, I started thinking, “Damn, James. This ain’t shit. You’re like some kind of badass cycling beast that no hill can tame!” Until it did. I could see it in the distance: a long, steep, curving beast of a hill rising straight from the depths of hell. My exact wording in my notebook after I got to the top was, “Demon hill. Kicked my ass.” Before I started the climb I saw a pair of cyclists joyfully cruising down, we stopped and had a chat for a bit. They were 2 brothers crossing the country west to east and were heading to Ordway today. I told them that if they didn’t stay with Gillian that they would be missing out on a quintessential TransAm experience. I think i convinced them in the end. We parted ways and the real work began. In all honesty this hill wasn’t that big, I’ve tackled bigger ones back in Arkansas, but I guess I just wasn’t ready for it. I was breathing so hard, trying my hardest to suck down air as fast as possible but I still had to stop for a minute a couple of times going up. It was pretty rough but only a cute little preview of what’s to come in the next few days.
Once I got to the top I pulled over to wait for Sebastien who wasn’t too far behind me. After a few minuted rest we pushed on. It’s amazing what a few minutes rest can do for the ol’ legs, it was like all the pain and torment of the last 20 minutes was wiped clean and I felt as fresh as ever. A few miles after the demon hill the road started to head in a pleasant downward direction towards the valley floor, for like 8 miles. 8 miles of easy downhill with a stunning view of the mountains off in the distance. It was so fucking epic, I couldn’t wipe the shit eating grin from my face if I’d wanted to. At the bottom of the valley we arrived in the town of Florence, CO and decided to take a break, get James a mountain dew lest he turn into a diva and wait for the other guys to catch up. They weren’t far behind, maybe 20 minutes or so. When they showed up, Gene pulled a slightly broken phone from his front bag and asked if either of us had dropped ours. Lucky for me it was not mine, but, let’s be honest, that’s exactly the type of thing I’m liable to do. The phone didn’t have a password or anything (seriously, what the hell kind of trusting person doesn’t have one?!), so I called the last number dialed and spoke to the husband of the woman who had lost it. He said she had left it on the roof of the car earlier (something that I have done before -__- ). I told him I would leave it with the clerk at the gas station we were at so he could come pick it up. Finding and rescuing someones phone isn’t quite on the same level as rescuing a turtle, but there’s sure to be a karmic boost coming our way 🙂
The next and last 25 miles or so was this ceaseless 3% grade, it was hot, dry and my water was piss warm. 3% isn’t all that steep of a hill, but just slogging up and up and up in this awful heat really wears you down. By the time I reached our campsite I had long since left everyone else behind, when it comes to flats I’m perfectly ok with slowing down a bit and relaxing in our line formation, but, when you’re trying to conquer mountains it’s every man for him fucking self. I just put myself in a cruise control and plod my way up at whatever pace feels sustainable. The first thing I did when I arrived at the camp was to walk into the store and buy and ice cold 24oz PBR. There are very few things in this world that can compare to an ice cold beer on a blistering hot day after a long ride. It was heaven. So now I’m going to drink a few more, go for a swim in the pool and relax my sore muscles. Stay tuned for the next edition of James and his Bike!
Too Drunk; Didn’t Read (TD;DR)
-James gets wastey faceded in Pueblo
-Mountains. Like, real ones. Ugh
-James rescues somebodies phone. Received Karmic Boost
-What goes down, must come up. Like dicks
-Cold beer on a hot day is a religious experience