Archive for June, 2011

Walden, Colorado to Saratoga, Wyoming

Friendly horn taps: 2

Miles: 69

Total so far: 3,016


The Sierra Madre Range as seen from above Riverside/Encampment (Carlie's Mountains)

Landmark of the beginning...

The North Platte River at Bridge Street in Saratoga - flood stage

Our remote camp in the mountains - looking for Michael

It’s 5:00am and the rain is becoming steady. The beat of it on my tent has me awake now. Fist it was the mountain birds, now the steady patter of the rain.

We’ve come to the mountains where our brother Michael’s ashes were laid to rest 21 years ago. I’ve always wanted to camp here, but with all the times I’ve come to visit this place, I’ve never managed to spend the night.

We couldn’t find him. We scattered his ashes under a large spruce tree in the Snowy Range Mountains east of Saratoga. This is an area where he loved to come. This place gave him hope. Someone has logged either side of the little trail and it has changed considerably.  My landmarks are gone.

Adding to our difficulties, the large spruce trees have been harvested. Some have been cut and left. A lot of trees are limbed and seemingly abandoned on the ground. A disturbing waste.

Somehow, we’ve found him though. His spirit is with us. I felt him in the bounding elk we saw in the sage south of Big Creek.  I can tell from the deer and the way they looked upon us not as intruders, but as curious visitors. He was  there when I saw the cinnamon rumps of the two black bears that scampered at my approach in the trees. Seeing bear here is not unknown, but highly unusual. There is a lot of sign of moose. All this would make him very happy.

It’s disappointing not to find the tree where we chose to place his remains. Another new normal to adapt to. Maybe that’s the point. We’ll go forward from here, knowing he’s close. Even if we can’t find him.


Tomorrow’s ride is dedicated to Eric Robbins

Eric Robbins

Eric Robbins had just turned 23 when he was killed by a drunk driver on September 20,1997. He was an army veteran and a volunteer fireman. He left so many dreams unfulfilled….

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Sulphur Hot Springs, CO to Walden, CO

Friendly horn taps: 1

Continental Divide crossings: 2

Miles: 62

Total so far: 2,947

*Please note:  Tomorrow’s post may not be published until the following day, as Sallie and I are going to a remote area in the mountains of Wyoming.

The Colorado River west of Granby

We are ever closer to the Wyoming state line.  It’s a 22 mile ride from here, and we will enter Carbon County, Wyoming just west of North Gate Canyon and the Platte River Wilderness Area.  We’ll travel to Riverside/Encampment and then turn north towards Saratoga.  On the way north, we will pass by the Silver Spur Ranch.  I was conceived there.  That’s an odd fact that was revealed to me by mother who made that known to me after I moved to Saratoga in the mid 1970’s. I always felt at home in the North Platte Valley, and I will forever have a special place in my heart for the area and the people there.

Carlie and I lived in Carbon County when she was killed on that fateful New Year’s Day.  Up until that time,we lived in Rawlins for  three years, as I was stationed there as a division supervisor with the State Patrol.

Nearing the summit of Willow Creek Pass

As we ride into the valley tomorrow, in front of us will be the Sierra Madre Mountain Range.  We always referred to those mountains as “Carlie’s Mountains”, and we spent an unusual amount of time there for a child that young.  When Carlie was three and a half, we spent eight days up there in one stretch.  We always had a comfortable camp (including a large canvas wall tent complete with cots and a wood burning stove), we had some books, a few toys, and Carlie’s ever constant companion, Sadie – as faithful a black lab as they come.

Another crossing of the Continental Divide

There is a creek near where we’d set that camp, and Carlie loved to go to the banks of that stream and just watch the water swirling in the pools, teaming with brook trout.  We’d have a snack of a gorp mix I used to make with equal amounts of salted peanuts, raisins, and M&M’s.  Carlie used to pick through the bag of gorp and retrieve the M&M’s.  She used to tell me that I worked too hard, and I just should take some time and go sit by the creek and watch the fish.

I am working too hard, but this is a labor of love. Tomorrow will be eventful, as I’ve said.  Returning to a land I once loved on Father’s Day.

Beauty break...

Mountain run-off

It's not all beauty and wonder. We spent a good portion of the afternoon getting lashed by wind driven rain.


Tomorrow’s ride is dedicated to Adam Michael Neyer

Adam Neyer

Adam Neyer, from Englewood, Colorado was killed at the age of 18, far too young.  The collision took place at the hands of a drunk driver on June 3, 2001. Adam was just a few days away from his high school graduation.

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Frisco, CO to Hot Sulphur Springs, CO

Friendly horn taps: 1

Rude horn blasts: 1

Miles: 68

Total so far: 2,885

Dillon Reservoir

Back on the "road" - actually a bike path that took us to Silverthorne

We got a late start out of Frisco (9:00am or so) because our cousin Lee made us a huge breakfast to get us back on the road.  We were warmed by Lee and her husband Palmer’ hospitality, and we needed it.  Clouds had moved in and intermittent rain was in our future for the day.

Beauty Break...

Despite less than perfect weather, the ride was amazingly beautiful.  We left Frisco going north around Dillon Reservoir, through Silverthorne, and then followed the Blue River down to Green Mountain Reservoir.  We took a small road that went through Heeney, stopped at Kremmling for lunch, and made it through the Colorado River Canyon  into Hot Sulphur Springs in good time.

3 brothers: Noah, Timothy, Philip, ages 22, 19 and 17 bound for the east coast from Oregon, then returning home along the Canadian border.

Hannah and Perry - going from Virginia to Oregon

Rebecca, going from Fort Collins, CO to Seattle. She's developed her own route.

I made some calls into Wyoming and touched base with some old friends that I hope to get a chance to see as we pass through their towns.  I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about the return to Wyoming during the weeks on this ride.  This is significant for me.  I suppose one can never live 30 years somewhere, leave for five years, and return without it being significant in many ways.  We’ll see how it goes as we get there.  Patience is a part of the journey on a bicycle.  That’s important equipment.  Patience.


Tomorrow’s ride is dedicated to Michelle Wright

Michelle Wright

Michelle Wright, from Denver, was killed on November 8, 1996 by a drunk driver.   Michelle had an enormous amount of ambition.  She played soccer at the Universityof Denver, played soccer in China, she was a licensed private pilot and a skydiver.

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Frisco, Colorado — Day off

A view of Main Street in Frisco, Colorado

The Manager at Wilderness Sports in Frisco, Clay Schwarck, explaining the intricacies of Shimano pedals

We got Sallie’s bike taken care of today with fabulous help and service from Wilderness Sports in Frisco, Colorado.  They got a Shimano Deore crankset shipped in overnight from Salt Lake City, and had Sallie fixed up by 4:00pm today.  The credit goes to Zach, the tech that spotted the bent small chainring yesterday.   The gearing on the Deore will be more appropriate for loaded touring, so Sallie will get a lot of benefit from lower gears too.  She’ll probably leave me in the dust.

Zach at Wilderness Sports - excellent wrenching. My cousin Lee's husband in the back left overseeing the exchange.

Brian from Ft. Worth meeting my cousin Lee. Exchanging information with other riders is an established and necessary tradition.

We encountered two young men, Brian and Cody, the other day in Hartsel from Fort Worth, Texas that were doing the Great Divide Trail.  The Great Divide Trail is a mountain bike trail that runs from Mexico into Canada.  These fellows rode from Mexico to Salida, Colorado last year, and they were striking out to complete their ride this year going to Bannff, Alberta Canada, and then on to Vancouver.  We will intermittently cross paths with the Great Divide route during the next several hundred miles, and it was interesting to speak to a pair right away.  Today while running errands, we saw Brian coming into the post office at Frisco getting ready to ship some of his gear back that he decided weighed too much for the need.  That’s pretty common.  In fact, I was doing the same thing – that’s why I was at the post office.  I’ll need the lighter load to keep up with Sallie and her new gears.


Tomorrow’s ride is dedicated to Scott Thomas Lawson

Scott Thomas Lawson

Scott Lawson, of Evergreen, Colorado was killed in a collision involving a drunk driver on November 19, 1998.  Scott was 18 years old at the time of his death.

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Sallie’s gear test

Fairplay, CO to Frisco, CO

Miles: 36

Total so far: 2,817

Good morning at Fairplay!

We woke up to a 36 degree morning in Fairplay.  Rather than hang out by our picnic table making breakfast wearing everything we own to keep warm, we dressed in everything we own, packed up, and went across the street to a convenience store for breakfast.

Leaving Fairplay on their bike path

We hit the road early, knowing we had a short day ahead of us.  We coordinated with a cousin of ours who has a vacation home in Frisco to spend a day off in the company of relatives, get some maintenance done on the bikes, and the ever necessary laundry load or two.

Mount Bross as seen during our ascent of Hoosier Pass

At the highest point of the Trans Am. No, it's not all downhill from here.

We summited the highest point of the Trans-Am today, topping out at 11,542 feet, crossing Hoosier Pass.  The climb was really nothing too challenging, as the grades going north were not too steep, and we already ascended to within 1500 feet.  The descent was full of switchbacks and the grades on that side were considerably steeper.  After the pass, we went through the towns of Blue River and Breckenridge, before gaining a bike trail that took us all the way into Frisco.  Colorado has these fabulous bike trails in this area.  When we resume riding the day after tomorrow, the same trail will take us to Silverthorne, some 15 total miles of bike trail riding.

The descent...

Breckenridge ski area. The snowpack was very heavy this winter.

The bike path between Breckenridge and Frisco

(The following may be a little bike-technical for some)

Sallie has been having trouble dropping her chain when working in and out of the small chain ring (granny gear).  The trouble started very intermittently after some of the steep hills in Tennessee and Missouri.  I’ve pretty consistently accused her of operator error, as I’ve checked the stop settings, and was satisfied they were correct.  Today we went in to a very good bike shop here in Frisco, Wilderness Sports, and the shop tech spotted a bent small chain ring.  She has a Shimano 105 crankset, and it’s just not been able to handle the stress we’ve put it through.  Sallie overpowered her gear.

I have to ask Sallie to pass on this coffee in the future. It's too hard on chainrings!

Rather than straighten this chain ring, or order a new one, we’ve opted to replace the entire crankset with Shimano XT.  That should hold up to my sister’s power output!  The one hang-up is we’ve had to order one shipped from Salt Lake with 170mm cranks.  The parts should be in tomorrow, and that won’t cost us any delays.


Tomorrow is a rest day for us at Frisco, Colorado.  Dedications will be resumed when we continue riding. Meanwhile enjoy one more picture from this beautiful country.

Looking up a valley between two 14'ers - Mt. Bross and Mt. Lincoln

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