May 17

The plan was for Russ A. and I to ride the train together to Denver, and then bicycle down to Cañon City, and resume the ride of the TransAm in Colorado. We spent weeks preparing this, and I had purchased Amtrak tickets for both of us for this event. Unfortunately, late last week, Russ informed me that he had to have urgent hand surgery, and so had to cancel out. Multiple decisions needed to be made but I ultimately decided to not seek a train ticket refund, though I was able to get a partial refund for Russ’s portion of the ticket. In the meantime, my brother Gaylon seemed very interested in meeting up with me in Colorado Springs and sagging me from there. So, I’m a mixture of very sad that Russ could not ride with me, but also very happy that I am able spend time with Gaylon.

Just a comment is offered first on posting. I wish that I could post more regularly, but I haven’t figured it out yet. I use WordPress, take photos with a Cañon M100, and import the photos to my iPad. WordPress would love to use the Photos images, but they are too large, and Photos doesn’t have a means of converting from RAW TO JPG while reducing the overall size, so I’ve tried using Affinity for that. This post will reveal if I am successful.

09MAY—Betsy was able to get me to the train station. The train runs from Tacoma to Sacramento, then I transfer to a train that will take me to Denver. Because both legs involve overnight travel, I will be riding in sleeper cars, though sadly without Russ. The sleeping car roomette is small, but very comfortable. It’s only disadvantage is that you can only see out of one side of the train. As I write this, the train is currently going over Willamette Pass, and the view is awesome. Sorry, but I do not take photos through windows of moving vehicles. For sleeper cars, the meals are complementary, and thus it is a little bit easy to overeat; the train dining car food was quite good. Note*** be sure to click on each photo to see the full view

 

Amtrak Train arriving in Tacoma

Inside a sleeper cabin

 

 

10, 11MAY— One can sleep quite well on a train, when one utilizes the sleeping cars. The train to Denver was the California Zepher, which goes up over Donner Pass, on the original route of the first transAmerican rail line. I slept from just past Winnemuca to just past Salt Lake City. The train then heads south to Grand Junction, Colorado, and follows the Colorado River for an extensive distance, showing me part of the route that I will soon be riding. Denver implied a complete change in body activity and mentality, as I will soon be connecting up with Gaylon, as well as spending most of the day on my bike. The train ran nicely through Colorado, and I was even able to see about 20 miles of the road I would be on east of Kremmling. The train was running up to an hour late at various stops, but arrived in Denver on time. After quickly assembling my bicycle panniers, I was off. There were a few minor misturns, even following the Garmin gps unit, but there were also unexpected detours on the bicycle trail that neither Garmin nor Google knew about. I arrived at my hotel 13 miles later, and after sunset, but feeling great. One thing I might mention that I’ve never experienced before were massive thick swarms of tiny bugs like fleas. They were thick and frequent, and coated my arms with black specks, and forced me to hold my breath. They were just absolutely horrid. I saw one cyclist wearing a fine mesh face mask 😷 and it was easy to see why. The hotel was interesting in that it was a total dive, though the price was right. The place was run by a Bangladeshi family.

12MAY—First full riding day. There were a lot of people out on the trail, jogging and cycling. I got started early, forgoing coffee, and having only a granola bar for breakfast. It started out with cool weather, slowly warming up to uncomfortable. The Google route ended up being frankly horrid, taking me on gravel trails, which was sort of okay but a bit more work. At one point, the gps took me on a gravel bike path that ended at a gate with a no trespassing sign—that caused me to have to retrace about 1.5 miles to a busy highway to get around the obstruction. The climbing was also much greater than suggested by Google, so by the time I got to Monument, I was totally beat. Fortunately, Gaylon arrived in Monument at the same time, we loaded my stuff, and drove the remaining 15-20 miles to our hotel in south Colorado Springs. Inspecting the bicycle trails that I would have been on, there would have been considerable gravel path riding, and a moderate amount of more climbing, so I was happy to call it a day. I was in Colorado Springs 20 years ago at a medical conference, and the town seems to have grown immensely since then into a major metropolis. Yuk!

13MAY—easy day to Cañon City. Today was Mother’s Day, necessitating a call home to the love of my life, dearest Betsy. We got a late start out of Colorado Springs, poked our way over to Cañon City, hit the Walmart on the way into town, and stocked up on food and a few other supplies to last us for for the next few days, since we will not be in any large towns. We ordered small meals at the Mexican restaurant next to the hotel, but even that was too much. It’s funny how my appetite falls off profoundly while on adventures. We visited the state prison in Cañon City, and mostly laid low. It was fairly hot, as a temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit just seems a little too hot to my Northwestern acclimatization. A swimming pool, or floating down the Arkansas River just seems to make more sense than pedaling a bicycle. Hopefully, as we achieve higher elevation, we experience cooler weather. Tomorrow–Guffey, and maybe some photographs.

Cañon City prison facility

14MAY—Guffey. I was able to head out at 7 am, and enjoyed cool weather. It was a beautiful climb out of Cañon City, the road had wide shoulders, and 10 miles up, hit the tourist traps. Turning onto route 9, there was some roller coaster riding, but the road went mostly upward. It was a delightful high steppe environment, with minimal wind. I was able to stop frequently for photos! Gaylon caught me right at the turnoff to Guffey, another 300 foot climb with some 9-10% grade, bringing me to the most delightful town of Guffey. The proprietor Bill put us up in a cabin, well over 100 years old, and built as a gold claim office. The land around Bill’s place was practically a museum, with old buffalo carcasses, automobile carcasses, and even an ancient fire contraption. We had dinner in the Rolling Thunder Cloud Cafe, good food at a great price, the owner/waitress being from the Seattle area. We were able to finally put out chairs and chill out in the outdoors. Bill also gave us a tour of the town, including the “city hall”, which was really nothing more than a small auditorium with a stage, but also containing a lot of Bill’s collections of things.

The road to Guffey

Bill and his garage

our cabin

 

 

15MAY—FairPlay. We were up a little later than yesterday, had coffee cooked on the camp stove, and I headed out of Guffey. It was quite chilly, and I had to keep riding in order to stay warm. After crossing Current Creek Pass at 9400 ft, there was a small descent and then slow, constant 1-3% grade from 8900 ft up to 9900 ft. There was a little trouble finding a campsite in FairPlay, but Gaylon located a site that he fell in love with, so there we stayed. It was at the Middlefork RV resort, and the owner and employees were super nice, and easy to see more cyclists. Several other places mentioned on the ACA maps either did not exist, or they were terribly unaccommodating to cyclists. Meanwhile, we called ahead for reservations in Frisco at the national forest service campsites, but none of them opened until May 18. Super bummer!!! Gaylon really didn’t want to stay in a hotel in Frisco, so a few quick decisions needed to be made, though our options were limited.

 

16MAY—Lazy day in Fairplay. We woke up late, had a light breakfast, and reorganized all our “junk” to be workable without me having to always haul a bunch of panniers into every campsite or hotel. On the western edge of Fairplay is preserved a portion of town called South Park that was preserved just like when it was built. All the buildings were original, and inside each building was a preserved atmosphere that was very well done, from the bank, the doctor and dentist’s office, the mine works, etc, it was very well done, and most everything was accessible to the visitor. What we thought would be a quick hour tour ended up being over 3 hours. Afterwards we had lunch at the highest bar in the USA, with a great view overlooking the mountains. A relaxing afternoon was then spent and preparations for me riding again tomorrow.

Gaylon at our tent in FairPlay

South Park Train

Street of South Park

 

17MAY—On the road again. Hoosier Pass was the big agenda for today. I had wanted to camp out at one of the state campgrounds close to Frisco, but they don’t open until 18MAY. In addition, they didn’t look quite as appealing as I had thought, I.e., too many people, not remote, etc.. So, I took off early, fearing the possibility of a hot day, and less performance ability due to being at up to 11,500 ft. The day did start to get hot, but I was able to roll into Dillon to our hotel by 11am. It actually did NOT seem terribly challenging to climb over Hoosier Pass, which incidentally is the highest point on the entire TransAm. The last four miles of the climb were not difficult because of incline, which was brief and never over 6%, but because the road had no shoulder and traffic was extremely heavy, even though I was riding early morning. The descent was easier, in that I followed a large dump truck which I could have passed but felt wiser not to. The hardest part of the day was wending my way through the towns of Breckinridge to Dillon, with occasionally perplexing route finding (even with a gps unit), and the ever scary traffic. We stayed at another Super 8, recommended by the ACA and an EXCELLENT choice. This gave Gaylon and I the ability to have showers, charge all our devices, have a sane breakfast in the AM, and actually be able to take time to see the town. We also drew a quick sketch as to the remainder of our adventure. Specifically, I will not be riding for a few days, as Gaylon wishes to introduce me to his style of camping.

 

Hoosier Pass

Approach view to summit of Hoosier Pass

Breckenridge – the place where Betsy first tried on skis

I anticipate being ex communicato for a while, so no more posts for at least another week. It won’t be all bicycling, since Gaylon wants to do some remote camping. Don’t worry, as I’m not done cycling yet.

Add comments

2 Responses to “Resuming the TransAm”

  1. Lew says:

    Thanks Ken for great notes and pics, you andGaylon stay safe. Anxious to read next posting! Lew

  2. Bruder Dennis says:

    Pictures: unsuccessful.
    Get a copy of Microsoft Office Picture Manager, which comes with Windows these years, and use the reduction function in it to reduce to Web quality pictures – about a 10 to one or more reduction, and they appear without quantization to the unaided eye.

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