Wednesday, April 7, 2010

First Day Back On The Road (A Recap)

Me: Sorry I was late....
Colorado Springs: What kept you?
Me: I stopped to go snowboarding.
Colorado Springs: Sweet.

Today I accomplished one of my many life goals: I rode my snowboard in the lovely powder fields of Monarch Mountain and rode my gorgeous bike through the city streets of Colorado Springs. Throw in an unbelievable drive through Colorado on US-50 and I have to admit I had a pretty awesome day. It was bittersweet leaving Crested Butte, but with the sunshine breaking through after the 2-day storm and gracing the Elk Mountains with some appropriate glorylighting (I made that word up, but you know what I mean) I felt comfortable with leaving; I know I'll be back someday. And as many of the great locals I've met who have staked their claim in CB for over 2 decades will tell you, "When you do come back, not much of anything will have changed." Crested Butte is indeed that town at the end of the road: you can't "happen through" Crested Butte, you have to mean to get there. That (I think) is one of the many reasons it maintains its charm. Here's to that.

So my departure started with a pleasant morning drive then turned awry just past Gunnison. You'll only really empathize with this next anecdote if you've logged your fair share of road miles, but if you do I think you'll get a kick out of this. As I'm switching albums for the next leg of the journey upon my exit from Gunnison, I realize that all of my power steering is gone and my battery shows dead on my dashboard. That's funny, I thought, since I was still driving the car and it hadn't shown any signs of trouble up until that point. Thinking it's better to err on the conservative side, I turn off the road and into the parking lot of the last (I mean "there's nothing but trees for the next 67 miles after this" last) establishment in town: a service station. I'm vocally laughing to myself as I check under the hood and realize that my tension pulley has left my engine for the open road (the irony amuses me). This would be a major issue had it happened even a few miles ahead (tow truck, me swearing a lot, expensive parts, more swearing, etc.), but given my unbelievable luck (or misfortune, depending on your point of view - do you think they have a booby trap rigged for cars with out-of-state plates a few yards before you get to their station?) I coasted into a service station and was back on the road within 20 minutes only $92.17 lighter. With the bad stuff out of the way, I pressed on.

My anxiety was up a bit as I barreled toward Monarch Pass (which is notorious for ruining travel plans of anyone not in a Thule-carrying, Colorado-plate-wearing Suburu), but the roads were clean and I claimed victory without incident. For my victory dance, I thought some snowboarding was in order. A 30 second detour later I was in the Monarch Mountain parking lot booting up, a fat smile on my face. 2 hours of riding, some pow laughs, a cornice 3 that was entirely too much fun, and a cliff drop later I'm back in the parking lot debooting for the next leg of the trip. "Rest stop" just got a facelift in my dictionary.

US-50 from Salida, CO to Pueblo, CO is unreal. "Power of God" unreal. The natural twists and turns of the canyons, the overwhelming rock formations, and the vistas at the Royal Gorge panorama are not of this world. Dare I say this was the highlight of my day. Seriously, go check this out for yourself.

I finally arrived in Colorado Springs around 4:30 PM, which left me ample time to do some two-wheel exploring. It was exciting to finally get back on the bike in a real-world setting; after weeks of indoor riding it was borderline cathartic. Colorado Springs is a pretty place, and I have vowed to never get tired of looking at Pikes Peak while riding my bike.

Tomorrow promises to also be exciting, with a lot of cycling (include my second-ever ride through the Garden of the Gods), some bike shopping (yes.), and stopping with the rest of the civilized world to watch Tiger's first tee shot at the Masters since all of that mess. It's going to be riveting, and I can't wait.

More to come tomorrow.

PS I wrote this entry from the Clarion Hotel on Bijou Street, which has some of the friendliest staff on this planet (especially considering I've been sitting on their couch charging my computer and phone and noodling on the internet for hours and am staying in their parking lot tonight, not the hotel itself). Hospitality is alive and well in the US - never forget it.

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