*mile 2,642* Days 28-32: July 27th-July 31st: 488 miles: Garden City, Kansas to Mancos, Colorado

1 08 2011

Colorado provided the adrenaline shock necessary to resuscitate us out of the mental sluggishness that Kansas induced. Tedious and monotonous miles in the dark left us in a hypnotic trance when daylight seeped in each morning. Visuals of fields and hay will forever be en”grained” in our nightmares. Our 101 miler on July 27th brought us into Colorado where we fell into a rhythm with the Rockies- we logged 100 miles on the 28th, 106 on the 29th, 91 on the 30th, and 90 yesterday- the 31st. In Kansas the most exciting moments were when massive trucks blew by us with accompanying wind gusts that would blow us off the side of into the grass, reminding us that were awake. In Colorado, however, the breathtaking scenery, drastic altitude and climate changes kept us fully in-tune with the moment.

Colorado kindly greeted us with an intense lightening storm that forced us to pull over to the side of the road, pitch our tent, and wait for nature’s mercy. This occurred on a desolate 75 mile stretch of road with no signs of civilization. That night we crossed a bridge under construction that was closed to traffic and camped on the side of the road once the odometer hit 100 for the day. Nature humbled us in Colorado, constantly reminding us that we are at its disposal. As wise rapper Andre 3000 of Outkast says in the song “Ms. Jackson,” “You can plan a pretty picnic but you can’t predict the weather.” Our daily plans were constantly foiled and plan B’s, C’s, and D’s constantly had to be created. We realized that the only thing we had under our control is how we reacted to the provided conditions. Colorado hit us with two other lightening storms and various sections of downpour and unrelenting headwinds- always when we would least expect it. There were also fortunate moments, especially between mountain ranges, when we would get east winds at our backs helping us to sail forward.

Never before have we witnessed such unpredictable and rapid climate changes. The most memorable experience relating to this occurred on July 30th when we climbed to 11,000 feet elevation in the San Juan mountain range to Wolf Creek Pass. In retrospect, the decision to begin such a climb at 5:30pm was reckless but it left us all the more wise for the mistake. At the foothills of the mountain we were sweating in oppressive 95 degree heat. When we reached the summit at 9pm, in the dark, the temperature was below 50 degrees. It was difficult to breathe as the warm breaths of exhaled air joined the heap of icy smoke permeating from the asphalt. Stories from locals about the descent’s frequent truck accidents and fatalities lingered in the back of our minds as we plunged downwards from the summit. The next day we were told of the recent death of a Race Across America competitor who passed at this location. Our headlights faintly lit the pitch-black road; we proceeded with as much caution as we could with frigid fingers gripping the breaks- we still moved rapidly at 20 mph. Tears fell down our cheeks and snot flowed out of our noses for 10 miles of eerie, frigid descent. By the time we hit the bottom, our hands were in pain from gripping the breaks so excessively.

Overall, our experience in Colorado was legendary- it revived our spirits that were a bit broken down from Kansas. The constant climbing was tough but the descents were thrilling. We found ourselves whipping around tight bends at 40mph while the GPS tried switching out of bike mode setting into car mode due to the speed. Today is August 1st and we are about 20 miles in on the day preparing for a trek through more deserted stretches to the Grand Canyon. This evening, in 39 miles we will arrive at “Four Corners”- the border that joins Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. James and I are experiencing unexplainable phenomena while riding together- we both have a similar minor ailment in our left knees and are having similar thoughts and lucid dreams. The other night we both had the same dream: our fathers were telling us that the mileage of the trip was too intense and that we needed to cut back the planned mileage for the next ride. We are grateful that our legs have held up and that we are feeling strong. Despite the predominant westerly winds of the United States, the lure of the Pacific is pulling us closer each day.

*Stay tuned for photos and the next entry as this library in Cortez, Colorado will not let us upload. In a few hours we be in Arizona and we will probably not find a computer in the desert.



4 responses

2 08 2011
wendy blank

You continue to amaze me! Looking forward to reading your next entry,stay safe!

2 08 2011
Andrea Benevento

I’ve been following your progress from the start and look forward to reading each installment of Joe’s and James’ summer vacation! I can hardly believe you’ve traveled over 2,000 miles…..ON BICYCLES! Maybe writing a book about your experiences will be next? Have a great and safe rest of your trip!

Andrea B.

9 08 2011

Are you guys in Vegas yet?? No gnarley dogs there — just cold beer and wild women. Thinking of you and wishing you the best, Randy and Connie.

10 08 2011

Joe and Jim,
Over two thousand miles and your recent posts are as enthusiastic as when you first started! Totally amazing!

By now the the Grand Canyon is a sweet dream and you have probably biked another 700-800 miles since! Can’t wait until your next post. When you were in Mancos, did you get to bike thorough any of the Mesa Verde National Park?

Keep rolling, and keep safe. . .

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