Day 71: Saturday, July 5th

Guffey, CO to Colorado Springs, CO

We were told by the locals that the place get breakfast was “Rolling Thunder Cloud Cafe.”  We were the first in line for breakfast, as they did not open till 8:00.  It was busy with a lot of the 4th of july partiers from the night before started rolling in.  Linda was extremely impressed when she tried to give the waitress her gluten free bread to use for her breakfast sandwich and she replied, “Oh, I can toast your bread, but we also have gluten free bread here too.”  A cafe in the middle of no where had gluten-free bread.  We met some people who were still amazed at what we had done, even though we told them we were done and so many people were better then us.  They reminded us that not that many people bike across the country or even attempt to do it.

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It was there that we met Tim and Sandy Rucker.  Sandy volunteered to take us to Colorado Springs, CO which was an hour and a half drive.  She just need to go and get the truck after breakfast.  We waited and she picked us up at the cafe.  We had a wonderful ride with her, discussing how she lived higher than Guffey, CO and how they loved where they lived.  She told us all sorts of information about the area.

She dropped us off at the nearest Enterprise Car Rental and waited to make sure we got a car.  They did not have one available, so she took us to a second rental car place.  The second Enterprise Car Rental had a vehicle but the company has a stupid policy not allowing debit cards for those with out of state licenses.  Enterprise will be getting a call.  She then took us to Hertz and they did not have any cars available either.  We apologized to Sandy, but she was such a saint.  We had planned on getting a hotel anyway before driving up to Laramie, so we just asked her to drive us to a hotel, which ended up being the Best Western.  We then said our goodbyes and exchanged phone numbers.  We were told the only thing we owed her was a visit.  And we will be visiting.

Once in the hotel, we had to wait a while until the room was ready, as it was only 1pm and check in was at 3:00.  We tried to access the internet on their buisness center computer, but it would just not work.  Someone apparently was hogging up the Wifi and internet.  While we were waiting a pizza delivery person came to the front desk and delivered Pizza.  Phil asked her if they had gluten free pizza and she replied “yes.” We knew what dinner was going to be.  The room ended up being ready before 3:00, but the internet still would not work.  Linda ended up tethering her phone for internet so we could figure out how we were getting to Laramie.  We were able to reserve a 1 way u-haul and reserved a taxi for the next morning to pick it up.  All-in-all the uhaul was around the same price as renting a car and we had it for 2 full days.

We relaxed the rest of the night and were excited to get to Laramie.



Day 70: Friday, July 4th

Royal Gorge, CO to Guffey, CO

We attempted to leave early but it felt to good to sleep in a bit.  About a 1/2 mile down we got breakfast at the cafe.  We were not able to see the “Royal Gorge” as the bridge had been closed for repairs due to the 2013 fire and it was the opposite direction to where we needed to go.  The terrain to our surpise was not all uphill and we enjoyed some downhill.  We knew of course going up again was innevitable.  We had to climb about 2000 feet that day to Guffey, CO.

The terrain for a while was gentle and the views were spectacular.  We did more climbing and Linda started getting out of breath.  Phil also started feeling very tired.  The weather looked as if we were going to get a storm.  Phil did not think he’d be able to make it to Guffey.  There was not a lot of traffic on the road, but more then normal due to the holiday.  Phil used his red flag to try and flag someone down with a pick up truck.  Most people thought he was just waving, but eventually someone did stop and let us climb in the back of his pick up since he did not have room for us in the cab.  He took us the remaining few miles to Guffey, all of which were up hill.  We got pelted with a little bit of rain that might have even been hail, but it didn’t last very long at the rate of speed we were going through.

We got to Guffey and the town that was normally only population 20 was filled with people for the 4th of July.  Many had come out from Colorado Springs and Denver to get away from the big city.  We found our contact for the hostel by word-of-mouth.   We then got settled in to our accomodations.

2014-07-04 15.29.18 the hostel

2014-07-04 15.36.19 2014-07-04 15.36.34 our outhouse

2014-07-04 15.37.42across the street

We got something to eat as their farmers market was starting to close up and got some cheap hamburgers.

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We then hung out at the 2 bars in town where everyone else was.

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We attempted to go back and go to sleep, but the elevation was making sleeping hard to do.  Phil was worried about how bad he felt which wasn’t helping him sleep at all.  We went back to the bar to just be around other people and Phil announced he would not be able to make it any further.  Our trip would have to end here.  Linda was really hoping to ride into Laramie, so this made her a little emotional, but she understood and was supportive.

We spoke to the people who owned the bar and they were confident we would be able to find a ride into Colorado Springs by the end of the weekend.  We were happy with that and went again to go to sleep.  We did not sleep well.


Day 69: Thursday, July 3rd

Canon City, CO to Royal Gorge, CO

We slept in and decided we should take a run to Walmart to make sure we were stocked with food we needed.  We saw some familiar faces, which was odd, because familiar faces was something we weren’t acustomed too.

2014-07-03 11.38.01 Our friends from Sheridan Lake Bible Church.

We then headed on our way. On the way out of town was a cool looking old prison.

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We were not sure how far we were going to go, but there were a few places to camp along the way.  We knew from the elevation profile on the maps that from Canon City we’d be doing nothing but climbing until we reached Hoosier pass.  We starting climbing at this point by early afteroon.  Linda saw in her rearview mirror a road cyclist gaining on us.  We moved over to let him pass and realized that he was from the Adventure cycling group.  We asked where they were stopping for the night and he told us it was one of the campgrounds we had considered stopping at, which was only another 6 miles away.  We continued climbing until we got there.

We opted to get one of their last rustic cabins because the weather looked iffy and the price was right. The views were breathtaking.  We went over to the 8 mile Bar and grill and had dinner.  We relaxed, showered, did laundry and called it a night.

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Day 68: Wednesday, July 2nd

Pueblo, CO to Canon City, CO

For Phil’s birthday, Linda had planned on taking a rest day in Pueblo, however that is not what Phil wanted to do.  Phil wanted to continue on and Linda felt fine to continue as well.

Checking out of the motel the smell coming from our neighbors’ room reminded us that pot was legal in Colorado.  We hung around Pueblo for a little while and took some pictures.  We found a fabulous cafe that had gluten free bread, so Linda got a breakfast sandwich there.

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We then continued on our way.  As we left Pueblo, Linda again felt like she could see the faint outline of the Rocky Mountains.  This time, Phil agreed.  This was a very exciting part of our trip and the realization we had made it from the East coast to the Rocky mountains felt amazing.  Phil celebrated with cake.

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We were definetly on a high seeing the mountains (and not just because of being in Colorado).  They were beautiful and kept getting bigger.

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The high started wearing off and Phil began to get extremely tired.  And it being Phil’s Birthday, Linda was not going to push him.  Where we stopped, we suddenly heard a truck coming out of a driveway right behind us.  Phil went right up to the truck and asked the man if he would take us over steep grade that was suddenly before us.  He was more then willing and was actually going in our direction.  He said he would take us as far as Florence and then he was going the opposite direction.  Turned out he was a local pastor and we had a very enjoyable ride with him.   It was another “God Provides” moment for us.

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Once we got to Florence we got something to eat at the Carl’s Jr and the gas station.  Phil was starting to get concerned about the weather, but Linda reassured him that the weather app said no rain in Canon City.  We then had a very enjoyable ride to Canon City, going through a couple of towns.  The only downside to our ride was we hit rush hour in those towns so there happened to be a lot of traffic on the roads.   It was very pretty though.

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Once in Canon City, we had a hard time deciding on the best place to stay and got mixed reviews from the locals.  We finally questioned the local police officers on duty and they suggested staying at the nicer hotels outside of town.  They “visited” the motels in town on a more frequent basis then the hotels down the road (and by visiting, they did not mean because they were staying there).  Before heading out of town, we stopped at a local sushi place that was amazing.  There was at least an hour wait, so we opted to take it to go.  While we waited for our food we had a wonderful conversation with those waiting for a table.

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We then took our sushi and rode 2 miles out of town to the Best Western where we ate and relaxed for the night.

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Day 67: Tuesday, July 1st

Ordway, CO to Pueblo, CO

We left again at sunrise, however, Linda had checked the weather and the high was not supposed to go over 80 which was a welcomed relief.  Within the first 15 miles out of Ordway, there were small towns we passed that had nothing in them so we did not stop.  The wind was not horrible, but we saw evidence that it can be:

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We finally made it off of route 96 which we had been on since Rush Center, KS (see day 59).  We got onto route 50 and the last 11 miles into Pueblo felt like eternity.  Linda thought she could see a faint outline of mountains in the distance, but Phil was convinced they were just clouds.  When we got into town, we realized how big Pueblo was in comparison to the little towns we had been going through.

We had a few things to do when we got into Pueblo.  Our first order of business was to find something to eat.  We came across this place which on the east coast would be common place.  In Pueblo, it was one of the only true Deli places.

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After filling our stomaches with some great deli food, we then decided to find a place to sleep.  We decided on the Santa Fe Inn in Pueblo.  The nightly rate was reasonable and they gave a discount to cyclists.  The laundry was also free, which was a bonus.

Once we checked in we had a new saddles we had ordered as well as a Camelbak for Phil and had sent to the Pueblo post office.  We road our bikes down to the post office, picked up our package and replaced our seats.  We then put our old seats in the same box and shipped them to our new address.

Our last order of business was to find a bike shop, which we had found on our way into town.  We stopped at The Great Divide Bike shop and had them tune up our bikes and bought some other things while we waited.  This bike shop happened to be very busy.

We were getting hungry when we got back to the hotel.  Linda found a place that would deliver gluten free pizza and also had a flourless chocolate cake and bread.  Phil found something off the menu and we had our food delivered to the motel.  We then relaxed for the remainder of the night.




Day 66: Monday, June 30th

Eads, CO to Ordway, CO

We got an early start around 5:30 (sunrise) from the hotel and left before any of the adventure cycling supported group.  We knew they would be faster than us since they were on road bikes with little to no gear.   We also knew that it was going to going to reach 100+ degrees by midday.  An early start was imperative and we had already made reservations for the Hotel in Ordway.

The majority of the ride was desolate without many places to stop.  It was over 20 miles before we reached Haswell and we were making good time, it was not even mid-morning.  There was nothing in Haswell except for a small country store that had limited items available.  Phil was able to get a prepackaged sandwich and Linda got a bag of chips.  We stocked up on water, strapping extra water bottles to both our front and rear panniers for the remaining 35 miles to Sugar City.  The first of the Adventure Cycling group caught up with us there.

We continued on our way and it started to get very warm.  Halfway to Sugar City we saw the Adventure Cycling van pass us.  We took a short break to refill our water bottles and then continued on.  Before Linda got back on her bike, she realized she was feeling slightly dizzy and light headed.  Phil was a little ahead of her, trying to make good time to avoid getting trapped in the heat of the day.  Linda eventually caught up with Phil and let him know she was not doing well.  Then we saw the Adventure Cycling Van parked just 1/2 mile down the road.  We got closer and saw the cyclists who had caught up with us at he country store getting nice cold drinks from the van and ice for their water bottles.  They offered us some ice cold sweetened drinks and Linda felt it was something she might need with how she was feeling.  We ended up taking a short break in the shade of the van (there was no other shade around) drinking some nice cold Ice tea/lemonade.  Linda also ate some of her snacks and after about 10 minutes felt completely better.

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We filled up our bottles with ice and ice water, thanked the leader for being there and continued on to Sugar City.  If it wasn’t for the van being there, Linda did not think she would have made it through that day.

We made it to Sugar City right before noon.  We stopped at the restaurant along with many of the other adventure cyclists.  We were running short on cash, Phil ended up bumming $5 from one of the other cyclists so he could get a hamburger until we could get to an ATM in Ordway.  We lingered a bit at the restaurant to cool down, we knew it was only another 5 miles to the hotel.  It was now almost the heat of the day.  We finally found the energy to venture out and accomplished the last 5 shade-less miles to Ordway and to the Hotel Ordway.

Phil had a hard time cooling down from the heat.  The Hotel Ordway was nice, however the air conditioning was limited due to the age of the building.  Linda ended up walking down to the grocery store to get dinner and bring it back, as well as stock up on food.  She also was able to get to an ATM to withdraw more cash and pay back the cyclist who had lended us some cash. The Adventure cycling group was also staying at the Hotel Ordway, so it made it easy to pay her back.  It was a very hot afternoon to walk to the grocery store.

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When Linda returned, Phil was still feeling overheated.  Linda was able to get some ice from the front desk and Phil was able to put ice on his forhead with a cloth.  We ate dinner and turned in early.

Day 65: Sunday, June 29th

Sheridan Lake, CO to Eads, CO

We slept in and Phil really wanted to stay for church.  We knew, however, this would mean we would not get on the road until the heat of the day.  The pastor said he would probably be able to find a ride for us to Eads if we wanted to stay.  We had not been to church since Virginia and we felt church would do us good.  So we stayed for bible study and worship service.  It really lifted our spirits.

2014-06-29 10.53.10 2014-06-29 12.41.35 Victoria and her brother.

After service, we were told they found someone to give us a ride to Eads.  Phil was thrilled as he was still feeling very tired and was not up to biking 30 miles in the heat.

When we got to Eads, we got lunch at a local restaurant, although the food was not really that great.  In fact, it was awful.  Right next door was a very run down motel and our other option for lodging was the city park.  However, the temperatures were in the upper 90s.  We did not feel like staying in the park.

As we sat in the restaurant, Phil spotted the Adventure cycling van for the supported tour.  Phil then went next door to the convenience store to talk with some of the riders.  The riders said they were staying at the hotel behind the store.  We had not even seen this hotel because it was hidden behind the convenience store.  It had not been on any of the maps because it had just opened in March.  It was a hallelujah moment.  We stayed there and had some great conversation with some of the adventure cycling leaders.

The hotel provided us with the rest we needed to keep going.


Day 64: Saturday, June 28th

Tribune, KS to Sheridan Lake, CO

We got up and went in search of food, which lead us back to the truck stop.

We ran into a couple of Trans Am racers also having breakfast and made sure they knew to stop at Newton Bike Shop.  They had stayed at the motel, but not without fighting to get a room.  Again, due to harvest time, there were no rooms, but the owner was able to find a room for them last minute.

We knew it would not be a long ride today and we were looking forward to getting to Colorado.  We started on our way but the biting flies would not leave Linda alone.  It got so bad that when Linda stopped to put more bug spray on, they attacked her even more due to the lack of wind.  Linda started screaming in frustration because they were all over her.  It felt like a horror movie.  “Attack of the flies” or something.  Phil tried to help and started trying to swat them away with the large orange flag he had picked up.  It created quite a spectacle on a regularly traveled road and someone with a pick up truck pulled over to see if we were okay and if we needed a lift.  Linda graciously accepted an indoor respite from the evil blood sucking flies.

The gentleman told us the flies are especially bad after a rain and that they should get better once the wind picks up a bit.  There is no bug spray that works for them either.  He was a worker headed to a farm right at the Colorado/Kansas border, so he took us there, a total of 8 miles.

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Once we got to the border, we unloaded the bikes and by that time the wind had in fact picked up a bit, making the flies a little more bearable.  We celebrated arriving to a new state.

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It was only a few more miles to Sheridan Lake, where we had heard there was a nice church to stay at.  Eastern Colorado looked a whole lot like western Kansas: Flat for miles with nothing but wheat fields.  We arrived to Sheridan Lake and there had been enough rain this season  so there was actually water in the lake there.

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We found the only convenience store in town (actually the only business in town).  Sheridan Lake was noted on our maps to be ~100 people, but locals said it was more like 68 people.  We got directions to the church as we had no phone signal or 3G network.  It was easy to find and the door was open.  We looked around to see if anyone was around and then a little girl appeared what seemed to be out of nowhere.  She introduced herself as Victoria and asked if we were cyclists.  We said yes and she started to show us around, since her Dad (the pastor) was out of town right now.

She let us know where we could sleep and that we had to leave our bikes outside.  Apparently, they used to let cyclists bring their bikes in and then someone decided to grease their bike chain in the nursery and left a huge stain.  We were stunned someone would be that irresponsible and ignorant.  We eventually met her older brother, who was careful to make sure we were being given enough space.

At this point we knew we would be stopping in Laramie and not continuing our journey to the west coast.  We had wifi at the church and we were able to contact Mom and Dad to let them know of our plans andso they could start sending packages before they left on vacation.  Linda needed to also contact the UW apartments to make sure everything was squared away and felt better calling instead of emailing to get answers right away.  The pastor’s wife was nice enough to let me use her phone to make those calls.  We enjoyed everyone’s company there, as Phil felt a little nervous being so far away from civilization in such a small town.  Being around people helped to calm his nerves.

We took one more trip down to the store to get some food and got some great homemade ice cream too.

Day 63: Friday, June 27th

Scott City, KS to Tribune, KS

We got up leisurely and had a great breakfast at the hotel.  We then eventually got on our way.  We saw our first windmills in the distance.

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We arrived in Leoti, KS and took got some lunch at a local convenience store which actually had some great mexican food.  After filling our stomachs, we knew that our next town we wanted to make it to had very little services.  We stocked up at the local grocery store which was only 2 blocks away from our lunch stop.  We then continued onto Tribune, KS.

We were excited to see this sign:

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A few miles outside of Tribune, Linda heard her phone ding, which sounded like a a weather alert.  The sky was telling us that there was something brewing and when we arrived in Tribune, we stopped at the truck stop there.  Sure enough there was a tornado watch until 9:00 that evening.  Go figure, 16 miles from the Colorado border and we get our first Tornado watch.  We got to see huge oversized trucks at the truck stop, carrying exactly what we had seen eariler:  windmills.

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That is one wing of the windmill.  Phil found out that the back tires of these huge rigs were actually operated by the pick up truck driver who drove behind.  It was pretty incredible and made us feel pretty small.  We got a bite to eat at the truck stop.  Phil struck up conversation with some people there and Linda inquired about lodging with some of the local ladies that were there.  Linda was advised that we did not want to stay in the only motel in town.  It was right across the street and we could tell it didn’t look fabulous.  They recommended the city park over the motel, however Linda asked if there was anything indoors due to the approaching storm.  One of the ladies spoke up and said the Presbyterian church kept it’s doors open for cyclists.  Another lady told Linda to hold on and let her call her boss.  She worked over at the school as a janitor and was willing to go over and open the “Blue Gym” and have us stay there.  She said there were showers and laundry there and most importantly, a roof.  Once she cleared it with her boss, she had us follow her over to the school just as it started to rain.  We then waited there for her to get her keys.  She came back and opened the gym for us.  It was very warm in the gym and she told us the chuch wouldn’t have been much better (she knew that because she cleaned over there too).  We were very thankful.

2014-06-27 17.14.01We showered and did laundry.

2014-06-27 18.38.15The rain came.

2014-06-27 19.00.04We set up our tent anyway in the gym.  To combate the heat, we opened all the door which also let the horrible biting flys in.  And they bite HARD.  The tent kept them off of us.

2014-06-27 19.26.13 2014-06-27 20.15.14 2014-06-27 19.26.30The tornado watch expired at 9:00pm, however there was still a lot of Severe Thunderstorm watches and warnings for most of the night.  As it continued to get darker, the storm raged on providing quite a light show almost all night.  It was incredible.   We were again, so thankful for the shelter.


Day 62: Thursday, June 26th

Dighton, KS to Scott City, KS

Linda woke around 3:30am due to an weather alert on her phone.  She had downloaded a weather app after Ness City that let her know how close lightening was to the area.  It was a yellow alert, lightening was over 20 miles away and to be aware of where you could take shelter.  We had let the sheriff know we were camping in the park, so we figured if there was any threat, we would be alerted to it.  Linda continued to rest and let Phil sleep.  Around 4:00 the lightening alert turned from yellow to orange, indicating lightening between 10-20 miles away.  Linda woke Phil to let him know and we tried to decide whether the pavilion was “adequete shelter.”  As the wind picked up, Linda checked again and sure enough the alert had gone from orange to red indicating lightening within 10 miles meaning it was time to seek indoor shelter.  We packed up quicker than we ever had, but by the time everything was away the bikes packed the storm was right on top of us.  Wind was blowing rain through the pavilion and we called the sheriff’s office.  They sent a police car to get us.  We left all our stuff and he took us to the sheriff’s office which was also the courthouse.

We then realized how hungry we were and had not thought to bring a snack.  It was now 5:30 in the morning and we knew the Kwik mart only a couple blocks away was open.  We waited for the downpour to stop enough so we could run over to the Kwik Mart to get some food.  We stayed there for a while, waiting for the storm to pass.

It finally did and we went and got our bikes at the park.  There were large water puddles that were hard to jump over at some intersections.  For an area that has been in drought for about 5 years, the locals were thankful. We got a lot of comments from locals about if we had gotten wet in a friendly, teasing manner.  Someone also let us know they had just came from Ness City and saw a couple of cyclists with bags coming west and getting very wet.  We were hopeful we could meet up with them.

We left Dighton around 9:30am and continued to Scott City, KS.  Despite the lack of sleep, we did pretty well and got to Scott City around mid-day.  There was an airport right before town and Phil wanted to check it out.  We arrived there just in time as they were having a educational session for some kids on flight simulator.  We were there for only a little while when Phil spotted two touring cyclists coming up the road.  Linda had grabbed some food, so quickly packed up her bag again and raced off after Phil to catch the other touring cyclists.  We finally caught up with them midway through town at a convienience store.   They were a retired couple that had lived on the east coast for most of their life and had just recently moved to Arizona.  They were taking as long as they wanted for this tour; they had the time.  They were staying the night at a hotel and prefered to stay at hotels.  They had really brought a tent for worst-case-senerios, which we were starting to really appreciate hotels at this point.

We looked around for some motels, but Linda really wanted to stay at the Best Western even though it was more pricey and the farthest off the route.  Linda wanted to get sleep and have all the creature comforts.  Plus, they were running a special: Stay 3 nights get one free.  After getting some lunch, we finally decided to head to the Best Western and got one of their last rooms:  the King suite.  We weren’t thrilled about the price, but happy to have a nice bed and a place to do our laundry.  The hot tub wasn’t bad either.