Not in Kansas Anymore!

Never waste a tailwind.

If there’s one rule that I’ve picked up in my travels so far, that’s it.  Especially on the great plains, where the prevailing westerlies are notorious.  If there’s a tiny element of the wind that’ll help, you take it.  Make as much ground as you can, so the ‘Cycling Zen’ can kick in when conditions are less favourable.

I’ve piled on the miles in the last few days, finally escaping Kansas on Friday (hooray!), and hitting Colorado in the coldest temperatures of the trip so far (boo!).  I’ve also met my first dog in a bicycle trailer (a slightly nutty labrador called Nimbus, who is heading west from Kentucky), which was exciting, although I believe there’s another canine making similarly effortless progress along the TransAm to my north.  The dogs are clearly cleverer than their owners; sitting curled-up and protected from the elements in a trailer while their humans sweat and strain from dragging the extra weight around.  Very smart…

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And now I’m resting up for the day in La Junta, Colorado.  This is the time to take a break for several exceptionally good reasons.

Firstly, there are three route options to consider to get to the mountains.  I can head a little north to rejoin the TransAm trail in Pueblo, or I can head south-west to Trinidad and the RAAM route.  Or I can go down the middle, and get to Walsenburg, rejoining the RAAM route a little into the hills.  Decisions, decisions…

Secondly, I’ve hit a couple of big landmarks, which required a small celebration.  Friday was the end of my second calendar month on the road (this seems completely outrageous to me, as it already feels like months and months of changing places, languages, food and cultures; it’s been quite a ride…).  And I hit a big mileage landmark yesterday; 3000 miles on the road.  That was worth a couple of beers last night.  A day off to take stock, look after a slightly achy head, and establish some perspective on how far I’ve come (and how far I still have to go!) seems entirely appropriate.

And thirdly, the strangely freezing weather of the last few days has left me with a bit of a cold.  Common sense says that I want to try to get shot of that before tackling the Rockies.

So, a bit of thinking to be done and a little planning required, along with the standard laundry, refuelling and bike tinkering.

Colorado seems nice so far.  A bit more relaxed than Kansas.  The Hispanic influence, which really started to be noticeable in the west of Kansas (not surprisingly, as the Kansas section of the Arkansas River, which I’ve been riding along, used to be the border between the US and Mexico), is stronger in Colorado.  It’s a reminder that I really need to get past Unit 2 of my teach-yourself-Spanish book!

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And after the cold snap, the skies are now clear, and the temperature’s back to the low 80sF.  Pretty much perfect riding weather, as it will get a little cooler as I get higher.  And it looks like it will hold for a while (hopefully, I can get through the hills without blizzards or freezing rain, which would be nice).

Just need to clear my sniffles and head for the hills on Monday…

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4 comments

  1. 3000 and two months…well done. Seems miles in two months to me. Drinking in the ship before the off does feel like ages ago now though.

    1. Yep; nearly on the 50-miles-a-day target (for now; this’ll drop in the mountains).

      Can’t believe how long it seems. Probably linked to losing track of what day it is, too – I usually have no idea! Plus so many different locations and different people met. Bit weird, but time is definitely running slower than at home…

  2. Well done on the progress old bean and keep recounting the bizarre encounters. I particularly enjoyed the sinister sounding dog, Nimbus, who sounds ripe for a legion of twisted tales from the road. Here’s hoping you encounter some suitably wistful mountain dwellers in Colorado!

    1. Thanks, Dave. The dogs in trailers are definitely having a laugh. I heard tell that the other one started walking across the US, and then went ‘lame’, forcing its human to buy the bike and trailer. How manipulative can you get?

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