Saturday, May 26, 2012

May 26, 2012: Plod Across the Plains (PAP) Day 1, Colorado Springs to Fowler, CO

My trip to Colorado Springs, and that of my bike (via and of my checked bag were all uneventful. (Last year my luggage did not arrive in CS with me, resulting in some rather tense moments prior to the Geezer Geyser Tour.) No surprises during bike assembly or pre-departure preparations, thanks to check-lists honed over the previous tours.

Fred's driveway. Ready to go!
We had planned to start at 6AM, but actually got going at 6:30 in clear, cool weather. Fred had previously scouted the route for today and did a fine job, I must say. After clearing town, we got off the highway and continued on rural roads with virtually no traffic, passing a couple of hawks and antelope along the way. After a while we stopped for a little break at an intersection with a hard-packed clay and gravel road, the next section of our route. I studied an enormous bull a hundred yards away as I did my best to ameliorate the very dry local soil conditions. He huffed, pawed the sand, and rolled around in the dirt, but none of it looked like a reaction to my puny attempt to mark some of his territory. While we dawdled in the pretty morning, a couple of recreational cyclists showed up and offered to take a photo before riding off. They seemed a bit skeptical about our plans to ride down the unpaved road.

I must admit that riding today's 11 miles of unimproved road made me feel a bit more worthy of my Adventure Cycling Association membership. Of course it was slower than pavement, but we had absolutely no trouble along the way, and there were some rather rustic-pretty sections as shown below.

All this while we were heading pretty much southerly, often on a slight downhill grade of 1%. We even had some tailwind! At about 30 miles I mentioned to Fred that I felt absolutely fresh. Well, a short time later, when we turned easterly on highway 50 (ample shoulder/bike lane), the wind shifted to the south and quickly built up to 25 mph, with higher gusts. The good times came to a howling halt. From time to time the wind flexed it's muscles even more, forcing us down to less than 6 mph. It was discouraging to see the ETA on my GPS rapidly increase during those episodes. At about 1 PM we finally crawled into the little town of Fowler and checked into Bushy's Blue Sky Motel, having ridden about 78 miles.

Reassuring reminder in the motel parking area.
After doing my laundry in the tub and showering, I called Fred and we crab-walked the half-block to a local eatery, holding our hats and keeping our backs to the clouds of sand and dust sweeping across the highway. It was no substitute for a Chinese buffet, and slim pickins for a pesco-vegetarian such as myself. Pizza was not available this afternoon, so I had to go with a fried shrimp basket, which turned out to be ok, even if fried. Apparently pizza will be available later when we return for our supper. The wind is continuing to get stronger, with gusts now to 55 or 60! There is plenty of noise out there, so getting across the highway later may be yet another adventure. Thankfully, the forecast is for normal 10 - 15 mph  wind tomorrow, swinging around a bit more to the west, which might even prove helpful. We shall see.

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