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ADT JOURNAL: CHAPTER 24
June 10, Tuesday
Our ride out of Pueblo followed the asphalt Arkansas River Trail from downtown Pueblo for 13 miles to the State Park entrance north of Pueblo Lake. Along the floodwalls downtown, hundreds of murals have been painted by kids and adults, some of which are really artistic. These lasted for perhaps two miles along the river. The terrain today is decidedly more mountainous. We are seeing high bluffs around us with sagebrush, cacti, and cholla. Today really marks the end of the Great Plains for our ADT trip and while the level friendly terrain was enjoyable, we are ready for the challenge of the Rockies. We rode a piece of US 50 for 5 miles, then followed Fremont County 120 to Florence, and rode on to Canon City, using their Arkansas Riverwalk for the last 3 miles. It was a joy to ride on two trail systems today our first since Missouri's Katy Trail. We stayed tonight with Dale and Carol Boody. Carol provided advice to the ADT scouting team in 1990/91. Carol is the author of a mountain bike guidebook for the Fremont County area. After dinner, we took a ride to an overlook of the Arkansas River Gorge and the suspension bridge at Royal Gorge. The mountains surround Canon City on three sides and the vistas are spectacular. We are a bit apprehensive about the prospect of tomorrow's ride to Cripple Creek and our elevation gain of 4,000 vertical feet in 25 miles over gravel roads.
55.3 miles, 10.6 mph, 5 hours 10 min
June 11, Wednesday
Bill & Laurie's 31st Wedding Anniversary
We had good reason to be jittery about this section of trail last night. It was by far the most difficult day on this trip so far. We only had to cover 25 miles form Canon City to Cripple Creek, but the elevation gain combined with the high altitude we were starting to reach made it really tough. We were pleased that Dale Boody was able to ride with us today. The first 8 miles were easy riding on a paved road with a steady grade with some descents mixed in. Then we hit the gravel Shelf Road a spectacular piece of road carved around the edge of a deep canyon. This road was signed "closed" as they were doing blasting and widening. In about 5 miles we came to the road crew. They had obviously just blasted 2 major sections as 2 bulldozers were each working on a section. The road was totally blocked with some boulders the size of cars. We looked for a route over or under the construction but the steep cliffs made those options undoable. We waited one and a half hours to see what kind of progress the road crews were making, but despite steady work, it was slow. We finally asked them to take a break so we could climb through the rubble. We had to ferry the bikes and panniers separately through two construction areas and then had to ride through 2 more miles of partially graded road before we were back on finished road. But, just then the road got steeper and the high elevation made it difficult to breathe. Bill, in particular, seemed affected by the altitude so we ended up pushing our bikes for several miles. Meanwhile, Dale, having no load, had no trouble. The scenery along the route, however, was magnificent. We passed an interesting place called the Hole in the Wall, which was a round opening through a solid rock wall. We finally arrived in Cripple Creek, at 9484 feet elevation, 8 hours later, although the bike seat time was nowhere near that. We enjoyed a nice anniversary dinner in our hotel and crashed for the night, but not before Bill stopped in a casino and won twenty dollars in 20 minutes on the slot machines.
24.8 miles, 5.4 mph, 4 hours 30 min 2,516 total miles biked
June 12, Thursday
Before leaving Cripple Creek we ate breakfast in a restaurant. When the waitress quizzed us about our trip, they gave us our breakfast at no charge. Trail Magic is alive in Colorado too! From Cripple Creek to Manitou Springs, the ADT will follow the proposed Ute Pass Corridor Trail. This trail, however, will not be completed for at least 10 more years, so we took the recommended route down the Gold Camp Road. First we climbed over a 10,300 foot pass and then got onto Gold Camp Road, which is a gravel road converted from an old railroad bed. At Cripple Creek and on our way over the pass, we saw numerous abandoned gold mines plus a couple of active ones too. The old mining activity was not environmentally benign as there are slag heaps everywhere and a lot of the runoff contains high concentrations of metals. Although we had expected the GCR to be all downhill, it was not. It was very scenic and included a tunnel. Due to recent rains, some washouts were being repaired by road graders as we headed down the very steep Old Stage Road into Colorado Springs. This meant riding through some sandy areas which were slow and it was hard to maintain steering control. We met three bikers today headed up the Gold Camp Road. It turned out they were on the U.S. National Bike Team and out for a training ride. Laurie thought it was interesting that the only bikers we've met in this area are Olympic athletes. It's true they were going up while we were going down, but at least it gave some justification for our total exhaustion yesterday. Laurie is beginning to have doubts about her stamina and endurance to complete this trip. Bill, however, is perpetually optimistic. On our descent down the Old Stage Road, sections were extremely steep and we used more brake rubber today than on our entire trip to date. Bill's wheel rims became so hot, he stopped to cool them off in streams a couple of times during the descent. Last winter, a member of NBATC, our hiking club back home, blew a tire due to overheated rims on a mountain descent. He lost control, fell into a ravine, and was severely injured. We are not wanting to take any chances.
When we reached Colorado Springs, we went to Ken and Lucy Dresner's house. We had met them when we camped at John Martin Reservoir several days ago and they had invited us to spend the night when we reached here. We dropped our panniers and rode our bikes around Garden of the Gods. It made us realize how much easier riding was without all the equipment we have been carrying.
46.8 miles, 9.3 mph, 5 hours 7 min
June 13, Friday
Colorado Springs has a nice system of bike trails and the ADT uses several of them. We saw more bikers around this area than we have anywhere else. We left town on the Foothills Trail and later the Pikes Peak Greenway. Shortly after stopping at a bike shop for some local trail information, Laurie had a blowout of her rear tire. An inspection of her front tire also revealed some bulges. Two retired trail riders, Murray and Ed, stopped to help. Bill and Ed ended up carrying the wheels back to the bike shop where we bought two new tires. It seems like sun and constant riding take their toll on tires after a while. Another 10 miles down the trail, Bill's front tire went flat. It was also his original tire as were Laurie's. We patched his tire with duct tape but we plan to get a new one in Denver. We rode through the USAF Academy on the New Santa Fe Trail (a rail trail). After lunch, a rainstorm bit turning the trail into a sticky mess which really slowed our progress and made a mess of our bikes, gear, and ourselves. We took refuge in a trailside bathroom when the hail hit. While waiting for it to stop, we cleaned up the bikes and ourselves. After 12 more miles we slept in an old railroad caboose at a KOA campground. Another first! It rained hard during the night and we were pleased to be inside our cozy caboose instead of in our tent.
42.9 miles, 9.9 mph, 4 hours 16 min 2,608 miles biked to date
June 14, Saturday
Today was a fantastic day all the way around. Our ride from camp into Castle Rock was all down hill with a nice breeze behind us. Breakfast at the B&B Cafe in Castle Rock was delicious. This place was obviously very popular as patrons were waiting in line for a table. We decided to deviate from the ADT route today due to the heavy rains last night which would have left our trail in the mountains very muddy and difficult. In addition, no one at the bike shop or anyone else we talked with had ever ridden the trail we were planning to ride. Without more information, we rode the highway toward Denver. At Chatfield Lake, we were able to get onto a bike trail on a levee around the lake. We rode the next 25 miles on paved bike trail through Denver and west out to the town of Morrison. When the Arapahoe Trail met the Bear Creek Greenway, we were pleased to pass the junction with the northern ADT route that joins the southern ADT route near downtown Denver. This meant we were back on a single ADT route. If you recall, there is a northern route and a southern route between Cincinnati and Denver. Denver's trail system is nothing short of fantastic as you can ride to most places in the city on paved trail without crossing busy streets. We saw perhaps 300 bike riders or roller bladers on this beautiful Saturday morning. At Morrison, we met our friends, Annie and Jerry Angerman, who took our bikes and us to their house on the southeast side of Denver. Annie and Laurie were good friends at Purdue years ago and have stayed in touch over the years. We enjoyed a great dinner and a game of 25 Words or Less with them and their two great kids.
56.6 miles, 13.8 mph, 4 hours 5 min
2,664 bike miles to date
This completes 2,925 ADT trail miles for us which is about 60% of our trip. We will be taking a few days off at Bill's cousin's house in Loveland to regroup and finalize plans for doing the western states. We have a meeting planned on Monday to review the route in Colorado with an ADT planner and to learn which mountain passes are still closed due to snow, if any. What we learn here will impact our plans for the next couple of weeks.
© Copyright, William & Laurel Foot, 1997, Lynchburg, VA.
The Happy Feet