September 10, 2001

9/10/01 Walden, CO

49.7 / 7494 miles

I hate the wind, hate it with a passion. Hate isn't even a strong enough word. Curse all the wind gods! I'm even having trouble writing this because the wind is trying to rip the journal out of my hands.

Still had trouble sleeping because of this persistent cough. Seems worse when I lay down, or so I rationalize. The sun was up, but I could still see my breath because of the cold. So I decided to have breakfast first at the Bear's Den, then pack up when it was warmer.

The first couple hundred yards climbing out of the river valley seemed so easy. Then that sneaky wind slammed against my face. I was in total shock! Where was my tailwind! I mean I had, what, two or three days of tailwind this whole trip. And it would take all the fingers on both hands of the Vienna Boys Choir to count the days I've had with headwinds. For goodness sake, I've turned around and heading in the other direction! The wind is the devil incarnate. What else can I do but continue on.

More nothin' ahead?

The climb out of the valley went on for almost 15-miles, all against that headwind. Had one downhill but then the route became rolling hills. Long ones. Every time I had thought that the wind was dying down or changing directions, it would hit me again. The only thing that kept me from dipping my head and barreling through was the sight of the snow-covered Rocky Mountains.

Kind of makes the wind seem small when compared to these towering mountains. Nice to have the mountains in view when I crossed over into Colorado. But now, the Colorado Department of Transportation joined forces with the wind to make my day even harder. As I began to climb out of the Platte River valley, the road had been recently oiled, making a very sticky surface to ride on. What else could add to this already wonderful day.

Once I reached Cowdery, CO, it was only nine more miles to Walden. But those last miles came at a cost. The winds began increasing, coming at my side trying to push me off the shoulder and into traffic. Now, it was time to lower my head and push on. Every crest I thought would be my last until I had looked up. Totally worn out, I rolled into town.

Got more cough drops at the store and the clerk recommended the Bowling Alley for a good, cheap lunch. I picked a great day to come through town because Main Street was closed due to repaving.

At the Bowling Alley, I finally figured out what the "Big Game" was on Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs against the Oakland Raiders (or at least I think it's still Oakland). That tells you how far removed I am from the rest of the testosterone brothers the nation over who gather in front of the alter called ESPN.

But back at the city park, I wander over to the high school next door to watch a few minutes of eight-man football scrimmage with the North Park Wolverines. The EMT's for the game said that it had snowed 4" here the night I was getting rain in Jeffery City. And yesterday, Larry told me that Riverside got 2" of snow that same night. Looks like a trend, only increasing as I head south. But newscasts today say it should stay warm all week. Let's hope they're right this time!

Watchin' the local football game

I had been expecting to see Pete ride in today. If he had, I was going to bow down in homage to anyone who could battle that wind even farther and longer than me. Instead, I see another couple of cyclists headed to the city park to camp.

Joanne and Carl Bertca are from Florida. They started in Virginia, headed west along the northern states, and now are moving south towards San Francisco. Since they're following their own route (as opposed to the TransAm or one of the other established routes), they say I'm the first cyclist they've seen. Turns out, Joanne is an orthopedic nurse, so we had a lot we cold talk about. Unfortunately, I think we monopolized the conversation so Carl didn't get to say much.

I was hoping for breakfast in the morning but think I need to be on the road as soon as possible. That's just in case the wind continues out of the south, giving me a headwind. No town between here and Kremling with the pass about half-way. And, the next day is Breckenridge. Yippie!