September 12, 2001

9/12/01 Breckenridge, CO

36.5 / 7612 miles

Slept peacefully despite this cough. I wouldn't worry about it except sometimes my throat freezes mid-cough and I can't breath.

Early to bed, early to rise. No need to eat breakfast, just pack and get on the road. The sun was still trying to peak over the mountains. At first, it seemed like a windless morning at my campsite near the river, but as soon as my tires touched pavement, the headwinds blasted me.

I give up! I'm here to tell all human-powered travelers that the winds must be seasonal. I have no one to blame but myself - I made the route and schedule. Maybe it has to do with mountain weather dynamics as winter approaches. Looks like I'll get headwinds when climbing and tailwinds on the downhill. Great!

So, besides the headwinds, I had to share a road with no shoulder with rush-hour traffic. And to that I have the added bonus of the morning sun shining into the eyes of the drivers coming up behind me. Kind of a white-knuckle ride.

It was only twenty miles to Dillon, but it seemed to take me forever. A quick check of my time said I could stop off for a bit of breakfast and still make the AYCE pizza buffet for lunch. Sweet! I liked the Blue Moon Baking Company so well the last time through, it was a no-brainer deciding where to stop. While eating, I got a chance to talk with Sam and Elizabeth, who had driven up to see their son.

Unlike the Appalachian Trail, when you're on a bike tour, you're never far from the events of the outside world. We talked about the tragic events unfolding even today. The world will always have evil, but on this trip, I've seen so many good, compassionate, generous people, that it has to far outweigh the bad in the world. It has to! Terrorism only is effective if we begin to mistrust everyone we don't know, especially those of a different race, culture, language or religion. Let governments deal with terrorists. For the average guy or gal on the street, we should treat it as part of nature, something that happens like a hurricane or tornado. You can't defend against it but you can show courage in its aftermath.

The ride from Dillon to Breckenridge is nice because it's all bike-path, mostly away from the road. But as I approached the Dillon Dam, a policeman was blocking the road. And when he saw me coming down the bike path, he waved me over. He apologized but had orders to check anything bigger than a backpack. Under the heightened security I wasn't surprised. The entire town of Silverthorn is built right below the dam. I'll say this, he was thorough. He had me empty the complete trailer and checked each stuff sack, plus emptied my food bag because of the stove and cook pots. Kind of a pain but he was just doing his job. Besides, he was good-natured about it.

The ride, while beautiful as you ride among the green pines and golden aspens, was still uphill and against the wind. Also clouds were building at the mountaintops. Not much snow left on the slopes but I'm sure that will change soon, maybe too soon.

I went by the library, stopping there first before heading off to the Fireside Inn hostel. Before I could ask about internet access, standing beside me was Niki, one of the owners of the hostel. "I thought I knew you!" she smiled. We chatted a bit about our summers before I said I'd talk to her back at the hostel.

"Are you here to socialize or do you want internet access?" the librarian laughed. I was able to get two hours of online time, enough to update the website and take care of a backlog of email. One disappointing email was from Steph, the thruhiker I hoped to stay with a few days in Colorado Springs. Turns out she is in Ecuador not for the summer but for a whole year. She gave me the name of a friend of her's that now lives in her house. Will have to completely re-evaluate my plans.

Had a good calzone at the Windy City Pizza and bought a pint of Ben & Jerry's for dessert. Talked awhile with the gang at Great Adventures (Bike & Ski).

As I was walking down Main St, I saw one of the best store signs I've ever seen in front of "Ready, Paint & Fire", one of those you-paint-ceramics places. The sign had a very cool three-dimensional feel. Talked with owner, George Kuhlman about it. "A friend did it," he said. I told him it was great. Once I had thought of doing one these painted plates commemorating each of my adventures. Might just have to look into it when I get back home.

What a cool sign

Sat a talked with Niki and her husband, Andy, back at the hostel. Such wonderful people. They treat you just like family (maybe better than family). We talked about the summer, the cyclists and hikers that came through, and about the tragedy in New York. Tonight's news estimated the death toll at about 20,000.

And who walks in but Matt, unbelievable as it sounds this later in the year, another westbound TransAm rider. He would have started earlier but his partner couldn't. Then she ended up bailing out of the trip completely by the time they reached Missouri. We took advantage of the hot tub while we talked 'bike touring'. Matt has an interest in moving to Damascus, VA, because of the TransAm and Appalachian Trail cross there. He was also touched by the New York events. A friend of his actually saw the planes hit the building as he was walking to work.

Decided to take a day off here and begin my planning for the trip south to El Paso, TX. I still might be able to take a few days off in Santa Fe if I can contact Christel's mom there. And, oh joy, looks like scattered thundershowers for the next three days. Whoopee!