From: Mary Zalmanek
Sent: Wednesday, August 20, 2003
To: Friends and Family
Subject: Great Divide Progress - August 17 to 19
August 17 - Rawlins to Aspen Alley (54 miles, 6850 feet)
After feeding us breakfast, Jeff biked with us for about an hour as we left Rawlins. Kurt and his wife Sandy drove the motorhome for us today – just two more examples of how nice those BOB Boys (and their wives) are. The hardest part of meeting new friends on a trip like this is leaving them behind.
Here's Evan pedaling beneath the canopy of aspens in the gorgeous mile-long stretch of road known as Aspen Alley near the Wyoming-Colorado border.
Just as we were saying goodbye to Kurt and Sandy for the last time, a pair of hikers passed us. We caught up with Bill and Ursula a few minutes later and chatted for a while. They were hiking the Continental Divide Trail carrying 25-pound packs. They are far more adept at traveling light than we are. The Camelback packs that Jim and Evan carry weigh that much alone. These folks are serious backpackers; they've hiked the entire Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail more than once. This was Bill's second time to do the Continental Divide. In Butte, we met Hugh who was just finishing this same feat. He said he'd lost 8 out of 10 toenails.
The day was cool and overcast with scattered showers all around us. For most of the day, we were lucky enough to miss the rain, but we were constantly hounded by steady headwinds. About 5 miles from our camp, Jim and I got caught in a downpour. We donned our rain gear and when the thunder and lightning subsided, we finished the ride.
I was exhausted when I rolled into camp. My altimeter said we'd climbed 6850 feet. I thought perhaps the storm affected the reading since it is based on barometric pressure, but Evan and Jim assured me it wasn't that far off. We climbed one substantial hill and a seemingly endless number of rolling hills after that. Chamois time on this 54-mile ride was nearly the same as for the 73-mile ride. Now I understood why I felt like I'd been run over by a truck! I sat in a stupor while Evan cooked dinner for the second time, and then Jim did dishes.
August 18 - Aspen Alley to Steamboat Lake (18 miles, 720 feet)
Steady rain and rolling thunder at 6:00 a.m. gave me permission to go back to bed. After yesterday's ride, I hoped it would rain all day. Jim and Evan read and played cards while I caught up on my journal entries. Around noon it was clear that we couldn't coax another drop of rain out of the sky, so we packed up and headed out.
If we hadn't been crossing the state line into Colorado, I would have been happy to ride in the motorhome all the way to our next camping spot. There were no official signs on the dirt road welcoming us to Colorado. Even with our maps and Jim's GPS (global positioning system), we weren't able to pinpoint the exact spot we crossed the border. We picked an arbitrary spot along the Little Snake River to celebrate the crossing with Cheetos and a diet Coke. Jim and I had a short, easy ride, which was just what we needed.
August 19 - Steamboat Lake to Steamboat Springs (34 miles, 940 feet)
Today's ride started with 10 miles downhill on a winding dirt road through majestic mountains and picturesque ranches. It doesn't get much better than that! The rest of the ride was pavement, some of it with very narrow shoulders. Traffic was light to moderate before we got to Steamboat, and heavy in town.
Just after I got to the campground, Tina, the woman we met last week in Pinedale, showed up at our campsite. Since she is doing this trip on a road bike, she isn't traveling the same route as we are and we really didn't expect to see her again. We caught each other up on the week's events. Her week didn't go as well as ours. She had one fall, one high-speed near miss, and a beer can thrown at her by someone in a passing truck. I invited her to dinner, wanting to show her some of the kindness we've been blessed with on this trip.
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