Sunday, August 28, 2011

Tour de Colorado Part VI: Woody Creek to Steamboat Springs

Pulling out of George's house and just down the street, I turned onto the Carbondale to Aspen bike path. It is such a great ride. No cars. No people. Just a beautiful spin through farmlands and mountains. I was on my way to give homage to the one of America's greatest citizens. This homage consisted of rolling into the Woody Creek Tavern around 10:30 for breakfast. This breakfast consisted of 3 glasses of Wild Turkey (rocks), 3 Tecate cans (limes), 2 cups of coffee (black), and an apple (granny smith). All this was after a decent bike ride from Carbondale on an empty stomach. Needless to say when I left at 12:30, I was pretty damn drunk. Luckily it was downhill to the El Jebel exit where it was time to start cranking up again.

George's future father-in-law and a good buddy of mine Darrell was nice enough to store my pannier bags in his garage on top of the hill past El Jebel. Which is a good thing considering the alcohol was wearing off resulting in a hazy mid-afternoon hangover. Also, the heat was working against me that day and this was a climbing day. So brutal. I loved the liquor when I was drinking it, but was hating it now. It was stomach turning climbing the back hills of Cattle Creek to Gypsum. But I made it. Thanks Darrell!

That night I camped along the Colorado River just north of the Dotsero exit. My buddy Willy Warren keyed me onto this route and it was a great way to go. The next morning I closed up my camp, jumped into the river, and then got rolling. It was another BRUTALLY hot day, and I had no idea that I was in for it. The road from Dotsero to Burns is amazing. It follows the Colorado River so close that you can dip your toes in right from the road! But it was hot that day. I used up all my food and water just getting to Burns, where I planned on at least being able to fill up my water bottles...

... but I was dead-ass wrong. There is no running water in Burns. Just a post office with no facilities. Nothing. I was truly in the middle of nowhere with no water. Luckily one of the ladies from the post office happened to stop by. She kept a few gallons of water in the trunk of her car and let me have one. I could've chugged the whole thing right there, but after looking at my map, I realized that I had to conserve water because it was still a long way to Yampa.

This was it. This was hands down the most BRUTAL, EXCRUCIATING day of biking in my life. I had already gone from Dotsero to Burns which was wonderful. But from Burns to Yampa via Sunny-Side road and Co Rd. 3B felt like a torture chamber. Remember that my bike was upwards of 100 lbs, and I was out of supplies. I pedaled for what seemed like hours of jeep road double-track. Loose and full of sharp boulders. This was complimented by direct sun with no wind. Blast furnace conditions. Followed by loose spins through smelly, black-fly populated, sandy cattle fields. This was truly dick-in-the-dirt stuff. There was not another soul for miles, which was fine. But I was reaching my physical limits out there and could do nothing except keep spinning. Oh the humanity! It might've hurt less just to take a kick in the dick. I ate and drank every molecule of food and water left on this section of road. I don't know how many miles this day was (google won't tell me...) but it was an all day affair. A new high-water mark of pain.

I stopped by the Colorado fish hatchery near Yampa because there was a slice of daylight left and then rolled into Penny's Diner nearly ready to pass out. Luckily they have a MONSTER breakfast burrito, biscuits and gravy, milkshakes, and coke 24/7. I devoured it while a rain storm approached quickly. I went behind the bar near a junk heap and set up my campsite before the rains came pouring down. Everything was packed away in my tent when it started to rain, so I moseyed on over to the hotel bar where they were cranking the classic country station. I sat down on bar stool. Opened a tab and ordered 1 water, 1 beam, and 1 beer. For the next 6 hours I drank repeated rounds of water, beam, and beer until I was completely and totally shit faced. Free popcorn, too.

Next day I made it as far as Phippsburg. A total of 7 miles for the day. Epic right? I started off that morning and the sky just opened up. I was thinking of making it to a state park to set up my shit and sit out the storm in my tent. I pulled off of the road to look at my map at the Phippsburg Inn. As I was looking at it, the gal working the counter said I could stay there for $20. She even gave me a couple beers while I sat there. How could I say no? A room? A shower? Laundry? I took the panniers off of my bike, put on my raincoat and biked through the maelstrom to the Oak Creek Liquor store and came back ready for a meal and a hot shower. Boy did we have fun. A barbecue and a goddamn booze fest in a nice dry lodge with a clean bed, clean clothes, and a big meal.

I got to meet "Wiley Jack"! He sure can hold his liquor.

The next morning I took the scenic Co Rd 27 loop around to Steamboat. If you are a road-biker this is YOUR SHIT. It doesn't matter which way you loop this road. It is a really fun road ride. Looping this from Steamboat on a bike is very popular and I can see why. Just take it around through Oak Creek and back for a nice afternoon spin. I pulled into Steamboat just as they were getting set up for the 4th of July Rodeo. Perfect timing. I was ready to party hard. Also, as I went by the Alpine Center, the Olympic Ski Jump team was just starting practice so I stopped and watch them take the Big Jump for an hour or so. Unreal!

Next thing, I went looking for my old friends the Crislips. Don't go wandering onto their property unannounced or you might get more than you bargained for! I know I did.

(who goes there?)

(patty hearst style)

The Crislips let me set up my tent in their back yard over the 4th of July weekend. They were so nice that I can't say enough good things about them. Once again I was showered, fed, and ready to party. Nick and I spent a day racing waterslides, running obstacle courses, and drinking gator-jacks for one of the funnest 4th of Julys that I've had in a long time. We even smoked a rack of ribs for dinner. I was truly spoiled what a killer family and a truly special weekend.

If you ever pass through Steamboat don't forget that it is the goddamn center of our perceivable universe. Here is the exact center.... right... about.... HERE!

After a couple days of rodeoin, and drinking our balls off, I was nearly ready to point my bike east and think about closing the distance back home. Home? What a weird idea. As far as I was concerned though, I was still king of the road until I would take that long awaited right hand turn into my driveway... which was still quite a ways to go.


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