First: Thank you, Debbie and Scratch Katers of BSR Sports in Glenwood Springs. NO FLAT TIRES TODAY!!!! And I ran over enough sharp gravel and bumpy bridges to feel pretty confident that you solved the problem. I just didn't worry about it all today. Thanks.
The last time I was with Dick and Helen and the kids, their home was in a state of construction flux that looked like it had no end in sight.
And now it's done. I missed all the work, just get to see the finished product. Their home sits right dead in the middle of town, across from what used to be their town hall.
What was their house built for over 100 years ago? The Gypsum Poor House. I think they're the richest folks in town, to paraphrase "It's a Wonderful Life".
I ate lunch with Dick and Helen at a cafe a half mile east of town, then hit the road about 1:00 p.m.
The day went like this in a nutshell:
35 miles following the Eagle River on a relatively flat course toward Vail, with a monster tailwind. Fun.
10 miles of increased grade between Edwards and Vail.
Vail. More later.
10 miles from Vail at about 7500 feet to Vail Summit at 10,000 feet. A very tough climb. I was really sucking air, BUT...I made those ten miles to the top without a break. I'm getting stronger.
20 miles down the east face of Vail Summit into Frisco, Dillon and Silverthorne.
I HATE VAIL!! But it's just so unique I had to go through the downtown. While meandering, I saw a Haagen-Daaz shop and stopped in. Ice cream sounded good.
I ate a banana instead. It was better for me. I got out of Vail as quickly as I could. That place gives me the heebeejeebees. Filled with expensive "junk" for sale and people who seem to think they need it and need to be seen there. Yuk. I've been through a lot of tiny towns in the West with real people. This place ain't real in any sense of the word. I hit the road for Vail Summit.
Looking down on East Vail
From this point it was ten miles to the top. I did it non-stop. I'm proud of that accomplishment. I've never done a pass this major without at least one stop. I just made a point of doing it. I could feel myself bonking near the top, but I made it and had another banana and some raisins and some M&M's and a diet Pepsi and a lot of water. And a rest.
Most of the way to the top you're on old Rte. 6, which is open now only to bicyclists.(Again, I'm certain that my family would have been on this very road in the 1950's.)
You know you're on a SERIOUS biking trail when you see the road spraypainted in front of you with encouraging messages for world-class cyclists. I think there's an annual summit race that attracts the big names. I saw 'LeMond' a couple of times.
The bike trail down from the summit runs along a beautiful rushing stream in between the two sides of the interstate.
Tomorrow I'm going to attempt a 100 mile run all the way from here to Estes Park. Included in this run would be a climb over the highest paved continuous roadway in North America, Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park, over 12,000 feet. This will be a major challenge AND a highlight of the trip. Way above timber line. I'm looking forward to seeing if all the tundra flowers are in bloom. It's supposed to be magnificent. (I wonder if I'll care by the time I drag myself up there.)
The BIG news, though, is that Mrs. Graham left Chicago this morning and is driving out to meet me. She called me from Grand Island, Nebraska tonight and she will intercept me somewhere on route tomorrow afternoon. I can't wait to see her. We'll be taking a couple of days sabbatical at a wonderful old log hotel in the Estes Park area called the Bald Pate Inn (www.baldpateinn.com), run by an old college friend, and also going down to Denver.
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