Tuesday, September 8, 2009

the yin and the yang: unicycling is about balance

Fortunately, a pack-lightening campaign in Salida, Colorado left me with only 18.6 pounds to carry, including 3 days of food.
Unfortunately, I am left with no tent, no sleeping pad, and no extra riding shorts.
Fortunately, we successfully dodged the many bowhunters in the national forest.
Unfortunately, a bug bit me and left my leg itchy and swollen: a 6"x4" section of my quad was inflamed, itchy, and hard from liquid pressure.

["17": Marshall Pass (10,842')]
Unfortunately, time spent in towns put us behind schedule to finish by September 16.
Fortunately, a night in a teepee with fellow cycle tourists boosted morale.

["18": Cochetopa Pass (10,067')]

[Matt, riding toward the "dramatic" Coolbroth Canyon opening of columnar basalt.]

[Matt kicks the speed up too many notches on the way into Del Norte, Colorado.]

[Delightful singletrack that paralleled our sandy, washed-out road.]

[Crossing the Rio Grande coming into Del Norte at sunset.]
Fortunately, Del Norte has free camping for cyclists in the city park.
Unfortunately, there is a one-night limit, and we had planned to stay two nights in town.
Fortunately, Heather and Bill Green adopted us, sharing their straw-bale home, excellent food, and the fantastic company of their family - truly a haven in the desert!
Unfortunately, the biggest climb of the trip, Indiana Pass, loomed over our heads.
Fortunately, Mike Tierney of Aspen, CO, joined us for the ride and amped us with good vibes, treats, and Hammer nutrition.
[Matt and Mike cranking up the pass.]
Fortunately, Indiana Pass was the highest point on our entire route: 11,910 feet.
Unfortunately, Indiana Pass does not even cross the Continental Divide.
[Reaching the summit!... thanks, Mike, for snapping this one!]

[A trio of champions. All downhill to Mexico, right?

Matt would like to give a shout-out to fellow Hoosiers - there was no "Indiana Pass" sign at the top for a photo op.]

[Representing a fantastic state at the top of the pass, although maybe we should be holding an Indiana jersey for its namesake.]

[Doris "Paparazzi" and "Cowboy Jim" Garling]

Fortunately, Doris was kind enough to leak a few photos to the press.

Unfortunately, this 48-mile day, with three mountain passes and an EPA SuperFund site, included some of the rougher roads we've faced.

[photo courtesy of Doris Garling.]
Fortunately, the fire was warm and the lounge was comfortable at Skyline Lodge in Platoro, CO.
Unfortunately, we spent more time looking at the maps and counting miles when we should have been riding in the rain.
Fortunately, the overcast skies made for cool riding.
Unfortunately, even brief showers turned the road to unrideable muck.

Fortunately, we learned of the mucky potential of the roads before entering New Mexico.
Unfortunately, most of the route through northern New Mexico is comprised of this soil.
Fortunately, Adventure Cycling Association recommends taking paved alternates when the weather is wet.
Unfortunately, we had daily thunderstorms and were slated for several days of hurricane rains during our time in New Mexico.
Fortunately, the paved alternate went closer to the Continental Divide, and past some very cool sites, including crossing the path of America's longest and highest steam-powered train.
[The Cumbres-Toltec railroad]

Unfortunately, the skies poured rain and large bits of slushy hail.
Fortunately, the weather served as confirmation of our route decision.

[The weather continues in the background.]

Unfortunately, a portion of the route south of Cuba, NM, has been closed because the road became private property.
Fortunately, Adventure Cycling provides an official alternate from Cuba to Grants, NM.
Unfortunately, the alternate is all paved.
Fortunately, we crossed the Continental Divide 4 additional times on the alternate, and rode through incredible mesas and canyons in the region of Chaco Canyon and through the Navajo Nation.

[A diesel fill-up, in honor of my unicycle's name: "Diesel."]

Unfortunately, we had to negotiate more car traffic than we are accustomed to.
Fortunately, we had the opportunity to meet and talk with some very cool and excited Japanese folks, traveling the world after college.


[With Harold Redhouse, who stopped to see if we needed help. He is Navajo and taught us a few basic words in his language.]
Unfortunately, unreasonably angry dogs chased us and tried to attack on several occasions.
Fortunately, we found large sticks to carry for self defense. We collected them after Matt had to use a license plate to hit one in the face while riding. The junkyard license plate collection earlier that day paid off, though the dog's face bent the plate.
Unfortunately, we had a hankering to attempt a 100-mile riding day on our single-speed 29ers.
Fortunately, the moon was nearly full, and past experience had prepared us to interpret the road's shades of grey.

Unfortunately, we needed to take caffeine shots and pills to make it through the night.
Fortunately, they worked.
Unfortunately, they worked too well, and wreaked serious havoc on our digestive systems. Fortunately, there were more howls of coyotes than barks of domesticated dogs throughout the night.




[Just to prevent our souls from becoming as sleepy as our eyes....]

Unfortunately, the sun was brilliant in the sky at 7:30am when we finished our 102.1-mile, 22.5-hour stretch of riding.
Fortunately, there were adequate patches of flat dirt on the side of the road on which we crashed to nap for an hour before continuing 20 additional miles into Grants, NM.
Onward and southward...
Rock n roll!
Yours truly,
Team Blazing Saddle Sores


aspenmike said...

WOW, you guys are simply amazing. I had so much fun riding up Indiana Pass with you both, you are inspirational. Keep going strong!

The Armstrong Brood said...

you's gots me laughin, sista.

I can read between the lines on the excited Japanese tourists comments. I know what you are thinking.


Mom said...

Huge laughter at Matt dragging the uni through the mud, then at his hilarious wave as you confirmed the decision to ride the paved alternative in the rain. Again with the 20, 21, and 22 photos. So funny. We are preparing a good Davis proud tunnel for you. ha ha.
We love you!
p.s. appropriate "word verification" code tonight: BEISTE!!! So good night you beistes! Matt's first uni century and he officially joins you as an ANIMAL. ;)

Unknown said...

Graysche! I enjoy checking in on you from time to time and thanks for the postcard. I've been starting to think, man, I think I know some hard-core people... good luck the rest of the way and I hope you find this comment!

Shiloh said...

22.5 hours of riding sounds awful, but I'm glad you are that much closer to finishing!

rhondajo said...

Love the pics, and awesome video clips, love you!!

CowboyJim said...

It's fun watching your travels and also fun that you were able to use some of my pics. YOU GO!!!!
Doris & Jim

tomblackwood said...

Hard Core falls so far short of describing what you two are doing. Cranking out a 100+ mile day on ungeared 29-ers "just cuz"? If I get tired on the Bike MS ride this weekend, I'll think about your day and then suck it up.

Cool to see AspenMike was able to join for a hill or two.

Keep going...the end is near!

uncle richard and auntie robin said...

Dear TBSS:

Fortunately, you are making awesome progress on your amazing, fantastical, record-breaking, very good trek.

Unfortunately, we will not be at the Mexico border to give high fives and hugs (high hugs?).

We are in awe.

Rolandisimo said...

Wow - great writeup, crazy ride, keep it up! - Ro