|My office - 2007 Acer Aspire 7 inch notebook, USB drive and card reader.|
My wine bag does weigh a little less now after drinking some (a lot actually) yesterday while watching a spectacular lightning storm in the distance out over the Rockies.
I wanted to be away from trees as their height attracts bolts, meaning tree limbs could fall on you, and potential wildfires. But my instinct was to get under them as I didn't want my tent to be the only thing out in a field to attract a bolt, so I felt a bit torn. Also my metal bike worried me, and my tent poles are aluminium. I pushed my bike well away from my tent, and ended up putting my tent quite near the trees and so not completely out in the open in the valley. I hoped the trees and metal bike would attract any bolts if they fell nearby and keep them away from me. I crouched down low and cooked my dinner outside my tent, making sure I wasn't higher than the nearby bushes.
The storm passed on without incident and I slept well. It had been extremely hot the previous day leading up to the storm, but when I woke there was ice in my water bottle because I was camped up at 10,000 feet. Crazy weather!
Lightning is one danger, dogs off leashes are another. The first thing I had to do in Colorado was dodge a Doberman on the loose. It took me by surprise by running fast at me without barking, as if it’d been lying in wait. I was going uphill and it kept up with me at 15mph, the speed which I usually out-pace chasing dogs. I cranked up to 20mph and left it behind, I could see it sulkily dropping back to the side of the road to wait for it’s next victim.
|This isn't the dog that chased me.|
I got my wheel trued for ten bucks, and then mentioned my saddle had been riding kind of rough. Before spotting that my saddle was 2mm out of alignment (by sight!), Nicholas did some fun tricks with a blowtorch(!), mink oil and Brooks proofide. My saddle has been way more comfortable since. Nicholas did this for free.
I mentioned my gears had been grinding a bit and suspected my derailleur was bent - Nicholas proceeded to bend my rear mech hanger back into shape and adjust the back gear cable tension - for free. I wanted to buy another cycling cap as I'd lost mine along the way - Nicholas gave me one. I wanted to replace my old 80s Carradice panniers which were literally falling apart at the seams - Nicholas sold me his, used only once, for an absolute bargain.
I went back to the shop later in the day with a couple of beers and we sat out on the porch and talked retro bike conversions in the sunshine, it was a great afternoon. Needless to say, I'm glad I called in to the shop and had the chance to meet Nicholas, who perhaps in a few hundred years will be made patron saint of bicycle tourists.
|Nicholas with one of his conversions|
|Me with my serviced bike - like a child at Christmas|
From Dolores I went to Telluride ('To Hell You Ride'), which is another great mountain town, and not at all like hell (I assume). I camped in the town park for free, in the site of a Bluegrass Festival, which was fun. I wondered round the camp all evening listening to musicians playing in little groups to small audiences of campers, sharing various varieties of booze with each other. A nice moment was when a collection of musicians did a cover of Townes Van Zandt's White Freightliner Blues, which I know the words to, so could proudly join in singing with everyone else. I met more great people interested in my trip, including April - who rightly pointed out that while I have a lot of things mounted on my bike, I don't have a unicorn:
I spent a day wondering around the trails, hanging out with the flowers, butterflies, deers, birds and grasshoppers. I cycled to most of the viewpoints at sunset, and spent a magical half hour sitting with my legs dangling over cliffs twice the height of the Empire State Building. Swifts and swallows cut shapes into the air above my head, snatching up insects, while the faint roar of the river echoed up the canyon walls from below.
|Painted Wall, with two leaping dragon shapes on the right cliff|
|The canyon lit by moonlight|
|Pretty desert flowers|
|Noisy little bastards, these.|
|One of Colorado's many awesome bike trails|
I'll soon be home - I've reached as far North as I'll go. I'm heading off into the mountains tonight for one more night of wild camping, then I'm riding to Boulder where I'll box up the bike and catch a shuttle for the flight home from Denver. But I've decided the trip isn't over until I reassemble the bike at Heathrow and cycle to Winchester, where I'll be based until I can reinstate myself in London. I want to complete the trip in the spirit which I've been doing things so far - cycling everything that I can.
Getting the bike back is a bit of logistical headache, but the plan is coming together and I'm glad I've reached the Rockies with enough time to sort this stuff out. I'm already finding it strange adjusting to a new routine where I have to plan and think about things other than eating, sleeping and riding. But I'm excited to be heading back to the UK, and looking forward to what comes next. But I'll save that sort of sentiment for the final post - watch this space!