Day 30

A Long Day's Ride In A Heat Wave And A Selfless Stranger To Save Me

Posted by Conner McCormick on 2016-06-20
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Ride Date: 2016-06-19
Starting Location: Denver, CO
Ending Location: Colorado Springs, CO
Miles: 89
Lowest Elevation: 5331
Highest Elevation: 7369

Today was a very interesting day. It was already warm out by the time that I left from Kelly and Danny's place just before 7. The first few miles I went through some residential areas until I hopped onto the Cherry Creek Trail which I stayed on for more than twenty miles. Although not the quickest way to cover distance, I really enjoyed being on the trails. There were lots of people on the trails running, biking, roller blading, walking dogs, etc. and the trail went through many neighborhoods and passed a lot of nice parks. I didn't get any pictures on the trail, though. I called my Dad while on the trail to wish him a happy Father's Day and checked my emails to see that a WarmShowers host had replied saying that he had a place for me to stay in Colorado Springs near Garden of the Gods. I had originally planned on camping near the garden but when I checked last night and saw that tent camping was almost $40, I sent out a few WarmShowers requests.

I got off the Cherry Creek Trail and had about 10 miles of riding to get to Castle Rock. I had lunch under a bridge in Castle Rock because it gave me a lot of nice shade. There was also so pretty cool art to look at while I enjoyed my lunch.

I continued on and road along a road the paralleled interstate 25 for a few miles before I turned off onto Tomah street and I instantly had to start climbing some elevation. The elevation was really brutal in the days heat, it was staying consistently around 95 when I checked the weather on my phone but it felt like it was over 100. I had to take frequent stops and drink A LOT of water. I was very glad to have the 100oz Camelbak that Danny had given me because I was draining through that water like someone was paying me to drink it.

On one of my last big hills that I had to climb I had nearly completely ran out of water. I stopped by at a house that had a lot of cars outside of it to see if I could get some water but nobody was home - or they were just ignoring me. I continued up the hill for a ways until I saw a lady outside her house doing some yard work and I decided to pull over to her and ask for some water. She was very happy to fill up my Camelbak and a water bottle, and had me keep an eye on the litter of puppies that she had roaming around outside. She also told me that after I climbed the last little bit of the hill, I had a mostly downhill ride into Colorado Springs. I was incredibly hot, sweaty, and tired at this point so this was the best news that I had heard all day.

I got to the top of the hill and enjoyed some nice downhill for a couple miles before getting to Palmer Lake where I stopped to fill up my other two water bottles and use the restroom. I talked to a man there who also mentioned that I would be going downhill most of the rest of the way - again such a great thing to hear.

From Palmer Lake I stayed on the Santa Fe Trail for most all the rest of the way. It was a dirt trail, and my bike was not ideal for riding on it, yet it was much more enjoyable than riding on the main roads. No cars and beautiful views is how I like to ride! There were definitely some points on the trail where the dirt got really loose and my bike kind of drifted around and lost control. I almost fell over on my bike countless times, but it was still worth it. Google Maps kept trying to get me to go back to the roads but I was having too good of a time to do that.

At the beginning of Santa Fe Trail At the beginning of Santa Fe Trail At the beginning of Santa Fe Trail At the beginning of Santa Fe Trail

The trail also went through a part of the land on the Air Force Acadamy. The entire trail was just so beautiful to ride on and there was always something to look at. A ways into the trail when I stopped to take a picture I noticed that the second bungie cord that I put on my bike for the first time had fallen off, along with my Patagonia hat that I had clipped onto it. I decided that it wasn't worth it to turn back for it since it was so damn hot and it could have been miles in the other direction back on the trail. I have become a pro at leaving things behind - not that that's something to be proud of.

If you look closely you can see it says "AIR FORCE" on the stadium

A few more miles down the trail I was going up a temporary incline really slowly and I hit my knee on my bar end shifters while wobbling my handlebars back and forth to stay balanced since I was going so slow up the hill. I hit the shifter hard enough to jump about four gears, and because of all the pressure I was putting on the chain while climbing the hill, my chain snapped when the gears shifted. I was a long ways from the last time I past an area to turn onto a road, so I knew that I would have to try to fix the chain and/or continue on the trail until I got to another section that connected to the road - and who knows how far off that was!

I pushed my bike up the rest of the hill and was soon approached by a man wearing a Seattle, Washington bicycling jersey. He asked my how I was doing and I said I was doing great except I just broke my chain. He instantly said "How can I help??" so he held my bike while I looked through my bag to get to my small bag of parts where I thought had an extra master chain link to fix my chain. Unfortunately I was unable to find it so I was pretty much doomed. He said that there was a bike shop right off the trail a little more than 3 miles up, and that he would help me get there.

Now this is where it gets interesting. For the next three miles, he pushed me along the dirt trail. I'm talking riding with on hand on his bike, pushing me with the other. I can't even imagine how much energy that must have taken. He was pushing the weight of myself, my touring bike, and all of the loaded gear - and not to mention the fact that my tires made it even more difficult since they aren't the greatest for dirt.

We talked the whole way to the bike shop, and we were having a blast. It was definitely a unique moment for both of us. His name was Cor VanderWel, a small animal veterinarian. He has a few kids who are in medical school and I believe one of them was going to school near the Seattle area. His whole family is a cycling family, from his brothers to his children. He lived really close to the Santa Fe Trail so he was very familiar with the trail. He was so happy to be helping out another struggling cyclist, and I sure was too. I really don't know what I would have done had he not showed up - I'm sure it would have been a MUCH slower and miserable walk to the shop.

When I got to the bike shop, Cor gave me his information and was soon heading back home to his family. I told him that I was heading for Colorado Springs for the night, and he said that if for some reason things don't work out I was more than welcome to come crash at his place. The employees at the bike shop were able to get a new chain on my bike in less than five minutes, I was very impressed! I got back on my bike and headed on my way for Colorado Springs.

Coming into Colorado Springs near the Garden of the Gods was awesome. From the road I was on I was able to see some of the beautiful red rocks in the garden. I gave my WarmShowers host JT a call and he guided me to hist place. From the moment I arrived I was treated so well. JT invited me in and had me bribe his dog with a treat right away so she would like me. I was also introduced to his wife Katie, and offered beer and snacks. We sat down in the main room for a while and chatted while I snacked. At one point JT mentioned that it got to over 100 degrees in Colorado Springs today which is incredibly unusual. After a little while I decided it was time for me to take a shower.

After getting cleaned off and hanging around a bit more, their friends Amanda and Mark showed up and soon after we all headed out to the local BBQ restaurant where we met with a couple more of their friends. They were all planning a tour/adventure where Mike and Amanda would be getting married in the middle of it along the way. It was awesome to see how casual they were being about getting married, there were no real solid plans. Apparently it is super easy to get married in Colorado!

After a delicious meal and more beers of course, we headed back to the house. It was pretty late by the time that we got back, so we went to bed since we would be getting up early the next morning so JT and I could go on a quick walk/hike through the Garden of the Gods.

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