So I have made it halfway across the country. I lie in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. We are in Denver, after our second 100 mile day.
Yesterday was an exhilarating ride. The beginning of the day was a little tough. We woke after our first night of camping, and with surprisingly springy steps, we got all of our morning chores done. A few locals in the little town of Anton (where we stayed instead of Limon) told us that we might be able to see the Rockies after riding for just 2o miles. So that became our motivation for the morning, catching a glimpse of the great snow capped peaks. The 20 mile marker came and went...no mountains. The wind whipped into our faces and the hills grew bigger and bigger. 25, 30...no mountains. I had to force discouraging thoughts from my head as I climbed hill after hill. Finally, right around the 40 mile mark, cresting a hill, I look at the ground beneath me. On the ground,written in the chalk which we use to mark turns on our route, was "LOOK!". I looked up, and in the distance (100+ miles away) were the mountains. It was hard to tell if they were covered in snow or in clouds, but they were breathtaking, literally. It was very emotional.
Being that it was a 90+ mile day, we would set up 2 lunches. I cruised into the first lunch around mile 42. We were posted up on what looked like the edge of a ranch. It was after speaking to the owner of the land, Lloyd, I learned that it was an 170,000 acre ranch! Wow. I spent a good amount of time relaxing at lunch, which ended up paying off, because the first 12 people to leave ended up going an extra 10 miles out of the way. The middle third of my day was fun. I rode with a group of girls through a few small towns, parallel to and not far from I-70. Our second lunch came at the seventy mile mark in a little town called Bennett (elevation 5483 ft.) I noticed a sign showing the elevation, and this was exciting. Denver is the "Mile High" city...5280 feet. We would be traveling down 200 feet in the next 30 miles.
I headed out of this second lunch spot by my lonesome. Riding about 15 miles before I caught Nate, Colin, and a few others who were changing a flat tire. We rode about another five or six miles before we began to get into the city. City riding is very different from riding through the country. There are lots of stop lights and traffic, and you have to be much more alert while keeping up with traffic the best that you can. Riding through the city is like performing a series of sprints. We moved at a blistering rate through the edge of the city, catching another group of riders and pushing our numbers up to about 12 or 13. We rode into the Christ Church UMC on Colorado Blvd. around 4:30, 100 miles of roadway behind us.
We had a fun evening. After relaxing for a while and taking showers at a local gym, we headed to dinner at a local Habitat for Humanity member's home. As I walked through the house and out into the backyard I was surprised to see that our friend from Durham, who did bike and build last summer and is now in school in Boulder, was awaiting our arrival. We had dinner together and then had a chance to catch up throughout the rest of the night.
It is bittersweet to be halfway through this journey. I am excited about the second half of our trip, but I also wish it would never end. I am nervous about tackling the Rockies, but I know I will get through it. Continued thanks to everyone for all of the support.