Steamboat Springs, Mile 1325

P1030497.JPGLEAVING WYOMING

We left Rawlins Saturday morning all atwitter. According to usually reliable sources, a long stretch of the road for that day was being worked on and traffic would only be allowed through from noon to 1 PM. If we didn’t make it by that time, we presumed we would have to wait at the “gate” for the next day.

A few miles from the expected traffic stop we were confronted by the most humongous hill of the ride. Using every last ounce of our reserve strength, we ground our way up the hill, only to learn that the first hill was only one of a long series of ups and down – a rollercoaster. Rollercoasters are so disheartening because one’s hard-won gains are immediately squandered on a useless downhill.

On top of the rollercoaster debacle, the predicted traffic stop wasn’t manned after all. Our mad dash of the morning, our profligate expenditure of energy to arrive on time had been for naught. And so the afternoon progressed with countless more ups and downs.

Michiel and Margo were subjected to the same experience and it got to them even more than to Mary and me. We had stopped near the day’s end to fill up our water bottles at the last creek of the day when they caught up to us. They said the day’s ride had so affected them that they are considering abandoning the ride. I did my best to dissuade them from letting an unpleasant day cloud their perception of this most trying and rewarding endeavor. I think my most potent argument was “You will never regret seeing this ride through to the end. You may well regret quitting.”

We camped at 8000 ft in an aspen grove along the side of the road.

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Sunday, the next day, we rode along the Wyoming/Colorado border on the Little Snake River – a very pleasant ride for the first fifteen miles. A lot of tidy little cattle and hay ranches:

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But then the road turned from the river and up through the hills toward the little community of Columbine. Our maps showed it to be a not-too-tough climb of about 1500 ft. Well, it is about 1500 ft vertical from the river to Columbine but that is net climb. This was, you guessed it, another sterling example of the rollercoaster effect. Up and down, up and down. We must have climbed that 1500 ft three or four times in all. It was very discouraging. This was all Michiel and Margo needed after their tough ride the day before. They had decamped before us so when we finally caught them at Columbine they had had half an hour to think over the grueling climb. I think only the splendid colors of the aspen groves at that summit kept the day from being total downer.

P1030500.JPGMARGO, MARY, & MICHIEL AT COLUMBINE SUMMIT

We had an easy and scenic ride down from our camp at Steamboat Lake to the ski town of Steamboat Springs this morning. The Nederlanders still haven’t made up their minds about quitting or continuing. They plan to stay in Steamboat another day to think over their options. Mary and I will probably ride on tomorrow. It has been comforting riding through the expanses of Wyoming with them. We will always remember looking across the rolling Wyoming landscape at their two tiny figures pedaling slowly along. It was like looking at ourselves because we, too, were two tiny figures on bicycles in all that wild immensity. Although we seldom actually rode side-by-side, many nights we made camp together and their company and conversation was much appreciated.

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