From Three Wheels to Four

Last night we decided to pedal 102 miles (164 km) today to Walden, Colorado. A long haul. But we’d just biked 88 miles to Craig. Jeffrey was adapting to the altitude. With an early start, we’d be fine.

We are fine. Thanks to our new friends.

Before we left Craig, we’d never heard of Rabbit Ears Pass. We’ll never forget it. We biked a couple of miles beyond the Pass. The last leg (in red) was from a high-altitude rescue. (We count only Ride miles pedaled. Rescue miles don’t count.)

Let’s begin at the beginning.

Our new friend Gordon (see yesterday’s post) introduced us to his girlfriend on a video call to Scotland. He told us cheerfully that he is a retired gravedigger. It’s important labor. Our respect for him, and our admiration for his easy generosity, went up another notch.

On our way out, we met Tim and Amy.

L to R: Tim, Amy.

They were taken with the Ride. Painter Tim asked whether he can donate to Human Rights FIrst online. He can!

We had to push against a headwind.
A whimsical house in Hayden, Colorado.
A whimsical sign midway between Hayden and Milner. On an earlier Ride we saw similar signs in New Mexico.
Bikes belong in Colorado.
The road and railroad follow the Yampa River.
After 42 miles, after seeing cool stuff like a Fallen Rocks road crew using a drone, we came to Steamboat Springs (named for a hot spring that sounded like a steamboat), a busy tourist town.

Jeffrey considered whether to stop here and leave the next 60 miles for tomorrow. He misses Nancy (he’s such a sap!), we’ve managed to get a day ahead of schedule, and he was reluctant to lose that day. And the weather looked more favorable to reach Cameron Pass from Walden tomorrow rather than the next day.

We decided to proceed.

Just past Steamboat Springs … uh-oh!
High speed isn’t a problem for us, pedaling into a headwind at 7000’.

We never saw extreme road damage.

We did see an extreme road.

At the 50 mile mark, the road began to climb.
And climb. The road looks steep because it is.
After pedaling for an hour, we looked back: we’d climbed a 7% grade for 4 miles.
We climbed for another 4 miles! We didn’t see a sign at the pass. We checked our phone’s compass-altimeter: 9460’ (2883 meters) above sea level.

After our initial descent, Jeffrey struggled. He had pedaled us 1,000 feet (300 meters) higher than Walden, our destination. He had symptoms of acute mountain sickness (AMS), exacerbated by strenuous exercise. We had covered 62 miles (100 km). We had 40 miles to go to Walden, the next town.

Jeffrey is stubborn, but considers evidence. He is stupid, not idiotic. He is ignorant but educable.

He knew we needed help.

We pulled over at parking turnout and flagged down a car.

Jake and his wife were driving to Denver. Jake said the rest of our route would be much easier. Jeffrey wasn’t up to it anyway. Jake wanted to help, but our gear wouldn’t fit in his car, and he couldn’t take us all the way to Walden.

Jeffrey thanked Jake and his wife (alas, we didn’t get her name) for their kindness, and for describing the route. Jake took our calling card and said he’d phone to find how we made out.

Moments later, Jeffrey flagged down a pickup truck, then called out to Jake that we would be ok.

We could not have been luckier.

Masi is a lawyer, a Denver public defender who recently left her impossible job to decompress and to care for her ailing dad. She was driving home to … Walden! She cheerfully took us along.

Masi graduated from Dartmouth College (elevation 528’, 161 meters). She has experienced altitude adjustment, and said the altitude caused Jeffrey’s flameout—or was too polite to say otherwise.

On their 40 mile drive, Masi and Jeffrey had a great chat about law and justice, moral injury, Abraham Lincoln, elk and fish meat, and other topics. She is as interesting and thoughtful as she is kind.

Masi would not accept anything from us: not for gas, dinner, or to give to her favorite charity. Jeffrey insisted, but Masi insisted harder. (So who’s the stubborn one?)

Masi said a good deed is its own reward.

L to R: Ulysses, Masi.

This Walden motel is owned by a couple, one of whom is a Marine veteran.

L to R: Eliza, Micah.

We told them about the Ride. Micah said he is a libertarian. He tends to favor open borders, but short of that, he wants good people to have an easier time to come to our country.

Giving people immigration paths other than the limited, grudging means that our laws currently allow, would go a long way toward solving the refugee and asylum problem. If you can immigrate as a worker, you don’t need to ask for asylum, even if you qualify.

And if you can find a Masi when you need one, you won’t be stranded in the wilderness when night falls.

A bit of Main Street in Walden (pop. 600).
“Walden is The Moose Viewing Capital of Colorado.”

4 thoughts on “From Three Wheels to Four

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