Day 55, to Sterling, COLORADO: Can I do two days' worth of riding in one day? 'I can do that.' - Chris Cross America - CycleBlaze

June 16, 2022

Day 55, to Sterling, COLORADO: Can I do two days' worth of riding in one day? 'I can do that.'

I hold up a fist in victory as I stand in front of a sign that reads "Welcome to colorful Colorado." Photo by a very kind man named John who was working on the farm to the right. On the left is U.S. Route 6.
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marilyn swettGood for you, making it to Colorado! It's all uphill from there!
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1 month ago

Thursday stats

NEW STATE REACHED: Colorado

Start: Enders Reservoir, Neb.

End: Buffalo Hills RV Park, Sterling, Colo.

The Daily Progress: 95.15 miles!

The Ascension: 1,903 feet

Elevation at endpoint: 3,937 feet

Ice cream flavors: Blue Bunny's Mississippi Mud ice cream sandwich

Lodging expenses: $25

Food expenses: $26-ish. That includes two big bottles of Gatorade.

Thursdays thrills

I knew that 100-degree temperatures and strong winds would be coming Friday and this weekend, so I thought it would be nice to try to cover a little extra mileage today in case I need to take a zero day or a couple of half days. But after yesterday, I thought I should be careful what I plan for, given that it would still be pretty hot today, too. I listened to some music as I packed up this morning. One song that got stuck in my head: Meat Loaf's "I would do anything for love." Especially the line when he responds to the female singer asking him to do a bunch of things and he replies, "I can do that!"

Riding felt great right from the start today. I knew from the weather forecast that I'd have a tailwind pretty much all day (except for the first mile or so, as I was headed north), and as soon as I turned west, I could easily keep a pace of 16 to 19 miles per hour, so I immediately started thinking about doing two days' worth of mileage in one day. Let's use that tailwind while I've got it! Can I do it? It might sound crazy. (Meat Loaf sings: "It's crazy and it's true.") But ... "I can do that!"

Excellent pavement, a steady tailwind and essentially flat grade made for high speeds all day long. I noticed my average speed continuing to rise, and I challenged myself to get it above 16 miles per hour, which was excellent motivation to keep the pace from dropping. I was careful not to push myself too hard, and it felt surprisingly good to put in a solid, consistent effort and be rewarded with many, many miles ticking away, bringing me closer to what was originally tomorrow's destination. I finally did get my average speed up to 16 (and later, 16.1)  as I was climbing the last gentle hill of the day. ("Will you raise me up? Will you help me down? Will you get me right out of this godforsaken town?")

Backing up a bit: I had an early stop after 10 or 11 miles and planned to stop again when I'd gone 24, or about a quarter of the day's total mileage. But I was cruising along pretty smoothly and there was really no appealing place to stop. I kept going, reaching around 33 miles and the state border with Colorado, right next to a farm operation.

A very kind man named John saw me trying to take a selfie with the Colorado welcome sign, and he came out from between some silos to take a photo for me. After thanking him, I told him I was going to sit there and eat some lunch before heading off again. He said he was just eating his lunch in his truck and he invited me to join him, which I happily did. He is a cyclist too, and he shared some intel about what to expect on the road ahead. He also insisted I take more than one peanut butter cookie that his wife had baked, and when I was ready to go, he gave me a bag with a dozen mini blueberry muffins that his wife had also baked. Wow! ("Can you give me something I can take home? ... I can do that!")

I snapped this selfie with John just before I returned to the road and he returned to work. John has on a hard hat and a reflective vest and safety goggles. I've got my helmet, brightly colored MWABA jersey and cycling glasses. Behind us are some giant metal silos (or at least I think they're silos because they are cylindrical).
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And on I went. Cruising and cruising and cruising. And also humming, then singing, then eventually belting out, "I WOULD DO AN-Y-THING FOR LOVE. Oh, I WOULD DO AN-Y-THING FOR LO-OVE..."

I texted Jenna and Chris to tell them I'd reached their state. I also begged a small favor, and Chris responded right on theme, twice: "We can do that." 

I didn't even notice it at first, until the music in my head picked up again.

The terrain was clearly changing. I passed a couple of mesas. More yuccas. More gentle hills and distant, distant views. Cows and corn and giant wind turbines. ("Will you take me places I've never known? Oh, I can do that...")

The perspective in this photo exaggerates the size difference here because the wind turbine is much closer to me than the houses, but ... that's a giant wind turbine on the left, and to the right is a row of a few houses on the horizon. What is this, a house for ants?! (What is a Zoolander reference doing in a blog post with a Meat Loaf theme? Somebody get this editor an editor.)
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Having learned from yesterday's experience, I made sure to stop at each opportunity and refuel with plenty of snacks, Gatorade and ice water. ("Will you hose me down with holy water, if I get too HOT?!")

Here's my attempt at photographing the panoramic view facing west on U.S. 6 approaching Sterling. Green earth on each side of the road, with blurry blue hills on the distant horizon. ("It'll all turn to dust and we'll all fall down.")
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And I rolled right into the RV park without slowing down. Ninety-five miles and feeling freaking fantastic.

Yeah, I can do that.

***

Now, I know someone is going to want to point out that this was actually a terrible idea and that I need to take the heat seriously and whatnot. I know, that's totally true. I had multiple backup plans involving stopping sooner. The heat can catch up to you in surprising ways, etc., etc. I get it. I was mindful of that. I took extra steps to be careful about it, and it worked out much better than I expected. So let's enjoy this rare victory over the elements.

"As long as the wheels are turning ...

"As long as the bays are burning ...

"As long as your dreams are coming true,

"You'd better believe it!"

Today's ride: 95 miles (153 km)
Total: 2,201 miles (3,542 km)

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Comment on this entry Comment 2
George HallChris, you may not be up on the news since you are traveling. Be aware that Yellowstone is closed with no hope of reopening soon - cyclists are being rerouted - full discussion is available in the forum
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1 month ago
Chris GeorgeTo George HallThanks. Yeah, I saw that it was closed but have not given it any real thought yet, because planning my days heading into Denver has been about as much planning as I can handle at the moment. When I'm stationary in Denver next week, I may have to start rethinking the next phase of this tour. Hope everyone in the area is okay.
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1 month ago