Day 56 (15th zero-ish day), in Sterling, Colo.: Playing it safe, prepping for the last push to Denver - Chris Cross America - CycleBlaze

June 17, 2022

Day 56 (15th zero-ish day), in Sterling, Colo.: Playing it safe, prepping for the last push to Denver

Look who stopped in on their way to Denver! Here's a selfie of me with Mom and Dad in front of J&L Cafe in Sterling. I'm wearing my full biking kit, including sunglasses and helmet, and Mom and Dad are in civilian clothes, including sunglasses.
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Friday stats

Start: Buffalo Hills RV Park, Sterling, Colo.

End: Pioneer Park, Sterling, Colo.

The Daily Progress: About 5 miles. I went from side of town to the other. Also, I went from a $25 RV park to a free city park (well, I'm calling it "free" because I'm assuming the police are not going to kick me out of here, but I suppose it is a possibility).

The Ascension: Whatever

Ice cream flavors: N/A. No ice cream, but I did treat myself to a beer, a kolsch, at the Parts and Labor Brewery downtown, as I devoured a large and so-well-executed salad with grilled chicken and corn-and-black-bean salsa. Getting a beer on such a hot day was a bit indulgent and potentially not a smart move, but it was oh-so-satisfying.

Lodging expenses: $0

Food expenses: $13 for groceries at Walmart, $24 for dinner

Other expenses: $3 admission to the city pool, $27 for haircut and beard trim

Friday flip-floppings

I woke up with one solid plan for the day: My parents, who were driving from New Jersey to Denver to visit Jenna, Chris, Noah and Brooke, were going to meet up with me for lunch. Yesterday I had suggested a place in a small town about 25 miles from where I was in Sterling. But this morning, I woke up very uncertain about this plan. After lunch, I would still have 35 miles to go. I could ask my folks to meet me in the next town over so that I'd cover more mileage before lunch, but even then I'd still have 25 miles to go after lunch, in extreme heat, with no services in between. (Oh, yeah: And by myself.)

Also, I expected to have sore legs after yesterday's 95-mile ride (and I did). A heat advisory had been issued for the area, and today would be the worst of the weekend's heat. The whole reason I rode so far yesterday was so that I could take off a day and stay out of the heat. 

"But there's no way to know how far I could go today until I start going," I told myself. "See how it feels. Then you can decide whether to make sure a zero day."

I went through enough of the motions to get myself fully dressed to ride and mostly packed up, but I could feel the soreness in my legs and a general tiredness in my bones. "This is how you wind up with heat stroke," I think to myself.

And so I made it a zero day. I asked my folks to meet me in Sterling rather than in Stoneham. I packed up — the RV park was fine, but I had no interest in staying there again — and went into town. I went to look at one of the city's many parks and then headed to the cafe, where Mom and Dad drove up as I was locking up Blue. Mom even had a poster to cheer me on. How sweet! (I will need to photograph it next time I see it.)

We all ordered breakfast and caught up with each other. Afterward, Mom and Dad gave me some fruit and a couple of PB&J sandwiches that they had packed for their road trip. They also lent me a travel mug, to give me more ice-carrying capacity on tomorrow's ride. And I gave some of my colder-weather clothing (hat, gloves, cycling pants, cycling jacket) to them to bring to Denver for me. (Wow, these trail angels do it all!)

I heard to the city pool to chill and plan my day and prepare for tomorrow.

Sterling's pool wins the contest so far for biggest slide, which are visible in the distance in the center of this overview shot of the pool space.
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Top priority was buying some food for the next two days of riding through wide open spaces. Another possibility was getting rid of this annoying beard.

Hey, remember me? I smile at the camera, displaying a beardless face and a trimmed haircut.
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(Sorry, Michelle and Ammar, you seemed to really like the idea of growing my hair out through the whole trip, but I just couldn't let it go on. The beard was so hideous and obnoxious — I mean, it was thick enough to retain water. And once the beard was gone, it looked too weird to stop there, so I asked to trim the sides.)

Then I scoped out another park, looking for camping potential. I had called a phone number listed on Google to ask about camping, but I got no answer. I considered  other towns I'd recently passed through and how they approached camping in their parks, and I decided not to worry about it. 

I went to Walmart for some food to fuel my day tomorrow and Sunday morning. Then I went to Parts and Labor Brewery. I had been feeling very very tired, but that meal picked me right up. 

Finally, back to the park I had checked out, on the west side of town. I considered stealth camping in a space with thicker trees and grass, but I took one look at the grass and thought, "Ticks." I looked at the more open space. I looked around the park. No good places to hang a hammock except near a pavilion. Fine. We're not stealth camping. We're conspicuous camping! (Of course I'm right here in the middle of the park — it's perfectly allowed, nay, encouraged even ... Isn't it?) I think there's some truth to it. Do something surreptitiously, and anyone who notices you will be suspicious. Do it confidently and proudly, and far more people will notice you, but they'll assume you're legit.

So hear I am, in the hammock, as teenagers apparently drive around in single-sex groups in large vehicles,  screaming along in unison to various pop songs mashed together. Oh, right, it's Friday night.

Luckily, the kids are moving on. I want to get an early start so I can beat the heat, so I'd better get to sleep.

"Like a bat out of hell, I'll be gone when the morning comes!"

Today's ride: 5 miles (8 km)
Total: 2,206 miles (3,550 km)

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