We're about to start lugging our butts, our bikes, and all our baggage up some big old mountains. So, first, we're treating ourselves to TWO whole rest days.
We haven't done two rest days in a row since back at the very beginning of the trip when we stopped to give Beau's knee some recuperation time in Charlottesville. Remember these fresh faces? Oh, such babes!
We're excited for the Rockies, and we've learned enough by now to know a little bit better how much we can bite off in a single day — how many miles, how much climbing, and how much rest we'll need as a result. This voyage is a great teacher, if only we can retain the lessons... which mostly have to do with patience and flexibility. Things I (Sara) am always in search of. A lot of my life has had to do with pushing as hard as I can, working as much as I can, being as focussed and organized and high-achieving as possible. It's had its rewards (because, as we're more and more awake to each day, Capitalism) but its risks are, on a personal level, total burn-out, and on a systemic level, complicity with some pretty ugly shit. This could be a whole essay (and, no doubt, has been, many times over), but suffice to say: even doing this ride—insisting on living, exploring, and discovering rather than producing for a little while—feels like coming up for air. And allowing ourselves to slow down when we need to lets us breathe that air more deeply.
BUT SO. We woke up "late" (still early) on Day 49 and rode towards downtown Pueblo as the sun was still pretty low in the sky. We're staying up at the north end of the city, and Pueblo has a pretty wonderful wide cement bike path that runs the whole length of the town, then wraps around the downtown area, crossing the Arkansas River and turning into a pretty great nature trail for a while. There's also a lovely "historic riverwalk" in the downtown area itself, with a riverside promenade and, in more social times, boat rides and concerts.
The bike trail brings you into town on Union Street, an older part of the city and fun downtown area with shops, galleries, bakeries, etc. We stopped at one of the latter (obviously) for a delicious scone and lavender shortbread cookie. Then we found a nice coffee shop to hole up in for a while to do things like write postcards, plan the route ahead, and catch up on this here blog.
A little before noon we dropped our bikes off at the very friendly Great Divide Ski, Bike & Hike Shop. The guys there were great and gave both our bikes a safety check as well as helping me replace my tire. ("Whoa, I can see why you don't want to keep this one as a spare!" said the owner once he got a look at it.) One of the mechanics told us that, back in high school, he had gotten a flat from a goathead thorn out in the middle of nowhere and ("cuz I knew I had to be home soon or my mom would kill me") he managed to patch and boot his tire with tree sap and leaves. "I probably rode on it for another two days before it went flat again." I mean, I guess I've been stripped of the MacGyver Award. But check out the carnage! —
While the good dudes at Great Divide gave our bikes the once-over, we got some tasty deli sandwiches and walked around downtown Pueblo a bit more. It's an interesting city — it has that somewhat scrappy vibe of a semi-industrial city that's nearby a couple of other bigger, swankier cities. Colorado Springs and Denver are probably more "cosmopolitan", but Pueblo has a kind of neat hybrid feel... Partly Rocky Mountains, partly Southwest.
Later in the afternoon, we had an early dinner with some family friends of Beau's that he hasn't seen in over ten years. When Beau was young, his mother showed Australian Shepherds and this couple were friends of Beau's family that they met through the dog show circuit. They live in Colorado Springs (Beau once lived in Parker, CO), and they drove down just to say hello to us and take us for a meal. Thank you, Ila and Ken! It was so lovely to meet you — say hi to the corgis for us!
Oh, but also we got some sick pics of Beau on the ride back north on Pueblo's cycling path...
Day 50 (wow — 50!!) finds us marveling at the luxury of a second rest day, and continuing with housekeeping... Blog, shopping for some winter items for the upcoming mountain riding, getting some things together to ship home... It's strange to be out looking for extra layers when, right now, the afternoon sun is beating down at 90 degrees. But it's October, and once we get up in the mountains, we could see sunny skies one day and snow the next. And even the sunny skies might not be that warm.
We're ready though. Or, ready as we'll be. We're headed for grand peaks and ancient forests, cold nights and hot springs, and, somewhere at the end of it all, another ocean...
Thank you for being here with us, friends. Tomorrow, we travel on.
Days 49 & 50: 0 miles, several pancakes. Rockies, here we come.