Friday, July 3: We stayed in Springfield, CO last night at this quaint little place called the Stage Stop Motel. Real small town, but they had like 4 motels - probably because in the 125 miles between Trinidad and Springfield there are zero hotels/motels/campgrounds. It’s a long lonely stretch of road between those two towns. It’s also the transition from Great Plains to the foothills to the Rocky Mts. Anyway, this little Stage Stop was a mom and pop place with basically bedrooms with a bathroom - right along with creaking wooden floors, and living room that dbls for a morning coffee area, and a nice little front porch overseeing main street. 

The price was right - $55. So that was our home for 12 hrs. Ate at the towns premier restaurant, The Longhorn, where the townspeople meet, and where we both had a nice dinner, me the burrito grande, and Judy some poached cod. This place and these folks are the small town America that I just love to visit for a half day. After dinner I went back and changed a front tire flat while Judy sat on the porch and watched while drinking a glass of wine. Meanwhile the owner was watering her plants next to my van which was parked on main street in front of the motel. She had a little bucket that I filled with water to check out what the deal was with the tube that had been leaking for a good three days now. 

I was happy to see that I had zero pinholes in the tube from the sandburs, and the leaking problem was from two patches that I’d put on, both of which were on top of the seam of the tube - very bad spot for a hole! The patches had just been leaking air along the seams for days now, slowly at first, but more significant as of late. So with the remote riding I had ahead of me for these next couple days, I wanted peace of mind with two good tires and no potential leaking issues. Had zero issues pulling the tires on this change, and maybe that’s from the tire having been on and off so many times. What a wonderful surprise! Chucked the tube in the garbage and put a new one in. 

We got up super early this morning so I could bang out another big day, this one all in CO. Now I wish I could say I had the same love affair with KS as I had back on my 2012 trip, but I’d be lying. This one was just frustrating with all the “roads that never were” and the “sandtrap roads from hell!” These issues had just made this trip super difficult through KS. My only savings grace on this trip through KS was not having the wind taken out of my sails by the sandburs. 

Judy got me back to the junction of 37 Rd and DD Rd, about 15 miles east of Springfield, and I was riding at 6:50 AM. Did this one on my own and had Judy wait back on Rt 160 where DD deadended. Then I did a mile of berm on 160 west, then returned to dirt by taking a L, south, on 32.3 Rd. This was more of a access road to some farm acreage, and was dbl track. I had Judy follow me, as we had great luck in CO yesterday with her on the same roads as me, but this one, well, the farmer was irrigating and it had cause a great deal of water to collect along the dirt road, and then it created this pretty significant drainage ditch that Xed the road. With the surface just being dirt, and that particular area pretty muddy, I got in the van, turned it around for Judy, and had her go back and meet me south of Springfield on Rt 287/385. Didn’t want to risk that big dinosaur getting stuck in the mud out in a wheat field. 

So I got my gear pack on and continued unassisted. Rode on for a bit then did a R, west on B Rd and took that to the junction with 29.8 Rd, and went L, south on 29.8. Then went R, west, on A Rd for a good stint. I knew that the next two roads were unnamed on my gazetteer, but all I had to do was the first L and then the next R. Came to that junction and without really looking, I just went L. My gps just said I was “Riding on Road”, so I figured that I was good - right….unnamed road? So I’m riding along and this thing just gets narrow and goes to thin dbl track, and then goes into a farm field. And I immediately start think de ja vu with all the roads-that-weren’t in KS. So I take this thing like a mile and it just turned to nothing. Now I could see Rt 287/385 like two miles to the west. It’s so flat out here you can see the traffic moving on the freeways. 

With all the crap I’ve dealt with regarding the sandbar, I was NOT about to baja through all that foliage for two miles to get on 287. Better sense prevailed, so I figured that I just might as well backtrack and find another access road to get me to 287. Got back to that original junction point, and to my disgust I found that A Rd just did this little jog to the L, and then continued west again. I screwed up on this one, and the road that I’d taken was just a field access road. Got back on A and continued west, THEN found the L and THEN found the R and that got me back to 287. Went L on 287, and there was no berm riding here. The berm was the knee high vegetation on the side of the road, so rather than tempt fate with getting into a slew of sandbur thorns, I just rode on the asphalt for a mile to the junction of Y Rd, where Judy was waiting for me. 

I had here ride ahead of me, or stay behind me the rest of the day. So from there we did a R, west on Y, followed by a L, south, on 20 Rd, to a R, west on W Rd to the junction with Rt 160, and these collectively that covered about 15 miles of gravel riding - all of which was a false flat upwards. 

Now while I’m on that tangent, I’ll give you some numbers here. We ended yesterday at an altitude of 4200 feet. We ended today at an altitude of 5600 feet. So when I say I felt like I was just doing this false flat clime all day….I was, because we gained 1400 feet today. more numbers…my Garmin 810 has this generic calorie burner thing, where you put in you vitals and it gives you an idea of your caloric burn for a ride. Well, over the past several days I’ve ended up with caloric burns of 4000+ each and every day. Now I know there’s only so much you can draw out of these devices, but I find it kind of cool - because it gives me the green light to eat like a man possessed each day. I mean I’m nuking hot dogs & chile sauce in the microwave at 9 PM because I’m still hungry!

So back to the ride. What I set us up to do was to parallel Rt 160 on all these gravel and dirt roads as 160 undulates west and south all the way to Trinidad. Next section of 160 to parallel was a long one - and again, they were basically all false flat up. We went L, south on 10 Rd, and then R, west on U Rd, then L, south on 3 Rd, and a R, west on T Rd, which turned into 34 Rd. This pup, 34 Rd just went on forever. Judy would drive 3-5 miles ahead of me, wait, read a book, and then when I caught up, she’d drive on again. The road was this long hilly gravel ribbon that just went off into the horizon. It looked like it went on forever. I did some Gopro video on this guy because it was just so spectacular looking. I’d see Judy drive off and then she’d just vanish over a long riser. At this point we were riding in Comanche National Grassland. It’s so vast, kind of like that Lapland area I rode through in KS, that you feel - or I feel - like you’re just a nothing  out there. Loved it. We went R, northwest, on 203.5 Rd, and then L, west, on 36 Rd to junction with 160 once again. 

Took a major break here, just on the northern periphery of the tiny town of Kim, CO. Had a sandwitch, powerade, water and hustled back to the bike, where I’d hope to bag at least 80 miles of the day. The following section was another long and remote parallel to 160. I got on 160 for a mile, and as I did with 287, I was forced to ride on asphalt for 1.5 miles because the berm was knee high vegetation, some of which was sandbur. So we went straight, south, on 197 Rd, then R, west on 30 Rd. And this is where I began to see the clouds collection, kind of amassing. Now this 30 Rd had just been regraded, and it was nothing but dirt. That, and the building cloud cover kind of worried me, more so for the van and Judy than me. 

Wouldn’t you know it when about half way down 30 Rd the rain began, starting with some light  drizzle and then some steady streaks. So we came to the next turn, a L, south, on 185 Rd. Judy had stopped and asked what I though about the weather. To me it looked good to the southwest, so I told her I wanted to really finish this section and call it a day. From that point I think we had a good 15 miles to go. I was hoping the rain was just this little micro regional thing and we’d go right out of it. But by the time we had gone the 3 miles south on 185, the rain had really begun to come down steady. Not only that but the whole southwest was suddenly a pretty big mass of grey rain clouds. I mean it occurred within about 15 minutes. Once the rain was pretty steady, and our intended area of travel looked socked it, I knew we were done. 

Judy had turned around and was headed back towards me as I was pretty much writing the rest of the day off, so we were on the same page. I had to get the van and her out of there in case there was a deluge out on those dirt and gravel roads. At that point I was 76 miles into the day, and that’s where we ended the day, at the junction of 185 Rd and 26 Rd, out in the middle of nowhere, and about 60 miles east of Trinidad, CO on Rt 160. Then came the long drive to Trinidad for lodging - amazing to have to do 120 miles in the van to get a place, and then go back to the end spot the next day. But hey, that comes with this territory. And I’d told Judy about this one because there was no way I’d be able to do 135-140 miles of gravel in a day - at least NOT out here. 

Hell, the 95 I did yesterday was way easier than the 75 today, because the whole day today was just this long, low angle climb. I got a nice hotel in Trinidad this eve for Judy. She’s just been so amazing on this trip, especially out here in the hinterlands where she’s driving down dirt and gravel roads for 7.5 hrs at a crack. I could do dive places the whole trip, but I like to treat Judy to some nice places every now and then. She deserves that for sure. So we’re in a big city, so to speak right now, and about to go get some dinner at this Mexican place down the road. 

Tomorrow I’ll be doing this remote 25-30 mile section alone, without Judy for backup, so I’m taking a bit more gear. I hope to make this last section to Trinidad in good time, and then head north on I-25 to got to Drew’s house in Denver. Need to be done by like 2 or 3 PM so we can do the 3-hr drive to Denver and not roll into town late in the night. But this remote section could involve some big climbing. I’m going to check it out this evening on Google Earth. 

Until tomorrow…..