Day 17: Steamboat Springs, CO to Limon, CO

We really should have taken the start of our day today as I sign of things to come. First, I somehow managed in all of my clutziness to get my foot hung up in my shorts when I was putting them on, and ended up hopping around on one foot until I finally flopped onto the bed to keep from falling onto my luggage. Dwayne didn’t know what the heck I was doing, but we both got a laugh out of it.

Then after breakfast, Dwayne was cleaning our face shields on our helmets and when he went to set mine back down, he accidentally knocked the bucket of melted ice from the night before into one of my boots. He quickly dumped it out onto the hotel carpet (sorry Holiday Inn, your carpet was less important than my boot at that moment), but it had already soaked some of the water in, and my sock that was laying on top of it also got wet. I did my best to dry them both out with my hair dryer, but they were still a bit wet when I put them on. I honestly didn’t notice too much after a few minutes though, so it wasn’t a big deal, but he felt bad.

We left the hotel around 9:00 and it was sunny and 57 degrees. It felt fantastic, and I remarked to Dwayne that we couldn’t ask for a better day to go to the Rocky Mountain National Park. Boy was I wrong (again).

As we were riding into the park we saw a sign that said there would be heavy bike traffic (bicycles) due to an event within the park. We both sort of groaned, but figured it would just be a bit of an annoyance, but nothing too major, and we went on into the park. We stopped at the first little parking lot to put the GoPro on my bike and take some pictures of the snow covered mountains off in the distance. While we were there a herd of Elk came out of the woods and trotted by, so we took pictures of them and watched them for a few minutes. We stopped a couple of more times to take more pictures, and then we started the climb up the mountains.

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About a fourth of the way up, we started passing bicyclists, but they were pretty spread out and were staying mainly on the right edge of the road, so it wasn’t too bad. Then we got about halfway up and traffic came to a stop ahead of us, as a couple of RV’s many cars ahead of us came up on a long line of bicylists, and the RV’s were too scared to try to pass them, so they were literally just inching up the mountain, while we were fighting to keep our bike from dying each time we tried to move forward a little bit on the steep incline. This would be a difficult task on any bike, but the Tigers are geared a bit high, so you have to get the rpm’s up a bit higher than normal to keep them from dying when you release the clutch. Needless to say, we both killed them a few times, and we were both getting incredibly frustrated. Eventually we made it to a curve, and we hoped that we were at the top and that they would be able to pass and then we would start back down after a bit. That wasn’t the case. We went around the curve and we were immediately hit with heavy wind. There were more bicyclists on up this next incline, and traffic still wasn’t passing them, so we had to stop at the bottom of this incline too, and the wind was blowing so hard, it was difficult to hold the bike upright.

The wind was blowing so hard that we couldn’t even hear the bikes engines over the wind noise, so when we tried to take off, we both killed the bikes. We quickly realized that we just weren’t going to be able to go any further, since there was no end to the bicyclists in site, and it had taken us nearly 30 minutes to get up the previous incline without any wind, and we knew we couldn’t fight that wind at a slow crawl up the incline for another 30 minutes. Angry and upset that we weren’t going to get to see the park that we had waited two years to see (we were here two years ago and weather kept us from being able to ride through the park), we got the bikes turned around, and we headed back down to the bottom of the first incline where there was a parking lot.

By the time we got the bikes parked, we were both shaking from nerves and just being downright angry, so we knew we needed to take a few minutes to calm down. I took the camera and went to take some pictures, and Dwayne talked to some other riders who had just come from the opposite direction. It turned out that one of them lived 30 minutes from us back in Indiana. After we talked to them for a few minutes, we decided to go ahead and head back out of the park the way we had come, which took us nearly an hour out of our intended route, but we had no other choice.

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As we were nearing the parking lot where we had stopped when we came in the park, we noticed a lot of traffic stopping on the side of the road, and we assumed the elk must have come out again. Then I saw it. The one animal I have been trying to see for years and have never been fortunate enough to see. A MOOSE! Not only was there an adult moose, but she had a small calf with her, so I also got to see a baby moose! I was ecstatic. Luckily there was a spot for us to pull off right where they were, and we were able to watch them for a few minutes and snap some quick pictures. All of a sudden I didn’t care that the bicyclists had ruined my day, because if it hadn’t have been for them, I wouldn’t have turned back, and I wouldn’t have saw them!

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Once we got out of the park, we gassed up the bikes in Granby and continued down 40 until it ran into I-70. As we came down out of the mountains on 70, the temperature continued to rise higher and higher until it was 94 degrees. It felt very hot to us, since we had just come from mid-60 degree weather, but it wasn’t unbearable at 70mph… until traffic came to a dead stop in front of us. There was no reason for it other than people just can not comprehend how to properly merge into heavy traffic, so everyone kept slamming on their brakes and causing a chain reaction that would make traffic stop, and then go a little, and then stop again, and so on for nearly 45 minutes. By the time we got through Denver, my thermostat said that the air temperature was 101 degrees.

At this point we were hot, sweaty, and miserable, and I was becoming quite “hangry” having not eaten since breakfast 8 hours earlier, so we stopped at a Taco Bell to get some food and figure out where we were going to stay for the night and cool off a bit. Dwayne ended up talking to the couple in the booth next to us, who ended up being from Illinois, and live 20 minutes from Dwayne’s Uncle Erni, and the wife was from a town that Dwayne’s mom sometimes visits. Seriously, it’s a small world.

We ended up staying in Limon, Colorado, since we were getting tired and ready to get off the bikes after all of the stop and go traffic we had been in all day.

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