Riding the ACA Trans-America Bike Route.
The off-the-bike week of responsible parenting has ended, I saw Rami off on a flight from Denver and he was home in 5 hours. It took some wrangling to make it all happen but it worked and I got to see Denver and Colorado Springs as well as Pueblo–my Eastern Colorado Trifecta. Tears were shed and many hugs and loving cuddles as well. Rami was sad to go, but he was being very mature in wanting to split his summer, and he deserves much credit for all the hard riding he did. This was not as long a tour as last year’s but each mile this year was five times as hard as one on last year’s ride. There are miles, and then there are miles. These were the latter kind.
The hero of the week though is Bikeflights.com, and specifically Gordon at Bikeflights. There was lots to ship home and Fed Ex wanted 210 bucks to take Rami’s bike to Tampa. I was livid since I have had bikes shipped to me for as little as 45 bucks. UPS said 210 and the post office said perhaps as little as 150. It took a while and a prompt from Sarah, who had to endure me screaming into the phone about being trapped in Pueblo, capitalism, and my own stupidity–not in that order. But then Bikeflights–dear sweet professional understanding Bikeflights wafted into the story like a calm gentle breeze. In no time at all I was back at Fed Ex, this time with a Bikeflights shipping labels which had cost 65 bucks and the Surly was on the way to Tampa. Use this company! I have no idea how they make money–I think they are operating on a Manna from Heaven business model, but like the Manna, they are heaven sent. I don’t think they taste of coriander or whatever food you want them to be like the original though, (look it up–it is in Shemot, which I think in English is Exodus–second book at any rate).
So, after shipping bikes and clothes, and sending off Rami, and once the Big Red Silverado was moored back in its hanger, I was free to be a cyclist once again. Incidentally, I learned on the drive to Denver that there is a sort of brotherhood of Silverado drivers–the Silveradudes, if you will. Rami was the first to notice that each Silveradude that we saw was sort of checking us out. Our’s was brand new–we got it with less than 1000 miles on it, so, yeah, brand new, dude. Rami also noticed that the newer models have squarer mirrors than did the tatty old ones–that’s right dude, square mirrors. I am not sure though that Rami and I really fit the profile of proper Silveradudes, and on reflection, that might be why they were checking us out. Where was the gray tee shirt or plaid button down? How come no baseball caps with sunglasses on the brims? My beard might pass muster–but those silly glasses? I don’t think so! And what about Rami’s magestic mane of Semitic warrior ringlet locks anointed with scented oils? Waaaaaait a minute–something is amiss here! Better notify Silveradudes’ Central that some distinctly “ethnic” non-Marlboro man types are trying pass themselves off as vrai “gens de pickup” (or words to that effect, although my last sentence may somewhat highlight exactly the sort of issue they would be sensitive to). We managed to evade any problems, although when some little pissant in a pimped out little car tried to steal the Short Term Parking spot we had patiently waited for, the aforementioned pissant got a full blast of the front end of the Silverado, and some carefully chosen bons mots from the man blasting the horn. With a huge grin Rami said to me–“see, it is times like this when it shows that you are a Brooklynite.” To my recollection, I did not curse. But I did make my point using PG rated socially acceptable verbiage.
By 9am after docking the Silverado at Hertz, I was wheeling through Pueblo on my way to the turn on 4th St. That road was a bit busy, so I hopped down to 3rd and wended back. That led me to the coffeeshop there where habit made me stop. It was an oasis. Pueblo has had a hard time. Industry has left, the loss of jobs, meth, OxyContin and so on have clearly ravaged the town as have the big boxes sucking businesses out of downtown. There are a number of nice old buildings–all early 20c vintage–including a good Kress building and a great old leather shop once run by a man named Mayer, his name still in the stonework. There also are some valient well-meaning folks trying to bring life back to the old place. But it is hot, and windy, and not an easy battle to win. One local explained to me that marijuana legalization has been terrible for the city. She said that what happened was that once the state legalized, tens of thousands of dealers from all over the nation flooded the state thinking they were going to get rich quick. Of course the market was not set up in a way that would allow that, and now all these people who had spent what they had to get to the Promised Land now found themselves no better off than they were elsewhere. Pueblo has a very low cost of living, and so in time they have flooded the city. It is no joke–there are sun tanned homeless and near homeless all over the place. It is different than Sacramento where the city seems to have just allowed tent cities to spring up here and there. In Pueblo, they are just everywhere. It is unsettling. This country has failed so many of its people.
The coffeeshop–the Solar Roast–though was a place apart–although I ended up giving one of my hard boiled eggs and some money to a guy on a bench right across the street. People were friendly and chatty in the coffeeshop and religion again emerged as a topic. I need to write a seperate post on that, but later. For today though I scooted out of town and headed east quickly entering the plains. First impressions? LOOOOVE it! Fascinating landscape and I really wish I could have seen it in 1700. Most of the others places I have seen so far look more or less as they did then–the Sierras, Carson’s Pass, Nevada Hellscape, Utah Hellscape, Rockies and Bullwinkle, Golden Gate Park, Chinatown–all places largely the same in 1700 as today. Maybe. But this place is different. I rode and rode in what I can only call a sea of land. Sitting in Ordway late in the day, eating frozen blueberries, and talking with the local friendly old man who likes to chat, I could see the land out there and it was just like being at the beach–except the beach was a road crossing and the sea was land. Trust me–really weird.
There is a stock auction in Ordway tomorrow and the trucks were coming in. The cattle trucks have two levels–upper and lower. I noticed they were very tall, but it was only this afternoon I realized that there were two levels with two floors. I guess I thought ranchers just stuffed cattle in to fill the space–like cabbages or Tokyo commuters. What do I know about cows? As my son pointed out–I am a Brooklynite!