Thirty-Six: Probably, Definitely Halfway (Eads to Pueblo)
Last night, Josh’s weather app called for a 100-degree day, with winds out of the SSW at 10 mph to 20 mph. Luckily, the forecast was wrong, at least about the wind. I was up early with the so-called extra hour and it was a great morning to start the perfect day. The wind was quiet, and when it did blow, it came out of the east (!). I was in Haswell, 20 miles west, a little more than an hour later. Motoring, 18 mph. On an 85-pound bicycle. Magic, I tell you. Arlington, a certifiable one-horse town and host of an eastern Colorado comfort station (see photos) fell shortly after. The country was absolutely desolate and absolutely gorgeous. I cruised toward Sugar City, where I ran into Steffen, who left south Florida in January, went west to San Diego, north to San Francisco along the coast, and’s working his back across where he’ll deviate to NYC, and head home to Germany. Here I also got my first glimpse of the Rockies, veiled in the distance.
I had thought to call Ordway home for the night, about 65 miles west, but it was only 10:30 a.m., so I had a bean and cheese burrito, more ice water and continued toward Pueblo. I’m definitely in burrito-land, and it’s a great place to be.
Outside Ordway, I met Anthony who’s the only cyclist I met today coming across the TransAm. It seems the WE is more popular right now. He crossed paths with Trevor yesterday.
Near Boone, I ran into Steven, coming from S.F. and headed east toward Philadelphia. He was in Boone’s general store and asked about fresh fruit or veggies. The owner said he’s just got green bananas, but a lady getting gas said to hang on a second. She came back with a bag of Bing cherries, and handed them over. They’re Velcroed to his top tube. We shared a few and discussed what was coming up. The Western Express separates from the TransAm in Wetmore, just a few miles out of Pueblo, so mostly I filled him in on good places to stay in the east, and impressed on him the moral imperative of stopping by Cooky’s in Golden City.
You come into Pueblo on Highway 50, which has a wide shoulder, but lots of traffic and noise. Safe, but not very pleasant. On the upside, I saw my first prairie dogs of the trip. Great Divide bike shop recommended Coors Gray Tavern for lunch and a beer, and I tried the regional dish — something called a Slopper, which is a couple of open-faced burgers drowned in green chili and onions.
My fantasy of an ice-cold, skeevy motel and a six-pack of Colorado beer was dashed when I found that even the most wretched hotel wanted $40. So, down the road to Safeway (back in Safeway country, yeah!) for dinner supplies then through historic Pueblo (including a very nice city park — too bad no camping allowed) to Lake Pueblo Reservoir for the night. It’s gorgeous, and the off-peak rate of $17 is only mild extortion. Lots of RVs, and a coin-operated shower house. It’s dry here, so I’m camped on the picnic table. I somehow averaged 16 mph over 124 miles. Perfect storm.