Start: Limon, CO
Finish: Lamar, CO
Weather: 100 degrees, sunny
Bike Time: 10 hours
Distance to date: 477
There are no hotels between Limon and Lamar, and only one restaurant at a mid-point, so I knew today would be a long slog. Fortunately, the ride was more downhill than up, and the shoulder along US 287 is terrific for cyclists. Unfortunately the headwinds from the South beat at me all afternoon and the highway is a major trucking route.
When I pictured this trip in my mind, I always envisioned riding through the High Plains, a landscape I came to love the year I lived in West Texas. Today, I got a full dose of that landscape, at a pace I had never experienced before.
People drive through the High Plains – fast. It is vast and slow changing, some would say boring, yet I consider it a subtle space, where small variations reflect important distinctions. Absorbing it at 12 miles per hour, as opposed to 65, reveals those distinctions.
Limon to Kit Carson, the first 62 miles, was easy. The morning was bright, the sky clear, my only shade came from the passing semis. The landscape gave over from tall grass to scrubby plants, it turned sandy, the horizons extended.
I was really hungry the last ten miles, but was rewarded for not snacking by a terrific chicken fried steak sandwich with fries – my second in two days. Chicken fried steak has never made it on any menus in New England, but I love it, and since I am cycling like mad, the dilemma of how to work off a piece of steak, breaded and deep fried, then mounted on a bun and surrounded by fries, is really no problem at all.
The moment I stepped out of the restaurant I felt like a scone on the baking sheet of the High Plains – dry and crusty. The temperature was at least 100 degrees but the humidity had fled for the coast. It took some time to gather enough speed to
develop a breeze, then the head winds came at me full force and I had more breeze than I could handle.
Now I traversed long stretches of near horizontal land. I had to stop every few miles to drink, and each time realized how much tiny wild life lives out here. Once I upset a hoard of grasshoppers that rustled away, another time I set my bike near a swarming colony of red ants. The Plains look barren, but they
After a three o’clock rest stop at the IGA in Eads and a long chat with the manager who doubles as the bag boy, the environment changed again. Now there were undercurrents of cool air
accenting the headwinds, and the benevolent puffs of cloud that floated through the noon sky like anime creatures took on swirling shapes, grew wide and dark, the first forms of storm. By four o’clock the darkest clouds in the distance created funnels of rain with lightening piercing the blurring streaks across the sky. As yesterday, I was spared the worst of the
storms, but marveled how they formed, struck havoc, and dissipated around me.
I did not arrive in Lamar until after six pm, a bit too much riding for one day, but happy to have had such a complete experience of this land most of us simply whiz by.
Afternoon Thunderstorms Approaching Lamar, CO