We joyfully entered Colorado, stopping at the Welcome to Colorful Colorado sign to get the obligatory photo of all of us. Dan crossed the state line before us (he got his own photo) and we were planning to meet him in Haswell, CO.
Haswell is exactly that, a town that is so named because well…. it has a well. It also has the smallest jail in the U.S. thankfully unoccupied for the moment. A town resident stopped by the park to talk to us and told us the history of the town name. The water was among the best we had.
Storms and Heat Waves
Entering southern Colorado brought heat and storms. Pueblo Colorado was even more hot than Kansas but somehow being in Colorado and knowing the mountains were soon upon us made that a little easier. Electrical hook-ups at Pueblo State Park also helped.
“Halfway there… oh oh livin’ on a prayer” Pueblo, CO marks the halfway point on the TransAmerica route. Halfway seems like forever but it was such an accomplishment! We celebrated two fold because it was also Father’s Day. How we planned that so well, we don’t know. Dan’s parents were still with us so we were also able to celebrate with Dan’s dad and we took them to dinner at a Mexican restaurant in Pueblo after we explored Pueblo State Park. Like Missouri, you can really see how much Colorado invests in their recreation to include their state parks. They are beautiful and welcoming with views all around.
After Pueblo came the storms. Riding to Guffy, Colorado Dan encountered not only hail but a tornado off to the east of him. Thankfully he was safe as his parents turned around and picked him up out of the hail. Quarter size hail was raining down on him and we were lucky to have shelter in Guffy Colorado. Dan later told me that a few vehicles slowed down near him and told him he should get off the road because there was a tornado to the east. If Dan could have gotten off the road, he would have and did when his parents turned around to get him. This was a much easier task for them rather than me turning around. He was able to get out of the storm within minutes and travel a couple miles to get to us in Guffy.
Race Across the U.S.
Over the last week we kept seeing other cyclists heading to the east coast; most packing very light and looking very tired. These riders stood out as being part of the race across the U.S. In Kansas we saw the rider that would end up coming in second place and Dan even passed by the woman who came in first place. These were not the last riders we would see on the route as many were still pacing themselves to make it to Yorktown, VA. The top ten would complete our same journey in 21 days.
Along with the Race Across the U.S. cyclists, Dan, myself, and the boys met two Continental Divide cyclists in Hartsel Colorado. We met Dan back in Hartsel after I drove to Fairplay to drop the trailer. It was much easier to drive back and forth without the trailer! We traveled through Hartsel a few times on past vacations and really like the drive between there and Breckenridge. Meeting Dan back in Hartsel we decided to eat at the small diner in town. We are happy we did since this is where we ended up meeting the two Continental Divide cyclists. One looked worn down and after speaking to him he confessed he was disappointed since he had some bicycle trouble putting him two days behind the lead. The other cyclists was definitely there for the enjoyment and was taking in every moment he could. They were both very interesting to speak with and were kindred spirits to Dan, taking on such an epic journey.
Not only does Colorado offer the halfway point on the TransAmerica route, it also offers the highest point at Hoosier Pass just before the decent into Breckenridge (if you are heading west). After a great evening in Fairplay, Dan took off in the morning to meet us at Hoosier Pass. I stopped in Alma at my favorite coffee shop and ordered a couple breakfast burritos for Dan and I. The boys ordered pastries. Our wait for Dan seemed longer than normal and honestly I did start to get a bit concerned. There is a bike path between Alma and Fairplay so that added to my concern since I thought that would also make the pace quicker. It turns out the path and ride are great, it is the change in elevation that Dan was coping with that slowed him down. After seeing him come into town, I breathed a sigh of relief. He loved the extra stop for the day and enjoyed the breakfast burrito. The boys and I Ieft after about 20 minutes and Dan was able to rest some more and get into a mindset of reaching Hoosier Pass. He of course had another coffee.
Every mile to Hoosier Pass in the SUV towing our Isosceles (A-frame camper) built up anticipation for greeting Dan and being at the highest point. Dan’s parents and aunt and uncle were meeting us at Hoosier Pass so it would be a welcome family reunion as well. I arrived first at the top. While we waited, the boys (to include Gabriel) got out and took some photos. The view is so beautiful. Finally a familiar vehicle showed up and out came Dan’s aunt and uncle and parents. We were all so happy to see them and share this part of the trip with them. We were lucky enough to meet another cyclist who was heading east. She was initially part of the race but after an accident on day one she stopped being part of the race and just enjoyed the ride. She was amazing! She was so nice to show us her bike and share some details of her trip with us. We were asking her so many questions so we could pass on the information to Dan. She left to continue her journey and soon after that we could just start to make out a little spot on the horizon which happened to be Dan making his way to the top of Hoosier Pass.
With camera ready we all began to yell and scream for Dan, offering our encouragement and love to him as he pedaled the last half mile up to the pass. I was already in tears before he got there, just seeing him make that effort and being so proud of him brought me to tears. That did not stop me from cheering though. Later I asked Dan whether he could hear us and he so kindly told me that he at first thought we were the sound of a moose. Thankfully he eventually figured it out that this was his loving and proud family cheering him on. He pedaled up to Hoosier Pass and took it all in. We took a ridiculous amount of photos and told everyone there he was cycling across the U.S. and this was the highest point along the route. Everyone was impressed with his journey.
Dan raced into Breckenridge beating us by a few miles. He actually had to wait for us for once! He topped out around 40mph going into Breckenridge which would be scary for me but of course Dan loved every minute of it. The easy part was ahead with a bike path from Breckenridge to Frisco, Colorado where we would be taking our planned two day rest break. Dan and his uncle rode the path together and met us in Frisco. The two days of rest were so good. We all enjoyed being out of the vehicle, walking, and enjoying our time with family. Dan’s aunt and uncle are amazing hosts and planned such good meals along with one of our favorite moments along the route - a pontoon boat ride on Lake Dillon. Aaron and Conor enjoyed piloting the boat for the day and led our tour around the lake with the help of Uncle Don.
After Frisco we had two more days in Colorado before we crossed another state line into Wyoming. Wyoming would bring more excitement with the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Parks awaiting us.
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