Air Force Academy - Colorado Springs - 8/23/2006
 

This morning, I took a bike trail from southwest Colorado Springs to as far north as you can possibly go in Colorado Springs to get to the Air Force Academy.  I left the house at 10:00am for a 1:00pm appointment.  A 25 mile ride...

Oh my, it was stressful getting there.  I was never 100% sure I was on the right bike path.  Colorado Springs has lots of bike paths and although they are somewhat marked on the path, I was never sure I was on the right track.  Then, I had the last 10 miles to go.  Prior to today, I had talked to members of Alan's biking group and Alan on how to get to the Academy.  Everyone said I needed to get on Academy Boulevard.  At the same time, they said Academy Boulevard was a death wish.  Scary.  So when I got to a certain point on the bike path where I had to get off of it to get onto Academy Boulevard, I called my contact, Lt. Col. Skarsdet, to see if he could meet me at the Northgate, as opposed to the original Southgate meeting place he proposed.  After he learned of my fear for riding on Academy Boulevard, he agreed to meet me at the Northgate.  Phew - I can stay on the bike path some more.

Here I am entering Air Force territory.  As I mentioned, I had 10 more miles to go.  They were the toughest 10 miles ever.  First of all, I was trying to pedal as fast as I could because 1:00pm was quickly approaching.  Next, instead of a nice bike path, it became a mountain bike path!  It was rocks, gravel, dirt and up and downhills all at once.  It was quite scary for me.  Often I had to walk my bike because it was impossible to get any traction with the above combination of elements.  Finally, at at exactly 1:00pm, I finally found the way off the bike path and the Northgate entrance.

A few days before arriving in Colorado Springs, I contacted my high school friend, Mark, who was ROTC at the University of Virginia and taught history at the Air Force Academy.  I inquired about a personal VIP tour of the Academy, as opposed to a commoner's tour with some student tour guide.  Mark put me in touch with Lt. Col. Skarsdet and here I am.

Here we are with a geniune plane that flew in Vietnam.  Notice the stars on the side.  Each star signifies a plane that this plane downed.

Here I am in the history department with an original Normal Rockwell painting and our host.

Here I am in the visitor center/gift shop.  No, I'm not sitting inside.  I'm just on the other side of the plane.

After our Academy tour, I was stressing out because I had about an hour to get to the airport to pick up Dr. Ed (by the way, the reason why we stayed so many days in Colorado Springs is we were waiting for the arrival of Dr. Ed).  The mileage to the airport from the Academy was something like 25 miles.  On a flat surface, that would take me at least 2 hours.  I had one hour left!  And, Colorado Springs is not flat.  Not to mention, again, I got directions from Alan's biking group and Alan on how to get to the airport from the Academy and everyone told me the roads of Colorado Springs are death wishes.  "Death wish" - these are their words.

I raced out of the Academy as fast as I could.  But I couldn't since I had to get back on that mountain bike path.  Dave also thought it was scary.  We somehow made it in one piece to this bike shop on the bike path where I got any last minute advice from them on how to get to the airport.  The bikeshop guy was amazed I would go to the airport on a bike via these death wish roads of Colorado Springs.  He said the person I was picking up at the airport was very lucky!

By this time, Dr. Ed's (by the way, let's just call him Ed going forward) flight had already landed.  After Ed found out his bike was not on the same plane as he, we decided that he would take a taxi to Alan's house and I would go home via the safer bike path.  And that's exactly what I did.

I made it back home in record time.  Ed was already there talking to Alan and Pat.  After a shower, the four of us walked to dinner at a pub (Golden Bee or something like that) where they threw these bee stickers at your shirt.  It was fun and somehow, the sticker always lands on the correct side.

Back at home, we waited up for Ed's bike which arrived around midnight.