Monday, August 26, 2013

Addictions, Humidity and the NSA

Day 48, August 18, Houston to Owls Bend, 59 miles, 4400 feet ascent

I  woke late, at about 8:00 AM, having found deep sleep only in the early morning. As stammered out of my tent, I saw a guy taking a picture of my tent. I pretended not to have seen and he approached me.
Kyle is 28 years young. At first I thought he had Aspergers Syndrome (DSM-5 eliminated it and now calls it Autism, which I think is a terrible mistake). Turns out, he was still drunk and had not slept all night. We talked for over two hours. A beautiful and tormented young man caught in the spiral of two self reinforcing addictions, sex and alcohol. He had driven 1.5 hours in the early morning hours to hook up with a woman, he met on line, only to be beaten to it by another man. This means to me, that there were probably 3 addicts involved. Kyle is a few month away from running out of money but can not stop. I gave him all the love and understanding I had at my disposal and a glimpse of another world. A world of satisfying sex, of his thirst squelched with ease. Of all the beauty within him and the world around him visible again.
He was open and humble. Kyle, I know you will read this. If you are ready now, great, if not when you are.: You can do it. You have my love and that of many people who have healed from addictions behind you.
Kyle reached out as we parted, by giving me his phone number. A hopeful sign. I will stay in touch.
After breaking camp, shopping for food, it was after noon when I left.
More steep climbs and beautiful land. I found a special place to camp, next to the Current River, below the bridge. I was very hot and was looking forward to a swim in the morning.

Day 49, August 19, Owl Bend to Farmington, 77 miles, 5200 feet ascent

I woke up to fog. Warm fog, but no sun. No swim for me. The river was a little scary anyway.
On the road I found a beautiful large turtle. I had been run over, broken shell, mangled parts. I tried to pick it up, because it was a road hazard. When I did, the turtle's head lifted up from the road. Turtle do not have vocal cords, but I heard it's silent scream of agony. It was mortally wounded, but alive.
I apologized, twice, found a rock and ended the suffering. I have only done this one time before, in my life, in the Kalahari desert in Africa, when I was 22 years old. Some things do not get easier with age. Further down the road, I swam in the Black River, in water so clean it was like it did not exist around you.
After riding for over 2600 miles with one flat tire, I had another one. I hit some very sharp rocks, that spilled from an unpaved driveway onto the shoulder-less road. They do not pave a little ways into unpaved roads as they do in California. There are rocks on the road in many places. You come up against these rocks and you have a choice between adorning a Mack truck's hood or riding through the them. I chose the later. My tube just burst. I fixed it, and had the exact same thing happen to the same tire 2 hours later. This time though, I was out of tubes.
No option, but to stick my sexy leg out and try my best smile. It was almost dark. 10 cars later, a lady around 50, stopped and picked me up. She first asked me if I was an ax murderer (she really did).
I told her I forgot my ax and loaded my stuff. We had 30 minutes before she dropped me off. She told me that she must be crazy for picking me up, since her job was to guard sex offenders in a halfway house and she just divorced her, addicted to porn, husband.  We were interrupted by an "automated prayer chain" phone call. She put the phone on her lap and continued talking. It reminded me of prayer flags or wheels in Tibet.
I heard the pain in her voice as she decried men. I chose not to defend us, or mention, that I just counseled a younger version of her ex. Nor did I point out the signs of addictions she displayed herself to the world. This was a time to listen.
She dropped me off near an old jail, the top part having been converted to a bicycle hostel. $20.- for a beautifully done space, and I was the only guest. I was able to write my last blog on the computer they provided. Kitchen, laundry, It was nice.
I had a lousy dinner, in the only open (at 8:30PM) place in down-town. Chinese, cheap and bad service.

Day 50, August 20,  Farmington  to  St. Mary,  49 miles, 2700 feet ascent

I woke up with a headache, presumably from too much MSG. I walked over a mile to a grocery store for breakfast ingredients. My breakfast is pretty much the same every day. Oats with whatever fruit I can buy, with a backup of freeze-dried fruit in my trailer. I had to wait until the bicycle store opened, buy three new tubes. Late start of a day again.
The rest of the day was uneventful until I came to a sign: "Road closed". No detour sign. It was the only road leading over a river. The bridge was being built new. I found the local gas station. Like in many small towns in the last 4 states, they serve as grocery store, with predictable results, and often as the only place serving prepared food, with the predictable results. Anyway, I found some locals. They spoke in a strange tongue, probably stemming from English. (I still do not know what a "siaaandwitch is"). They knew of a way around on a dirt road. A little later, I found myself pushing my bicycle, dutifully followed by my trailer, up this incredible steep road, in near darkness. Large pick-up trucks loaded with locals driving up and down the narrow road with embankments 20 feet high on both sides. I had to wear my bandanna over my mouth, to mitigate the dust.
Two miles later, I was back on the road, riding it downhill in darkness, my headlight illuminating so many insects, it looked like it was snowing. I found a pretty good spot to camp behind some grain silos and made camp. A full moon coming out, quite romantic.

Day 51, August 21, St. Mary, Missouri to Little Grassy Lake, Illinois, 81 miles, 4000 feet ascent

A short ride to the Mississippi River. The town on the other side is Chester and it lies in Illinois. The river was brown and big, the bridge scary. Old and decrepit with two lanes for traffic, then the railing , then the river. I moved to the middle of my lane and started peddling, with the motto: Better them late than me dead.
Chester, the birthplace of Popeye was ugly and confusing, I got lost for a while. Had a narrow miss with a big truck, who did not see me and wanted to make room for an oversize vehicle by moving to the right while stopped at a light. Guess who was between him (or her) and the curb. Innocent Dietmar.  Lightening reflexes by my muscular legs allowed this blog to be continued.
I stopped at a fruit and vegetable market and met sandbox guy's Filipino female equivalent. The whole time I was there, she gripped at her 3 year old girl, with a voice that could cut glass. What a great reminder, to not judge a book by it's cover. The mother was really look at.
For the record: I now share the opinion of the scientific community and the peoples of the East Coast, that high humidity reduces the bodies ability to cool....a lot. I was hot!
I got within 500 yards of a campground I found and had another flat tire, in front for the first time. I fixed the tire with one hand, the other was killing mosquitoes. The camp had a pay box and I lacked the $10.-, having only 20s. No place to get change and no staff. The place had a shower, very nice and I was alone. I left early in the morning, like a thief.

Day 52, August 22, Little Grassy Lake, Illinois to Marion, Kentucky, 96 miles, 7000 feet ascent

That was a long day. Up and down like all the 2 weeks before, just not as steep as the Ozarks.
I crossed the Ohio River by ferry, very cool. A man on the boat told me that Marion is: "A very nice town". This scared me because I had asked his wife to take a picture of me on the ferry, and she had to delegate to her husband who had to get out of the car and walk around. I was right about the town, very clean, nothing but fast food places to eat and in a "dry" county, no alcohol. Not that I drink much at all, its just that too much white picketfencing (I made that up) makes me uncomfortable. They had a beautiful gazebo in the town center, well lit, but you were not allowed into it after dark and loitering was forbidden. I was not sure when loitering began, so I moved.
I found the towns only motel and checked in after negotiating the price down. I do not do this ordinarily, but the guy had "Please haggle" tattooed on his forehead. The motel was empty, the room lousy. After I checked in the owner asked me a question, I had not been asked before in my life: Do you need hot water tonight? I digested the question and said: Yes. (It was still 85 degrees at 8:00PM, 97% humidity and I was wearing bicycle clothing). I did not like the guy.
Almost forgot. The last 10 miles before town, I rode in the dark. At one house, two big dogs came out and started chasing me. One on each side. I could not see them well. No time to pull out the pepper spray. They caught me off guard. I just hauled ass.  I had not been this scared since I was attacked by Mormon Cavalry, supported  by (American) Indian paratroopers who had landed behind my left flank. (I actually knew they were coming, but for security reasons, I can not tell you that it was the NSA (National Surveillance Agency) who had listened to their smoke signals)).

Day 53, August 23, Marion to Whitesville,  68 miles, 3300 feet ascent

Largely uneventful. I rode hard knowing Astrid would pick me up mid-afternoon. She did and we drove to Louisville for lack of any decent hotels. 

Day 54, 55August 24, 25

Rest  days. I landed up only sleeping 2 hours the second night. Did not feel very well.

Dietmar's Index and other tidbits.

Total miles so far: 2947 miles
Total ascent so far: 189,600 feet

Distance in miles it takes a Dietmar to figure out how to hook up his trailer correctly?

The secret is to not tighten the bracket that holds the trailer until the arm of the trailer is connected. This assures perfect alignment and I hate to admit this: No squeaking. I have been riding all this time with.....I can not even write it.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Perfect weather, Roller Coasters and Ozarks

Day 41, August 11, Hutchinson to Newton, 50 miles, 1000 feet elevation gain

I got to the nearest town, Newton, at about 3:00PM. Several riders, I have met the day before, told me to positively stop by the Newton Bike Shop. The owner, James, puts up riders for free in his shop. You can use his computer, his little kitchen and he has mattresses. I passed the store, they are closed Sundays, you can guess what day it was. I figured it would have been to early anyway and I went to a store to buy food. I was about to leave when an Architect, who saw me riding earlier, chatted me up. A gentle soul. This delayed my exit by about 30 minutes. As I get ready, another man approaches. He introduces himself as an employee of above bicycle store and insists that I go there, adding, they would love to host me, the owner having arrived since. After this, I figured, I was meant to land up there. Good decision. James, high energy, with a beautiful family, all there. They were more than kind.
I stayed the night, in the company of another traveler, Darin, a mature 20 year old from Iowa, on the same route I was on. In fact we left almost the same time, and had been in close proximity the whole time. Now riding solo coast to coast as a 20 year old woman is admirable. Darin, you are a well balanced, curious woman. Not driven by fear, but careful. You are a shining star.
The air mattress I slept on was leaking air. I slept maybe 3 hours.

Day 42, August 12, Newton to Eureka, 82 miles, 2000 feet elevation gain

It rained in the morning, but stopped a couple of hours later.
The ride was typical eastern Kansas. Slow rolling hills, green, a slow place dotted with friendly people. The interesting thing is, that my map, which I love and has been very accurate, issued by Adventure Cycling Association, describes this part of Kansas as flat. I am puzzled by that. The land is tilted from (all approximate) 3400 feet to 800 feet, west to east. From Hutchinson, in the middle of the state, to the Missouri border the elevation gain (riding downhill) was about 2500 feet  per 100 miles of riding. Now how to they say it? "That ain't flat".
Early afternoon, I caught up with Darin, who left earlier than me. We rode together for the rest of the day. I was getting quite hot, then on cue, a thunderstorm passed us, drenching all. It did not last, and was perfect cooling off. Late in the day, I showed Darin where I typically spend my nights, she was no impressed. She mostly camped in city parks. We parted ways, probably not crossing paths again.
In the end, me and the local chapter of mosquitoes, found a decent spot to camp, off a closed road.

Day 43, August 13, Eureka to Walnut, 71 miles, 1900 feet elevation gain 

The weather was perfect, little wind, no rain.  Temperatures from 70-90, sweet. Partly cloudy, nice.
Most of the tiny towns I go through, look sad and decayed. I found out a reason for why there are so many decaying buildings even in otherwise well kept towns, (true at least in some). I love to read. I pick up local papers, and find the most interesting stories. In one I read, that many towns have restrictions on alterations of "historical" buildings. This makes renovating difficult and expensive.
So some people do nothing. In the misguided believe that all old is worth saving they have encouraged the existence of some very debilitated housing. Of course, there is the habit by many in rural America, to store old cars or equipment on their property, typically along the road for all to see.
Something I have never quite understood. With the exception of a few items, I find it ugly.
I saw one car with a tree growing out of the area that once held a motor. Another had three pick up trucks parked next to each other. You could see by the vegetation and model that every 10-15 years another truck gets parked.

Day 44, August 14, Walnut to Golden City, 86 miles, 2400 feet ascent

I crossed into Missouri that day. Land of the Ozarks! I thought the Ozarks where a tribe of the Amazon basin, named after an animal with white stripes. I am not admitting wrong, but it is actually one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world (that's why they are so low), rising up to 1600 feet.
This does not sound like much, until you ride it. I have heard people describe is at a roller coaster and I must say the description is apt. Many rivers have carved deep river valleys with steep climbs in and out of them. So you go up and down all day long. I had a lot of fun with it. The area is incredibly beautiful. Forests of Oak, American Elm,  Hickory and more. Many streams, with the cleanest water I have ever seen. Kansas rivers run brown with cow manure, one of the many unseen (by many) affects of raising cattle.
I overcame my reluctance to camp in public places and stayed at the city park. Part of my fear is always noise. I arrived and it was empty and beautiful. With benches, toilets and hold showers. I felt good. Unfortunately, there was also an open basketball court a 100 feet from me.
As I lay down at 9:30, kids arrived. There game was over at 11:30PM. I can not blame them, I was glad they are playing. Sleep? No.

Day 45, August 15, Golden City to Fair Grove, 70 miles, 4400 feet ascent

More of the same riding. I have found better ways of cooking healthy meals (hey I am from the West Coast). I am realizing that I shop the same way, I shop at home. This means I walk along of the inside perimeter of the stores walls, where all the fresh food is located. There is a reason for this (read Michael Pollan). I have ignored the frozen section, which holds a good variety of frozen vegetables which bought at noon are ready for dinner. Add parboiled brown rice (for ease of cooking on my small stove) and something else, great meal. And cheap. Talk about food. My appetite is still improving. I now eat 2-3 pounds of food at one sitting.
I was was on the side of the road eating when 2 people stopped, making sure I did not need help. One of them, a woman, gave me a water melon. I do not know how I did it, but I ate 7/8 of it within 2 hours. This is after I finished my lunch.
I stayed in the city park again. This time, no noise but also no bathrooms.

Day 46, August 16, Fair Grove to Houston, 80 miles, 4600 feet elevation gain

The ride was uneventful and beautiful. (Still Ozarking).  I have seen my first confederate flags and people talk funny. I have a dog chase me every hour or so. Most are harmless, the one's that are not recognize pepper spray....they really do. I pull it out (it is strapped to my bicycle, don't leave home without it) and there anger at me seems to dissipate.
At one turn, there was a gas station. I stopped to look at my map. Right next to me a guy rolls down his window, while his amply proportioned wife who wears shorts and T-shirt, but nothing else pumps gas. He told me I was going in the wrong direction. Now I am pretty good in figuring people out. He was pulling my leg, but was harmless. Next he told me to watch myself, because there are a lot of "Hillbillies" around here. I asked him in return if he was one of them. He broke out in a wide grin, showing off three missing teeth and said: "Yes". It was priceless. He was sitting in his very beat up car, with the above described wife, who never spoke, his pot belly touching the steering wheel, he wore a "wifebeater" shirt. All that was missing was the beer in the cup holder.....maybe I just did not see it. I laughed for the next mile of riding.
I had a motel booked for one night, found it and slept pretty good.

Day 47, August 17,  Rest day

 In the morning, I moved out of the motel. I did my laundry, including my sleeping bag, which had a lot of sunscreen and insect repellent on it. Bought food and found the city park. Located beautifully along a creek, and spent the day reading. I realize, again,  how sensitive I am to people screaming at their kids, for the smallest infractions. No difference between man and woman here. One guy was screaming "GET OUT OF THAT SAND NOOOOWWWW!)"at his 5 year who had run ahead and found the sand box. She did, right away. I had a strong urge to stick the guy's head into the sandbox, deep. Made camp and slept fairly well.
I know this is random, but I want to mention, how few fruit trees and or vegetable gardens I have seen so far.

Dietmar's Index and other tidbits..

Total miles so far: 2517 miles, passed half way point of about 3900 miles total.
Total ascent so far: 163,000 feet.

Most common road kill in Kansas, by far?

First "slave state" to vote, on their own, to abolish slavery?
Missouri, 1864

First country in the world in the world to abolish slavery?
Spain, 1569

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Earth, Wind and............Rain

Day 33, August 3, Westcliffe to Pueblo, 64 miles, 3400 feet ascent

Well, in Pueblo the section of my trip called "Western Express" ends. With it end the mountains until I reach the Appalachian mountains anyway. The terrain change is dramatic. It was a very hot ride, I arrived tired from a constant headwind.
The new section, which will get me to the end is called "Trans America", all by "Adventure Cycling Association". I follow their maps. A great organisation.
I was not expecting Pueblo to leave a lasting expression on me, but it did. I am a little torn as to how much any reader would be interested in me writing before they get bored. I welcome feedback. Based on that I may add more. In the meanwhile I have started recording my many thoughts on my smart phone.
I am experiencing an outburst of creativity while riding, quite unexpectedly so I must say. Maybe it is the result of the endorphin from riding.  Also empowering. I am getting much better overcoming my shyness with new situations. I am no longer waiting to see if people wave to me (as a test if they like me or mot), instead I wave whenever I feel like, nobody has failed to wave back yet. (Excluding traditional Mormon woman, who never look you in the eye). After 2 nights sleeping outside I am usually very dirty and I did not bring a comb. Nobody has cared yet.
When I arrived in Pueblo I tried to find clips for my shoes (that latch onto my petals) because I lost screws from the used ones I got 2 weeks ago. I arrived at the first store and was invited by the owner to stay at his house for the night. Good timing because 2 hours later a huge rainstorm passed through.
I agreed to rejoin the owner (forgot name) 2 hours later and left to buy groceries and have dinner.
At the grocery store, I saw a young man sitting on at table. I joined him and he asked me for a cigarette. I mentioned to me him that I do not smoke and then of course told him neither should he ....and why. In the ensuing conversation I found out, that he was kicked out of his home by his very drunk father, and had nowhere to go. He did not say, but I could tell he was hungry. I shared my grapefruit with him and then gave him $20.- in order for him to go into Safeway and buy dinner.
I asked him to please come back, since it really was my last $20.- It took him a little longer than I thought it should, but back he came, having bought the cheapest food he could find ($7.-) with receipt and chance in hand. I left him to his dinner and as I rode passed him he said: "You taught me a lesson tonight". I told him I was grateful for that. I do not know what the lesson was to him, no need.
I went to the bicycle store, where the owner made me wait 5 more hours, expected me to pay for dinner and then showed me an empty room to sleep in, no shower, no coffee in the morning.
A motel would have been cheaper and far more comfortable. I did feel used. If it was not for the torrential downpour, I would have left in the evening.
He had an employee who reminded me of myself at his age. Very sweet young man of course.

Day 34, August 4, Pueblo to Sugar City, 67 miles, 1600 feet ascent

I did not leave Pueblo until noon, spent the morning securing supplies. I had my first flat tire of this trip, on my bicycle. Was easy to fix. Due to the special liquid I had put into my tires, called "Slime" I have only added air to my tires once in 1600 miles and avoided most flats, great stuff.
Uneventful ride, quite dry landscape. Interestingly enough, a lot of oil wells. I did not know Kansas has oil.
I lugged my bicycle and trailer through a ravine and over railroad tracks towards a place to pitch my tent. By the way, my trailer and I have made up long ago. We are now "friends". It carries everything I need, and in return I pull it. I have yet to meet another person with a similar setup. All other, maybe 25 people, I have encountered doing a similar trip, have touring bicycles with panniers (bags) with which they carry their belongings. Most talk with you, some do not stop.
15-25 Miles per hour headwind all day. I slept on the side of the road.

Day 35, August 5, Sugar City to Sheridan Lake, 74 miles, 1100 feet ascent

I had lunch in a small town and sat next to a table with four grain silo inspectors, wearing their orange safety vests. One young and inquisitive, one cynical (I am sorry you are from California), and two quiet. I had a good conversation with the young one. The cynic remained silent after his initial comment. They left, the young man shaking my hand, sad to leave. After they left the waitress told me that one of the men who did not utter a word, paid for my lunch. I was genuinely touched.
Found another ditch, made camp and fell asleep to trucks rambling by. Thank you Ibuprofen PM!
15-25 Miles per hour headwind all day.

Day 36, August 6, Selkirk to Scott City, 52 miles, 1000 feet ascent

The day started beautiful, like so many mornings. Sitting with my instant coffee, taking in the landscape, smelling the dirt, birds chirping. After lunch, a strong wind started blowing, maybe 50-60 miles per hour. I rode 9 miles in 2 hours on flat ground. It was exhausting. My friend Kevin warned me about this, in a comment on this blog, before I left. I deleted the comment, because he was not in a good space when he wrote it. But man, he was right, the winds are tough.
I tried to shelter in an abandoned grain silo but doves had found it first. Doves do not wear diapers in Kansas. Off I went, finally just set up my tent on bare ground next to the road, fully exposed.
No shrub, no tree, no grass. I felt like I was in a glass house, truckers honking while I ate. I had no choice. I could not go on. After dark, the wind subsided. I slept better than I thought I would.

Day 37, August 7, Scott City to Alexander, 63 miles, 900 feet ascent

I chose to have a second breakfast at 10:00 AM, my appetite having returned. The only food available in many of these small towns, is located in gas station eateries. This one was a bar that served food and had just opened.
I have liked Kansas so far, the people have been very welcoming. I love the landscape, it's vastness. The food here though, like in much of the places on this trip so far, is unimaginative, and of poor nutritional value. Think hamburger and sandwiches in varied ways coupled with french fries and white bread. Fruits, vegetables are rare. I did hit an emotional low point when I watched a young family order a Sprite for their one year old baby. Nothing else, just Sprite. I had the special of the day, ground beef over french fries. I was hungry, OK?
On the other hand, it did propel me 63 miles that day. The only place I found to make camp was in 12-18" high grass. It was almost dark when I set up and I was a little freaked out, that I could not see what I was stepping on. I had to mat the grass down just to set up. A big thunderstorm hit right after I "tried" to sleep. In the morning everything was soaked. It was quite uncomfortable.
15-25 Miles per hour headwind all day.

Day 38, August 8, Alexander to Larned, 89 miles, 1000 feet ascent

A long day of riding against the wind. Nose to grindstone and pumping. I talked with a gentleman on a table next to me while having lunch. He looked like a worn out farmer. Instead he was a college educated motel owner. He majored in Spanish. He was a very sweet man. As I left, he gave me the most tender and longest handshake of my life, adding "God bless you". It is these moments that make a trip like this. He added, that there is more that unites us that there is that separates us (meaning coastal regions and conservative interior). A wise man. So much for my judgement of what people do for a living by gaging their appearance.
15-25 Miles per hour headwind all day.

Day 39, August 9, Larned to Hutchinson, 82 miles, 1300 feet ascent

This day was supposed to be my rest day but I did not want to spend it in a small town.
I left in pouring rain at 11:00 AM. I waited to see if it would stop. I got lost for the first time. It added a painful 11 miles to the day. It rained for about 45 miles. I had better days.
There was flooding everywhere. Every time I stopped mosquitoes the size of small chickens attacked in carefully orchestrated formations. I hit my leg once and killed 5 at the same time. That was a first for me. This was worse than the night when a group of Mormons attacked me on horses. You remember?  
10 Miles out of Hutchinson, I ran into (figure of speech (have you noticed I like putting words in brackets? (my friend Mike told me it is temperament specific(funny)))) two fellow road warriors coming the other way. Very good men. They were looking for an elusive dry spot to camp. Since I had a motel room booked, I offered to share, they accepted. I am glad they did. Open minded, curious, with a passion to make the world better with food and schools, to me these are the young men we need more of. To Zachary and John (your mom could have given you a more imaginative name though): Thanks.
I like beds, sheets, cushioning, running water.
15-25 Miles per hour headwind all day, except 20 miles when the road jogged.

Day 40, August 10

Day of rest. I like Hutchinson. They are trying to rebuild downtown, staying local. All the things I have lamented are missing in so much of this country. Go Kansas.
I have found three bookstores within 1 mile radius of the motel. Go Kansas.

Total distance so far: 2078 miles, passed half way point of about 3700 miles total.
Total ascent so far: 101,800 feet.

Dietmar's Index and other tidbits..

Name the town of the first documented public performance of an electrical guitar happened?
Wichita, Kansas

Guess the difference in height between the lowest and the highest of Colorado's 58 mountains over 14,000 feet.

Guess the weight Dietmar has lost so far on this trip.
How would I know, I do not have a scale!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Colorado, Mountains and Rain

Day 27, July 27, Blanding UT to Dolores CO, 85 miles, 5200 feet descent

Beautiful day, only in the 80s for the first time since I began. Most of the day was riding up and down little hills. I felt I like I was on an seesaw. I crossed into Colorado midway, the change in scenery and culture was immediate. I got into Dolores with rain clouds forming. The Motel was too expensive and the town laying in a narrow river valley had no place where I could pitch my tent in privacy.
Then of course they had a city park with some bushes. The guy in the motel said that the cops in town are pretty cool. They were, nobody bothered me. It rained for much of the night. It was uncomfortable though to come out of my tent in my underwear and realize that people are already walking on the trail 5 feet from my tent. I dove back in and waited for a better time.

Day 28, July 28, Dolores to Rico, 38 miles, 3000 feet ascent

As soon as I was done with breakfast (consumed on a park bench), it started pouring rain. After an hour of hovering under the roof of the park rest room, I was able to continue. It was all uphill, very beautiful.
Almost ran over a gorgeous brown snake by a few inches. The snake made it off the side. 
After 30 miles rain started again, I was about 7000 feet high and it got very cold. In the town of Rico about 8000 feet high I threw the proverbial towel and shivering checked into a Bed and Breakfast/Hostel.
I watched 2 episodes of "The Simpsons" at the towns only store with the store owner had a beer at the local bar and called it a day.
Finally figured out a good meal made from cans. Canned salmon stewed in canned tomato soup. It was actually good.

Day 29, July 29, Rico to Ridgway, 67 miles, 4600 feet ascent

The day started cold at 45 degrees and I left with all my clothe on. Went over Lizard Head pass, 10,222 feet.
Colorado is beautiful. 14k foot mountains all around. Zoomed down the other side, passed Telluride as in famous ski resort. I am finally finding stores with more selection. What a treat. I love civilization.
I am stopping often to take in the scenery. Unfortunately with the place comes a lot more traffic, this being peak summer season. Lots of trucks. It rained a few times, but not for long.
On nice thing about Colorado is , that for the first time since I began this trip, I was in comfortable temperature much of the time. 75-90F.
I found a pretty spot off the road, made camp and ate. A soon as I was in the tent, a thunderstorm rolled through, yes rain again. The incredible thing was that the same storm came back 2 hours later, pelting my tiny tent form the opposite side. It must have been driven back by the mountains and changing winds. Kind of incredible to me.

Day 30, July 30, Ridgway to Sapinero, 56 miles, 4700 feet ascent

I broke camp and walked my bicycle down the dirt road I had used the night before to get back to the main road. The ground was soggy from the rain and all four tires picked up lots of mud. On the side of the road there was gravel which soon ordained the mud over the tires. It looked funny. My brakes were a ball of mud. The next town had a self service car wash and yes you guessed it, I was the only bicycle in there. It was a odd scene. Funny.
Had to seek shelter from rain a few times, but it passed.
In the evening I was approaching Blue Mesa Reservoir, Colorado biggest body of water and surprisingly small. In fact I did not know how dry Colorado really is. It is a desert below 6-7k feet. Near the reservoir were a lot of homes so I tried to find a camping spot in the mountain before. No flat area, without which I can not sleep. I finally found a tiny space, right next to the (major) road and so small, my legs below my knees were already off the ground. Logging trucks going uphill are loud. My sleep was according. I was still at 8500 feet, so I wore all my clothe to sleep.

Day 31, July 31, Sapinero to Sargents, 63 miles, 2200 feet ascent

Had breakfast watched by (sometimes honking) RVs trucks and cars.
Outside of a town I passed, I saw a guy hitchhiking, complete with gang tattoos and walk. It was hot and I knew that there was only one place for water in the next 50 miles. He was carrying nothing. It caught my attention. I stopped and talked with him. He told me why he was out here, trying to get back home to Colorado Springs over 200 miles away. He met a woman on Facebook, who invited him over, even willing to pick him up. He checked into a motel with her. The next thing he remembered was waking up. Everything but his shoes pants and shirt gone. He was clearly drugged. As he told me the story, tears were rolling down his face. He was pretty humiliated. I gave him one of my water bottles, some food and $20.- I let him make a phone call..... and he called his mom, hanging up with "I love you" after reassuring her. The guy was real.
A gentle soul, born into a neighborhood he can not fit in. I made him promise to help the next person he sees in need. I believe he will do it. I hope he found a ride.
Near the end of the day, I was getting water from a creek and came face to face to the same kind of snake I almost killed a few days earlier. It was a Water Snake.
I rented a little cabin for the night, found no other choice.

Day 32, August 1, Sargents to Westcliffe, 80 miles, 5600 feet ascent

Between Sargents and Westcliffe, lies Monarch pass and the continental divide, rivers either flowing west or east. It was a steep 3000 foot climb to the top at 11,312 feet high. I have never been higher on a bicycle and I may never again be. It was exhilarating. It rained briefly in the afternoon. Beautiful ride along the Arkansas river valley. Checked into a motel for two nights, having a rest day following.
Spoke at length with the motel manager, a smart and open minded (this is very very conservative county) man. Aaron has a degree in medieval history and the conversation meandered beautifully along many topics. He helped me understand the area and its people better and he said that I influenced the topic of his next course he is teaching in San Diego State University. How beautiful is that. 
There are a great many people that I have met on this journey, that I can not or did not mention. It has been a great privilege to meet and learn from them.
Other than walking, I do not know of any other way on how to get such a sense of this beautiful country.

Dietmar's Index and other tidbits..

Percentage of all Harley Davidson motorcycles currently registered in the USA that have been within a two mile radius of wherever I have been in the last two month?

Percentage of  Harley Davidson motorcycles in the shop on average at any given time?

Amount of mountains over 14k feet in Colorado?
58 (this is true)

What does the word "cannoisseur" mean?
Its a new word meaning "the art of cooking with canned goods"

Total miles so far: 1,587
Total ascent so far: 91,500 feet

Day 32, August 2, Rest Day

Spent my day at the Motel talking with Tarla and Erin, the managers, people whose kind souls I will not forget. Did laundry at $10.- for soap, washing and drying. A stark reminder at the cost of poverty if you happen to be to poor to own a laundry set.
I read part of a conservative newspaper, for the second time on this trip, and was struck again by the meanness and the complete disregard for facts. In fact it scared me.
Also, I want to report, that my shoulder is improving, riding pretty much pain free for hours most days now!
Sleep is still difficult, but that is nothing new. Last week I could not fall asleep until 2 in the morning, but I managed 6 good hours last night. Fact is that I managing on what I have.
Life is good.