It has now been three weeks since Pedal the Plains and I finally rode my bike a few times in the last week, including on Bike Your Park Day last Saturday.
Before I forget too many more details, I want to chronicle the rest of the Pedal the Plains adventure.
On Day 1, after we visited the animals, we had just 8 miles to ride to camp. It was a hard eight miles though and we were pretty beat when we got there. We parked our bikes, collected our bags, and headed over to Sherpa Packer to check in. There was a tent set up for us, but it had only one air mattress and one camp chair installed. We were able to get that remedied relatively quickly, and we headed over to find showers. There were two shower trucks, one that looked like an ordinary semi-trailer and one that appeared purpose-built with several doors and stairs to each. The first truck was pouring water and had a line on the women’s end to get in. We chose to wait in a short line for the second truck. The showers were warm and had adequate pressure. We heard later that the other truck was “less than awesome” for pressure.
Our next stop was dinner, which was disappointing. The main course was supposed to be pulled pork with a vegan option, but there was none left by 7 pm. They had chicken noodle soup, but no bowls. We had beans, mashed potatoes, and corn. We paid $10, just like the people who actually got a main course. Sadly, the camping site was far from town and it was dark, so pedaling somewhere else to get dinner was not an option.
Keenesburg did have the best “host city swag” of the three towns, though. We got drawstring bags containing Keenesburg hats, luggage tags, and pant-leg protectors.
We also got to visit with some friends from Denver who had come up for the century ride the next day.
By the time we returned to our tent, my air mattress was very squishy. I asked for, and received, a replacement, but it also went mostly flat during the night, while Maureen’s mattress went squishy. Not a big win for the camping provider. At least they had coffee the next morning. It was also nice not to have to tear down our own tent in the morning.
Breakfast was better than dinner. We skipped the ham (which looked good, we just don’t eat it) but had plenty to eat with scrambled eggs and fluffy pancakes.
Saturday’s ride was supposed to be mostly downhill.
I suppose it was, but we never got to stop pedaling. There was a significant headwind pretty much all day. We stopped at all the education spots, got snacks whenever they were offered and again felt like lunch was a bit late at 48 (actually 50!) miles into a 62-mile ride. The baked potatoes were quite good, but we could have used a cold Coke or juice on this hard day too. We did get some apples from the Health in Rural Colorado folks, who also clued us in about Colon Orchards in Cañon City, which we were able to visit last week. We met our Denver friends again at this stop and the headwind had convinced them that a metric Century (62.5 miles, the distance we were riding that day) was more than enough riding.
We pulled into camp around 3 on Saturday, mostly thanks to a fairly early start. Our faulty mattresses had not yet been delivered, let alone swapped out, nor did we have camp chairs. We arranged for all of that, then went to take showers at the pool (in the park where all camping and festivities were happening). Indoor showers, even group showers, are usually better than truck showers, IMHO.
The festival area in Brush! (the exclamation point has been part of the city’s name since 1978 and refers to their can-do attitude) was welcoming. There were several sponsor and community organization booths, some of which had nice swag. There was also an area where kids’ bikes were being assembled—every 1st-grader in the community was offered a bike, through partnerships with Wish For Wheels and some of the ride’s sponsors. Kids were beginning to arrive and were very excited about the bikes. It was also a nice way to get locals to engage in the festivities.
We checked in at the info booth to get our educational stops (see below) checked and get entered into the prize drawing. Then we investigated the food offerings. Happily, there were several choices, including fajitas. We joined the fajita line, which was the longest, and chatted with fellow riders as we waited for our $7 fajitas. After dinner, we visited with our Pueblo contingent while listening to the presentations to the community. Then I won a prize in the “ed stop” drawing, a nice pair of D-Curve sunglasses.
Before retiring, we checked in with some teammates who had ridden the full (100 mile) century and were getting ready to shuttle back to Keenesburg. They’d suffered the same headwinds we’d faced all day, and one of them had 5 flats (punctures) too!
Sunday morning, we packed up and acquired some bagels for breakfast (and a brownie for later). Again, Brush! exceeded expectations with their varied offerings for breakfast (though we were apparently too late for burritos). We were feeling a bit rough after two long days, and considering options other than the full 70-mile ride back to Kersey. After 15 miles, our teammate decided to sag in to the finish, with the promise to pick us up at the lunch stop. We continued, enjoying the pastoral scenery and favorable winds. When we got to lunch, our teammate was there too, still en route despite motorized transport. Even more disappointing, the lamb riblets, which Maureen had been anticipating since the first day of the ride, were gone. We had beans and potato salad and yet another Gardenburger. Sigh. How about some chicken? Many cyclists like chicken, don’t they?
We were too tired and saddle-weary to continue, plus the next stretch was on the shoulder of a highway—definitely NOT my kind of riding—so we decided to try to get a sag back or wait for our teammate. We ended up doing a mix of these things, getting a sag to the final aid station, where she picked us up and dropped us near the finish line.
The trip home was pretty smooth. We stopped at Little India in south Denver for an early dinner and so Maureen could have some lamb. Thanks to skipping the last 35 miles of riding, we were out of Denver before the Broncos game finished, and home in time to unload the car and prepare (a bit) for the start of the week.
Would we do it again? I think yes, though I would adjust my expectations and bring more snacks. I would also train differently. We tended to do long rides on Fridays and Sundays, with a rest or cross-training day in between. For a three-day ride, we may have been better served by doing the long days back-to-back, or splitting the distance over three consecutive days, so that we could become accustomed to multiple days in the saddle.
Thanks Denver Post, FFA, host towns, and teammates for a fun weekend!