Thursday, August 20, 2009

August 18: Aspen Meadows Bike Hostel to Whiskey Grove Campground, 42 miles

In the morning Jo-An and Dave prepared Blueberry pancakes, spicy scrambled eggs, sausage, coffee and juice for us all. We posed for photos on the porch of their home before leaving, and Dave took individual photos of each of us for his book. Here we are on the porch--in Jo-An's arms is Wrigley Field.

This day's ride was the toughest yet. I will call it Rocky Roads, Moose Tracks, and Bear Scat--and these are not ice cream flavors! We had a 4 mile climb right out of the hostel, and I was OK for breathing this time. However, after about 2 miles of relatively level road (all dirt today) we started climbing again, and climbed 4 more miles up to Union Pass, at 9,210 feet. I had to walk part of the climb, because of the loose rocks and gravel and the steepness of the climb--I could not gain purchase with my tires. John and Steve and Brian-from-Dallas left me behind when I started walking, and eventually Dianne caught up to me and we then stayed together. Now we are in Grizzly country--no one is to ride alone. Ray stopped by in the van and offered us the leftover brownies from last night's dinner and refills on our water. He also offered us a ride, but we declined.

At the 20 mile point in this day's ride we stopped for a break and saw that it was 2:00 PM. It took us 4 hours to go 20 miles! Joe and Mike caught up to us and we rode together for a while, lots of loose cows everywhere along the route... Mike and Dianne came face to face with a few stubborn bossies.

Dianne and I went on ahead of the guys after one break, and she was having a lot of trouble with the seat on her rented bike. She could not sit on it without it tipping back, so she was standing while climbing, and standing while descending, and getting very tired. At about 30 miles into the ride (and 3:45 PM) our bike angels appeared in a maroon pick up truck. Tom (the driver, wearing a cowboy hat) his wife Glen, and their friends Jon and Rosalind stopped and asked us what we were doing... we told them about the ride, and they asked if we would like a ride to the campground. And we did. They helped us load the bikes in the back of the truck and drove us the rest of the way while entertaining us with stories of when Tom used to live and work in the area. We all marveled at the terrible condition of the roads as we bumped along in the truck. We passed Eli and Steve and waved and said hello to them.

Whiskey Grove campground had a pit toilet and a hand pump for water, a river for no-soap bathing, and a lovely campground. We set up camp and Brian and Eli made super good Frito Pie--Fritos with chili and cheese over the top, and strawberry shortcake for dessert. We had a campfire and a few songs and stories before going to bed. I had had another sleepless night the night before, so I was more than ready to go to bed by the time it was dark out.

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