Continued from part 4
After finally outrunning the rain clouds with a few happenstance turns away from the dark clouds of western Kansas, I eventually reached the south eastern Colorado border. After spending the night in mid-Kansas at Great Bend, it was my hope to do a single day’s ride all the way through to my friend’s place in Denver.
No sooner did I get no more than about 25 miles past the Kansas line and I started to see construction signs. Being from Michigan where contruction barrels are a state landmark, I didn’t know quite what to expect from Colorado construction. I was taking US-287 which ran in a diagonal from near the south eastern corner of the state all the way into Denver. It was still pretty much the big-sky country. As flat as Kansas but without the planted fields of sorghum in every direction. Just vast, flat, undeveloped grasslands with the occasional scattered ranch or country house.
I soon got an idea of just what construction in near-barren ‘big sky’ country really was. It was the first sign to read ‘road down to one lane, next 15 miles’. Some of you might have run into the occasional city or suburb construction that narrows a road to one lane, where flag men stand on either end and wave cars through on direction at a time. Well that’s what they did in Colorado – for a stretch of 15 miles straight!
I was actually a tad worried for as I pulled up to the line of cars waiting for the 15 miles of cars to come down from the NW at a speed of about 20 miles per hour, there weren’t too many cars between me and the ‘flag’ man. (although they were actually using radios and what amounted to a pace car) My worry upon seeing this and it already being mid-afternoon, was that I had pulled up shortly after they had stopped the NW traffic.
Traffic had been at least reasonably steady on the road as near as I could see, but the locals apparently knew of ways around the backup so apparently many had turned off before the construction as I didn’t have to wait too long at all. Furthermore, one of the guys just showing up to replace the current ‘pace car’ driver who was about to go insane from driving the same road back and forth all day, saw me on my bike and drove along the shoulder to tell me to go to the front of the line! woo hoo, what service they gave to out-of-towners. (the reality was that with the road broken up in places, he wanted to drive behind me instead of in front to keep people from ‘running me over’ on stretches where he knew I would need to slow down)
So the construction only really backed me up about another 30 minutes overall. About 10-15 waiting to go and another 15-20 due to the reduced speeds on that 15 mile stretch. The rest of the ride into Denver was luxurious although I had miscalculated the distance. It seemed to take me a lot longer than I expected to start to see the mountains in the distance. (although the foothills did break up the flat land well outside of the view of the mountains) I was really hoping to see some ‘prairie goats’ but never did catch sight of any.
The Mile High City
I got into Denver and to my friends well before dark. The week itself was a joyous trip visiting friends. I enjoyed the dickens out of my friends S.O.’s kids, they were two brilliant young girls with gleaming personalities. They loved to sing so I sang with them just about every day and played games with them and tested their knowledge on various things. They were the great joy of the trip behind seeing my friend.
I also spent the days exploring Denver itself while my friend was at work. One day I went out to the west end of town and road the main east-west drive all the way to the other end of town. The next I did it north to south. Among other highlights of the trip, I got to finally try smelt roe sushi with a raw quails egg on top. (oh, groan all you want, to me that was DAMN GOOD CHIT!)
Of course, there was a night or too of restrained debauchery (ok, not really, but we did manage to have a good time). One night in particular became quite interesting when we decided to take my motorcycle to the bar instead of driving. The shoes I decided to wear were just fine for the trip there. (and they were the only casual shoes that would fit in my backpack with my clothes) Open toe/top sandals with a well enforced leather arch that was still fine for working the shifter pedal. Just fine for warm, dry weather. Of course, we got slapped with a mountain rain before we began to go home.
I learned very quickly that there’s a big difference between a typical Michigan fall rain and a cold Denver mountain rain! The end result was we stopped half way home and it turns out my friend’s shoes just barely fit my feet. So here she was wearing my sandals, me wearing her flats so my toes wouldn’t freeze. The rest of my body was SOL – she at least had my body to protect her from the rain, keeping her dryer and warmer.
We got home like a couple of wet dogs and two shots I had slammed just as we left the bar knowing they wouldn’t hit me until after the short ride home suddenly slammed me all at once as my stiff body suddenly started moving and my metabolism with it. (she was already loopy to the point where I had to help hold her on the bike!)
We got off and looked at one another – soaking wet – and started laughing and couldn’t stop for close to 10 minutes. There’s an incriminating photo of us two wet curs sitting in her garage still laughing on the auto-timed picture.
Part of the reason for the whole visit was my friend’s birthday. A combination of stuff she needed to do for work and the necessity of me trying to look for a 2-3 day patch of clear weather led us to go celebrate her birthday the night before the actual date. We went to an Ethiopian restaurant which was a new experience for me. Alas, as we called it a night after returning from the birthday celebration, the weather appeared to be in my favor on the nightly news so I turned in early to prepare to head home.
Continued in part 6