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Cross Country Challenge 2008 Journal
(Page 2)
Salt Lake City to Pueblo, CO
(Rocky Mountain Tour)

current date and time 2008-11-18 | 10:12:41
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Number of Journal Entries online: 8
Day 13 - Friday June 13th, 2008 - Salt Lake City UT to Provo UT, 65 miles
Seven new riders � Ernst, Dianne, Rose, Jude, Lynda, Joe and Mark � joined the Cross Country Challenge during the Salt Lake City rest day. Their suspicion that this group was a bit �unique� was confirmed when, during an orientation meeting, they were interrupted by Jeff, Larry, and George who presented �The Veteran Manifesto�. The requirement that ��.new riders not wear cycling shorts for 2 days in order that they quickly develop rashes to match those of the veterans�� was the tenth in a series of tongue in cheek demands imposed on the new arrivals. They were forgiven for overlooking the tenth demand this morning as the group concluded that the good luck good they brought by being seven in number would offset any bad luck associated with today being Friday the 13th!

There were headwinds most of the day, but navigating may have been our biggest challenge. In Utah many cities use the same street naming plan, patterned after a modified version of Brigham Young's original plan for laying out the streets of Salt Lake City. In this scheme the streets are established in a grid pattern and numbered upward from a central point of origin. (In Salt Lake County, the southeast corner of Temple Square serves as the base). The streets are numbered according to their distance from the origin point, increasing by 100 for each block. So, the first street south of the origin is called "100 South" and the eleventh street west of the origin is called "1100 West." Not terribly imaginative, but incredibly easy for routing -- once you understand it! Early in the day quite a few of us hadn�t yet perfected it. So much for 65 easy miles�

Weaving our way out of the city riders ended up in many small groups, several of which ended up off route by times � not lost, just off route. When George (a retired School Principal) found himself really off route he stopped in at a neighborhood school to get directions. They gave him directions all right, but they sent him off in the wrong direction! Fortunately everyone found their way to a Church of the Latter Day Saints, the designated SAG stop at mile 29. Jay�s wife had sent a bunch of home made cookies and they were definitely the premier attraction. Delicious! Thanks to Jay for sharing, and thanks to Jay�s wife for baking them and sending them along.

For most of the day we could see mountains surrounding us, yet our route remained relatively flat and urban. Around mile 57 we approached Brigham Young University, and began a two-wheeled tour of a truly beautiful campus. Situated on 500+ acres with the Wasatch Range as a backdrop, the grounds and landscaping make it a perennial favorite in the campus division of the �America In Bloom� competition. Basketball fans in the group dropped over to see the 22,000 seat Marriott Center which is one the largest college arenas in the country. Once off campus, we were 8 short miles away from the Fairfield Inn.

Following dinner Gerard hosted a screening of �The World�s Fastest Indian� - a film based on Burt Munro, a legendary speed bike racer from New Zealand. Munro set numerous land speed records for motorcycles at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah in the late 1950s and into the 1960s. It seemed like a good idea initially, but Gerard became a little nervous that he may have set mischievous wheels in motion when he noticed a pencil sketch of a modified bicycle and a Home Depot flyer featuring gas powered Weed Eaters in one of the chairs as he tidied-up. �Jeff... Larry...George�What�s going on? �

Mark Eckman (see photo above) joined us in Salt Lake City and will be riding for the next 7 days as we climb and descend our way into Pueblo. He and his wife live in the Atlanta area and have two grown daughters - one in Macon GA and the other in Chicago. As a Flight Dispatcher with Delta Airlines, Mark did what many of us would love to do when he flew out to Salt Lake City. He sat in the cockpit the entire way!

Mark has completed the Bike Ride Across Georgia (BRAG) seven times making him no stranger to strenuous rides. The desire to ride across the Rocky Mountains is what brought him to his current location.

Mark Eckman � He loves to RIDE and it shows.

posted 2008-06-14 | 23:01:36 | article number: 1

Day 14 - Saturday June 14th, 2008 - Provo UT to Price UT, 75 miles
Mustering around the luggage van this morning optimists were discussing favorable factors (only 75 miles, no humidity, 60� to start, 80�by days end) while others were discussing the challenges (strong headwinds at times, and three big climbs). It really didn�t matter which camp you were in��today�s ride was headed to Price.

For anyone reading from outside the USA, June 14th is �Flag Day�; a day that is set aside to commemorate the adoption of the Stars & Stripes as a symbol of nationhood way back in 1777. In honor of this most of us wore our ABB Jerseys that are patterned after the flag. However, Shuresh, Richard, Alan, and Wayne opted to wear jerseys that represented their own home countries of Trinidad, Ireland, Great Britain, and Wales. We rolled out of town early, but residents had already been to the street to set out lawn chairs that marked their place for the Flag Day Parade that would take place later in the day.

Headwinds were expected and headwinds were delivered. During one stretch they were estimated in excess of 30mph. Odometers claimed this section was only 10 miles long, but riders claimed it felt like forty! In the midst of all this was a series of windmills that weren�t even turning. Wondering why helped at least a few of those tough miles to click by.

Today�s SAG stop was at mile 38 by a roadside rest area that was equipped with facilities, picnic tables, shade trees, and a stream of ice cold water that flowed right past. Some took a moment to stretch out on the grass and recover from two of the day�s more significant climbs, while others cooled off by wading in or dipping their feet in the stream. Aussie Steve kept a few colleagues wondering when he claimed to have seen a kangaroo a few miles earlier. Skipp voiced his approval of this location by declaring it the �Best SAG Stop Ever�. Well rested, all were ready to make their assault on the 6 mile climb that lead to Soldier Summit at an elevation of 7,477 feet. At one time there was a town and railway operations near the summit, but not anymore.
Further on at mile 54, just about everyone stopped at the �Hilltop Country Service Store� in the town of Colton. This spot, along with proprietor Dennis Finch is a shining example of what you see by bike that you simply do not see when traveling by car along an Interstate. Dennis took over the family business many years ago and was proud to regale us with stories and legends of the west that involved the store in one way or another. Nearby was a photograph of his grandfather standing next to Butch Cassidy. At mile 65 we passed the town of Helper UT. After the arrival of the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railway in 1881-82, Helper began to develop as a population center. This was done in anticipation of making Helper a freight terminal upon the changing of the line from narrow to standard gauge, which began in 1889. Here, "helper" locomotives would stand in readiness to aid trains traveling up the steep grade to Soldier Summit, thus the name Helper.
The Holiday Inn in Price was a busy spot this evening. Cyclists filled the hotel restaurant for a pasta dinner, while a better dressed group occupied the function room for a wedding reception. (Michelle and Andy were considering crashing the reception, but their formal t-shirts were dirty).
Pictured above are the sister and brother team of Rose Seliga and Joe Wilhelm, who live about 60 miles apart in Ohio. They see each other often, on visits that often involve a bike ride. In 2006 they rode the first leg of the Challenge Ride, and this year they are completing the Rocky Mountain portion. Over the coming years they plan to complete the entire route a section or two at a time.
Joe became a more frequent rider in 2004 when he took time away from his construction business to explore bike trails with his young daughters. Rose has been riding since 1996 when her daughter introduced her to cycling. They both love riding and capturing the sights and sounds of America as they slip by un-noticed as you can only do on a bike. At the end of the day you can often find Rose and Joe taking a stroll through that evening�s town to see what it has to offer.
Every parent�s dream is to have their children grow into adults who are amongst each other�s best friends. Rose & Joe�s parents are likely proud.

posted 2008-06-16 | 23:22:45 | article number: 2

Day 15 - Sunday June 15th, 2008 - "Fathers' Day" - Price UT to Green River UT, 67miles
Heading into the latter half of June the afternoon temperatures are beginning to be more of a factor. With forecast highs pushing 90�, most were in favor of starting early to take advantage of the cool morning air. A 6:30 luggage load combined with a 67 mile route with a noticeable downhill grade made it a perfect day to notch a Continental Time Trial; get to the next hotel before their Continental Breakfast closes and you are a winner!

The 33 miles leading to the SAG stop were barren, yet striking by their serenity. Lining the horizon were flat topped mountains with a dusky hue that were reminiscent of the back-drops seen in episodes of the Roadrunner and Coyote cartoons. Desolate to us, but home to the antelope that could be seen in the distance. A lot of the photographs taken today were an effort to capture a sense of �what was not there�.

Riders from the Class of �07 look back on this day of the Challenge Ride as one that was dominated by road construction. There is a definite life cycle to pavement conditions and this year we caught route 6 and 191E in their prime as we rode along them today. Just before arriving in the town of Green River we passed over the fast flowing, high, brown waters for which it was named. Journal readers from days 6 and 7 may recall that this was the setting for Skip & Don�s memorable canoeing trip with a group of boy scouts way back when. Moments later we were checking into the Holiday Inn � and yes � some did make it here before the Continental Breakfast closed! Gary, having endured saddle sores, a stubbed toe that required him to cut an accommodating hole in his shoe, AND a diagnosis of pneumonia that may require a day or two off the bike, found himself in a �Disabled Room� and was left wondering ��cyclists� providence?, or intervention by a fellow rider ?...�

With the entire afternoon at our disposal we broke-up into splinter groups; some stayed put for R&R; at the hotel, others took a side trip to Arches National Park, Skip contemplated a few holes of golf, and those looking to cool off took part in a rafting expedition that Gerard had arranged.

Pictured above are the Father & Son Team of John and David Stewart. To us it may be just �Day 15� but to the outside world it�s Fathers Day. John�s father was a coast to coast Challenge Rider about ten years ago and John co-rode from San Francisco to Gunnison (David would have been 7yrs old at the time). Driving home in the car they clearly remember seeing the jubilant group hoisting their bikes high over a sign marking the Continental Divide. At that moment John resolved to return one day to climb Monarch Pass himself.

John expressed that it's an absolute pleasure to be doing this ride with his own son, remarking that it would not be the same without family. Earlier today they got off their bikes at the SAG stop and hiked up a hill�.just because�.and marveled at the view that went on for miles and miles. They feel closer through sharing this adventure and will never forget this time together.

Four more days to Monarch Pass�����

posted 2008-06-17 | 06:07:06 | article number: 3

Day 16 - Monday June 16th, 2008 - Green River UT to Grand Junction CO - 97miles
There were arm warmers sighted this morning, but en route to an arrival temperature of 95� in Grand Junction they were not needed for long. Today we would bid farewell to Utah and nudge one step closer to majesty of the Rocky Mountains. Navaphobes (those who dislike navigating) could not be happier as there were only 4 turns over the 97mile route on I70.

A hilltop rest stop at mile 17 offered a �see forever� view of the road that lay ahead, with the horizon stretching beyond the scheduled SAG at mile 24. Coasting into the service station at the SAG stop some riders could hear Garth Brooks from a radio somewhere as he sang �Much Too Young�. A few of the words were fuzzy but it went something like:

�..This ol� highways getting longer,
seems there ain�t no end in site.
To sleep would be best, But I just can�t afford to rest
I�ve got to ride to Montrose by tomorrow night

Rose and Joe�s plan to pace themselves to the next SAG stop by taking shade breaks at every overpass was thwarted by the fact that there were only two of these over the ensuing 42 mile stretch. Without the option of shade trees the SAG stop at mile 66 was located underneath overpass number three. Hetty had it all figured out; she lounged in a folding chair while Piet served her snacks.

The remainder of the day was broken up by crossing the State Line and an �Impromptu Chill� hosted by a member of the extended ABB family. Riders were welcomed to �Colorful Colorado� by a large sign near mile 81. The Rocky Mountain scenery that Colorado is famous for was still a days� ride away but this did not dampen the enthusiasm for stopping to take a picture at the milestone.

With 17 miles left to go riders met up with Sue Dickson (a resident of Grand Junction) who welcomed them to her part of the country with ice pops and water. They were �as good as cold ever tasted�. Dinner was at the hotel, where Sue joined us and offered to meet us in the morning and escort us out of town on a bike trail that follows the Colorado River. Thank-you Sue! Not wanting to miss a bargain, most riders went directly from dinner to the A&W; outlet across the parking lot to help celebrate �National Root Beer Float Day� which included free root beer floats until 8PM.

Pictured above is Lynda Wacht, of Littleton Colorado, who is riding the Rocky Mountain leg of the Challenge Ride. She met Sue a few years ago while volunteering at The Alpine Search and Rescue. Lynda has been riding for quite a while as a triathlete, but this is her first experience with an organized tour. She has wanted to ride across the Rockies ever since she got her bike. Although Lynda is from Colorado, this corner of the state is all new territory for her. For good measure she added a few extra miles to today�s total to register a full and proper century.

Yesterday afternoon she was one of the intrepid rafters on the Green River. She so enjoyed the experience of floating down the rapids on her back that she went back for a second run. After all, the motto of the rafting company was ��.go with the flow�..�

�Go with the Flow��a motto that serves cross country cyclists equally well.

posted 2008-06-17 | 13:09:58 | article number: 4

Day 17 - Tuesday June 17th, 2008 - Grand Junction CO to Montrose CO - 70miles
Route 50 through Grand Junction is busy, so the smooth concrete of the Colorado River Trail was a relaxing way to start the day. The bike route has expanded considerably over the last year so having Sue Dixon, her friend Ed, and their wealth of local knowledge allowed us to modify our route to extend our time riding along the river. Sue sensed our desire to �see the Rockies, not the foothills but the Real Rockies� so she reassured us with a promise that we would see the towering San Juan Mountains � capped with snow and everything � long before our arrival in Montrose this afternoon. This Mountain Range is highly mineralized and figured prominently in the gold and silver mining industry of early Colorado. Large scale mining is no longer economical, but individual prospectors still scout the areas looking for profitable claims.

By the time we rejoined Route 50 it was wide shouldered and bike friendly! Only one SAG today, but it was a beauty; perched along side Grand Mesa at mile 30 riders could look out in all directions after catching their breath from a long climb.

Fifteen miles and two gradual climbs later we rolled into the town of Delta. After the loneliness of yesterdays desert route, with lunch options limited to Interstate style chains, many riders stopped for a sit down meal. Those eating at a Main Street caf� remarked that the coffee was the best they had enjoyed to date.

Temperatures were in the 90� range by the time we arrived in Montrose, so the prospect of �Snow Balls�, at 2 for $1, available in 2-dozen flavors, seemed providential. Root Beer and Mango were two favorites.

Once in Montrose, a van full of riders took a six-mile excursion to see the deep narrow walls of the Black Canyon. The Grand Canyon may be wider and longer, but the Black Canyon boasts some of the steepest river descents in North America. While the pride of Arizona drops an average of 7.5 feet per mile the pride of Montrose County drops an average of 43 feet.

Dinner was at the Red Barn Steakhouse where America by Bicycle Riders had a chance to mingle with the Ride the Rockies participants. Restaurant staff claimed that they had not heard so many tall tails since the opening of the fly fishing season on the Gunnison River. The food earned rave reviews all the way around, especially the beef stew.

Ernst Christen (see above) was born and raised in Switzerland, but has lived in the USA for the past 40 years (Los Alamos NM for the past 24yrs). He and his wife have been married 45yrs, 18 days, and 12hrs! They have a son and a daughter, with four grand children between them.

Last summer Ernst rode America by Bicycle�s �North Ride� from Portland OR to Manchester NH and became friends with riders all over the country. Imagine his surprise when he met TWO of them (with the Ride the Rockies group) over dinner at the Red Barn this evening. The three of them sat down for a few moments and relived all that they saw and did a year ago.

You never know who you�ll bump into over a plate of beef stew in Montrose�.

posted 2008-06-20 | 01:01:49 | article number: 5

Day 18 - Wednesday June 18th, 2008 - Montrose CO to Gunnison CO - 63miles
We were not the only riders on the road today. Sharing the 100km stretch of Rocky Mountain Splendor between Montrose and Gunnison were the 2000 cyclists of �Ride the Rockies 2008�, an annual event that picks a different route through the state every year at this time. Their day ended in Crested Butte so they had about 30 more miles to ride beyond Gunnison. Also joining us today is Don�s nephew Scott. He lives nearby and will be catching up with Uncle Don as they ride together for the next couple of days.

It was straight to business when we left the parking lot this morning with an immediate climb made more of a challenge by a direct headwind. Al, Bill, and Wayne (along with a tag along Ride The Rockies guy) were unfazed by the terrain and decided to take the 14-mile side trip to the Black Canyon that added on another 2000 feet of climbing.

Not too far after the first major climb of the day was the town of Cimarron at mile 18. Ride the Rockies had a rest stop set-up there where ABB riders were welcome to drop in and refuel if needed. Riders from each group could be seen riding off side by side, exchanging stories of life on the road as they made their way toward the second big climb of the day which lay waiting 10 minutes off. After a 7mile workout we found ourselves perched high atop the Blue Mesa Summit, an ideal spot for today�s SAG stop. Hetty was intrigued by the variety of wildflowers that populated the surrounding meadows, while other chuckled at Jeff�s decision to change his name to �On Your Left� since that what everyone had called him �at least once� when they passed him on the uphills.

The scenery that unfolded after the Blue Mesa Summit seemed to intensify with each additional mile. By this time we were descending, and around each bend in the road was a rich green ranch, a towering mesa, the deep blue water of Lake Gunnison, or a thin strip of asphalt between jagged rock cuts. Ride the Rockies had organized a lunch stop along the shore of Lake Gunnison and many ABB riders opted to make this a meal break also. With 2000 riders needing to be fed, a bunch of local restaurants set up vending tables and booths which transformed a road side rest stop into a full service food court for a few hours.

The third and final climb of the day was a gradual 8-mile incline that took us away from the lake and towards the town Gunnison. Those who had just eaten were glad the miles were not too steep and appreciated the tail wind that pushed us along the final leg of the day. Most had checked in to the Days Inn by mid-afternoon, and were made to feel welcome with individual care packages consisting of Power Bars, packages of gum, candy bars, and toiletries. Sarge and his riding crew took a photo upon their arrival and named it �Rocky I�, with a similarly named sequel expected tomorrow.

A short walk away was the heart of downtown where a lot of riders headed to shop, browse, or find an ice-cold beer to quench their thirst on a hot afternoon in the mountains. Dinner was at �Marios�; a family owned Italian Restaurant that has been an ABB favorite for years.

Pictured above are Jude Sharp & Diane Lausman from Lancaster PA, who are riding the Rocky Mountain leg of this year�s ride. They have been cycling since their College days and have always been partial to long distances rides. After a series of injuries Diane has decided to spend less time running marathons and more time in the saddle.

Both riders admit to having been a bit nervous about how they would manage on the long climbs that are part of the Rocky Mountain experience. The time they spent training on the shorter, steeper climbs in the Lancaster area seemed to pay off since both found that the western climbs were easier than they had anticipated. They particularly enjoyed zipping past many of the �Ride the Rockies� guys on today�s route.

Heading back to work they will bring memories of �great people and fun times�.

When we think back to our days with Jude and Diane that is what will come to our minds as well.

posted 2008-06-21 | 20:12:33 | article number: 6

Day 19 - Thursday June 19th, 2008 - Gunnison CO to Salida CO - 66miles
In some ways today was a challenging day - we were after all crossing the Continental Divide, and in other ways it was a relaxing day with only one turn to make, and self-replenishing scenery where a new breath-taking view fell into place the moment its predecessor had dropped out of sight. We were out of Gunnison by 7AM, and through the first town of Parlin less than an hour later. Neither the general store nor the Post Office had flipped over their �Closed� signs to signal the start of a new day.

We were climbing a gentle incline from the moment we left the hotel, but the pastoral landscape � herds of cattle in lush green pastures, being watered by fast flowing streams of cold mountain water � served as a distraction from the progressive change in elevation.

The first SAG stop was set just outside the main gates of the Monarch Valley Ranch at mile 29. The morning had started off at 49� but had warmed up sufficiently than many riders were packing and stowing their jackets, arm-warmers and tights. Discussion was focused on what a gentle morning it had been and how the workload would likely pick-up a bit as we continued towards Monarch Pass. Richard continued to be impressed by the rich green vegetation set against the mountains. After the desert ��.it reminds me so much of Ireland..� he remarked, ��but�on a much larger scale.�

4 miles down-route was Sargents General Store where many took a moment to stop and use the facilities, or buy the special food item they like to have in their pocket heading into a climb. A display case by the cash registered featured some locally crafted jewelry made with local stones that some people selected as souvenirs. Imagine � loading up on rocks just prior to a 9-mile ascent! This is a tough group.

The road to the summit of Monarch Pass is long, with an average grade above 6%, but it does rise uniformly. Before long riders has settled into their lowest gear and simply kept on spinning their way up. With bright sunshine and striking mountains in every direction it was quite easy to pull off and pretend to take a picture when all that was really desired was a moment to stretch and take a good long drink of water. As each rider neared the top � where the temperature was in the 60s and there was still snow in the shaded areas - a chorus of cheers erupted from colleagues who had already summitted. The top of Monarch Pass also lies along the Continental Divide, making the achievement that much more significant. Christine and her husband Bill, who is visiting for a couple of days, were married at this exact spot a year ago, so they took a moment to observe their return to Monarch Pass.

After unpacking an putting their cool weather gear back on, riders got back on their bikes and prepared to reap the rewards of their mornings work; a 23 mile drop back down into the town of Salida. The first 10 miles were steep with an oscillating wind, but after that the turbulence died down. Those who made a slight side trip to the downtown area found a vibrant and rich community with well cared for older homes, a waterfront park next to the fast flowing headwaters of the Arkansas River, eclectic restaurants and pubs, a well-stocked bike shops, AND many people using their bikes to get around. There were bike racks everywhere and they were being well used. Right On Salida!

That George Yantz (pictured above) should be the first rider up and over Monarch Pass today should come as no surprise. He lives nearby in Frisco CO and often uses the Monarch Pass area for training rides. A retired High School Principal, George rides in the summer and volunteers as a Ski Patroller during the winter months.

George admires the way the Cross Country Challenge group has come together from varying ability levels and experiences, yet are all covering the same terrain and mileage by the end of each day. Everyone supports each other and no one gives up. George is staying in a triple room and is thankful to have � been blessed with good room mates�. As a guest presenter at last night�s Route Rap George instilled confidence in the group by reminding them that they all conquered Mt Rose and that Monarch Pass is not any tougher.

Fifty-two days is a long time to be away from the people you love most, so George is looking forward to the rest day in Pueblo when his wife will come for a visit; �family support helps temper homesickness�.

posted 2008-06-21 | 20:20:56 | article number: 7

Day 20 - Friday June 20th, 2008 - Salida CO to Pueblo CO - 95miles
The sun was already up, but the moon was still visible in the cool night sky as we headed to �The Patio Pancake Place� for breakfast. We would experience a few more marvels before this day was done but our waitress Jessica was the phenomenon that got it all started. She took breakfast orders from 30 of us, wrote them down for the kitchen, but never once had to refer back to her notes. She knew exactly what everyone had ordered, she knew how close to being ready each component of everyone�s meal was, she knew who ordered coffee and who ordered juice, and when Christine�s pancakes arrived (one chocolate, one banana) she suggested pairings of which syrup flavor would best compliment each one! She even found time to exchange quips with Jeff who had the table in tears as he was reciting from a table-top copy of �Understanding Women � A Guide for Guys Who Are Often Confused.� When Gary C spoke up and said �Jessica � we have ridden a third of the way across the country and you are absolutely the best waitress we have had�, the room broke out in applause.

Highway Hang-Gliding might be the best way to describe our first 25 miles of the day. Leaving town Highway 50 gently free-falls through the Sangre de Cristo range in a seemingly endless string of twist and turns. Some of these were gentle arcs while others were back-to-back hairpins. At times it seemed we were racing the fast moving waters of the Arkansas River as it cascaded along the same fall line. The slope was sharp enough that we made good time, but gentle enough that we could still look around and absorb what we were riding through. The first SAG was at a rest stop between the road and the river at mile 38. Every once and a while far off voices grew louder and louder until a raft full of fellow thrill seekers splashed by as they continued to plummet down river. Kip had captured a unique shot of his shadow earlier-on and was singing an up-tempo arrangement of �Me and My Shadow� as others took a look at the image.

The Royal Gorge Bridge, built in 1929, is billed as the world�s highest suspension bridge hanging 1053 feet over the Arkansas River. Today�s route passed within 5 miles of this attraction so a number of riders invested a few extra miles in a side trip. Seeing the bridge up close and riding over the deep gorge was a thrill, but an even bigger feat was the climb to get there. The final 2 miles on the way in was steeper than anything we have seen to date. The road did not appear to have been planned out to minimize grade, it appeared to be simply laid out as a stretch of asphalt leading to a destination.

Having been in the mountains for several days we had become accustomed to their steady presence and the challenges and excitement they offer. As we drifted down a 6 mile drop into Ca�on City, we all of a sudden found ourselves out of the mountains. Leaving town prairie dogs started appearing along the side of the road, flat brown fields began stretching to the horizon, and a monster headwind was beginning to build. We were sad to see the Rockies go, but we were proud to have made our way through them.

As we rode off, a storm was brewing back over our left shoulders. A quick look revealed a sky that included a dazzling palette of blues, grays, and an increasing proportion of black. Riders who arrived at the second SAG (mile 71) any time after 2PM saw this blackness drifting closer and closer to Pueblo and began to wonder just what it was that they might encounter before reaching the Days Inn. The county immediately north of Pueblo experienced significant hail and severe storm warnings, but the Cross Country Challenge Riders remained dry as they closed out the Rocky Mountain leg of their journey. Time for a REST DAY!!!!

Route Rap was busier than usual as we said farewell to riders who will be leaving us at this point:
� John and David who left from Salida yesterday evening
� Gary C who is leaving for a few days, but expects to return in the East
� Ernst, who commented on how happy the past 8 days have been, and expressed a wish �May the sun shine on your face and the wind be at your back�
� Diane, who wished she could continue on after a wonderful week
� Jude, who thanked everyone for the great weather and the great company
� Lynda, who was grateful that no one enforced the �Veteran Manifesto�
� Joe & Rose, who plan to return to Pueblo in 2009 to ride �the next leg�

Today�s featured rider (pictured above) is Gary Curtis of Los Altos CA. His friends and family are always asking him what he �is going to do next�, so this time he decided to �shut �em up� by announcing his long distance riding plan.

An idea guy, Gary has created and successfully started-up 8 different companies. His most recent endeavor involved marketing a catheter which is used in the brain to isolate clots, thereby preventing strokes. The time spent on his bike so far has helped him decide �Yes � I will start another�; now he has the rest of the summer to decide what that might be. With certainty he states that he loves what he does.

Gary has a grown daughter (along with a son-in-law and young grand son) who is a Christian Missionary working with AIDS orphans in Uganda. He will be a grandfather all over again when his daughter�s family adopts Ava, a 15 month old girl, in the coming weeks.

Following today�s mileage, Gary will be leaving the Challenge Ride for a while, but expects to return a few days further on when we reach the Eastern States.

As the song goes....we�ll meet again, don�t know where, don�t know when, but I know we'll meet again some Sunny Day....

posted 2008-06-22 | 23:53:22 | article number: 8

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