Day 40 – Oatmeal Theory – Glenwood Springs to Meeker, CO

miles biked – 66


Dear Anders-

I know how much you appreciate a long, meandering bit of mail, but I have to say that between biking and brew hopping and updating this blog, there just hasn’t been much extra time.  So I’m going to kill two birds with one stone and write this blog entry to you!

We kicked off the day in an amazing breakfast made by my aunt Nancy, who I wish you could have met.  She was raised in Peru with my mom’s husband Christian and she had some great stories from back in the day in Lima.  She has lived in Colorado for about 40 years though, so she also knows the area really well.  There was a stretch just west of Glenwood that wasn’t safe to bike (a very busy highway with no side road), so we packed our bikes in her car and started our ride 7 miles down to the start of the frontage road.  From there, it was all downhill.  Literally.  We did 19 miles in less than an hour.  But it wasn’t downhill like fly down coasting with the occasional tap on the brakes when you round a corner, it was a very slight down hill, like riding with a nice tailwind.  Maybe that’s what it would feel like to bike east? :)

Our first stop was this town called Rifle (we’ve also seen signs for Parachute and Dinosaur, where do they come up with these??), but since it was only 9:30am, it wasn’t time for lunch.  We drank some gas station coffee, stopped at the grocery store for sandwich fixings for lunch, oatmeal for breakfast in the morning and continued on our way.  We were a little worried, because this woman we talked to in town about our route was very ominous about the road north.  ”ooooh… you’re going up 13?  that’s a dangerous road, no shoulder, lots of oil trunks, and they don’t care which side of the road they are on. also, you’re going to ride 13 miles out of town and then hit what we call 13 mile hill.  It’ll be 9 miles up hill from there.  Steep.  And you know, its 10 degrees colder in Meeker than here.”

Suffice to say, we were a little worried.  But we didn’t really have a choice, there aren’t that many roads, or towns out here so we hopped back on our rigs and started pedaling.  It was true about the shoulder, and there were a lot of large trucks, but most gave us a pretty wide berth.  What was a total lie was the hill starting 13 miles in.  The hill started pretty much immediately.  It wasn’t steep, but it was just enough to make it feel like work.  I was huffing and puffing by the third mile.  You, however, would have loved it:)  By the time we got to the 13 mile marker we were like “hell, if this isn’t the hill yet, we are in for some tough riding.”  So we had our tasty lunch of turkey sandwiches (with avo of course) and craisins.  You would have been so proud, it was the first time we’d packed lunches since… Canada?

Anywho, we got back on the road and we decided that whatever was ahead, we’d meet at the top of the hill to check in.  Per the usual order, Caroline was in front, with Tracy trailing right behind, and I was hanging on in the back, cranked down to a low gear, headphones on and preparing for the worst.  But the grade didn’t seem to be getting any worse.  In fact, we hit a few downhills.  At the 22 mile marker, I ran into Tracy, “Hey Tracy, what’s up?”  ”Well, I thought we were supposed to check in here, so I’m checking in.”  ”Cool.  That didn’t seem like that bad of a hill, do you think its coming later?” “Maybe, the satellite does look like a big hill right before we get to Meeker.”  We took some pictures and got back on the road.   A few miles of cruisey rolling hills later, we ran into Caroline at a rest stop. “Hey guys, was it just me or did we not hit a big hill?  I saw the 22 mile marker, but l was waiting for the big hill the woman in Rifle talked about so I just kept riding.”    It was kind of weird, we couldn’t decide if we were just stronger bikers that we thought or if the worst was yet to come.

At this point it was 1:45pm.  We had 14 miles to go, so even if we hit some huge hills, we were still going to make it to town well before dark.  We figured we’d have plenty of time to figure out where we were going to stay for the night, maybe do something fun like bowling?  We didn’t know.  We were only stopping at this town Meeker because everything else was too far to get to in a day (the next town up was another 50 miles).

The rest of the ride was AWESOME.  Quite possible my favorite day yet.  From Rifle to Meeker, there is pretty much no development.  It’s just a 40 mile stretch of road surrounded by cliffs of jutting rocks and big cattle ranches.  While were were chugging up hill, I hadn’t taken too much time to take it all in but all of the sudden we started going back downhill, the shoulder opened up, and I really got a chance to look around.  It was gorgeous!  It felt like exactly what I imagined when I pictured myself biking across country: big long stretches of open road, epic scenery in the background and me in the middle of it, pedaling to who-knows-where.

There was a great moment right at the beginning of the descent when we saw this woman driving slowly down the road waving a red flag out of her window.  We didn’t know how to interpret that, but we figured maybe she’d broken down or something and was signally that she couldn’t go any faster… but then, right in front of us, a herd of cattle came walking onto the road.  They were followed by real life cowboys and a cowgirl on horses.  We didn’t really know what to do, so we just stopped, right in the middle of the road.  For a brief moment, I thought, “oh shit, we are going to get stampeded by cows” but they just walked around us and on to the next field.  Apparently this is how they move the cattle- just open up the fence and walk them down the road for a bit to the next pasture. It was SO cool.  I couldn’t help but think that Michael Pollan would love all these cows with so much space to roam.

We hit Meeker at about 2:30pm, seeing tons of “Welcome Hunters” signs all throughout town.  Caroline, who was a few yards ahead, stopped to reconvene.  And that’s when this older couple walked up to her and said “hey, are you guys looking for a place to stay for the night? you should stay with us!  we have three extra bedrooms, hot showers, internet and we are having a dinner party tonight so we have lots of extra food and wine.”  We were floored.  I said to Caroline, “how did you do that so fast?” and she said “they just walked up to me!”  The gentleman, Steve, had an Amherst cap on (that’s where Tracy went to school) and it turns out his son went there, so there was an immediate connection.  His wife, Bonnie, is a triathlete, so Caroline immediately felt at home.  As for me, the second they used the phrase “dinner party” I was in.  They gave us directions to their house and said to come by whenever we were ready (we figured we had a little time to check out the town now that room and board was set).

Next, we did exactly what any three girls would do after an amazing day like this – we all called our moms.

Giddiness slightly calmed, we biked over to Steve and Bonnie’s, still a little shocked at where the twig took us for the day.  Their home is awesome!   As we walked in, I said to Tracy “this is why we should always have oatmeal on hand.”  ”If we have it, we won’t need it?”  ”Exactly.”

Their property is surrounded by beautiful golden hills, with cows and horses grazing.  I really wish you were here to see it and meet them!  Bonnie is from Michigan and went to grad school in Kalamazoo, Steve is a famous fisherman (he has an entire office just for tying flies!) and they both have some amazing stories about life and love.

At dinner, Bonnie informed us that we were absolutely not biking the next day- we had to check out the amazing area around Meeker- and they’d just drive us to our next stop.  This seemed a little strange at first, especially coming from a 65 year old woman who’d competed in the Ironman worlds in Kona TWICE but the more she talked, the better I understood.  There were things to see around these parts, and what was the point of the trip if not to see amazing sites, meet amazing people and have an adventure?

So we drank wine and played Farkle (our new favorite dice game) and went to bed in our own beautiful rooms, still completely floored that this wonderful couple had flagged us down.  I can’t really put into worlds how magical it feels to be here, but I can’t wait to tell you more about it in person very soon!



Sara and Nancy

Sara and Nancy



Bonny and Steve

Bonnie and Steve

Steve playing Farkle

Steve playing Farkle


One Response to “Day 40 – Oatmeal Theory – Glenwood Springs to Meeker, CO”

  1. anders
    15. October 2009 at 15:19

    Watch out for those oil trunks!!!

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