The ride was splendid. Trucking along at a quick kick. I listened to my live recordings of Tumbleweed Wanderers, Cellojoe, Mama Crow, Dad's stories and my own spoken word. The wind was blowing steady east to west.
I was pedal to the metal going directly east. The wind definitely makes a difference even though I was sailing along. There were interesting silos, fields, signs, cows, horses, abandoned buildings, farmlets, trains. Yet it still seemed very boring.
Maybe it was loneliness.
I stopped in a spot to relieve myself after the first 20 miles of pedaling. A good little pull out that wasn't a turn with substantial tree, bush and foliage to hide in. As I emerged from my hideout I saw a boy on a bike riding toward me. He must have thought it strange to see me hop out of a bush. I waved him down. Collin is headed West, and I warned him that it was going to be treacherously cold, perhaps miserable trying to cross the Rockies. I looked over his gear while he told me how he suffers a flat a day. Realizing how little this guy had to prepare himself, he didn't have a long sleeve shirt, two fleece jackets? Will that save you?
Needless to say I was worried.
Then he started telling me how little fun it's been, how rough sleeping in ditches is because there is nowhere else to stay. So I told him he could come with me and it would be more fun.
He could see the mountains far in the distance behind me though.
The Great Divide and the accomplishment of riding the whole way, coast to coast beckoned. He said, "that is the only reason to do a ride like this isn't it?"
And I thought it would be a nice thing to say I've done like so many others before me...after me, but I am on a different Route.
The wind had been at his back the whole time and he soon blew away towards Pueblo.
I carried on not giving up an exciting opportunity like he did. He told me to go with him and I said no, so we parted ways. That is the way to do it, be clear at the start... We are going in opposite directions, say la vie.
I am glad I have all this gear, I would hate to feel as unprepared as he looked.
The next 24 miles were then especially lonely and boring. Except the bits that had road construction and those were way too exhilarating for my personal comfort. Probably where I picked up whatever popped my tire as I slowly deflated and rolled the last mile into Rocky Ford.
I walked my bike on the tree root rumpled sidewalk to a gas station. Laid it down on it's side and quickly changed the tire while talking to Floyd.
I asked him how close there was to camp,
"12 miles east... "
"Ok. Think I will make there before dark?"
"Hell no, I mean... no way."
Proving myself proficient at least at changing tires I accepted a ride to La Junta. Floyd dropped me off at the KOA and even paid for my campspot which was an astonishing price of $24!
And it was crappy, smelled of cow crud, smelled worse than my socks!
But I was grateful for a safe place, where the camp hosts would watch my tent because it was basically next door to the only walmart for 50 miles in either direction and thus a little sketchy. Floyd was a nice guy and warned me like two others had earlier in the day to be very careful. Just about everyone I have talked to has warned me, watch yourself, don't go down random roads, don't camp anywhere. They had me scared.
Spent an uneventful night, played guitar, wrote, and slept.
Pretty cold. Tucked in tightly. Hoping it doesn't get any colder and it does right before dawn. When Phil would have unconsciously stopped resisting me and be huddled right next to me keeping me warm.
Woke up sick of it. Wind blowing thunderously in my ears. Sore, stiff, feeling rough. Didn't even take a shower, when I could've, because I don't have a towel and it was still cold.
I drank their free coffee and devised a plan. Also used the nice KOA people's air compressor on my tire.
Ride to Lamar or hitch to Lamar? If the wind is blowing east and I am going south I will only be blown over.... I think.
Hitched a ride with Bogar who was driving a Gypsum product truck. We strapped my bike on top of a pile of sheet rock and off we went. He was a pleasant conversationalist and it made the scenery ten times better to be moving faster.
He dropped me in Lamar, I stuck my bike back together and rode down S 287. I stopped at the park and talked to El on the phone which made me feel better about the strange ways people keep warning me. Felt silly not realizing that they are projecting their fear on me. Fear is a tool, I feel it's use when necessary and respond accordingly.
Also helped me figure out why people keep asking me if I am on the lam. I guess that would be a glamourous reason to wear cool boots and a leather visor like a poker dealer. No I am not running from the law. One conversation with a woman at a grocery store went down like this.
"why did you leave? Are you pregnant?"
I just laugh. Before I could answer...
"what did he do to you?!"
I had to tell her there is no him, and I didn't leave
I am going.
Kinda like El told me today. I am not a human doing, I am a human being.
After swinging on the swings I rode to the south edge of town. Bought the cheapest burrito on the menu at a Mexican place and the server Chris brought me out a generous heap of chips and salsa to boot. Talked to Effie on the phone, also very good to have a conversation that doesn't start or end with "you are crazy, aren't ya?"
Then I rode to an RV Park. The wind blowing straight into my left ear. I feel like I am leaning against it to keep my bike upright. A big rig goes by the wind stops and starts again making it look like I am a drunk rider as I steady my course. Brad the owner showed me where to pitch my tent. When I inquired about payment he said it wasn't costing him a thing. Very luckily for me.
It is still cold, but not dangerously, just uncomfortably. And I am huddled up in my tent by the little light of my iPhone wishing I was drinking beer somewhere. With all these different factors weighing upon me, I have sat down to decide. I will probably hitch hike to Amarillo tomorrow. And get on with the more pleasant part of the journey.