We left the Rockies behind and have entered the prairies of northern, CO. We had one last exceptionally beautiful day before we rode out of the mountains and into Ft Collins. If anyone is ever in this part of the country, I highly recommend driving up Cameron pass and maybe even dropping onto Walden just to see the beauty this mountains hold. You will not be disappointed. I was definitely sad to be leaving the western mountains thinking that the boring part of the ride was commencing, but I was wrong, at least thus far.
We rode out of Ft Collins yesterday morning after a great stay with Dennis Ryan, the brother of an ex Backroads leader and current Belmont Wheelworks employee who reached out after the Globe article and has offered encouragement, advice, and places to stay. As we were riding out on CO 14, I could see the the mountains in the rearview mirror but had yet to see the beauty due to the exceptionally busy road. After getting a late start, I guess I was trying to also speed out to get us out of town and leave the traffic behind.
When we hit Ault, CO, highway 14 became a very quiet rural road. We were headed to the small community of Briggssville, where we knew we probably wouldn't get a campsite, and would have to figure out where to sleep once in town. But to our surprise, they allow overflow camping at a small area designated for group events. So we hit the town to buy dinner for the night, ate, and rested up for the next day's ride.
Maybe it was the worrying about where we would sleep the night before, but I hadn't really noticed how beautiful these prearies were until we rode out this morning. The wind was blowing out of the north, and either passing through my avid brakes or the wheel spokes, but the whistling created was adding a perfect soundscape to the land. It accentuated the openness and solace this land provides. The rolling hills provided the feeling that they go on forever, like the inundating ocean waves can sometimes do.
Today is Sunday, so the town we passed was entirely closed. And by town I mostly mean the only business in the 60 miles stretch. We still stopped to eat there, however, even if just on the front entrance. We had lunch of pasta salad given to us by a resident of Briggsville when she found out we'd be biking out of there, with little or no prospects to reload. Thanks Heidi! But it was after lunch that we noticed the northern winds were bringing in a very real threat. In the closing distance we could see thunderstorms appearing just to the north and east of us, with the prevailing winds driving towards a sure collision.
I'm no meteorologist, but as I've said before, I've done some touring in the past, so I felt like we could out run the soon-to-be passing rain and thunder. We grouped together and made a plan to try to stay ahead of the showers as the sky lit up from time to time over our left shoulders. The other choice was to stay under a porch of a building we passed, but I felt like that could delay us for a long time as it seemed like the clouds were all starting to open up and bring those stark gray streaks of rain onto the beautiful prearies. So we rode on...without our normal breaks.
We did manage to stay ahead of the rain and thunder. As we were on some of the the last prearies before town, we could see behind us that the plan was just barely keeping us safe and dry. The clouds that started up as puffy sun cover were now a rolling train of rain and thunder. Yet, the storms only accentuated the beauty layed out behind us. The wind continued to blow, creating that whistling sound out of my bike. It reminded me of a long ago sounds I'd hear as a kid when the wind blew through an empty playground. Only this time the play structure was solidly wheeling us to town, into our motel, and keeping us safe for one more day.