Part 11: Bicycling the Continental Divide—Mexico to Canada—meeting up with funny riders
By Frosty Wooldridge
"Never forget that life can only be nobly inspired and rightly lived if you take it bravely and gallantly, as a splendid adventure in which you are setting out into an unknown country, to face many a danger, to meet many a joy, to find many a comrade, to win and lose many a battle." Annie Besant
Does a long distance touring bicycle rider live a noble life with bravery and gallantry? Do such riders live splendid adventures beyond the norm? Do we face danger to meet with joy and many strangers? Unequivocally, I say, “Yes!” This self-powered journey encompasses amazing moments of physical, emotional and spiritual bliss unknown to those who travel via car, plane or other speeding transport. Or, sit at home watching TV!
After waking up in that patch of flowers on Muddy Pass, I waited for the tent to dry by cooking up some oatmeal garnished with raisins, banana slices and peanuts.
(Condor loaded up with fresh water, oiled chain and ready for the day’s ride.)
Route 14 traveled north toward Walden along another river valley with verdant life covering the hills that led to distant peaks. From 8,700 feet, I glided on a two percent downhill incline, which gave me such bliss. Morning sunlight flashed on the gentle waters racing along on the stream beside the road. Mallard ducks, surprised by my flags, leaped out of the water to take flight into the still morning air. Swallows darted above the river at every bridge I crossed. Always, a few hawks soared on invisible updrafts for their morning breakfast patrols. Sublime!
A certain serenity enveloped me as my legs pumped into and powered me through a beautiful green landscape with intermittent ranches and indolent cows grazing on grassy fields.
(Cabin along the way probably over 100 years old. Sodbusters built log cabins in the remotest places along the old wagon trails. Hard living!)
In Walden at 10:30 a.m., 35 miles vanished with ease and grace. I stopped at Moose Creek Café for a blueberry pancake with maple syrup. I charged my camera, video and MP3 player. I noticed many folks reading the paper and commenting on the daily stream of bad news. For me, I didn’t read anything or hear anything bad because I continued my journey without need to know about world affairs. Nice to live in utter and total blissful ignorance of the vagaries of the world.
(This bicycle outhouse greets travelers on their way into Walden, Colorado. For the life of me, I am always astounded at the creativity of people in every part of the world. What made a fellow weld up such a contraption? How did he get the idea? Why the plastic bird on the roof? Go figure.)
Each day, life proves good, life works in your favor, life thrives with your chosen joy.
(American small towns feature lots of junk cars. Can you guess this make, model and year?)
After eating a great pancake, I headed north across flat land, ranchland and pasture. At a stop up the road at an abandoned gas station, I met Nate Bridge and his father Jeff riding across America as a father and son team. What a special event for a father and son. I never got to share such an adventure with my own dad as he died on my 17th birthday. To this day, I feel emotional when I see a father and son together while skiing, bicycling or rafting. It’s something that I never get to do with my dad after that fateful moment. Once again, love each day and live it with gusto because you never know when this grand adventure ends.
(Kids in Walden right out of a Norman Rockwell painting.)
I spoke to the son Nate, “Enjoy each day of this ride with your dad. It’s a precious moment you will both remember for the rest of your lives. I never got to do that with my dad.”
At that moment, I choked up something terrible in front of a total stranger, in fact, just a kid of 22. Nate stammered, “Your dad’s proud of you.” I guess he felt my anguish at that moment and blurted out that sentence. It’s amazing that my father passed away 45 years ago, but his passing still affects me today. I carry a picture of him in my wallet, which gives me comfort that he lives with me daily.
My dad’s death remains the defining moment in my life. It tore a hole in my heart. It stunned me. It affected how I live my life. It affects me to this day. Every once in awhile, I talk to my dad which gives me a great deal of reassurance. I thank him for giving me the guts, gumption and true grit to face life, all its challenges, all its pitfalls, all its triumphs and all its disappointments. Yet stand up and move forward with a happy heart and positive spirit.
“Enjoy your ride Frosty,” Jeff, the father yelled. “You’ve only got 40 miles to Riverside.”
“You guys ride that tailwind,” I said, waving at them as they pushed off.
The rest of the day saw me pedaling hard against a slight headwind and through goregous mountains. Up and down, around curves and up steep grades. My legs loved the workout. My eyes enjoyed the amazing scenery.
In Riverside, I stopped at a small convenience store across from a bar and grill. Inside, a tall silver-haired man stood over the ice cream box with a Notebook computer in his hands. I didn’t think much about him as I gathered some energy bars and loaded my water bottles. I intended to make another 10 miles before nightfall.
“Are you on a bike,” the gray haired guy asked.
“That’s mine out there,” I said.
“My friend and I are riding coast to coast from Virginia Beach to Seattle,” he said. “Heck, why don’t you stay here tonight. You could take a shower in our motel room and join us for dinner. My name’s Dave.”
“Shower,” I said. “You got my attention, Dave.”
We walked over to his cabin where I met his friend Gerry Mulroy.
“Good to meet you, mate,” Gerry said.
(Dave and Gerry at the Café on the River in Saratoga, Colorado and the start of a very funny seven days of laughter, jokes, stories and traveling with a man on his daily menstrual cycle. Just by looking at Gerry on the right, you know you’re in for a laugh.)
After a glorious shower, I accompanied Dave and Gerry over to the Mangy Moose for dinner. We talked and laughed. We laughed and talked. Gerry turned out to be a comedian who played off events, moments and shared endless joke lines. Dave, not to be outdone, held his own, too. Once they got going, they got me going. It turned out to be a laugh fest.
“Do you remember Vincent Van Gogh, the artist?” Gerry said.
“Sure, he cut off his ear in frustration for not selling his artwork,” I said.
“But the whole story is this,” said Gerry. “In the morning, his agent walked over to Van Gogh saying, “For God sakes Vincent, I said, ‘Take a year off not your ear off.’”
The way he told it, I nearly fell to the floor laughing. Later that evening, he pulled out guitar that he carried on his bike and started playing and singing. He played some great oldies but goodies. We sang our hearts out.
“Man, you are a traveling minstrel,” I said. “And, you ride a cycle…does that mean you are always on your menstrual cycle?”
Okay, you had to be there to get that one! Gerry groaned. Dave winced.
We walked back to the cabin for a good night’s sleep.
Frosty Wooldridge has bicycled across six continents - from the Arctic to the South Pole - as well as eight times across the USA, coast to coast and border to border. In 2005, he bicycled from the Arctic Circle, Norway to Athens, Greece. In 2012, he bicycled coast to coast across America. In 2013, he bicycled 2,500 miles, climbed 150,000 vertical feet and five states from Mexico to Canada on the Continental Divide with 19 pass crossings. He presents “The Coming Population Crisis facing America: what to do about it.” www.frostywooldridge.com . His latest book is: How to Live a Life of Adventure: The Art of Exploring the World by Frosty Wooldridge, copies at 1 888 280 7715/ Motivational program: How to Live a Life of Adventure: The Art of Exploring the World by Frosty Wooldridge, click: www.HowToLiveALifeOfAdventure.com
Live well, laugh often, celebrate daily and enjoy the ride,
6 Continent world bicycle traveler
Order these unique cards today: http://www.howtolivealifeofadventure.com/