Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Breaking things

Sorry about the lack of a post last night.
As I mentioned in my last post, yesterday the plan was to bike Pike's Peak. It started out well enough. I slept in a bit too much (not a bad thing, though, as it means I'm dealing with the altitude better) and got headed out from Leadville around 8, arriving at the base of the mountain at roughly 10:30. I started up the highway, 19 curving miles leading from somewhere between 7,000 and 8,000 feet up to the summit at 14,115 feet. The first ten miles were fine. After that point it got a bit windy, but it was manageable. At 13 miles there's a second gate, where they can close the road if weather's bad, but they hadn't, and I kept going.
The wind above the 13 mile mark got a bit worse, until all of a sudden I hit a saddle between two higher points at a bit past the 17 mile point, with an elevation of between 12,000 and 13,000 feet, and the wind was just impossible. I had just managed to stop and had no time to turn the bike around and head back before a gust knocked it over, breaking the clutch lever and derailing the chain.
Gary and Janice, a nice retired (it seems) couple from southern California were, quite luckily passing by, and gave me a ride down the mountain (there was one car that passed before they did, but didn't bother to stop). Upon passing the 13 mile mark, we learned that they'd closed the upbound road as a result of winds of 102 mph that had been causing trouble for bikers (including people other than just me) and that had been blowing out the windows on some cars.
Once I was down at the base of the road, I called a tow truck and a few hours later the bike and I were sitting outside of a motorcycle shop in Colorado Springs. I left the bike there with a note about what was wrong with it and, with the help of my ground crew back in Charlottesville, found a nearby motel at which to spend the night. Luckily I've adopted the habit of always carrying at least one book with me, even if there isn't any time for me to read it in the plan.
This morning I went by the shop and explained what was broken, and they did one quick check of their storeroom and said, yep, we've got the part you need in stock. Forty-five minutes later I was back on the road, and after a quick stop by the motel to pick up the stuff I'd left there I was back on my way to Leadville.
About twenty miles outside of Leadville I passed an intriguing-looking side road that led up into the hills, so I followed that some ten or so miles until it became too snowy to continue. I took a few pictures of a cool overlook but I haven't pulled them off the camera yet.
From there, it was just back to my room in Leadville to begin packing and planning for the next leg of the trip, down to New Mexico and then over to California to hike Mt. Whitney.
I don't know if it's because of the trouble I had with Mt. Elbert, the bike accident on Pike's Peak, the highly mixed trip reports I've read about Whitney, or the fact that I've been away from home and on the move for a week, but this afternoon I was just hit with a massive wave of... I don't know exactly the right word for it. Malaise? Apprehension? Sadness? Not sure. Something like that, about the rest of the trip. Not really sure what to do. It's not like I can just say, oh well, trip over, and instantly be home. It's a three day trip from here, and once I get to California it's either four or five days. And even if I could just head back home, I'm not sure that's what I'd want. I absolutely hate going back on what I said I'd do, even if the only person I really said it to was myself.
Oh, well. I'll do some more reading and packing and see if my mood improves at all.

1 comment:

  1. I'm betting that the malaise or otherwise negative feelings may be because you had a plan for the trip that has gotten a bit off kilter. I think if you don't go to Mt. Whitney, you'll regret it later, but after that, do what you want to do at that point, not what you wanted to do back when you planned the trip. Just don't go to Mexico!!