Lyons Colorado to Cheyenne Wyoming via US 85 and back via I-25

I rode east from Lyons at 7:15 AM on SR 66, heading for Platteville. I had ridden less than two miles when my rear derailleur cable broke. Now I expected some pretty flat riding, but I still didn't want to do it with only three gears, so I turned around and headed back toward the motel. Then I came to my senses. I can handle this at the roadside: I've done it several times before. I pulled of a big quarry entrance and, making use of their road as a tool shelf, replaced the cable in about 10 minutes.

66 is a well traveled road with a wide shoulder until it reaches I-25 about 16 miles east of Lyons. Then it becomes a narrow shoulder road with light traffic. No problems. I was passed by a fully enclosed recumbent (only the riders head and the bottom of the wheels were exposed. I think he was cruising at about 25 mph. He seemed a bit wobbly and I bet that thing is hell in a cross wind, but it sure was fast. I was doing pretty well my self, cruising in the mid to high teens, on this road that has a slight overall downhill. 66 descends about 500 feet in 25 miles.

I stopped for a second breakfast at the Sisters Restaurant in Plattville. A nice small town. I did get kidded about my shorts, but it was friendly kidding. After breakfast I headed north on US 85. This is a great cycling road if you don't mind the noise from the moderate traffic. It is a divided four lane with an eight foot wide shoulder that is quite good from south (all the way to Denver? - yes, I have confirmation on that from a Denver cyclist) of Platteville to north of Greeley. Then the shoulder becomes narrow (as narrow as one foot, but more often two feet) till north of Eaton. I didn't have any trouble with the narrower shoulder, but it did require that I pay more attention to the traffic.

A Train Crossing the Plains

I stopped again at an A+W just north of Eaton (looks like a nice town) for lunch. I wasn't sure what would be available north of there, but the cafe in Nunn was open as was the bar at Rockport. Between Nunn and Rockport 85 runs alongside the Pawnee National Grassland. I found it breath taking. I was getting a bit tired (but still averaging 15.5 mph!) at this point about 75 miles into the ride. The grasslands really perked me up. I stopped to take some good pictures of a rock formation and a bicyclist coming the other way (the only one I saw on 85) crossed over. He is a lawyer who lives in Cheyenne. He said he moved there because, as a bike tourist ten years earlier, he fell in love with the grassland. He was riding south to Rockport to get a beer and a lotto ticket. In other words to ride that section of 85.

As 85 approaches Wyoming, it climbs 1000 feet or so over twenty miles. This slowed me down a bit, but my average speed for the 95 miles I rode today was still 15 mph. Definitely one of the best easy, and fast, days of touring. I had little on no wind for the first 70 miles and a bit (10 mph?) of a tail wind for the last 25 miles, but when I got into Cheyenne I was hit with gusty 30 mph cross winds on the large overpass that goes over the (many!) railroad tracks. It was difficult to control the bike. When I headed west towards the motels on Lincoln St (just beyond the overpass) I had a 30 mile and hour head wind. It brought back memories of riding on the plains!

I stayed at a very cheap (21.95 plus tax!) motel - The Ranger Motel - a good value and the first motel you see coming west on Lincoln. I got here by three PM, so I spent an hour on the net before cleaning up and walking (into that wind - it was hard) to the Country Restaurant half a dozen block west of here for a good supper. I actually ate a steak (a small steak) for the first time in years. My body craved it and, when touring, I do what my body tells me.

I left Cheyenne about 6:45 AM . I wanted to avoid traffic on I- 25 at the several intersections I had to ride through on my way out of Cheyenne. At 7 AM on a Sunday, I had no trouble with traffic. Riding I 25 was not as nice as riding US 85, but it was OK. It was about 48 F when I left Cheyenne and 97 F when I arrived in Lyons about nine hours later. I had a light (less than 10 mph) head wind for most of day, even in the early morning.

As I rode south, I was not pleased to see a sign indicating construction for 17 miles, but it turned out to be a good deal for me. The construction was a rebuilding of all the bridges on one side of the interstate. I ended up riding about a dozen of those miles on the closed side! I'd cross back over the median at each bridge (half a dozen of 'em?) and have and entire side of the interstate to myself the rest of the time.

Even with a side to my self, I-25 was boring. I eventually switched over the hard pack dirt frontage road because it was more fun to ride. At mile post 285 the frontage road becomes paved and it continues till Wellington. From the dirt road I saw several white tail deer and lots of birds. On the paved parts I just saw, and heard, lots of birds. It was fun 'chasing' starlings down the empty side of the interstate. They would fly in front of me, often right above the pavement, for a hundred yards or more.

By Wellington I was getting quite hungry. I had a light breakfast (granola mixed with applesauce and tea) in my room, but 32 miles later I was definitely ready for another breakfast. I cruised the town, and found only one place to eat - a bar/cafe combo. As I rode back up to it, a couple were parking their mountain bikes alongside the cafe. We spoke and Jane invited me to eat breakfast with them, and I ended up spending several hours with her and her husband Al. Next week I going back to Fort Collins to try riding their Santana Tandem with Al and, if that works out, riding with him to Sterling (100 miles east of Fort Collins) and back over the next two days. I've never ridden a tandem and I'm looking forward to it. Al has wanted to ride to Sterling and back, but hasn't had a stoker that was up to that kind of ride. I hope we can do it together.

The remainder of the ride south was uneventful. I rode south on Shields St out of Fort Collins (construction complicated this...) and generally managed to stay on back roads (with bike lanes to and through Loveland) and, other than a bit too much traffic in Loveland, it was an easy ride. My route did, briefly, put me on US 287 which was not fun. I got off ASAP on a dirt road and then backroaded my way to SR 66. I was getting tired and hot. I drank four 25 oz water bottles on the later half of this trip and then had a 44 oz soft drink when I got to Lyons. It is dry in this part of the world!

Lyons Colorado