Walden to Craig, CO

Some of the most beautiful things I see on tour,
even in a place as spectacular as North Park, are weeds along the road

A mile out Walden, I took a new route. In 1998 I went straight to Granby and this year I turned to go to Steamboat Springs

I left Walden early this morning, after another good breakfast the Moose Cafe, about 7:15 AM, in order to minimized my exposure to 'Sportsmen' coming in for the 4th of July. It was chilly - about 50 F - and very pretty riding out of town. I had no problem with other vehicles on CO 14, although one car passed me at way over the speed limit shortly after I left and I needed my rearview mirror to survive an encounter with a big truck, unexpected oncoming traffic, and a disintegrated section of shoulder later in the ride.

North Park: beautiful flat country surrounded by high mountainsThis is part of Mountain Meadows Grizzly Ranch
The owner of my motel told me that, if I had any problem, I should stop there and ask for help
Good people and a beautiful ranch.

My bike where I took a snack break at the entrance of another ranch along CO 14

Riding was good, but the road was rough and thumpy - cracks in the pavement for the first eight miles. There was a fairly big climb and descent just after that and then the road was mostly flat and mostly straight as it passed by big ranches on the right. After about 30 miles, there is more climbing and more curves as it approaches US 40 at 35 miles.

As CO 14 nears US 40, it gets curvier and climbs more

US 40, looking back east from its Junction with Co 14

US 40, starting the climb towards Rabbit Ears Pass

I stopped for my second snack break at the junction of CO 14 and US 40. By this time the flies were bad. I did get one fly bite earlier in the ride, but these were the buzz in your face kind of flies, not the biting kind. I ate my snack walking up and down in the road. When I took a picture I had to stop moving, and the flies would land all over the camera. It was hard to see the LCD screen because of the flies on it!

After snacking, I cranked on up the three mile hill at about 4.5 mph. At the top, I met a couple from Steamboat Springs who had ridden up the, much harder, west side. It was one of their regular rides and, today the were going to extend it by riding down to the CO 14 junction and back up. They had done some touring in the US and in Europe, so we had a good visit before I rode the rest of the way up and over the the big descent. Rabbit Ears pass goes on for quite a distance.

The seven mile long, 7% downhill going west on Rabbit Ears

The descent, at 35 to 40 mph, was spectacular. I stopped once early on to take some images, but generally avoided riding with one hand and taking pictures with the other on this, somewhat bumpy, high speed descent. Seven miles of seven percent grade makes for a long descent. It also meant that the temperature went up well over ten degrees as I rode down.

I rode on to Steamboat Springs and, before the old downtown area, stopped at a Wendy's for lunch. there was a chattering young boy with his parents and grandparents at the table next to me and he caught my attention when he started talking about 'lazy bikers.' It turned out that he was referring to a couple on a Greenspeed tandem trike that had just ridden into the parking lot. The stoker was using a hand crank modification to the trike.

I was just finishing my meal, so I went out looking for the trike. It was parked under a nearby tree with the stoker, who was paraplegic, still in the trike and his wife sitting nearby. I introduced myself and spent the next hour visiting with them about lots of things mostly having to do with paraplegics riding bikes. It was a very interesting and enjoyable visit.

After Steamboat Springs, most of the riding on 40 is easy

Getting through Steam Boat Springs wasn't much fun - too much traffic - but US 40, except for having dirty shoulders, was easy riding from Steamboat to Craig. The folks on the trike had ridden it two days ago and had three flats including on cut tire. I had thought about that recently as I was dodging tire debris on a shoulder: How do you dodge it on a trike? The other difficult aspect for these trike riders is how do you fix a flat when the stoker can't get out of the bike? They had that pretty well worked out.

US 40 follows a river valley and, usually, parallels railroad tracks

I hoped I could eat supper in Hayden, roughly 15 miles before Craig, and then ride into Craig. That didn't work since all the restaurants (3?) in Hayden were closed for the Fourth of July Holiday. There was one motel that looked open, but with no supper to be had, I snacked at a convenience store and rode on.

Deer crossing the Yampa river near Hayden, CO

In Craig, I saw a motel that looked promising near the east end of town, then rode on looking for something to eat. I had to ride over a mile and a half to the fast food section of town since all the local restaurants were closed. I had a good supper at Subway and rode back to the first motel. It was owned and run by and Indian family. They had come here from the Orlando area eight months ago. He told me that business, and life in Craig, was very good. He also said that business, for his friends and relatives still in Florida, had been 'dead' for three months.

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