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Grandpa Lost His Mind
A Journal - Crossing America by Bicycle

June 2, 2007      Miles 38      Total miles 1899


I got up early because I knew I had a grueling day ahead. I met Hal yesterday when I checked in at the Super 8 Motel in Silverthorne. He is the manager there but he was interested in my trip. He has done a lot of long distance cycling himself and rode with some professional riders in the past. We visited for a long time this morning. The mountain on the left is one he climbs a few times per month to help stay fit.

I was supposed to call Karen and Ron, the couple I met at West Yellowstone, when I got to Silverthorne but I couldn't find their phone number which she had written down for me. It would have been nice to visit and compare notes with Ron as he is riding the same route I am. He took a week off to be with his 92 year old parents. We may meet again along the road.

When I first got on the 16 mile bike path out of Silverthorne, I met twenty year old Lee Posna from New Jersey. He rode half way across America last year and he is finishing the other half this year. He started in Pueblo, Colorado this year and will finish in Oregon.

The Jewish couple with him are from New York and their names are Karl and Sima Schapiro. Karl was born in Europe and during World War II there were 5,000 Jews in his town. He and his parents were the only Jewish survivors of the Holocaust in that town. They came to this country as refugees in 1948. He says there is no country in the world better than the United States. I wish I had time to talk longer with them but they had to go. They are such nice people.
My goal today is to get on the other side of this mountain. A month ago, I had doubts that I would have the strength to do it but all the other mountain passes behind me were great training for this big one. I am confident.
There is a beautiful bike path all the way from Silverthorne to Breckenridge which is 16 miles. I asked a couple of people about the path and they told me it was a tough climb to Breckenridge. Once I was on it, I wondered where the climb was and what was tough about it. It was all uphill but no real climbs. There were literally hundreds of people riding this path on this Saturday. People of every age, size, and condition were riding today. It is beautiful and it is fun.

The elevation of my home, Oklahoma City, is 1,100'. The area I am in is around 8,500'. At these higher altitudes the barometric pressure decreases, the air is thinner, and less oxygen is available. The air is dryer and the ultraviolet rays from the sun are stronger as well. At these elevations, my body responds differently. Every now and then I find myself gasping for air. It is strange because I don't notice much difference except for those times, now and then, when I seem to need more oxygen. Also, when I am exerting myself on my bike I feel like I have pea sized lungs. I want to take in deep breaths of oxygen but it isn't there. I am fortunate that I gradually got to this altitude. I think if I had ridden up here in a car and then tried to ride my bike, I would have really struggled.
Near the top of Hoosier Pass, I met John DeMaria and Kimberly Trenchard. They are neighbors and she was selling different kinds of meat jerky on the side of the road. I stopped and visited with them for ten or fifteen minutes. John told me I had a flat on my trailer. I am getting tired of this nonsense. Here it is, June 2, and she is wearing a down jacket. Before I left she gave me a package of Elk Jerky. I can't wait to try it. Shortly after leaving it started sleeting lightly.
I was feeling pretty cocky as I went up Hoosier Pass. I thought, Santiam Pass was harder, Lolo Pass was harder, and White Bird was harder. I have 36 gears on Ol' Blue and I have made it a point NOT to use the lowest gear. I figured I would never need it. About three or four miles from the top all that cockiness went away. I hit a series of switchbacks that took all I had. Those last few miles took over an hour but I never once got off my bike like I did on Santiam. I put Ol' Blue in first gear and just crunched away. I'm pulling a lot of weight here. I kept wishing I could have one more lower gear. I was wobbling all over the road. I had a lot of encouragement from people honking their horns, giving me thumbs up, and hollering "woohoo." Even the guy who hollered, "Hook 'em Horns" lifted my spirits. I get a lot of comments about flying my Oklahoma University flag. Ha!

In this part of Colorado, the tree line, where the trees quit growing, is 11,300'. Hoosier Pass is 11,542' so it is right at the tree line. You can see by these photos, everything above me has no trees

I have to give it up to Ol' Blue. What a truely great partner! I was hoping there would be snow at the top of the pass and I was going to throw him in it and let him make bike angels.

Before I left Oklahoma, I rode Ol' Blue for 1,700 miles to train for this trip. If I had come straight from Oklahoma to Colorado and tried to ride up Hoosier Pass, I am certain I would not have been able to make it. It was the culmination of crossing many shorter mountains between the coast and here that enabled me to do this. The good thing is now I will be going to a lower elevation all the way to the Ozark Mountains in Missouri. My only problem will be winds which are not favorable to me.
I am in a very neat little town tonight called Fairplay. I am in another very old hotel. This is my room. The manager of the hotel told me there was six inches of snow on the ground last week.

This used to be a court house but it is now a library.