|On the Platte River Trail heading toward the trailhead for the Colorado Trail in Waterton Canyon.|
For the past couple of days we hosted a couple of the figurative descendants of Harry Franck. Nicholas and Lael of gypsy by trade are in the midst of a quest of similar magnitude, even if their goal is different. Our part in their story was to provide the staging area for their final preparations for a venture onto the Colorado Trail.
Originally, I became aware of Nicholas' travels through Bike wRider, the Alaskan iteration of a Big Dummy Daddy, and I've been following his exploits through his blog entries for a while now. When I observed from afar his embarkation from Anchorage, Alaska in June, I had no idea that I'd eventually meet up with him, as I did a week or so ago. (BTW, the next Surly Owner's Society (S.O.S.) is soon, details here.)
By his reckoning, Nicholas has ridden about 5,000 miles since leaving Anchorage. That works out to roughly 55 miles a day, every day for three months. Keep in mind, he's ridden mostly off-road or on gravel roads for much of the way, on a loaded fatbike weighing 70+ pounds. Across some sections of Montana and Wyoming, he managed 75 or more miles a day. He's climbed and descended innumerable passes, and braved the heat and hardships of vast open expanses. Needless to say, the guy is a powerhouse; his build is reminiscent of images of the burly-yet-sinewy riders from the early days of the Tour de France, back when it was an actual tour on dirt roads and mountain passes. All he's missing is the handlebar mustache.
Nicholas' girlfriend Lael recently returned from a bike touring, organic farming and yoga filled trip to Europe, centered on visits to France and Corsica. She met back up with Nicholas in Colorado to join him on the Colorado Trail. One small logistical issue was that when she arrived, she didn't have a bike suited for mountain riding. However, Nicholas had been busily assembling a steel 29er for her, using Craigslist and community bike shops to spice it up with just the right mix of equipment to make it trail worthy.
|Nicholas and his MacBook Air blogging machine.|
|Stamps on Nick's outgoing mail appear to suggest bicycling is forever.|
|Lael's Raleigh XXIX 29er. Note the folded spare tire tucked under the down tube.|
|A svelte, lean trail machine, much like its rider.|
|Nicholas' classic purple Pugsley carrying a full trail load.|
|A gleaming, highly polished rear rotor alludes to seasoned experience in descending mountain passes with a heavy load.|
|A Pugsley fork with narrow (100mm O.L.D.) dropouts allows for a generator hub. Check out that big 203mm rotor.|
|I greatly appreciate creatively repurposed stuff, and Nick's tea party coroplast fenders are things of beauty. The bottle carries denatured alcohol to fuel a home-built beer can stove.|
|Our little mountain bike ballerina says goodbye on the way to dance class.|
At the top of Chatfield Dam, with Waterton Canyon in sight, we parted ways. Although they undoubtedly had the rest of the day of riding ahead of them, I knew my considerably less fit, old guy limitations and didn't want to exceed them. With loaded bikes, they wheeled away toward the mountains and adventure. All of us who stayed behind wish them luck and discovery along the trail.
|Lael on the trail. Say this three times quickly.|
|The intrepid explorers with Chatfield Reservoir and the Waterton Canyon starting point of the Colorado Trail ahead of them.|
|I said goodbye and happy journey here.|
|On my way home I found some gravel, which agrees with the Pugsley much more than pavement.|
|Cacti with fruit.|
|Little conical pits near the base of a tree, presumably dug by an insect or spider.|
|A pleasant section of the Lee Gulch Trail.|
|An old railroad tunnel. This photo is specifically for Pat S., who rode off-road across an entire state to get a railroad tunnel fix.|
|Okay, so maybe the rail may not have actually gone through the tunnel, but it goes over, and has been revamped into a first-rate trail passage.|