Well what a great way to start our trip back in the USA. This blog is for the benefit of family friends and anybody who is interested but also as a diary. Therefore I need to update myself and others on how we left the USA in January as I never did the last blog.
We left Yogi and our camper in a storage site in the middle of nowhere 35 miles outside Denver Colorado. I had arranged for a taxi to collect us with 3 hours before our flight check-in time just to be sure. This was every unlike me as I never worry that much about anything. However in this case it was justified as the taxi I booked hadn’t turned up after being 30 mins late so we called and he said, ‘ sorry, we can’t find you, get another taxi’. Great! So I called a yellow cab ( I happened to have another number ready just in case- OMG I am turning into Phil). They hadn’t turned up after an hour so at this point the calm collected Pauline was getting a tad nervous. Then out of nowhere, this gorgeous car turned into the site – did I mention this was an unmanned office so there was literally nobody around for miles. Anyway, this car pulled in, the window went down and I threw my head and shoulders in as only a desperate woman in need of a lift to the airport could do…..add heavy doses of panic lead chat and before he knew it, the very nice gentleman inside the gorgeous car had offered us a lift all the way to the airport. FAB! His name was David and he happened to own the storage site. In the 35 minute drive we managed to have a real laugh to the point he offered to pick us up on our return….more fool him. He wouldn’t take the money for the taxi so Phil promised him a bottle of good Scottish whiskey on our return…..as long as you pick us up
Anyway – 3 months later, we arrive at Denver airport and true to his word there was David, with a smile and a big empty trunk. We went straight to a bar to catch last orders which made jet lag seem a distant memory. We honoured our promise of a bottle of whisky but I thought he deserved so much more so I gave him one of my books – only 1798 to go – and ignorance is bliss as he seemed really chuffed. So after a great first night he took us back to our truck and camper and said we were free to stay over night and use anything we wanted which was strictly forbidden in the terms of the storage contract – I love how rules are flexible. What a great way to start our trip.
Our first stop was a small town only 15 miles from Denver called Golden which features in a really famous film with Kevin Cosner about road biking. ….so famous I can’t remember the name but Kevin was super sexy in it. It is a great one street town that has an eclectic mix of shops and eateries with an abundance of intricate bronze statues that tell the story of this historic mining town. It all stared with gold but now it is liquid gold in the form of Coors beer. The brewery is a major part of this town as we found when we went climbing on the crags above. It is huge and has really loud bells and horns. Despite an inclination, we never mustered to energy to do the tour with free beer.
Below is a typically ornate bronze statue and a kayaker doing it for real right in the heart of Golden.
Golden is a quiet town during the week but on a sunny weekend it becomes a mix of Harley Davidson gangs cruising from bar to bar, families eating their way threw a myriad of ice cream stores, kayakers surfing the waves on the river running through the town, slack lining across the rivers, base ball games, kites, frizbyies and at every other free patch was a Bar B Q. People spotting heaven. I managed to have a chat with a couple walking their pet parrot just as a bonus. It really comes alive and buzzes.
The bike riding is brutal and convenient. Lookout Mountain hosts more road bikers than I think I have ever seen on one hill. It is a 5 mile uphill push from the edge of town on great tarmac so it is a joy to come down and obviously works as a training run for locals – but so many of them! Then there are the long rides like up Golden Gate Canyon (up hill for 16 miles to nearly 10 000ft) then back down and up Coal Mine Canyon which was about equal up and down back to the start finishing on a 2 mile up – how can a loop have more up than down? We were both suitably shattered after our 60 mile altitude hill experience so when a sheriff came knocking on our door at 7am in the morning to say, ‘Excuse me maam, you are illegally camped. Can you move on please’ I am not sure who cared less, me or Phil. The Sherriff stepped away from the entrance as soon as he saw what a sexy lady in her non matching pyjamas, rough as a dog hair and probably overnight aroma emerged from the door. He looked more scared than scary……
We managed to get some great climbing done in El Dorado Canyon too which is a classic area in the history of climbing. We did one of the classics called The Bastille which was a perfect climb from my perspective. Loved it. That was the day before the snow came. We had literally been taking shade between climbing only 2 days before and then 4 inches of snow fell in one day. We took refuge in Boulder and visited Pearl Street – famous apparently. Full of Bohemian and funky shops and cafes with a generous portion of homeless wanderers just to keep the balance of life real. We also took in a movie and found a great leisure centre where you can use the gym, pool and sauna for $7. Deal.
We met up with David and his son Ryan and friend Mike to go to our first ever baseball game. It was great to have our own personal guide both to the match and during the match as we were clueless both in terms of finding our way around a city in a huge and overweight vehicle and in terms of understanding the rules of baseball. Basically it is cricket with 4 posts instead of 2 and a different bat. We had a great night including the compulsory burgers and beers – awesome dude. The Coors Stadium is another historical landmark of Denver. David had me sussed when he saw me playing with the giant foam hands – so he just grabbed two, gave the camera to Phil and said, ‘you know what she wants, lets do it!’ I am so predictable. It was everything we expected from a big game so no anti-climax and finished with beers back at the RV site where David let us stay again!
We spent another day climbing at a small crag near Golden and met 3 men having a great time and refused not to let us join in. Yes, we were going to share a fun day whether we wanted to or not. They were a lot of fun and managed to down a bottle of pastisse between routes. Phil developed a fan club and the cheers that went up as he went over an overhang made the cheering at the Coors stadium seem tame. They were in awe! We soon found out they were ‘Special Agents’. They go around the country chasing the bad guys. They need to be slightly mad to do that job and that spreads into social time too. They invited us to go to dinner with them and they took us to what can only be described as a Disney style Mexican bar with a flame throwing, diving woman in a leapard skin swim suit plus waterfalls and more fairy lights than you could shake a stick at. We had a fun time and got all their good stories about chasing the bad guys. They escorted us to our truck and reassured us we were safe by flaunting their weapons they had hidden in their car and person. If they were not so nice, they would be comical. They were however really good people with a slightly bizarre life and style.
We managed to get another couple of exhausting road bike climbs in. One up Magnolia Rd from Boulder. Phil managed 8 miles up, I managed 7.5 miles ( with 2 breaks) but it was steep and long! 14% steep and long! Too much ! The snow meant there was gravel left on the road which meant dangerous downhill so that was a nightmare. Another ride was the Latimer Loop from Golden for 44miles which was great but with a long stretch on the equivalent of the motorway…..not my favourite. We have to remind ourselves how close we are to a major city compared to other places we have been. We are looking forward to the more remote places to ride again.
This is a picture of Phil, having just found a Scottish climbing guide with hi on the front cover…LOOK AT ME!!!!
We are just off to meet David for beers before we head off to Wyoming and Devils Tower which is 400 miles away. By they way he is reading my book and was up to Chapter 5 ie not just looking at the pictures – what a great guy!!!