Crashes, Beers, Cougars and What Not

Laramie was pretty uneventful.  We took a rest day and mostly hung out in the hotel.  The next day we found some railroad tracks leading out of town and followed them off and on for the whole day.  Railroads with a nice access road are a really great bikepacking tool.  We never ran into any issues with the railroad employees.  We did hit a few spots where the road stopped and we had to improvise either riding on the rocks supporting the tracks or detours on some ranch roads.

We had proper food now and finally found a groove with eating healthy on the road.  Nuts, jerky, and dried fruit are an awesome combo.  Also we took some fresh produce that lasted a day or two.  One of the big goals of this trip was a shakedown of our gear to see what we needed and didn’t need.  Also trying to figue out food etc. along the way.  We learned that rice and canned meat is ok, but cleaning burnt rice off of a stainless steel pot is a giant pain in the ass and uses a lot of water.  Our MSR Whisperlite stove is awesome, but it has one heat setting… Really frickin hot!  It’s awesome for boiling water, but actual cooking can be a challenge.  I’ll do a full post on gear and cooking in the near future and hopefully remember to link it to this post.

Anyway, we found a pulloff on the railroad and set up the tent.  Dinner was beef jerkey and raw broccoli.  As we waited for it to get dark, a train decided to stop on the tracks which were about 20 yards away from us behind some trees.  It just hung out there for about 40 minutes while we tried to figure out what it was doing and if someone saw us.  Our best guess was that it was waiting for another train that was utilizing one of the many switches up ahead.

The train moved on and we set up camp.  Right before bed as Lauren was getting her toothbrush out of her bags, I spotted a set of eyes in the bushes and said, “Oh look honey a critter.”  Lauren replied, “Umm that’s not a critter that looks like a cat!”  We both started staring at the two giant glowing dots with our headlamps trying to see what it was.  Being the adventurous (idiotic) folks that we are, we moved a bit closer to get a better look.  A silouhette soon emerged and started doing a telltale horizontal move like a cat following a laser pointer.  Holy shit, it’s a mountain lion!  We stopped, but the cat started creeping forward.  We spoke loudly and backed away slowly.  I had the Ruger LCP .380 in my hand and backed right into a tree.  We shuffled quickly into the tent and hoped like hell that the thin layer of nylon would protect us.  After sitting there indian style looking at each other with a gun on my lap for half an hour, we had to get out to pee before bed.  We carefully climbed out of the tent and covered one another Navy SEAL style while we took care of business then scrambled back inside the relative safety of the tent.

Aside from the trains coming by every few hours 20 yards from our heads, we slept surprisingly well and did not see anymore of our feline friend.  In the morning, I stood where the cat was and Lauren paced out the distance.  It was 10 yards away from us!  We’ve always wanted to see a mountain lion, but I imagined it from a few hundred yards away, not right in front of us!

See video below for an artist’s interpretation of the event.

The next day included more than a few verses from “The guy on a buffalo”.  And lot’s of “Geet outta here KittyKat!”

We started riding in the morning and a few miles in the day got interesting yet again.  I was cruising down a hill on the access road and my side of the road started to get a bit rutted.  I moved towards the center but there was a giant baby-head sized rock sitting in the middle of the road.  Like an idiot I stared at it going about 20-25 MPH and BAM!  The next thing I new I was laying in the dirt with the wind knocked out of me and pain all up my left side.  Lauren ran back and tried to help.  I bruised my left hip and right knee pretty badly and burped all the air out of my front tire.  Luckily my pride was hurt the most and I was able to ride the rest of the day.  Somehow some rocks managed to get into the bead of my front tire and it wouldn’t hold air for more than 30 minutes.  The rest of the trip included a lot of stopping to pump up the tire and went pretty slow due to my hip.

We pressed on and picked our way down the mountain roads.  We hit a new top speed of 37 MPH and eventually hit Colorado Route 287, also known as the deathtrap with a 70 MPH speed limit and limited shoulder.  We rode it for about 10 miles and found some respite on back roads for the rest of the way to Fort Collins.  The last part of the ride was mostly downhill and fast pavement which made for a nice break.

From the beginning, we had a glorious plan to head straight to a brewery when we got back to town which worked out perfectly.  We booked a tour at New Belgium right as we rolled into town and took a great bikepath to the brewery.  If you are in Northern Colorado and even remotely interested in beer, go to New Belgium and take the tour!  It is 90 minutes of history/science and it’s free.  Oh and free beer…  like a lot of free beer.  We were actually pretty tuned up when it was over with.  The best part was the sour beer room which had giant 15 foot tall oak casks where the sour beer aged.  Our tour guide was great and we had a good group who didn’t seem to mind that we smelled awful and were covered in dirt and blood.

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We left the brewery and headed to the hotel with just enough time to get cleaned up and hit up B-Dubs (Not our normal kind of place but they had the boxing match) for the big Mayweather/Macgregor fight.  It was a cool experience.  We got lucky and a nice guy named Mack let us sit at one of his reserved tables because some friends didn’t show up.  We bought them a round of shots and watched a great fight.

It was a great ending to an amazing trip.  There were a lot of ups and downs (pun intended).  The wind was a bitch in Wyoming but the scenery was fantastic.  What never fails though is the people.  We met some amazing souls who didn’t even think about hesitating to help a couple of strangers on bikes.  I’m convinced that bicycle travel is the best way to travel for this reason.  There is just something about a bike loaded up with camping gear that makes people want to talk to you.  Free food, offers for rides, a quick “You guys ok?” or even just a smile and a thumbs up, give you the energy to keep going when you are facing 30 MPH headwinds on a washboard road, running out of food and just wishing for some shelter.  Hopefully we changed at least one person’s mind about cyclists and they will think twice and slow down the next time they pass some crazy couple on bicycles.

 

ARISE

P8040543.JPGWe spontaneously bought tickets for the “Arise” music festival while having our amazing burgers and beers in Boulder when we first showed up.  It wasn’t exactly cheap, but it was worth it.  This was Lauren’s first ever festival and my first in probably 12 years or so.  We packed up camp late as usual and got off to a late start.  We stopped at a wal-mart which was not unintentionally about 100 yards across the county border for Boulder.  We “Rented” an EZ-Up shelter and a few camping chairs and got some supplies for the weekend.  After the festival, the shelter was a mess of twisted metal which we conveniently returned for full price with no questions asked.  I have no guilt taking advantage of wal-mart.

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The festival was a blast, we had great neighbors on both sides.  Chad, Brenda, Rachel and friends were a riot.  On the other side, we had Tom, Laura, Jay and Steph.  We had great times just sitting around talking at the campsites.  The music was initially a bit of a disappointment.  Maybe festivals have changed a lot, or maybe this was more of a hip-hop oriented show, but there was an awful lot of rap and rave music the first two days.  Sunday was outstanding though with The Travelling McCourys and Jeff Austin of Yonder Mountain String Band ultimately getting together for “The Grateful Ball” which was hours of bluegrass Dead covers…  Awesome!

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On Saturday afternoon, a huge storm came through the festival and a microburst basically levelled the campground.  There were coleman tents scattered all over the place and we were thankful to have the MSR and have staked it down well.  Our rented EZ-Up on the other hand did not fare so well.  We spent the storm trying to hold it down and lost.  The cheap aluminum bent and broke and it was all but destroyed.  During the storm, Chad was next to us holding his shelter in similar fashion… Laughing maniacally throughout the whole ordeal like Lt. Dan during the Hurricane!

Gorilla tape and ingenuity allowed us to use the shelter for the rest of the weekend and we were able to return it no questions asked.

Another highlight was spending the evening with Rachael who lost her shoes and we started about 50 people chanting for Rachael to put her shoes on.  (She was having a rough time that evening).

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We also met Roxy and Ben at a tent promoting Elevation Outdoors magazine.  We hung out and chatted for an hour about hiking, biking and life.  There was also Summer who was a Pre-K teacher making a little money on the side at the festival.

It continued to rain throughout the weekend, but we had an awesome time.  After packing out of Monday morning, the truck battery was dead and a good Samaritan gave us a jump.  We got back to civilization and spent a few days in a hotel to wait out some weather and get ready for the bikepacking trip.  We planned to leave Thursday but in true Orlosky fashion, we spent 4 hours packing the bikes in a parking garage to get out of the rain.  Then we decided instead of being miserable we’d just get another hotel and leave in the morning.  We decided to celebrate the selling of the kayaks with some steaks and wine/beer which was a good decision.  The next morning, the trip really started.

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Boulder!

We packed up from the resovoir and headed down the mountain to Boulder.  Any disappointment from C Springs was gone.  We felt like we finally arrived in Colorado!  The day just kept progressing and was an awesome experience.

It started at Mountain Sun Brewery where we chowed down on awesome burgers and some great beers.  After lunch we decided to stroll around town and ended up in central park where a festival was in full swing with hula-hoopers, dancing, river tubing, and bikes everywhere.  There were hippies everywhere and everyone was having a great time.

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P7250293.JPGP7250283.JPGWe stayed in a hotel the first night to get cleaned up then migrated to Dream Canyon.  The campsite was beautiful, but the neighbors were a bit shady and were definately living there.  We met “Face-Tattoo John” while enjoying coffee on the edge of the canyon.  He was super nice but was living in a wal-mart tent on public land with a year and a half old daughter and his ex-girlfriend.  He had been at the campsite for almost a month. (You are allowed to stay for 14 days). At one point he said he was heading into town to go to work, but we saw him just wandering around aimlessly on pearl street.  Oh well, it takes all kinds…

We hung out here for a few days with some mountain biking and trips to the city.  Betasso preserve was an awesome mtb loop and highly recommended if you end up in Boulder with your bike.

After a few days, we moved up to Sugarloaf Mountain and found a much more secluded campsite which was amazing.  This would be our home for the next few days.  After more mountain biking we needed a shower so we headed down into town and couchsurfed for an evening.  It was an interesting night.P7270301.jpg

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Our host Zach had plans to go to a “Folk Punk” house party concert so we stayed with his roomates who were all physicists working on their PhDs.  We took turns playing Crash Bandicoot on Playstation for a few hours then decided to go to the planetarium for a Jimi Hendrix/The Doors Laser light show which was a blast!  It was Lauren’s first laser light show and my first since high school.

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I spent 2 days waiting for this chipmunk to get close enough for this shot.

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After our Foray into the city, we headed back to our campsite and cooked some ribeyes on the stainless steel tripod grill that my Dad made for us.  We didn’t have lighter fluid or a charcoal chimney so I rigged a beer box and aluminum foil over a trench which worked perfectly!  We spent a few more days on the mountain and were treated to a massive thunderstorm!

Lauren went to the truck and I stayed in the tent during the maelstrom that ensued.  We both survived and our tent performed flawlessly.  When the storm was over, I woke up and felt like I was in a water bed.  I thought for sure everything was soaked but I was just floating on my air matress inside a bone dry tent.  There was about 4 inches of water surrounding the tent but not a drop got inside.  +1 for MSR, we’ve got the Mutha Hubba 3 person tent and cannot recommend it highly enough.

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After the rain, we took a day trip to Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes Park, CO.  I had one of those vivid childhood memories of a staircase leading up a mountain into the clouds from when I was here with my family when I was about 10 years old.  We called my parents to ask where it might be and decided to set off to try and find the spot.  We eventually got there and the parking lot was closed, so we parked on the next pulloff and hiked to the top of the mountain.  What a view and crazy windy!

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On the way back we stopped alongside the road to do some laundry.

We found an awesome taphouse in boulder called Backcountry Pizza and Taphouse.  They had a ton of beers on tap including 7-8 sours on tap.  We ended up chatting with the guy next to us who heard me order a sour and ended up buying us a $28 bottle of beer from Belgium.  We talked about beer for several hours and had a great night.

Boulder was an awesome experience.  Great people, great food, great beer and spectacular mountains and trails.  It’s amazing what a town can become when people get involved in the community and have a progressive mindset.  The parks were beautiful and there was always something to do.

 

Down on the Farm

We left Colorado Springs, which was frankly a bit disappointing.  We kept wondering “Is this Colorado?”  We found out later that no, it is not.  We headed East to Rush, CO to see Lauren’s Cousin Patrick and his Wife Teresa and their kids.  It was a blast!

We held baby goats, walked through the pasture, while Catie and Mary rode their horse bareback.  We met chickens, goats, a llama, horses (Whiskey and Bailey), 2 boxers, a big white dog named Leroy, and a pig.  We had awesome dinner–porkchops from a pig that belonged to a friend of  theirs with homemade potato salad and beans.

We played dominoes, drank beer, shot a Colt 45 revolver at a bucket, and talked and laughed until 2:00 AM.  It was a blast. We even exchanged stories about how we met, which was hilarious.  At one point Theresa hopped on the quad to wrangle a loose pig.

The next morning we said our goodbyes and headed on the road again, this time to Boulder.  Unfortunately we forgot to take a single picture! Having too much fun I guess.

Gross Resovoir

P7210248.JPGWe decided we wanted to do some camping and kayaking so we found the Gross Resovoir once again on free campsites.  Somehow we managed to get the BEST spot on the entire lake and although it was a helluva hike we took the kayaks as well as all our camping gear to the site.

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The spot was marvelous and aside from the fire ban which made disposing of trash a bit difficult, it was just what we needed.  We’re finding that the fee for a free campsite is usually cleaning up after the person who used it before you.  We paddled and relaxed for a few days, drank gourmet coffee on the rocks next to the water and enjoyed not having a clue what time it was!  At one point a ranger came by and warned us of an active bear but we never did see it, just a few crows trying to get into our trash hanging in a tree.

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As we were packing up to head out, we met Leslie who was paddleboarding the resovoir to help recover from knee surgery.  She gave us a bunch of awesome tips on places to check out in the mountains.P7210257.JPG

Hauling the Kayaks up the hill was tough but the paddling was worth it.

Next stop, Boulder!

Colorado Springs

We had some awesome German food at Eidelweiss (sp) as soon as we got into town.

We stayed with Libby and Ian for a few days and had a great time. We had a cookout with some of their friends and I was happy to introduce everyone to Pierogies! The next day we had a good breakfast and then went to a gun range to shoot some rounds.

On our way out of town, somehow we lost our bag of dirty laundry which doesn’t sound bad, but when you have 4 shirts total it sucks. I lost 2 of my favorite band T-Shirts and my favorite Tool Hoodie. Also we lost $200 worth of Revelate Designs bikepacking bags with the tags still on them. It turned out to be a good lesson on how stuff is not important and neither is money. We didn’t even get mad, just re-bought the bags and moved on.

We stayed at a dispersed campsite we found on free campsites, which is an awesome resource and totally free to use.

The next day we drove back into Colorado Springs on a scavenger hunt for our lost stuff but never found it.  We debated bikepacking to Lauren’s cousin’s house out in the plains of Colorado, but ended up staying in a Mom & Pop cabin instead and driving the next day.

We were going to mountain bike red rock canyon but got rained out and we were very happy to have a roof over our head. You learn to appreciate and enjoy the little things when homeless! Albeit homeless on purpose (HomeFree).  Instead of riding we picked up a “Rocky Block” box of wine and sat in the pouring rain under a gazebo cooking dinner on the ground on our camp stove.

On the Road

We left Tucson right before the first major Monsoon hit us. Got on the road late as usual with the goal of getting out of Arizona. In accordance with our plan, we decided to stop and see a ridiculous roadside attraction that is advertised on I-10 for fifty miles… “THE THING!” We stopped at the gas station and paid a dollar to see the thing which was to be honest totally worth a dollar. Then we grabbed ice cream. We were heading to Colorado by way of Albuquerque NM.

We stopped in the Cibola National forest for some dispersed camping and mountain biking which was a blast but tiring being in actual mountains. The monsoon showed up and forced us out because the truck is 2WD.

Next was Santa Fe, we drove through northern New Mexico which is beautiful. We saw some pronghorn and wild horses along the highway which made Lauren’s day. The next day we made it to Colorado Springs.