July 9, 2001 - Mike and Marilyn's 2001 TranAmerican Bike Tour

Mike and Marilyn's
2001 TransAm Bike Trip
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July 9, 2001

TRANSAM 2001 > Colorado

Current Creek Hostel to Fairplay, Colorado. (43 mi.) Mile 2432

Rocky Mountain Higher

I am writing this in the historic Fairplay Hotel this evening. "Historic" means old, and in this case, without a phone or TV and allegedly haunted by the ghosts of previous residents. The downstairs lobby looks like it could be right out of a western movie. Outside another of the many thunderstorms this afternoon has formed overhead and is rumbling, flashing, and raining.

Hanging out (of the window) at the historic Fairplay Hotel

This morning the air was fresh and clear after a night of thunder and lightening. It was strange to need to layer up in long sleeves and wind pants for warmth considering the heat we were in just yesterday, but the sun came out and made our ride into South Park absolutely beautiful. I was not prepared for the scenery that unfolded; miles of open park land, distant snowy peaks, and wildflowers. We passed antelope, cattle, and herds of bison. I tried but no photo could capture the overwhelming open air experience of being surrounded by this vast landscape.

Early morning at Current Creek Hostel

Early morning start, leaving Current Creek Pass into South Park...and distant snowy peaks

South Park

South Park Mercantile, Hartsel

The South Platte River winds through this valley and is a favorite fly fishing destination. Some of the fisherman were unphased by a big bull who shared their fishing spot, bellowed at them but left them alone. A farm dog chased us along his property line, which isn't unusual, but this property line went for a mile and the dog kept up with us that far, at up to 20 mph. Dogs aside, I was glad to be on a bicycle and not in a car to take it all in.

Our pace is slower than it was in Kansas. We are more easily winded and climbing steadily. As we approached Fairplay around noon, we could see a dark, inky storm just to the north of town over tomorrow's destination, with bolts of lightening striking from the clouds. Though we had sunshine for our ride today, there was a new thunderstorm forming behind us over the area we had just left.

Fairplay church

Historic Fairplay Museum with distant storm over tomorrow's destination.

Tomorrow we will climb over Hoosier Pass, elevation 11,500, highest point on the route. We are at about 10,000 ft now, and only have 12 miles to the Pass, but need to get there before the storms form. Though 12 miles isn't many with a tailwind in Kansas, it's a different matter when climbing at 11,000 feet. Once over the Pass, it should be an easy and very fast descent into Breckenridge.

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