Rod McLaughlin

Frisco Colorado (16 may 12)

There was an offshoot of the Grateful Dead one of whose songs went

"Comin' into Frisco - yeah yeah - jump for joy"

I never understood why. Now I know. It refers to the ski town of Frisco, Colorado, not that expensive, noisy, pretentious ghetto on the west coast of California. 

After Yampa it was straightforward, but for some reason I felt weaker not stronger. I realised later that I must have a cold - caused by a deflated sleeping pad in Steamboat Springs and cold ground. Anyway, I pressed on on county roads until I found myself descending toward the Colorado River. 

Did you know Mexicans are even less imaginative in naming things than Americans? The Americans have 'Elk Creek', 'Fish Lake' etc. ad nauseam. The Mexican parts of the USA are full of fucking saints' names. Either that, or the devil - Mount Diablo. Or, when they were feeling really inspired - 'Colorado' means 'colored'. The river is mostly deep brown, so it's colored. The state gets its name from the river, not from most of its population, ha ha. I suspect the reason its colored is because its acidic. Wherever I have crossed its path, there are deep canyons. Other rivers just meander across the plains, but the Colored has to make its mark. 

I made a mistake at the river. Thinking county road 1 was after it, I crossed the bridge and rode up and up. They I realised it must have been on the left just before the river, so I went back. Some workers were putting up a marquee or something and they pointed me in the right direction. County road 1 is very uphill, and I pushed for the first time. Some locals stopped and offered me a ride, but for some reason I didn't take it. 

After State Bridge, I stopped in at a place called 'Rancho del Rio'. Bet you can't guess what that means, what it is, and where it is located. Men of mystery, those Mexicans.

Then I did something unethical, without realizing it 'til it was too late. A truck marked 'back country catering' stopped as I was struggling up a long hill on the rough (but not too rough) surface of county road 1. They pointed out that I'd just gone past a great camping spot, and it was dinner time. They offered me a cold beer. I accepted, and said 'can I buy some more off you?' The problem is, they couldn't refuse, nether could they accept my money, despite me saying 'I insist'. So I got three extra beers.

They said the campsite was 100 yards down Radium road. A mountain biker showed up and said it was about 500 yards. It was in fact two miles, with several minor hills. Their perception of distance depended on their vehicles. On a recumbent with a trailer when tired, it was a long way.

Anyway, it was a nice campsite by the Colored River and some young dudes hanging out. I swapped an unethical beer for a shot of Kentucky bourbon and slept like a log.

Next day it was hard up and down all day. I was glad when I could finally see the 14,000 foot range of the Rocky Mountains. Another imaginative name. I mean, are there any mountains in the world which AREN'T rocky? Some road-workers took the picture. Good news - all downhill and only seven miles to Kemmering. Even better news - only 40 miles to Silverthorne. I'd thought it was 80. Kemmering, Mexican meal, south on state highway 9, which has little shoulder. Big diversion at Green Mountain Reservoir, down to the dam. The road across was closed, so I had to go back.

I thought of clambering down the dam to get water, but there was a sign saying it was US government property and it is a federal crime to trespass on it. All the campsites were closed too, so I just camped in a turn-in. I got a gallon of water from one of the closed campsites by walking down to the reservoir, and filtering it with my water filter.

Prevailing winds in North America are WNW. Except when I'm riding ESE. They they're ESE. Sometimes on the rough county roads, I had to peddle hard in low gear to go downhill.

Next day (today) I found there was a campsite open, at the extreme south end of the reservoir, which I could have reached had I known. Saw a field of Scottish highland cattle. Thought I might have seen evolution happening - rodents breed fast. I saw a chipmunk, or baby gopher, running a quarter of the way across the road, and stopped, so it was in the middle of one lane. Two trucks went over it, missing because it was in the middle of their lane. When they'd both passed, it continued to run across the road. Nothing was coming the other way. More likely, it was just luck.

I reached Silverthorne, and stopped in the ubiquitous 'Kum and Go' gas station for ice and Gatorade. It said 99c pizza slices Wednesday. I didn't know what day it was, so I asked. It was Wednesday (today) so I bought three. Someone told me how to get to Frisco, my ultimate bike destination, from where I can get the shuttle to Denver airport. Up the well-made bike path to the dam, then along the dam road, over 9,000 ft., with views of gorgeous 13,000 ft. mountains all around, to Frisco. The New Summit Inn motel for $50 a night. Lucky I chose not to camp, for there was a torrential thunderstorm as I went to Safeway for a microwaveable meal.

Then I got back to my room to find it has everything except a microwave.


Portland London