Saying goodbye to the other cyclists, I set off at about 8:00. Chris and Anna were just ahead of me but I caught up and passed them after two hours of riding. The morning riding was very pleasant through wonderful scenery, except from the fast traffic and the narrow roads with no shoulder. Today was going to be all slight uphill towards the highest point of the Trans America bicycle trail, and from there all downhill to the big basin and the great plains of the midwest.
I made it to Silverthorne in good time and managed to get myself a good meal. Silverthorne was located just next to a reservoir in a cluster of other towns, some of which had grown into one another. All these towns started originally as mining towns and rumors of gold was the main reason for sending hopeful settlers here. Today it seemed more of a tourist attraction, attracting mostly American tourists with beautiful scenery and recreational activities such as bike riding along the nice bike paths.
The day had started with perfect weather, but now there were some clouds over the the mountains that got me concerned. I was feeling rubbish despite having a full stomach and had every reason to feel sharp and the endless bike path that had started as a joy, started to become a drag with the masses of tourists riding it. In Breckenridge I caught up with Chris and Anna who were resting by the bike path. They were feeling the exact same thing and were trying to decide wether to stay in Breckenridge or go over the mountain today. There had been a headwind the last hour or so, and as we stood there calling to check for prices for lodging tonight, it started to rain. I was trying to decide wether to risk going over or play it safe as well, and after giving myself time to rest I decided to defy the warnings form the sky. I put on my rain jacked and slowly crept up the hill in solitude. The rain started to fade and quickly I was able to mobilize some strength.
It had been a hard day with slight uphill all the way here after over 100 km, but the overwhelming feeling of finding yourself ripping apart the tarmac in solitude up a bigger hill than ever encountered after experiencing such fatigue, left a deep, deep impression in me and stirred up emotions at my very core. This strengthened my mission and got me pounding my way into the wind, up the slowly ascending hill, at a fast determined pace. The last part of the climb was extremely steep gradients and winding road and I was panting like a crazy person all the way and after getting a wiff of the summit, I found myself sprinting out of the saddle for the finish line. The exhilarating moments of standing there at the top of Hoosier pass - the roof of the trail at 3520 m - thanks to no-one but my own ideas and determination, were simply indescribable.
After talking to some fellow cyclists who were enjoying the moments of glory and taking pictures of each other, I went head first into the best descent so far on the trip. Apart for some minor "bumps" in the elevation profile, it was all down hill from here to the plains and you could feel all the altitude you had fought so hard to gain over the last couple of weeks, just perish as you started to put the Rockies behind you. I blew past Alma and came to a stop in Fairplay where I got myself a well deserved meal at a restaurant. The waitresses provided little help in finding a place to stay for the night, so after paying the check, I headed out to try to find someone who could. And today I was in luck.
I was headed to a motel to hear if they knew if you could camp anywhere in this town, but stopped at a supermarket instead to try to catch some of the locals exiting the store. I adjusted my course towards this guy in his pick-up truck with the window down and cowboy hat on, just waiting in one end of the parking lot. I rolled up to him and his wife in the front seat and asked if he knew any place to camp in town. Without a word, he stared at me in deep thought, searching his mind before he said "hell, I got a place you can camp!". He startes darwing a map to his property, few kilometers in the direction I had just come from and after a little confusion he says that I should put my stuff on the flatbed of his truck and he'll take me there. His name was Daryl with his wife Karen and they were from Texas and owned some land up here in Colorado which they were taking me to. Karen had been on business in Oslo before working with the development of auto-locks of cars and Daryl, judging by the card he gave me was a judge at a county criminal court in Texas. When we arrived, I got to see why some Americans drive around in huge pick-up trucks. He drove a couple of meters into the arid grasslands where we unloaded the truck and they told me that all this huge area was their property and I could put up my tent anywhere I wanted. They went on to check if I had food and gave me some bottled water, washing water, a chair, paper towels and offered me some bug spray. I could not believe this generosity.
I set up my tent in a nice spot and spent the evening in peace thinking about what an eventful day this had been.