06.16.2007 Las Animas
We've finally made it to Colorado; the Rockies' route is home. Day 13 has brought us from Syracuse, Kansas to Las Animas, Colorado – our third state border so far crossed twenty miles into the ninety mile day. This was, in many ways, our most difficult day of the trip so far, but we really pulled through as a team and got everyone through it successfully.
As we were eating breakfast that morning, the rain was falling down – nothing too heavy, just enough to make you wet and cold. We all have pretty decent rain gear for cycling, and I must admit, I get excited when I get the chance to put it on. Unfortunately, my rain gear usage is sort of a joke on the team, and I'm convinced it controls the weather depending on me wearing it or not. If I bring it along while riding, it will never rain – not a drop. But if the sky looks remotely intimidating, and I don't have rain gear with me on the bike – it pours. The morning leaving Syracuse, there was no guess work – it was raining, and I was wearing rain gear.
The amount of rain varied a bit during the first 80 miles, from light to downpour, but it never really let up. With the border at twenty miles, this meant another short border race. I didn't really feel up to contesting this one (I have to let the other's have a chance every once in a while!) and instead wanted to watch my teammates fight this one out. I kept the pace really slow for the first 18 miles; with the headwind and the rain, going fast wasn't really necessary. In the last few miles, the racing began, and my teammate and co-ride leader Collin Ratcliff took the border right at the line.
After the border, the rain continued to come down, and the headwind continued to blow. Headwinds can be really disappointing on the bike, because of the feeling of working so hard, but going nowhere. The day was also a little cold for my taste, in the low 60s I believe, which when combined with the wet, and the wind, made for some fairly miserable conditions. At the second rest-stop, forty miles into the ride, a few of the stronger riders and I decided to hang back to help out a few of the weaker riders. We really value teamwork within this group of cyclists.
For the last twenty miles or so, the rain finally let up, and even a bit of sunshine peaked through the clouds.
At Las Animas, Colorado we were greeted very warmly by our hosts for the evening, the First Baptist Church and members. We were fed by a delicious buffet of home cooked foods, with selections going from tamales to a beautiful roast. The long day and my incredible hunger may have some influence on this, but I would say that this has topped the charts so far for meals on the road. Accommodations for the evening split us up between a few different homes, giving us each a bed/couch to sleep on, and some quite time away from the large group. Simply amazing!