Date: March 25th, 2017
From/To: Stratford, TX/Springfield, CO
Daily Mileage: 85 miles
Total Mileage: 1545 miles
Conditions: Sunshine, blue skies, sporadic headwinds reaching 10mph
I’m sitting in a recliner at the Stage Stop Hotel in Springfield, Colorado and I can’t help but think that time is going by slowly today. I checked my laptop and saw 6:41PM, and by habit I subtracted an hour from that to get the actual time. I then picked up my phone and saw 4:41PM. I’d crossed another time zone and I didn’t even know it. How could I have forgotten about time zones? At least I was gaining an hour rather than losing one. The next time zone I cross will be on the home stretch of my journey. It’s hard to believe time is flying by so quickly, even with an extra hour every once in a while.
I woke up around 8:30AM, had a quick breakfast and was on the road by 9AM. The rest day had helped my legs recover and my back was feeling great. I’ve been struggling with a trigger point in a shoulder muscle on the right side of my body since Florida. The pain comes and goes, but at its worst I can’t even turn my head to the right without instant pain across my back. It happens with biking, there’s not much that can be done short of stopping all together, and that’s not an option for me. I handle it day by day, and when it acts up I usually apply some biofreeze to numb it as much as possible. Anyway, enough complaining, back to the ride. I battled against headwinds most of the day, but my legs have adapted to the extra resistance and I found the pain to be lesser than most other days where headwinds have slowed me down.
Today was unique for a particular reason. I crossed the Texas border into Oklahoma, and then into Colorado. I took Highway 287 until I reached Colorado where it switched to 385. I passed through the Oklahoma panhandle without setting foot in the state except when I was at the borders. It was about 40 miles from one border to the next, and I decided this would work as a good distraction and challenge for me along todays route. I took one step to push off from the Texas-Oklahoma boarder, and one step to touch down at the Oklahoma-Colorado border, that was it. While in Oklahoma, I intersected a historical route known as the Santa Fe Trail.
FYI: Todays history lesson starts here!
So what was the Santa Fe Trail and why should we care about it? This trail played a major role in bringing people, goods, and ideas to and from Santa Fe for almost 60 years after it was first opened in 1821. Prior to the railroads reaching the west, this trail connected Independence, Missouri to Santa Fe, New Mexico and there was no other way of getting from one place to the other. The route crossed the north-western corner of Comancheria, the territory of the Comanches, who demanded compensation for granting passage to the trail, and represented another market for American traders.
At times, Native Americans tribes would raid these travelers, primarily in search of horses and mules. This made travel along the Santa Fe Trail risky, yet rewarding if they could safely complete the trip. After the U.S. acquisition of the Southwest ending the Mexican–American War in 1848, the trail helped open the region to U.S. economic development and settlement, playing a vital role in the expansion of the U.S. into the lands it had acquired. When the westward push of the railroads dramatically shortened the distance to Santa Fe, the Santa Fe Trail became nothing more than a historical landmark. There’s your history lesson for the day. Read more here: Source 1. Source 2.
Another distraction from todays ride was an interesting audiobook I chose to download and listen to. I’ve been told by a few people to read Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed. I was about halfway through it when my wireless headphones died, but I’ve really enjoyed her story so far. Strayed decided in her mid twenties to backpack 1,100 miles along the Pacific Crescent Trail in 1995, on a life changing journey of self-discovery. I won’t ruin anything, but the story portrays Strayed’s adversity to many challenges in her life. While I can’t say I’ve gone through nearly half the hardships she faced growing up and through adulthood, I couldn’t help but notice countless similarities in our stories. She wanted to venture off on her own, she wanted to challenge herself in ways she’d never been challenged before, she was seeking answers and a direction that would set her up for success later on in life. Her adventure along the PCT showed her the way. It seemed all too familiar to me. I found a similar comfort from her unpreparedness when she started the trip. I laughed at times because I’ve certainly felt as lost and helpless as she was at some points along her journey. I felt at times as though I was agreeing with her every word, her thought process when starting off, and how she learned on-the-go to adapt and solve problems or circumstances she didn’t expect to come across. In her recollection, the trip was more about overcoming fear and breaking down barriers. Once again, this seemed like echoes in a cave to me. I’ll have to finish the book tomorrow, but I’m very happy I decided to give it a listen.
I passed through Campo, Colorado right over the northern border of Oklahoma. I was originally going to stay there for the night, but I decided to change my route yesterday and go a little further to make the following day easier on me. One thing I’ve learned is to use the weather to my advantage when I can. If I have favorable conditions for travel, I’ll go even further than I planned to make up for bad travel days. I’d rather go 100 miles with little to no wind than 50 miles with a strong headwind. As I mentioned that’s the fun part of this trip, I get to decide where I’m going and how I’m getting there. I can choose one distance over the other, or this route instead of that one. I’ve learned how to think ahead and anticipate what’s going to happen based on weather patterns or other influential factors. It’s been a learning experience from the beginning, one that hasn’t come without learning from my mistakes.
I made my way into Springfield, about 22 miles north of Campo by 4PM. I stopped at the first gas station I came across, trying to figure out where I would be staying tonight. I looked around and found the Stage Stop Hotel across the street and down the road about two hundred feet from the gas station. Problem Solved! I had some extra time to kill thanks to the time change, so I spent some time walking around town before finding a restaurant (the only one in town I could find) to get some dinner. I spent the evening preparing for the next days trek. Soon I’ll be hitting the Rockies and I can’t wait to catch my first view of them stretching along the western horizon.
Enjoy The Ride,