Bicycle Tour TransAmerica Trail
2,600 Miles – 9 States – DE to CO Bicycle Tour
After tons of tweaking and finding the right video editing software for Android I finally finished editing my cross-country bicycle tour from DE to CO. After 2,600 miles, cycling through DE, MD, VA, KY, IN, IL, MO, KS and CO the 20 minute video is finally here! Featuring a blend of video clips and pictures from all 9 states. Incorporating water silo climbing, road closed wandering, discovering blast sites, going up feed silos, scaling radio towers and more. This trip takes adventure to my extreme in every aspect. A wanderer on a bicycle touring the TransAmerica Trail. Without further ado I give you the last few months of my life on my bicycle tour TransAmerica Trail; backpacking, hiking, hitchhiking, climbing, and wild camping. Stay tuned for my next exclusive feature, which includes a written novel of my 2-month journey while I bicycle tour cross-country. This goes into detail about where I slept, who I met and their stories along with the scenery I woke up to every morning and fell asleep to every night. My goal is to finish the novel by the start of the new year, but I have not made much progress for the past few weeks. I need to get more motivation and overcome some writer’s block since I have been stuck on page 40 now for almost a month, which equates to day 12 of the bicycle tour. I hope everyone following me on my trip enjoys it.
Bicycle Tour TransAmerica Trail – DE to CO
Background Information – Bicycle Tour TransAmerica Trail
The TransAmerica Trail starts in Yorktown, VA and goes all the way to Astoria, Oregon over the span of 4,000+ miles. I took the trail into my own hands starting from my home in Wilmington, DE and using the trail as a guide as I pedaled cross-country. I veered off into the unknown on several occasions to visit Trevor in Indiana, because I got lost or when I ended up in Idaho Springs and settled down in Breckenridge for the winter. The hardest part of the trail is in the Rocky Mountains due to acclimating to the altitude and the steep climbs that happen over many miles. Georgetown Lake Shelter to Loveland Pass was only 33 miles, but was an elevation gain of 4,000+ feet. Combine that with the below freezing temperatures and it made the bicycle tour more of a mental mind game than physical. Below is a video of my 2,600+ mile bicycle tour on the TransAmerica Trail.
I woke up today in the bathroom at Prospector Campground near Lake Dillon. The temperature dropped down to ten degrees over the course of the night. I need a better sleeping bag. The one I have is rated for 35 degrees and just is not cutting it. I am looking to spend up to $600.00 on one that goes to -20 below zero and possible be a “Woodsies” (person who camps in the woods and chills around the mountain for ski season). We shall see!
Anyway, my socks and shoes dried over night from me insulating them with the newspaper I grabbed at the grocery store in Keystone. I packed up my gear and headed up the hill a few miles. I am completely burnt out, exhausted, food-deprived, dehydrated…you name it, but in the end I am still going forward. I slept quite well recently and ate a lot of food, more than just peanut butter sandwiches, so I am not sure why I feel so lethargic. It may be due to the steep climbs and change in altitude that are messing with my body.
Regardless, I continued onward up to Sapphire Point and hit a steady 1.7 mile downhill ride putting me next to Summit High School right outside of Frisco and Breckenridge. I stopped at the local Shell gas station to grab some snacks, use the restroom, get warm and socialize with the store clerk. Her son, my age, 24, snowboards professionally and his home base is Colorado. She pointed me in the direction of a Free Shuttle service, which runs to Silver Thorne, Breckenridge and Frisco and even lets you strap your bike on to the front if you’re a cyclist, like myself. I thanked her and headed to Summit High School where I waited until 9:43 AM to catch the next ride to Breckenridge. The bus driver, super friendly, helped me load my bicycle on the front mount. We headed five miles down the road to Breckenridge. He stopped a mile from Fireside Inn and the others got off the bus. He walked down the steps and helped me unload my bicycle. Finally, he asked where I was headed and where I was from since it was not often he saw a cyclist, in winter, strapped up with gear on the rear. We chatted briefly and he mentioned National Forest laid all around the area so I could camp wherever like many of the “Woodsies” do for ski season. I should not have trouble finding a job on a mountain, but if I do there are other places hiring for winter due to the rush of tourism that surges in for ski season. He took an interest in my journey, but we parted ways after a few minutes since his bus schedule was time-oriented by the half hour.
I headed down the road for Fireside Inn, a cheap hostel with showers, laundry, computer with Internet access, electrical outlets, bicycle storage and beds, all for just $30.00. I checked in and they did my laundry while I sorted my panniers, took a hot shower, updated my blog and applied to jobs all over Colorado. I applied to Breckenridge, Keystone, Copper Mountain, Loveland for jobs as, “Ski Lift Operators, Payroll Data Entry, Data Entry, Housekeepers, etc.” I am literally looking for any type of work that will get me through the ski season so I can be a ski bum and continue my bicycle trip in the spring come April.
Once I finished applying for jobs I set out to view the city of Breckenridge. I stopped at some local snowboard and ski shops and bought another pair of smartwool socks. I socialized with a few of the liberal, hippie, chill, stoner-like dudes that worked at the stores. Their friendly, helpful advice in regards to jobs and camping gear definitely helped me out. I will set out to Frisco tomorrow to check out the outlets and Wilderness Sports for both jobs and a better sleeping bag. I would also like to get a decent backpack for backpacking since the Salesianum backpack I have at the moment is wearing out on the bottom and several holes are probably the reason for losing my knife and other gear.
I checked out Breck Sports and wanted to apply there for a job, but they are closed on Sundays so I will try again tomorrow. I continued down the street strolling around aimlessly until I set eyes on Moe’s Original BBQ. I ordered a tender pulled pork sandwich smothered in barbeque sauce on a crispy bun with two sides of cheesy macaroni, and sweet and sour hash brown mix. The food here, simply amazing and mouth watering. After every meal I just want more food!
I am now back at the hostel, updating my blog and planning tomorrow’s journey, which will most likely be taking a shuttle bus to Frisco in search of another sleeping bag and a job.
I woke up at 7 AM at the Georgetown Lake Shelter Campground. The other people packed up their belongings and headed out around the same time. The temperature did not get above ten degrees for at least a few hours, flurries of snowflakes and small gusts of wind continued throughout the day. I set out for Prospector Campground. Despite only being a 33 mile day, the steep climbs, my exhausted legs and adjusting to the altitude all made this the hardest day of the trip.
Road bikes aren’t meant for ice…I did a lot of walking today.
I continued down the road and noticed a neat little café on the corner. I charged my battery pack on the outside wall unit and headed into, “Blue Sky Cafe.” I chatted with the waitresses and told them about my trip. They suggested I go with the Huevos Rancheros special, which consisted of two flour tortillas, smoked sausage, fresh tomatoes, crisp lettuce, melted pepper jack cheese, scrambled eggs, and spicy chilli sauce. My mouth watered and I finished the meal and a few cups of coffee with relative ease. I almost ordered a second helping. They gave me the names of some local mountains to apply at for a ski lift operator job and then I hit the road.
I stopped at the local Conoco gas station to buy a hat since I lost mine from the wind the previous day of cycling. I also lost my knife the other day when I fell down a hill at 3 AM. It must have slipped out of my backpack. After Conoco the trek finally began from Georgetown to Dillon Lake.
I ended up going down, “Continental Divide Trail” for Loveland Pass and Baker, which covered 4.9 miles, most of which covered in an inch of snow or ice. So for a little over 3 miles I ended up walking in my minimalist shoes…now my calves hurt.
The bicycle trail through Keystone Resort
Almost in Breckenridge!
Despite the long hike, the sights I saw, just pure beauty; mountaintops of snow looked like an ice cream cone dipped in vanilla soft serve; trees covered in frost and icicles dangling from their branches; the fresh smell of pine tickling my nose; the snow beneath my feet crackling with each step. I just love it out here. I really hope to find a job while I hang out here in the mountains. The steep five mile climb to Loveland Pass, almost unbearable, made me walk a bit while I regained my composure. Once I reached the top I hit 11,990 feet of elevation at the peak of Loveland Pass. From there, a six mile downhill race to Keystone Mountain. I flew down that strip hitting 30 mph, almost passing semis, but slowing down due to the freezing wind forming icicles on my face. Once I hit the bottom I continued onward through the bicycle paths that winded through Keystone Mountain. I climbed a total of 4,200 feet today and ended up stopping at a local grocery store to stock up on food for the next few days. If there is one tidbit I learned about Colorado it is that everything, including food, is rather expensive compared to back home. I also learned to steer clear of bike trails when it is under 32 degrees. I ended up hitting a patch of black ice, my tires flung out from under me and all the weight from my bike and panniers pinned me on my side. I ended up hurting my left leg and my right Achilles heel. I bounced back up and brushed off the snow. Not much more laid ahead for today’s journey.
Loveland Pass Continental Divide Trail
On my way to Prospector Campground
I continued onward and after four miles I ended up at Prospector Campground, which to my surprise the gates locked on a Saturday, with no explanation as to why? Then I remembered the government shutdown, so I continued through the gates to find a place to camp. The cold weather and blistering wind made me seek shelter in an unlocked bathroom. The bathroom locked from the inside so I remained safe from any animals or outsiders. I laid out my new tarp, put down my sleeping bag, bundled up into all my cold gear and summer gear and called it a night as I dozed off into a peaceful, cold sleep.
Georgetown Lake Shelter
I woke up on Theo’s dirty, motel room floor around 9 AM. He needed to finish up some paperwork for court and I needed to go to the bike shop down the road for the third time to return my tire. We parted ways and he told me to come back around 3 PM to help with the carpet cleaning.
I rode down the road to the bike shop and spoke with the clerk who helped me the previous day. He saw the huge hole where the tube exploded and we decided to switch out a 28 with a 25. I didn’t mind because he gave me a marathon tire. More traction and more expensive than the other one I bought and he didn’t charge me. We swapped out all the tubes and he gave me an adapter for my new bike pump along with a patch kit. I thanked him and headed towards Smokin’ Yards BBQ.
I heard many great recommendations from a load of people about this restaurant. I decided to give it a whirl. I ordered a tender pulled pork sandwich with tangy, sweet BBQ sauce and a side of crispy, thin french fries. The food disappeared in a matter of minutes. The delicious tastes made me consider ordering a second platter, but the price hindered my decision.
A nice scrumptious burger
I hung out there for a little while and ate complementary boiled peanuts and water and left for the post office.
I grabbed Johnny Cash stamps and sent out a few postcards I wrote in the previous restaurant. By this time my stomach gurgled again as if food deprived. I decided to hit up Subway where I grabbed a foot long sub and continued writing out the rest of the postcards. I spoke with a worker who gave me directions to ski resorts who were hiring. He gave me a number for Loveland and told me to apply for a lift operator.
I applied to that job and another one at Copper Mountain. I am waiting to hear back. If I get a job I will postpone the bicycle trip until April and continue onwards then.
I finished up and left Subway around 3 PM. I headed back towards Theo’s place at Idaho Springs Motel. I knocked and he opened the door. To my surprise he already cleaned the carpet and kept being rather shady. At first I could crash on the floor, then he decided he wanted his privacy, then he wanted me to leave my bike and pack there and head to the store with him. I decided to leave and part ways before my belongings got stolen.
I headed towards the TransAm trail west of Idaho Springs. I only rode for 12 miles before finding a shelter at Georgetown Lake Shelter where I could camp. I met some bible thumpers who chatted with me about my cross-country trip. Gary, his sons Alex and Davis, homeschooled their whole life and Gary retired from an accounting career, set out on a road trip across the country to celebrate a new life. They left from West Virginia and made it to Colorado. We talked and eventually they gave me a bible for reading material. I guess if I run out of books I’ll check it out.
I set up camp in the shelter and thought for sure I’d be safe from bums, tramps and other hoboes, but at about 3 AM, the garage-like door to the shelter clashed and sprung open. Three lights shined in my face as I sat up from the picnic table from which I slept. Three young men 18 and 19 years old from northern Colorado came in looking for a place to set up their fishing poles for early morning trout fishing.
They ended up not catching a single fish or having even a nibble. I heard them chuck firewood in the shelter fireplace to keep everyone warm most of the night. We all slept in the blistering cold, windy weather and they left around 7 AM homeward bound. I on the other hand must figure out where I’m going. I think I am going to head to Prospector Park Campground, west of Georgetown. I am waiting for the sun to come out and temperature to rise.
Climbing Hells Hole
We woke up at 7 AM, packed and jetted out of the hotel for Hells Hole, which lay an hour east of Denver. We asked some people for directions as we obviously got lost. They told us to head to Mt. Evans and turn at the little brown sign talking about Arapahoe County.
We got to the mountain and started the hike at 9:15 AM. For the most part, they marked the trail fairly well. Parts of it, not labeled properly, but we thought at most we would hike six miles to Hells Hole and back. It ended up being just under a ten-mile hike.
We ended up exploring off the trail entering bushy, prickly terrain. Our shoes soaked from the cold spring water seeping between our toes. Twigs scratching against our thighs, knees, calves and arms.
Climbing Hells Hole with Trevor for the day.
We tilted our heads and looked up at the slanted mountainside looming ahead. We started climbing the ascent. My left hand on the GoPRO and right hand gripping the tiny holds on the mountainside while my toes planted in a sturdy place looking for my next hold.
We reached the halfway point and time ticked away as we continued climbing further. We needed to head back to the car so Trevor did not miss his flight. The descent, much harder, than climbing up the mountainside. I tried to look over my shoulder at spots to mount my feet for stabilization, but which much difficulty.
We eventually ended up making great time and finished the hike at 3 PM.
Trevor dropped me off near Lakewood and headed down Interstate 70 to catch his flight. I pedaled to Indian Hot Springs looking for a spot to camp, but their campground was closed due to the government shutdown. They gave me directions to Barbers Fork, a free campground, but after trekking four miles uphill I could not find it.
I pulled off the road and found a spot to camp on a cliff. I hid my food in a tree a few hundred yards away from where I slept.
Trevor dropped me off in Idaho Springs after climbing Hells Hole. I slept on this cliff in the woods.