I was fortunate to have located a Tour of Honor stop on my PNW ride that was very close to our rest day hotel in Missoula, MT. That left me with only five more needed to reach my goal of “finisher” status.
I have the sites mapped out that I intend to go after, so the planning has been all around weather, logistics and how many miles I feel comfortable with at this point. I had thought about this ride before I left on the motorcycle tour, but honestly I was intimidated by how much interstate riding was involved. (Remember that before my tour, my interstate experience was very, very limited.)
Last Sunday the weather and my schedule cooperated and I decided to head out early in the morning so I could (hopefully) avoid the thunderstorms predicted to move in by early afternoon. It has been a VERY hot summer here in the Denver area and I’ve been finding it hard to be excited about riding in 95+ degree heat.
I made sure the tire air pressure was checked and there was plenty of gas in the tank. Loaded up some snacks and plenty of water. Set up my phone app to provide the navigation which I really only needed after leaving the interstate. What I did appreciate though was the countdown of miles which kept me going. The ride was pretty uneventful as traffic was light so early in the morning and I was grateful.
I wasn’t sure what to expect on this journey once I left the interstate. I had seen the memorial photo on the ToH website and it seemed to be very high, so I was anticipating sweeping curves or lots of switchbacks as I climbed. In reality, the road to the memorial was pretty flat and quiet. I was surprised to hear my navigation app announce destination ahead.
The memorial is Pueblo is in a breathtaking location, overlooking the reservoir. It is dedicated to the victims of 9/11 and is peaceful and beautiful. I like to spend a few minutes at each memorial to learn who it was built to honor and take in the area.
I only spent enough time here to take in the memorial and have some water. I knew that severe thunderstorms were due in early afternoon and I really didn’t want to be caught riding in them. As I left Pueblo, the skies were clear and blue, but this wasn’t to last long. As I began to approach Colorado Springs, I noticed the clouds had already moved in and there was a pretty strong wind blowing. Oh, not again I thought! What is it with me and the high winds?!
Taking a lesson from my days on the PNW tour, I moved over to the right side of the right lane since the wind was blowing me to the left. I did my best to keep my speed in line with the rest of the traffic so as not to become a hazard! As i reached the south side of the Denver metro area, there is an alternate route I wanted to take that meanders closer to the mountains. Seeing nothing but thunderheads all around the city, I decided it was best to stay on I-25 and head for home! Yes, that meant more city traffic for me, but I felt the winds near the foothills would also be gusting more strongly, so the trade off was made. Just about two miles from home I found myself in a little rain and I had to laugh. After I had been home a while it really kicked up a storm and I was glad I had been efficient and rode straight back.
This trip was around 260 miles round trip and mostly on I-25. It helped me overcome my anxiety of interstate riding and doing so alone. I’d still rather be riding with my buddies from the PNW tour, but that’s a story for another blog post . . .