04/23/2010 — Day Of Surprises

April 26, 2010

We woke up to the sight of two fully packed hikers walking the hill towards the hostel. They were hiking the Appalachian Trail together, and we got a chance to talk with both of them a bit before heading out for the day.
We both had mentally prepared for the idea of doing a lot of climbing today, because our Route Elevation Profile on the map showed that we had quite an intense mountain to get over. However, the first surpise came when we did a slight climb and flats for 6 miles, followed by around 4 miles of downhill where we didn’t need to pedal at all. This was quite unexpected, as we really thought we needed to climb considerably to get to Konnarock. Once we rolled past there, it was another 8 mile steep downhill down the mountains into Damascus in the valley.
We rode into town, stopped at Subway for lunch, and hit up a gas station and a dollar store to pick up some food we were lacking. After that, we decided that we would head for Meadowview to finish up the day, as the town was right by Interstate 81 – so we figured there would be a place to stay.
Surpise number two came not long after leaving Damascus. Dawson was riding ahead of me as per usual, but I had the maps. He rode far enough ahead that I couldn’t see him, and when the turn came up in the route I wasn’t sure if he had taken it or missed it and headed straight. I left him a voicemail, but I knew that he had no cell service at all. From that point on I travelled alone, so I’m going to tell my part of the story (Dawson’s will come later).
Matt’s day:
I was never quite sure if Dawson was just ahead of me or not. Therefore, I was never sure if I should stop and wait to see if he’d made a mistake and figured it out, or if I should keep riding ahead and hope to run into him. I left him a number of voicemails and sent text messages along the way, and just settled on heading up to Meadowview  as we discussed.
The route that I was traveling was really quite beautiful – also the rain had cleared up and the sun was shining. I took a whole bunch of photographs during my ride by myself, as I just kept seeing things that caught my eye.
This section of the ride was one of my favorites – as you might be able to tell by the number of pictures.
Around 5 PM I made it up into Meadowview, and I headed to the Post Office as Dawson had agreed on that as our meeting place if we ever got separated. I sat in the lawn for a while, and eventually I got a voicemail from Dawson where he told me that he was back at Damascus where we ate lunch, and that he was going to stay there for the night. As soon as that happened, I knew I had to figure out somewhere I could stay. I asked a man walking into the Post Office if he knew of anywhere that I could stay the night. He was a very kind man, and offered to let me pitch my tent in the grass next to his business – so this is exactly what I did – but not before getting some dinner at the local diner.
I set up my tent, and passed the time by going across the street to a garage where a man was working and asking him if I could charge my phone until he left for the night. He told me it was no issue at all, and we talked while he washed off a tractor, and then for a while after as he closed up shop. It was actually quite pleasant to converse with him, because if I hadn’t I would have generally been by myself all night.
Eventually Dawson finally got a hold of me and told me that he had indeed ridden back to Damascus, but then rode all the way up through Meadowview (without seeing me) and headed through Hayters Gap, over Clinch Mountain, and was staying at the Elk Garden United Methodist Church Biker Hostel. Once I knew where he was, we agreed that he would just wait there for me to cross the mountain in the morning and we’d ride on together from there.
And so I went to sleep in my tent in Meadowview.
Dawson’s day:
When riding ahead of me on Route 91 North, Dawson missed the sign for the turn and rode approximately 6 miles out of the way before sitting and waiting. He said he sat for around an hour, somewhat worrying about where I had gone, before deciding to go back and look for me. When he didn’t see me anywhere, he just continued back to see if I perhaps had a problem and headed back to Damascus.
When he didn’t find me there, he called from a pay phone and said that he was going to stay the night. However, being the “impatient” person that he describes himself as, he decided that since there was still several hours of sunlight he would ride to try to find me. When he reached Meadowview and realized that there were no campgrounds or motels, he figured that I continued ahead to the next legitmate place to stay: the hostel over the mountain.
Not far outside of Meadowview he came across another cyclist. He was instrumental in directing Dawson towards where he thought he needed to be (without a map) and the two of them rode over Clinch Mountain as the sun set, and down the other side to the hostel in the dark.
Once he arrived at the hostel, Dawson’s helper continued on into the night, and Dawson socialized and ate with fellow cross country cyclists Ken and Jen. They are riding recumbant trikes from Virginia to California to raise awareness about organ donations. We definitely support their cause and their tour, so please check out their blog at kenandjennc.blogspot.com
After pleasant conversation and several touring tips from the couple, Dawson headed to sleep for the night.

2 Responses to “04/23/2010 — Day Of Surprises”

  1. Megan said

    Glad that part of the trip is over now! And that you two don’t get split up again. My favorite is that when mom.was calling hotels to find Dawson people said they had seen one man on a bike wearing a tuxedo shirt, LOL.
    That set of pics are really pretty! Hope everything is going good!

  2. Chris Ochoa said

    Hi Matt! This is your Aunt Christine. I’ve been reading about your escapades for several days now, and passed on the website to my daughters Cori and Cassandra.
    What a couple of adventurers you are! I wish there was a more detailed map so I could see where else in CO you will be besides Pueblo. I’m going to try to make an effort to see you when you’re nearby. I live in a little town just between Loveland and Estes Park. We’re on the Eastern slope of the Rockies, and you’ll be going north up the Western slope.
    Wish you all the luck and good weather in the world. Again, I’ll keep track of you and hopefully can see you guys. Take Care! Chris

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