Our Out-West In-Laws RV Road Trip Report
January 05, 2000
Well, I'm back. We survived our 4200-mi road trip in our
little RV. Me, my family and the in-laws! How bout that!
We went from Mich > Ariz and back by way of Boulder, Colo,
my old stomping grounds. I rode my bike every day after
our driving. What a great way to explore and get fresh air.
So here's the report: the US has become Bangladesh.
(Whatever that is.) Faceless, senseless sprawl of crowded
ugliness and doom. Did you know it's a traffic jam across the desert?
From Sante Fe to Flagstaff, 400 miles of nothing but cactus,
it's bumper to bumper.
But there are some hold-outs. Southern Colorado seemed to be a
working blend of old and new.
As opposed to the scary Ariz and NM. Boy, the desert was cool anyway.
I liked that heat. No one should be allowed to do anything with water
besides drink it and get quick rinse-offs, though. Otherwise it
seems exactly like trying to turn the moon into Disneyland.
Underground huts, hillside dwellings and adobe sure seem like
the ticket. Air conditioning is just begging for bad karma. Well,
respect your limits anyway, don't flaunt them. I really liked all
the OUTDOOR A.C. and 'misters'. Hey, it's not hot or dry outside
anymore! Problem solved!
Boulder was darn scary. Still nifty in some ways, though. But
nary a zine in sight, for all the fact that they claim to be alt-culture.
Neither the bikeshop nor old bookshop I visited would take either
my bikey-zine or bikey-zine-book. I planted them on
the premises! The only way to get real books out anymore, eh?
Actually, the bookshop took some books after I told the buyer
to just pretend they were used or remaindered. He said that's all
he sold. So I gave him a better price. Illusion and an open mind:
unbeatable combination. The 'Beat Book Shop' didn't carry many
books by Beats. (Mostly 50's collectibles. OK, I'll give em a break,
they had SOME. A couple hundred even. Didn't seem like they were
trying much. Only new Kerouacs, etc.) The clerk there and at
another oldtime good used bookshop didn't know Vagabond Press
or John Bennett.
Special Report about Boulder
Wow, what changes! Totally built up, but I notice a local mag editorial
stating that kids still didn't have any normal rec facilities like a bowling alley.
Also, there were no campgrounds in the phone book. What a town!
But what a lovely town. BP's, too.
We pulled in at night and oh how the Creek Bike Path
has developed into such a well-used lushness. People strolling and
twinkling lights everywhere. Same with the Pearl Street Mall. It's over
the top, but still homey feeling. Very very nice. I suspect it's mainly
due to all the trees growing in compared to when I was there. So much
more lush now. The creek was so full, too. Gorgeous all around.
Hard to believe it was my backyard (lived right off the Mall). Nice
to see Trident Bookstore still happening.
I asked at the big bikeshop on the Mall whether there were any shops
in town that sold folders, trikes or bents and he said "In Boulder? No way."
Too bad. They wouldn't carry my zine or stock my new Victor Vincente
of America 'Dirt Road Rider's Trek Epic' book either. Their loss. I gave
em a couple copies out of pity, I said, and said to make sure any mechanic
who has an interest in bike culture should take a look since it was all roots
stuff for them and lord knows they like that. The young manager said he'd
get rid of his mag/book shelf if he could, no one buys any of it he said.
I said that's coz it all sucks. Some nearby crowd started smirking. I said
"See this one copy of Dirt Rag here? It's almost sold out. See all these glossies
here? I agree, they don't sell. You have to send all the annoying tear covers
back. Well, why not just find and carry as much stuff like DR as you can?
Help the poor starved bike culture. They'll buy all you stock of anything that's
good." Deaf ears. I asked if anyone knew where the Morgul loop was, since things
were so built up since I was here last and I wasn't sure anymore if it was even
rideable or whatever. I had to go thru a couple young staffers
to find someone who knew.
On our drives across town I noticed many old bike shops DEAD, but didn't
get to explore enough to notice any (good looking) new ones.
It sure was neat seeing all the bike action around town though.
Lots of cool super dudes riding around. Girls on decked out oldstyle
cruisers. Shredsters everywhere. I hope someone can read. I recall
always reading all I could on cycling when I lived there. (How any
bike shop could turn DOWN bike culture materials is BEYOND me.
How often do they have people approach them with bike books and
zines? Good ones, real ones? (Not map guides or how-to's.) I'd say
NEVER (hardly). Hard for me to see the view that there's NO demand
for bike culture. Man, the library had ALL the great race videos you
could check out for free! --That was great. I soaked up all bike culture
when I was there and I know I wasn't the only one. Poor riders, being
kept from culture by silly shop clerks. Well, I'll just go direct! Serve em right.
Next day we had a SPLENDID breakfast at Chatauqua Park then I rode up
Flagstaff to the very top. Whew and Lord Almighty. I stopped twice and walked
one switchback and tacked about 1/4 mi. But otherwise, me and my 42-24 were
doing fine. And what a descent! Yow! It was like doing a handstand. I used to
do this ride every week? Crazy! I stopped at halfway down to let my rims cool.
Then I saw my crew in the RV ahead and blasted to in front of them and waved
then took off again. The rest of the way down I could handle the switches a lot
better. I got off the brakes and started using my body to dive in and pull the
front end around. A person could get better at this. But how the real riders do it,
I can't even remember. I think I had a couple good descents in my day down it.
No brakes on straights, I recall. Yikes! I felt pretty good all in all, surprising since
I haven't seen much riding or altitude since....and 195 lbs vs. 165!
Then I got a banana, planted a few more zines and VVA 'DRRTE's around town
and took off for the Morgul Bismarck loop. I was going to meet my family at
Eldorado Springs in an hour. Marshall sure hasn't changed! Hot rod
frat kid yelled at me for riding on Broadway at 30mph then I recalled that the paths
were indeed rideable around here and used it. They were gravel paving the first leg,
but man it was still a blast to ride big gears up the whole grade just like old days.
The Wall sure is different! I had to stop and ask to verify. The prairie scene sure
is different with skyscrapers! I rode up it nice then looked for the false flat. Hmm,
that musta been it back there. Then I felt lost again, a new subdivision instead of
pasture. Then a huge long grinding uphill. Oh, ugh, where am I. At the top, a fork
in the road and suddenly it dawned on me, hey, THAT was the rest of the Wall!
Twice as along as I thought, enough room for a whole moodswing. No wonder it
was always so sneaky. I'd forgotten. Then the rest of the loop was the same:
everything felt twice as big as I recalled. It was neat coming on old stretches
where I knew I'd put the hammer down in races. I prefered to do dirty work on
the other grades instead of or in addition to the Wall. The bigring on uphills is
what you want to look for the chance to do. Whenever you can do that when the
field doesn't want to is a good opportunity. Quiet or nagging grades are good
Then the big downhill back to town. Too many cars for comfort really. I used to
match their pace, but that was in old speed limit days...also on 53-12! 52-13
just didn't cut it. Then I rode up to the Springs and had a swim. What a great
day! Hurray. Brought back old memories. What a lovely, splendid place for a
swim, too! Springfed, not crowded. A lovely courtyard setting. We filled our RV
water supply there. Can't beat it! Then we drove on back to Michigan!
So, all in all on this trip, I had two great rides in Boulder, one lovely evening hilly
ride in Missouri, a superfast urban ride in Phoenix, a splendid desert pass ride
outside of Phoenix, a short prairie ride in Dodge City after watching the rodeo,
and a wonderful rim ride at the Grand Canyon, with hardly a tourist
in sight, just a couple shuttlebuses (no cars allowed!). What a fine bunch of rides!
And many of them in the Big Ring, surprisingly enough. Musta been the
energy buildup in the RV. Or maybe I'm finally getting some riding in.
Now, what to do about those 30 extra pounds? Club rides coming up!
We'll see if my Boulder rides do me any lasting good! :)
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