Saturday, July 2, 2011

Go East, Young Men (part 2)

When we crawled out of our tent on July 2, 1981, this is what we saw:

At some point during the night, violent thunderstorms rolled in. I believe it lasted quite a long time. There was a lot of lightning and it rained really hard. Somehow we slept enough anyway and the little green tent we had kept us pretty dry. The dry creek obviously flash-flooded, pounding all the overgrown weeds down flat. Low lying spots pooled with water.

By first light the storm was gone though, so we readied for day 2 of riding. A little later that day we met someone who told us the storms had been particularly fierce, including big hail in places. This person had heard on the radio that hail was so big it had killed some sheep one county over!

Dave readies for ridin'.

We headed east on Colorado Hwy 14. It was cool and overcast... nice for riding compared to the scorcher the day before. It was us, a few cars, and a lot of big trucks.

Highway 14 east. Beautiful.

One of many....

Roadside rest break...

Mostly the road was straight as an arrow. 27 miles to Raymer... and after 60 miles we arrived in the relatively large town of Sterling, Colorado. It's located on I-76 in the northeast corner of Colorado, on the South Platte River. I think it was here that we learned of the demise of the sheep... I suppose we ate some food. I know we didn't buy much food to carry though. With miles more planned, see, we thought we were smart not to carry all that weight.

Little did we know, this was a problem. After Sterling, we went northeast along the S. Platte River valley, on US 138, and we quickly learned that tiny towns would not necessarily have a store that was open late in the afternoon... if there was a store at all. I think we were ready to stop for the night, but we couldn't find any food! No food in Iliff (current population 213). No food in Proctor (prolly about the same). No food in Crook (current population 128). We were now 27 miles beyond Sterling, tiring and definitely hungry. Teenage. Boys. MUST. EAT!

Dave strikes a pose of frustration after finding yet another closed store.

Still no food in Crook, Colorado. But, we'll pose for a picture...

What to do? Ain't much choice but Ride On! Another 15 miles later we limped into the next town, Sedgwick. We were >100 miles deep in the day now. There had to be a store here. But... there wasn't. Not open anyway. Current population of Sedgwick is 191... gives you the idea. Ain't much goin' on. Uh oh, now what??

Suddenly, the unexpected. Parked down the street was a loaded bike that looked a lot like ours!

We rushed over to investigate. The bike's owner was nowhere in sight. The bike was parked in front of a bar--apparently the only thing happening in town. Uh, were we allowed in a bar? Hell, we were only 18. Ultimately we did not hesitate. Surely we looked completely out of place to any regulars! There was one guy down at an end stool that was not dressed like anyone else. Bike clothes. We had found our rider.

His name was Wolfgang Wolkenaer, from near the city of Köln in West Germany. He was several years old than us, and was in the midst of a massive solo cycle tour all over North America. Most importantly, he was food-smart and had plenty. He was happy to share it. This was good because I think all we could get in the bar was bags of chips and Slim Jims or some mess like that. We all set up camp together in the town park:

Dave & Wolfgang. Sedgwick, Colorado July 2, 1981.

Wolfgang Wolkenaer

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ahhh the little green tent! So many incarnations and uses you have! -Gene