Today was defined by extremes: challenges, pushing physical limits, human kindness and the generosity Of strangers. The morning started with a reluctant (at least for Sara and I) 6 am wake up. Sara really didn’t want to face the day, but the promise of reaching Barbara Nye’s Alpaca farm finally motivated her. We rode down the street to Lambpkins for breakfast. Around 8 we were riding out of town with full bellies, and trying not to think too much about the 3,000 foot climb ahead of us. We met three CDT (Continental Divide Trail) hikers yesterday, and saw some of them walking out of town as we rode by. The CDT and GDMBR cross and share some trail through this area, and Lincoln is a trail town for both bikers and hikers.
The route started off as a gradual well graded climb, but by around mike 10 it became increasingly steep. The profile map showed a climb far more steep than anything we’d done yet, and I was half nervous / half hoping it wouldn’t be as bad as it looked. It ended up being so much harder than it looked. There was an initial steep pitch with loose rock that took my breath away, but was doable. I prayed that was the only stretch like that. There followed some decently graded road that was encouraging. Then the real challenge started. Over 1,500 feet of very steep, poor quality road with loose rocks and uneven, washed out gulleys with nary a line to find. It was endless, relentless and punishing. Of course we hit this section as the sun neared it’s zenith, pounding down with almost no shade in which to find respite. Andrew and Tom just put their bikes into low gear and powered up. But Sara and I did not have that strength or lung capacity available. On three different sections, Tom and Andrew heroically sped to the top of the section of hill, then ran back to either take our bikes while we walked, or helped push us up the steepest parts.
Andrew’s strength and unquestioning willingness to not only do this extremely difficult thing once, but turn around to help his sister and do the hardest sections again amazes me. I don’t know where his depth of generosity, grit and kindness comes from, but I deeply admire the person he is and the man he is becoming.
This climb pushed me to my limits - it’s the first time on this trip I thought I might not be able to do it. But, because the guys just showed up for us and gave us the boost we desperately needed, we all made it.
The first reward for conquering Poormans pass was a fast and fun descent. Andrew had an emergency mechanical issue with his panier rack that slowed us down a bit. A bolt attaching the rack to his frame had broken off. Tom did a temporary repair with zip ties, and we zoomed the rest of the way to the lama farm.
Our first sight of this little piece of magical trail paradise was an image of a cyclist painted on the barn roof. We were greeted by friendly dogs as we rolled in, and seeing the bicycles decorating the fence and “welcome” flags, we felt immediately we’d arrived at a special place.
We were greeted by John, one of the two trail angels who operate this quirky and wonderful biker refuge. They have converted sheds into little bunk houses, and also have a teepee, tiny cabin and plenty of tenting space for weary riders. After orienting us, he led us to the cool shaded back porch where there was a refrigerator stocked with sandwiches, sodas, cold water and beer.
Once we had sandwiches and cold drinks in hand, he explained the fee structure while we gleefully sipped and munched away. Everything is completely free of charge. They simply ask that we pay it forward and spread the kindness we received today.
Throughout the afternoon we were treated with one treat and kindness after another: ice cream bars, fresh baked cookies and an amazingly generous offer to drive our gear into town to make the long hade day ahead of us tomorrow a little easier.
I am going to bed tonight feeling heart full. There are such good people on this planet, and being out here doing this crazy hard thing, we are rewarded with the gift of encountering what are surely some of the kindest and most generous people out there. I am inspired to truly embrace the oath to pay it forward and spread kindness. Crys