It was nice to wake up this morning knowing that there was no need to roll out of bed and hit the road. Although I am now so used to an early wake up call that I only managed to sleep in 06.30. I had a bit of an admin day today, planning the route for the next week, doing some laundry and getting my head around all the climbing I’ve got to do.
I spent most of the day trying to get my bike checked out – after all the trouble I’ve had with it I feel it’s a necessary precaution. I had selected my motel based on it’s proximity to the bike shop, and so set out just before 10.00 intending to get there for opening, I rolled up bang on time – only to find that ‘Bob’s Bikes’ had closed down. I had a look at the map and saw that there was another shop on the other side of the city, about 5 miles away. I was dubious as it was billed as a ‘ski, bike and hike’ shop but I decided to give it a try anyway and was glad I did. It now specializes in bikes, and so the guys there knew what they were talking about, and were able to service my bike. I left it with them for most of the day and picked it up around 16.00. To my releif, for the first time this trip, a bike shop reported that my bike was in full working order and needed no drastic adjustments! I did however opt to replace my front tyre as I doubt I’ll be able to find a decent replacement if it wears out in the mountains.
I had noticed that a lot of the signs here provide information in both English and Spanish. There is a strong Mexican influence here (as the name ‘Pueblo’ might suggest), it was founded in 1842 to provide a center for trade with Mexico. At the time the nearby Arkansas river formed part of the US/Mexico boarder. The upshot of this influence is that, amongst other things, Pueblo is famous for it’s Mexican food so I decided to it a try whilst waiting for my bike. Despite an outrageously efficient waitress the food lives up to it’s firey reputation.
Over the last couple of days I have been trying to decide whether or not to ship my camping gear back to the UK. So far camping has not really been an option – and it looks set to stay that way. The maps for the next section of the route note that until June a lot of the campsites have no running water and others remain closed. Add to this that I have also been worried about the integrity of my rack, given the modifications it needed in Pittsburg. Plus, I was told by one of the guys at the bike shop, who used to work as a ranger in one of the nearby national parks, that he would strongly discourage anyone from camping at this time of year as the weather can be so changeable. You can go to sleep in warm calm weather and be hit by a blizzard overnight. In the mountains a lot of the weather systems are so localized they are hard to predict – there can be radically different weather in adjacent valleys However, my rack was given the all clear, I decided that if it can take the weight I’d rather have some kind of emergency shelter should I get hit by severe weather in the middle of nowhere.
I’m looking forward to the mountains tomorrow, I’ve been able to have a distant look at them while riding around town today. However I was reading that in 1806, an expedition led by Captain Zebulon Pike exploring the western bounderies of the Louisiana Purchase saw the moutains and decided to climb one of the distant peaks. The mountain in question looked to be a day’s journey away from his fort, so he and his men set out with limited supplies to attempt to climb it. After two days they had not reached the mountain, and were forced to return to camp – despite his faliure it’s still known as Pike’s Peak. So I still have a way to go before I start the real climbing, but am going to start bright and early nonetheless.