The tour is now over, and I’ve made it to Telluride. The trip was great. It was a long trip, a hard trip, and a good trip. Those were the words of another bicycle tourist I met along the road who had just made his way to Jerusalem from Germany. I understand them pretty well now. Germans sometimes have a way of expressing things in the purest form, especially Germans who are speaking to you in E.S.L. which they almost invariably are. So, now, I have stolen Stefan’s summation to his bicycle tour. (He was, coincidentally, named Stefan). “It was a long trip, a hard trip, and a good trip…”
The final phase of the Seize The World tour began in Moab, Utah. It was an appropriate place for the conclusion to begin in the sense that Moab is one of the largest cycling Meccas of the world. Perhaps the largest of all. In Moab, you can see billboards that advertise hotels where bicycles are welcome. I was more interested, however, in a billboard that advertised a $9 bed at the Lazy Lizard Hostel after finding out about it when my friend Kelby commented on my status on Facebook, mentioning that there were $9 beds at the Lazy Lizard. My status said that I was in Moab and his comment asked if I was staying at the Lazy Lizard, $9/night. It is interesting to think the things that occurred during this journey which would not have occurred had I not posted a status update listing my location. One such thing was a one night stay at the Lazy Lizard.
The Lazy Lizard is exactly what you might expect to find for $9/night. I did not know that such places still existed, and the Lazy Lizard is one of the last remaining gems in terms of hostels, anywhere in the world. It has a kind of disgusting authenticity that cannot be built or replicated. It is a two-story house with exposed framing inside and shag carpet on the floors. The hostel is really warm inside after coming in from riding around in 28 degree weather. The heaters warm your soul and confuse your nostrils. There is a TV room downstairs that always has a few interesting conversations going on to be overheard. While I was there, the movies that were playing were “The Craft,” and “Shocker.” I stuck around for “The Craft,” but decided to pass on “Shocker” in favor of going out to Pizza Hut to post the last update to this website. If you want to read that story, click the link. In the morning, I took off from Moab, making my way toward Paradox, Colorado where I planned to meet my friend Suzanne Redd. I also hoped to meet my Dad along the road that day.
I was now riding my bicycle – this bicycle! – between Moab and Telluride for the second time. The first time I’d done the ride had been in September of 2008, just a few days before setting out on the Seize The World tour. That occasion had been on the Mountains to the Desert ride, a 1-day group ride from Telluride to Moab (now the ride has changed, and goes to Gateway rather than Moab…I do not know the details) with more than 100 people. It was pretty awesome. I smiled as I rolled slowly out of Moab on my touring bike, laden with its various bags and gear, thinking about the different circumstances of Mountains to Desert, when I had been riding in lycra with nothing but a couple of water bottles and Power Gel. I could not quite decide which way was the better way to travel between Moab and Telluride. Both were pretty awesome. The scenery is spectacular. After a few miles, I spotted my Dad rolling toward me in the Geo Tracker. We had connected, just as planned.
My Dad took all but one of my panniers with him along the ride that day. I was headed to Paradox, Colorado where our friend Suzanne Redd had offered a place for me to stay for the night. It wound up being really nice to catch up with her and to spend some time hearing stories about life in Paradox, which is one of the most beautiful places in the world, and also one of the most empty. She told me about life in the Valley for her grand parents, and about growing up there before roads were paved, about ranching as a kid, and, basically, about living in a place where you are a long way from anything. I was in a trance as I listened and as I absorbed heat from the wood pellet stove. I enjoyed the feeling of being full from having eaten a steak and a baked potato a little while earlier. My Dad was resting on the couch, and the Utah Jazz was (were?) getting destroyed by the L.A. Lakers quietly on the T.V. set while we sat in the living room. Suzanne has a house on the NE side of the valley, which would approximately be located just below the line of the shadow in the photo below, where the valley becomes flat. In her living room, there is a giant square window that overlooks the entire valley, which is lit up by various shades of purple and orange at sunrise/sunset. It is an amazing place, though it is very desolate. Suzanne would not live anywhere else. Cities drive her crazy, though she visits them frequently. She will tell you about places all over the country and in Europe, but but Paradox is home for her.
As you make your way through Paradox Valley, you pass through the town of Bedrock. You know that you are there because you see the Bedrock store, established in 1881. I found out a little bit about the store from its owner, Rosemary, when I stopped there for coffee in the morning on my way to Norwood. The store doubles as a liquor store, and also as an unofficial museum because it is so old and so interesting. Before I left I bought a six pack of fat tire to put in my empty front panniers (thanks Dad for taking my gear!) and entertained thoughts of purchasing the store myself, turning it into a non-profit foundation, opening a museum, raising cattle, and . . . but then I remembered that there is absolutely nobody in Bedrock. And that I didn’t have any money. But for the right person/people, or investor it seems like it would be pretty awesome. And for the time being, Rosemary is there running the Bedrock store. And somebody has been out there running it since 1881. Remarkable. For less than most houses, you could be the next owner of this place. Call the Bedrock Store and ask for Rosemary if this dream sounds good to you…970-859-7395.
As I made my way along, I crossed various cattle guards. I don’t know why they even bother with cattle guards in Paradox valley. The ranchers fence off areas that enclose such huge stretches of land that it seems as though it’s just a waste of money. Cattle surely get lost within the vast confines of the fences anyway. As it is, they wander around on the roads, up the sides of the valley, etc. Trucks with ranchers drive around slowly up and down the road herding the cows around. These particular cows seemed to be holding their ground pretty firmly as I approached, but fortunately they were willing to allow me to pass in the left lane.
These cows were walking in a drafting line to cover a longer distance as they moved from the east side of the valley toward the west side of the valley. I doubt that they even know about the fences around them.
At last I reached Naturita. “Stop and Enjoy a Little Nature.” My Dad used to live in Naturita four a couple of years. When I was in school we used to play baseball against Naturita. Feeling pretty close to home…
Now, I am feeling quite close to home – Placerville is 16 miles from Telluride.
I had been making my way toward my friend Juju’s house that day. JuJu was with me on Day One of the tour, and I had been hoping that he might be able to join for the last day as well. It was pretty awesome to spot the tiny form of a cyclist as I pedaled toward his house in Norwood, and know that it was JuJu, having pedaled out to meet me along the road. Earlier in the week, I had been communicating with Daniel Murray, a friend in Telluride, who had spread the word to JuJu and a few other friends that I would be making my way into town and that if people wanted to join for the last bit of cycling that they should. JuJu responded by offering a place to stay at his home in Norwood where he lives with Laurel, where they have many animals, and have, essentially, created a world unique unto itself.
The ride is beginning to come full circle here – 2nd to last day of the tour. Click here to see a photograph of day one.
Once JuJu and I made our Rendez-Vous between Naturita and Norwood, things became somewhat mystical. The light up on the high plains near Norwood is often spectacular, and that day was no exception. I was duly impressed. But when various different types of wild and domestic animals began to make appearances, I reached the point of being amazed. We were circled continuously along the way by various red-tailed hawks, scouted by deer, paced by dogs, and, at one point, we were overtaken by a pair of galloping horses running not more than ten feet from the side of the road, and our bicycles. We were alerted to their presence by the sound of their hooves crunching through the ice. The entire experience reminded me of the scene in Mars Attacks when all of Mother Nature comes forth to embrace the few remaining human survivors after the Martians have been killed. Then Tom Jones begins to sing, “It’s Not Unusual.”
Once the riding day was finished, JuJu and I arrived at his and Laurel’s amazing house in Norwood where they have sheep, a Llama, a lamb, a dog, and a cat. I was pretty happy there. The Llama is named Denny, the dog Chola, and the cat Peanut – but don’t quote me on the names. We were waiting for friends from Telluride to arrive, and Laurel was cooking what was to be an amazing dinner of Ram Stew.
Chola the Dog. It does not matter how many times you throw the piece of wood, or how far. She brings it back to you and throws it at your leg.
Denny the Llama. I think.
Friends arrived from Telluride to join for the final leg of the journey. Laurel cooked a spectacular dinner for everyone, and then drove my panniers to Telluride. I felt a bit guilty to not finish the ride with my panniers. But not guilty enough to not ditch the bags. Thanks Laurel!
David Brankley was there on day one and he was also there on the final day! Click here to see a photograph of day two!
Being very happily rested and having eaten amazing food the night before and during the morning, our group was assembled for the final day. Daniel Murray, in yellow, played a big role in organizing everyone and their schedules to go out to Norwood for the final leg of the tour, and it was a remarkable experience to see it all come together at JuJu and Laurel’s house during the final evening/morning of Seize The World! Thanks Daniel! And thank you everybody for coming to Norwood and taking time to ride along for the final day of the tour, it meant a lot and was a great experience!
Dave LeFevre (Dave is in the below photo) was riding the Surly Big Dummy – it is actually called the Big Dummy. I was pretty excited when I found out that he would be on the Big Dummy. The last time that I was on a bike ride with Dave LeFevre, JuJu Jullien and Daniel Murray all on the same day was on the ’08 Mountains to the Desert ride from Telluride to Moab. They did not all realize at the time that we were all there at the same time – neither did I – but I have since reconstructed the situation in my brain. We all started at the same time, but everyone else was in Moab drinking beer about 2 or 3 hours before I got there. That was right about the time that I was passing the white Catholic Church in the photo above, rolling by slowly, praying.
During the days leading up to my arrival in Norwood, as I learned about the nature of the group that was assembling to meet me there, my only thought was, “My ass is gonna get dropped.” I was once on a ride with Dave when he was out front, and he kept hearing a clicking that he thought was the sound of me behind him. Naturally, he sped up a bit. After the ride, he discovered that the noise was just his derailleur, and that I was nowhere to be seen.
That is why I was happy to find out that Dave was on the Big Dummy for this ride! At least there was hope.
I also discovered that Nick LeClaire would be carrying a backpack full of beers. And that he would be wearing a ski helmet. All of these factors added up to my feeling better about my lot in life!!
It pretty much goes without saying that Daniel Murray is fast as hell too. At least it does in Telluride, but I will write it down here for those of you who are not from Telluride or surrounding areas. When I asked him about the Ophir Hill Climb this year, he said, “No, I didn’t win,” and JuJu joked that he backed off because his trophy room was getting a bit too full. Yep…that’s probably about right.
So our group had been assembled. We set out at a very casual pace, everyone riding the more interesting bikes from their quivers…JuJu on a 29″ Salsa Fargo, David on a new Specialized Crossroads, Daniel on his Ti ‘Cross bike (he informed me that it has 4000+ miles on it after he has now owned it for about 2 weeks or something like that), Dave borrowing JuJu’s Big Dummy (which JuJu had sold on Craigslist that morning to a guy in Crested Butte…yet to be delivered)…and Nick, of course, on Old Trusty. His Trek Mtn. Bike. It was a great mix of bikes and bicyclists. At the end of the day, Dave said that the day felt like going out for a bike ride as a kid, just having fun. That was pretty much it.
Daniel was probably making an effort to go casual on this particular day, on his ‘cross bike which has fenders and so on, but even so, he cannot help but just not carry anything . . . I envied the setup a bit, and was reminded of day one when I only had 2 panniers and a handlebar bag. Daniel explained that he tours with a trailer – perhaps so that he can more-easily finish his touring days, take off the trailer, and go out for a spin on his ‘cross bike to get a bit of training in?
As we rolled along, I noticed at one point that David’s shirt (not Dave…two different people) had 50s style pinup girls on it. This put a smile on my face.
It was a group that could be assembled in few places around the world, and I was happy that Telluride was one of them because Telluride is my home.
Once we reached the 3-mile bike path that runs along the Valley Floor in Telluride, we opened beers and enjoyed a celebratory ride into town…Champagne is traditional along the Champs Élysées, brews seemed appropriate along the Valley Floor.
Nick leads the pack through Norwood Canyon.
It was pretty nice to roll into town, and as there usually are when trying to finish a project, there were a few small obstacles…a climb up Keystone Hill, some dark clouds during the final few miles, and some surprisingly treacherous ice along the bike path (it caused one minor spill in our party). All of it seemed to be there for dramatic effect, however. More to emphasize the absurdly high morale that our group seemed to be feeling. Or at least that I was feeling. The wash-boarded black ice on Main Street in Telluride was surprisingly treacherous. My inner monologue as I rode past my smiling parents and a small collection of people who had come out to welcome me home did not really involve anything beyond, “don’t crash don’t crash don’t crash don’t crash don’t crash…” Fortunately that did not happen, and our group concluded its tour safely in front of the Courthouse in Telluride, exactly where we had started out. The tour had taken 1 year 3 months and 28 days according to timeanddate.com. It began on October 15, 2008 and it finished on February 12, 2010.
I was very glad to see my Mother, Susan, who flew out from Los Angeles for the occasion. It was great to see her, and absolutely incredible that she was able to make it!
After a bit of time spent savoring the moment on main street, our group made its way to Fat Alley for a celebratory lunch. I had spent many nights thinking about eating a Beef Brisket and 1/4lb. of fries at Fat Alley while on the road. The moment had arrived!
The food was the most incredible of the entire trip. Fat Alley is as good as it gets. We went to pay for the meal to treat our friends to lunch for that day, and Robbie, who owns Fat Alley, would not allow anyone to pay. A meal on the house. Absolutely fantastic, and all after similar kindness at the beginning of the tour when catering a fundraiser. Fat Alley has been a huge help for us!
While we were there, Katie Klingsporn came from the Daily Planet to ask a few questions about the bicycle ride, and then she wrote a story about it later that afternoon – very awesome! Throughout the Seize the World tour, Katie, Matt, and Telluride Daily Planet have been amazing in terms of running stories about Seize the World from time to time, which keeps Telluride aware of what is going on with us. A great help!
So…the tour is over. Now, the focus is on sharing the experience, and on ensuring that the story remains accessible for all eternity. That is something that will require more thought and more work, and I will keep you updated on the details here.
As for now, I am still riding a wave of euphoria after finishing this trip – everything is still feeling so much better. It feels so good to put on a down jacket over a cotton t-shirt and to not have 4 layers on. To not have sunscreen on. To comb my hair (?!), to sell things on eBay, to hang out all day in the house, to see Cheyenne the cat, to spend evenings having dinner with my Dad, and to know that I can do all those things again tomorrow. They are all more enjoyable after a long trip. A hard trip. A good trip.