Step Aside, Coffeeneuring…

October 22, 2016

… There’s a new challenge in town: whereby you cycle to one of Pueblo’s many fine Mexican restaurants (the other half is starved of decent Mexican food in the UK; there don’t seem to be many restaurants that haven’t gone down the comedy sombrero/tequila shots route) and then attempt to cycle off even one tenth of the calories you have consumed in 80 degree heat.

distant smoke

The original plan had been to go to the mountains, but the fire is still raging out west and the air would have been full of smoke

This is not helped by stopping off at the Dairy Creme on the way home although in end all we had was a fresh lemonade slushy. When the water in your water bottle has turned the temperature of used bathwater, this turns out to be the most incredible drink ever.

Nick's Dairy Creme

Sadly, I don’t think it qualifies under even the new laxer coffeeneuring regime as ‘coffee’. So we’ll just have to cycle off in search of qualifying beverages tomorrow instead…

The Tough Go Shopping

October 21, 2016

I had a birthday related errand to run yesterday, which meant getting myself to the mall under my own steam. Perhaps surprisingly, the Pueblo Mall is one of those places that is fairly easy to get to by bike, as it’s connected to the river cycle path.

to the mall

The route takes you under the road, and while it mightn’t be very welcoming after dark (you know you’re not in the best of neigbourhoods when you’re cycling over discarded ‘hungry and homeless’ signs) it beats the heck out of tangling with Highway 50

acres of tarmac

From there, the mall is within sight. It’s just a matter of crossing approximately an acre of tarmac to get there. This is good sprinting practice because you don’t get the green man for very long. I have to admit, there may have been jaywalking done, once I’d figured out which way the traffic was (or wasn’t) coming from

Shopping done, I decided to stop off at the Goodwill (think UK charity shop, but then scale it up to about the size of a middleweight Tesco, complete with shopping carts and checkouts) to pick up some emergency hot-weather clothes as the heat wave is scheduled to return. That meant crossing the road again – all 6 lanes of it. It wasn’t as if there were many cars, but they were spread out enough that I didn’t feel entirely comfortable judging the gap. As you may have gathered, these roads are wiiiiiide. Add in the fact that my brain kept wanting me to look the wrong way, and I might still be there, dithering, had someone not stopped for me to let me across. I do love Pueblo drivers…

Anyway, for the princely sum of four bucks I am now the proud owner of a nice pair of cream trousers which there would have been absolutely no point my buying new given their practicality on a bike. Oh, and I might have been tempted to get a new light for my bike too


That Time of the Year Again

October 19, 2016

So I wasn’t going to attempt coffeeneuring this year because I’ve been too busy – yes, even at weekends, in fact especially at weekends. In fact, I had more or less forgotten about it to the point where I actually had a qualifying coffee (stopping off to kill half an hour before catching my train home in Glasgow) and only remembered when it was too late to record the occasion as the rules demand. But then on Sunday we ended up stopping for coffee on our bike ride and I remembered all about it and took a photo just in case

coffee and macaroon

Cappucino and coconut macaroon at Pueblo’s Solar Roast

And then this morning we headed off for a wee pootle early on the bikes and realised that more normal October weather had resumed, and it was in fact pretty nippy out there. A strategic coffee stop to warm up was definitely in order. This meant exploring downtown Pueblo’s fine cycling infrastructure:

Pueblo bike lane

Actually, they seem to have been busy putting in bike lanes, nice wide ones by UK standards, although they still run out just when you need them most, and are replaced by sharrows and a ‘bikes may use full lane’ sign. This would matter more if there was much actual traffic, and if the few drivers we did encounter weren’t disconcertingly polite.*

Fifth street parking protected bike lane

The coffee shop we ended up at is on Pueblo’s only parking-protected bike lane, which we have used before but this time we had a purpose (apart from showing the bike lane some love as apparently it is under threat because nobody uses it and the whole parking-on-the-outside arrangement is considered alien and un-American or something).

Good Karma coffee shop

Good Karma coffee shop. Great cinnamon rolls, friendly service, but the bike parking is a little awkward…

Two cafetieres of coffee and two exceedingly sticky cinnamon rolls later we were thawed out and ready to ride across town to the secondhand bookshop, before taking the river path home in the by-now much warmer sunshine.

french presses

If you can think of a better way to spend a morning, let me know.

Oh and for those of you thinking ‘But it’s Tuesday – you can’t coffeeneur on a Tuesday’ the rules have changed and you can now coffeeneur on any day of the week. Which means I might even manage to complete it this year, and on two different continents too.

* I was confused by the pickup driver going very slowly behind us as we coasted round a corner, only to realise that he was patiently waiting for us to go past the turning so he didn’t risk right hooking us.

Burning Issues

October 18, 2016

Sunday ride

Well, we seem to have arrived in Colorado during a heatwave, which would be better if I’d actually packed accordingly. I don’t know about you, but even though I did check the forecast and see that we were looking at some pretty warm days, somehow it’s hard to believe that it isn’t more prudent to pack a jumper or three rather than t-shirts and shorts which is what I could really be doing with. Not that I’m hoping for cooler weather, mind – there’s no such thing as too hot – but I’m certainly testing to destruction the claims that merino is magic at any temperature …

reflections in the lake

Anyway, the weather has made for nice sitting-out-on-the-porch type activities, which is fine by me, but anything more active has meant getting going early. Yesterday we took off after breakfast on the bikes to enjoy the slightly cooler morning and a brisk (the other half doesn’t do any other speed) spin out along the river path to the Nature Center and back, via a coffee stop* in town.

autumn trees

Today was intended to be a hike in the mountains but when we headed out to the car the sky looked rather odd

smokey skies

A grassland fire out towards the mountains was raging away, closing the mountain park and generally giving everything an apocalyptic feel.

smoke filled skies

Perhaps there really is such a thing as too hot after all…

* There’s a risk we may have started coffeeneuring by accident …

You Can Keep your Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness, Frankly

October 15, 2016

‘You’ll be needing this,’ the other half said to me handing me the key to unlock the bike, before heading off with his parents. I had been having, it’s fair to say, a stressful morning: with a lot of stuff I needed to do, a duff Windows update had been causing Word to keep crashing. Eventually, with the help of Twitter and Dr. Google I had managed to back out of the changes and more or less got my computer working again, but it had effectively taken me two hours to get to the point where I could even start the thing I had meant to get done early to allow me to go out and enjoy the delights of a sunny Colorado October day. As it was, I was going to have to stay behind and let the others go out and enjoy themselves without me.

bike on path

Two hours later, I took the other half’s advice and unlocked the bike and took it for a pootle down the river trail. It was too hot to go far (fall in Pueblo is a relative thing – we’re talking 28 degrees celsius, or F hot in Farenheit – so not exactly your crisp cold autumn day) so I contented myself with taking photos.

shaded path

The path was full of grasshoppers that turn themselves magically at your approach from what look like sticks into whirring red-winged creatures, like a butterfly wearing a two-stroke jet pack. I amused myself trying to capture the moment of transformation but my reflexes are not fast enough.


Grasshopper in stick mode

And the trees, while not exactly the firework display you’d get in the north east, were putting on a bit of a show.

tree with autumn leaves

You’d be looking at Pueblo a long time before you mistook it for a beautiful city – but it has its moments.

And then I came back and spent the afternoon on my computer in the shade on the patio.

This is the sort of autumn weather I could get used to.

more autumn colour

Looking Up

October 14, 2016

Well, as journeys to the US go, that wasn’t the smoothest – there’s something about standing in the baggage claim after 24 hours of travelling (with still another hour’s drive to go) and slowly realising that your luggage hasn’t made it … this after a high-speed dash through Dallas airport in an ultimately futile attempt to catch our original connecting flight – and really, nothing appears to give airline employes greater satisfaction than announcing ‘it’s just pushed back’ to two sweating, panting, jetlagged travellers who had been directed to the wrong gate and have just sprinted the length of the terminal.

guest bikes

New and old guest bikes ready and waiting

However, having finally arrived at half past midnight local time – and don’t-even-want-to-think-about-it UK time – it was cheering to be greeted by the sight of a brand new bike waiting for us in the garage. My father-in-law knows that visits from us go more smoothly if there are bikes to be ridden, decent coffee to be drunk and plentiful baked goods and plans accordingly.

sunshine on the river path

Obviously, it’s important to get plenty of time outdoors if you want to get over your jet lag

The blue skies, on the other hand, are laid on as as standard.

Uphill Struggle

October 10, 2016

We’re off to America on Wednesday, which means a sudden concertina-ing of the available time before we go from aaages away to oh help it’s practically upon us. Over the space of the last few days I’ve been in headless chicken mode tackling the ever-growing list of stuff to do, not helped by all the recent gadding about I have been doing in recent weeks. I think we’ll get there, mostly, but it means no time to spare, not to cycle into Bigtown for the paper (the other half was going in anyway), not to get into the garden, despite it being a gloriously sunny morning, not even really to blog.

However, I did have to cycle up to our new Nearest Village, which is also Doctor’s Village to pick up a prescription. This ought to have been a nice lunchtime jaunt – it’s just over three miles to the village – and a nice break from the routine of trips into town and back. I’ve done it a couple of times now, and it’s certainly less hilly than cycling to the doctor used to be, but I just don’t get on with it. It’s partly because it manages to be uphill in both directions, with the bonus of a bidirectional headwind this morning. But it’s mainly because it’s all on a B road with a white line down the middle, and lots of blind bends just for added fun. Most – almost all – of the drivers I encounter are sensible enough to see that overtaking even a bicycle when you can’t see what’s coming is not a brilliant idea and wait until they can see what’s coming before going past me. But every so often there’s one who is carrying a kidney for transplant or is needed to perform life-saving surgery, or perhaps is just an impatient twat, who Must Get In Front who overtakes anyway even though there’s not really enough room to pass me AND stay out of the way of any oncoming traffic that might be coming round the bend. I’ll spare you the rant about why this is not a good idea – I’m sure regular readers of this blog can probably fill in the gaps themselves.

Anyway, I made it, and nobody tried too hard to kill me either today, although there were a couple who had to be discouraged from the cheeky overtake they were gearing up for by a strategic wobble or two on my part. And tomorrow we pack up and head for Glasgow, ready for our Wednesday morning flight. Stand by for tales of sunshine and blue skies, improbably large meals, some low-key cycling, and hopefully not too much in the way of election-related lunacy…

colorado blue skies

Well, I can dream