Heading home…

October 26, 2016

Well, that’s it – it’s been a great couple of weeks but today we’re off to the airport for the trip home. It’s safe to say we won’t be enjoying quite so many warm sunny days and deep blue skies as we have in the last fortnight. For readers of this blog, this may or may not come as a relief.

See you back in Mud Island…

Are you Sick ..

October 24, 2016

… of all the blue skies and sunny bike path shots yet? We aren’t, but you may be relieved to hear we’re heading home on Wednesday. So we’ve been getting all the vitamin D we can while we may.

Meanwhile can I interest you in some scenery?

Royal Gorge

Onion rings as big as your head?

Giant onion rings

Oh, okay, not quite as big as your head. But they were definitely scouring all the county fairs to source the winners of the ‘heaviest onion’ competition …

Not that everything in America is supersized: have a tiny little snake (it was pretty quick to get out of our way)

tiny snake

And the UK is not alone in over-engineering bike crossings – this is the lead up to what is essentially a car park.

Ahead Stop sign

It’s still a fab bike path though. And we discovered this morning that a warm dry headwind is so much more pleasant than a cold wet one.

We are so not ready to go back to Scotland…

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