October 2, 2016 – Sun and clouds, 75 degrees
Miles Today: 57
Miles to Date: 17,264
States to Date: 45
I woke this morning to rosy pink light highlighting the stucco surfaces of the houses in the new subdivision north of Pueblo. As I admired the light my eyes fell on the emerald oval of grass, a front lawn sparkling wet from dawn-timed sprinklers. The brilliant green, so false in this high desert, left a sour taste in my psyche. My hosts are conscientious people; recycling advocates new to an area of the country where recycling is still news. But if you move to Pueblo and buy a subdivision house, it will be big, it will have conventional heat and air conditioning, it won’t be oriented for solar, and it will have a lawn. Unsustainable development is not just allowed. It is the norm. It is all that’s available.
My remedy for feeling adrift is, of course, riding my bike. I began with fourteen miles of delightful Sunday cycling traversing the length of Pueblo from its northern limit through empty downtown past the riverwalk (the Arkansas River runs through Pueblo), along historic Union Street and the Victorian mansions of South Pueblo.
By the time I passed a gas station / convenience store cloaked in stylized font as ‘Mindful Eating’ that also touted 99 cent fountain Pepsi and free lighters with cigarettes, my endorphins had pressed me into good enough mood to laugh at such folly. Obviously, the proprietors have never read Michael Pollen’s In Defense of Food which contains the sage advice, “Never fill up your car and your stomach at the same place.”
Finally, the pavement gave out and I had to ride the I-25 shoulder. Okay, okay, I didn’t HAVE to ride the I-25 shoulder. But when the three options to cycle from Pueblo to Walsenburg are: a) 119 miles on two lane mountain roads, b) 75 miles of dirt roads in the plains, or c) 55 miles of smooth pavement, half along I-25, I opted for the easy choice. On a Sunday morning with a faint tailwind and excellent shoulder, I-25 was as good as Interstate riding gets. I tuned out the passing noise and focused on the breathtaking landscape beyond.
Walsenburg is a sweet little town that gained some notoriety a few years ago for downzoning to accommodate tiny house neighborhoods. I rode to the areas where the proposed tiny house villages would be built: nothing yet. Still, the town has a cool library carved out of a defunct school and nice mom and pop motels that beat the chains. No sprinklered lawns here.