Barefoot Pedaling and Heavy Winds: Day 33 and 34

05/22 (Day 33)

My body felt as if there was a party balloon full of happiness expanding inside me ready to burst as I pedaled along the open Colorado road bare foot and bare chested.

Inspired again to be on my bicycle, I was flooded with joy. A bike is a magical thing and I often find that I can cure any boredom, or sadness of any sort just by getting on a bike and going for a ride. It’s fun, good for you, and good for the planet. What a great combination.

I woke up at 6:00, the crack of dawn, at Adams house and was excited to get back on the road after nearly five days of hanging out in Boulder and Denver. A new world awaited me. A world of flat open spaces, of vast fields of green and endless skies of blue, and roads that would be a breeze to peddle on compared to the mountains I had just climbed. The sun was hot and the wind was in my face but at most parts of the day that didn’t stop me from cruising at 15-20 miles per hour, excited to break my record day on the road. By 2:00 I had already pedaled 60 barefoot miles. The possibilities were endless with my bare feet on the pedals and I had my first 100-mile day in sight with a shot at even more.

I recorded this rant on my phone later in the evening.

“I’m so freaking mad right now. 20+ mph winds are coming straight from the east blasting me in the face. Winds are generally supposed to go from west to east in this country but for this entire trip it’s been coming from the east and making everything so much harder. The wind this morning was subtle but as of a few hours ago I’m going just 3 or 4 miles per hour rather than the 15-20 mph that I should be doing. It’s not even a matter of gusts of wind. It’s a consistent, non-stop 20 mph wind straight at me. Yeah right down hill to Kansas City, it’s been up hill most of the day. This is no easier by any means than crossing the Rocky Mountains and one million times more frustrating. I’ve been roaring in anger at the top of my lungs over and over and over. I’m so mad right now. This is just absolutely horrible. But I’m getting close to a 100-mile day. Imagine with the wind at my back this could have been a 100-mile day two or three hours ago. Instead it’s 8:00 at night and I’m pedaling at a quarter of the speed of what I could be doing. Ahhhhhh I thought the hard part was over and instead I am the most frustrated and mad that I’ve been so far on the trip. And to make matters worse the forecast for tomorrow is for even stronger winds straight out of the east. STRAIGHT OUT OF THE EAST! If I had this wind at my back I could be breezing through this dang stretch of the highway. And what is with all of these hills? Every time I go over a hill there is another one straight ahead of me with the wind blasting me backwards. I’m going to make it. I am going to make it. I just wish the wind was going in my direction but I’m going to make it. And on the bright side I just found a half a bag of chex mix on the side of the road. Yeah baby!”

Eventually I made it to Anton and ended the day after pedaling 102 miles. I achieved my first 100 mile day today and it was barefoot. Two pretty big achievements for me but man did it destroy me. Anton had nothing but a few horses and a gas station and before pitching my tent behind some old buildings I walked over to the horses to say hello. I didn’t know if it was possible after the frustrating evening but they brought happiness back into my body. I fed them grass and pet them and their presence rejuvenated me. Pledges for “Barefootin’ for Sustainability” are up to 72 cents per mile so I raised about $75 today by cycling barefoot. Now that is something I could be proud of.

05/23 (Day 34)

What a completely miserable night. I stayed up until almost 12:30 in my tent writing and catching up on emails and when I finally went to bed I was awoken just three hours later with the wind blowing my tent around like a rag doll. The tent walls were blowing in from every direction and I felt like I was being punched repeatedly by my tent. It was so noisy I couldn’t sleep at all. I was wide awake and filled with anger and frustration. I laid there for a good half hour or more not knowing what to do and eventually dragged my tent and everything inside into an old dusty abandoned building. In there I could hear the wind howling like a banshee through the trees but I was mostly protected inside. The wind must have been blowing at close to 30 mph.

When I woke up I was amazed to find that it was 9:30 already. I felt horrible. My throat was horse, my pee was bright yellow, it was cold out and the skys were dreary and grey in every direction. It was looking like a horrible day ahead. The forecast called for wind all day long, picking up every hour until reaching 20-30 mph winds again.

My goal as of last night was to leave early this morning before the winds picked up too much but the cold, mist, clouds, and horrible night destroyed any chances of that happening. Besides all that horrible news there is no local food out here, and the signs inside the tiny market advise against drinking the water due to high levels of nitrates so I can only imagine how full of nitrates the water I scooped up from a farm pond yesterday is. It was the only water I saw in nearly 100 miles. I haven’t actually drank any yet and I will dump it out if I find a better source. So I’m expecting today to be a battle and on top of that I’m going shoeless for the entire day. Also my legs are the sorest they have been yet on the entire trip from battling the wind all evening yesterday when I was expecting a breeze.

It was noon by the time I got on the road and the dreary skies appeared as if they would accompany me all day along with the daunting winds. I set my goal of fifty miles for the day but hoped to somehow manage seventy-five. The winds whipped across the open land all day long and rarely let up for a second. I fought hard for every foot, every yard and every mile. This easy breezy land I yearned for so badly is turning out to be quite breezy, as in 20-25 mph winds breezy. And I’m not talking about gusts of wind. I am talking about morning until night pounding in the face all day long wind. I wanted to give up all day and just 25 miles in I even laid down on the side of the road contemplating setting up my tent and giving up for the day.

Somehow by 7:00 I had eked out forty miles though. The fact that I had made it that distance spoke very highly of a saying that I’ve been muttering aloud to myself almost every day and that is “one pedal at a time.” I just keep on turning my pedals and it always gets me farther along. Today I counted the number of pedals it took to get me between the mile markers and I counted between 625 and 775 each marker. Mile after mile I counted the pedals this afternoon and it really helped me make it through the day. All I had to do was count around 700 pedals and I knew I would be one mile closer to my goal. Their was no sun today which meant almost no communication with the outside world since my phone was nearly dead and no listening to music or taking voice memos about the day.

The road turned north a bit which allowed me to jam out another ten miles pretty rapidly and then I finished off another handful of miles and made it to Idalia, Colorado where I would spend the night after finishing the day at 54 hard earned miles. I knocked on a door of a small house to ask if they had a garage I could sleep in to get out of the crazy wind and a very nice older lady answered. She recommended trying the one restaurant in town, which I did but first I talked to her for a bit and entertained myself. 145 families live in town and they are building a new school right now. I sat inside the busy restaurant for an hour on the Internet but didn’t have any luck with finding a place indoors to sleep. Around 11:00 I set up my tent outside in a corner hidden from the wind and now it is 1:00 and I’m finally going to go to bed. The wind is howling through the trees and there is a chance for thunderstorms tonight. I looked at a more detailed forecast and it appears the next 450 miles to Kansas City will be into the wind. This may end up being the most challenging leg of the trip.

UPDATE ON Barefootin’ for Sustainability:

156 total barefoot miles pedaled

94 cents per mile pledged total!

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This adventure is now a book! Dude Making a Difference is the exciting and inspirational story of my bike ride across the USA on a bamboo bike. Go to www.RobGreenfield.tv/Dude to get a copy or learn more about it. 100% of my proceeds are donated to environmental grassroots nonprofits!