1 State Down, 4 To Go

First off, a quick note - we're totally failing on this blogging thing, but doing pretty well with videos, so if you want actually interesting updates, check out the Youtube Channel for What the Kuss

First week to Vernal, Utah was mixed with some amazing highs and lows, literally and figuratively. We peaked @ an elevation of 10,343' over Ripple Creek Pass, which was 1 of 3 passes over 10k' we had to haul the loaded tandem over, in all it was nearly 30,000' feet of climbing - much of which was over the gravel county road 8 through White River National Forest, which rendered our pedals useless and left us pushing the rig on foot, about 20 miles in total. The scenery, however, during this stretch, was the best of the entire trip - untouched Swiss-alps-like jaggy peaks, with rolling green meadows and alpine lakes that are unmatched in beauty as far as I'm concerned. Along the way we also (accidentally) discovered some ghost towns which cannot be found on a map, which were wholly unexpected and fun to have discovered. Our legs are still getting in shape, but are getting stronger slowly but surely. The soreness, of every variety, is everywhere and extreme as we continue to push boundaries and mileage utilizing the daily newfound capacity for speed and climbing. In western Colorado and eastern Utah, we stick out like sore thumbs wearing our masks into gas stations for hot food and water fill-ups -- pandemic? What pandemic? There's no pandemic out here. We continue to use caution everywhere we go. A few stats on accommodations the first 9 days of the tour:

Friends: 2
Campsites: 3
Hotels: 4

This deviated from our original plan a bit, which would have been 2 fewer hotels in exchange for 1 Friend and 1 Campsite night. As we're writing this from a motel in Myton, Utah, we are defrosting from a pretty hard day of major highway pedaling (not fun) followed by some extreme unexpected weather (cold + rain + wind), which rendered both of us nearly incapable of functioning -- numb hands and feet + poor vision due to driving rain with goggles on. If it hadn't been for an absurdly kind garbage truck driver passing by who recognized our predicament, who let Becca warm up in his truck for a few minutes (while standing outside with Mikey in the rain), today may have ended up not so great. Believe in the kindness of strangers.

Colorado Route - not exactly the direct route due to the detour around Rocky Mountain National Park / Trail Ridge Road, whose website had indicated that it was open to pedestrians / bikes -- no complaints though, because the scenery was un-freakin real. The extra 100 miles and additional climbing was totally worth it, best riding of the whole trip thus far.

Some fun photos of the week
Leaving the house! Seeya in 3 months!

Ride-along crew, morning of Day 1. Many good friends we hadn't seen in months due to the pandemic.

Series of hilarious and well-timed hummingbird photobomb at Canyonside Campground:

Becca found her spot at Canyonside Campground

"Another day, another pass" - first of 3 big ones above 10k'
Made it to our first rest stop in Kremmling, CO!

Had some time to do some watercolors in Kremmling on our rest day - sorry it's sideways :\
Lakeside campsite on night 5
Tired tandem, sleeping in White River National Forest

Sunset over campsite on night 5

Shooting + camping in Windy Gulch - what could possibly go wrong?

Made it to Utah! Along US 40, Day 7 
Thawing out on (pedaling) Day 8

Roadside stop along Trail Ridge Road, Day 1
"The Daily Calf" - Day 1

"The Daily Calf" - Day 3
"The Daily Calf" - Day 8

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