The Joshua Tree Epilogue

It’s been 6 months since my trip to Joshua Tree National Park.

Life is very different from what it was before the trip. Even though it looked like I transitioned back into the hum drum pretty well, I didn’t. I don’t think anyone really does after adventures like that. It’s as if your brain chemistry changes. Nothing is the same ever again.

There is the eternal itch to pack up my bicycle and just ride.

To anywhere.

To nowhere.

To oblivion and back with a detour through hell just for shits and giggles.

To ditch everything I’ve built here in the Denver/Boulder area and just disappear on the open road. As much as I love to ride, it’s hard now to get on the beer bike to commute or get groceries because all I want to do when I start peddling, is to keep going.

When I first started biking (instead of buying a car) in March of 2011, it was just a means to and end. To get somewhere I needed to be. To not spend money on something I didn’t need and saving my carbon foot print for flights to far off destinations. It was practical, logical, and reasonable. Never did I think I would love biking, that it would become so intertwined with my contentment. To go longer than a couple of days without biking, I would become mean, moody, and hate the world.

All because of a bicycle.

The beer bike has become more than just a piece of equipment or a means of transport. It’s a symbol of the the ideas I love most in life. Simplicity, hard work, freedom, perseverance, and as the Taoists say, being the uncarved block, or pu.

In Joshua Tree, I found what so many search for. The stillness of inner peace and the contentment of love and being one with the universe. Every time I get on my bike, I feel it all over again. That’s now why I ride and why I will never stop.

To anywhere and nowhere and all points in between, it’s just me and my bicycle.

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The Jamestown Pancake Adventure

Yep, this bike went that fast. I poop you not.

Yep, this bike went that fast. I poop you not.

Fourth of July has never been a big holiday on my calendar. In my younger years, it was an excuse to drink a lot of beers on an extra day off from the corporate job I disliked. My friends are the only reason I go see the fireworks these days when they decide to do a cruiser ride to someplace like the Mystery Bridge or out to the mesas in Golden. Otherwise, it’s a day like any other.

Not this year.

This year I had heard that a hamlet called Jamestown, just outside of Boulder, had a pancake breakfast and a bike ride.

Oh yeah! That sounds right up my alley.

After waking up way too late for my own good, I set out that morning around 9am with the dreams of pancakes smothered in fake maple syrup still in my head. Google Maps told me I was in for a 34 mile round trip which isn’t out of the ordinary for me but the incline all the way up Lefthand and James Canyon Drives isn’t. But this is why I go bike around Boulder: it challenges me.

As much as I like to cruise the flats, I do actually enjoy it when a ride kicks my ass for a good reason.

Pancakes + beautiful scenery  = good reason

Route 36 heading North out of Boulder isn’t the most beautiful stretch of scenery but I know how fast I can go on it and since there’s always a ton of cyclists on it (especially that day) I felt pretty safe from cars screwing with me. It’s the rollercoaster road…it goes up and down. Maybe next time I’ll check out Old Stage Road like Google had suggested.

Turning onto Lefthand Canyon Drive, there were cars parked all over the shoulder of the road. Nice to know that you can start there instead of biking all the way from Boulder (if you have a car). There is a certain amount of internal giggle-fest that happens in me when I see people getting all dressed in their kits with clipless shoes and their fancy bikes. I’m not against it, but sometimes I think it’s silly. We all have to pedal to get where we want to go. If you love the journey then it doesn’t matter what you’re wearing or what you’re riding….it’s about putting your feet on the pedals and keeping the chain in rotation.

This is coming from a woman that was wearing flip flops, a short plaid skirt, a black 70’s styled loose halter top, biking gloves, and a helmet that looks like she should be riding horses. Yep. I was totally styling…especially with my most favorite bike, the beer bike, which was found in a dumpster in Boulder and brought back to life. Personally I think it’s having a much better after life with me than it’s original owner. Who the hell puts a bike in the dumpster?

According to 303Cycling News, it’s about a 3% grade up the canyon, which I can agree with. There are some steeper parts and some kinda flat areas, but overall it was a nice incline for about 8 miles. The road follows a creek which makes for some beautiful little spots to stop, catch your breath, splash in the water a bit, and keep going. Since this is a pretty popular route as it is, the attraction of pancakes seemed to bring out more cyclists. I’m not fast. At all. But it was nice to say good morning to everyone passing me and even a friendly hello to peeps I actually passed.

Jamestown has a population of 274. It’s tiny and super cute! As you enter the town, the creek is on the left and the trees hang low over road making a natural tunnel which reminded me of Spectre from the movie Big Fish. There’s a church and a general store with a park across the street. The people built up a rock wall in the creek so it would pool up and not be a swift current so the kids could enjoy it. There’s a house built on the hillside that looks like a tree house. I think if I had to choose a mountain town to live in, this might just be it.

Pancakes…I was starving!! For only $5 you can get the pancakes but for just a measly $10 you get pancakes, ham, eggs, and juice/coffee. DEAL! Though the line was pretty long, the entertainment was never ending. Kids running around, musicians on stage, and the best part is talking with the locals. I was going to try to stay for the parade at noon, but the onset of sleepiness from a full stomach was pointing me down the hill to a place that was cool, soft, and has a shower.

Believe it or not, the beer bike hit about 37mph going down the canyon. If the pancake breakfast wasn’t enough, that definitely made every mile up worth the ride.