Pueblo, Colorado to Royal Gorge, Colorado

Day 47.  Gina dropped me off at the Hotel at 6AM.  Breakfast and packed a sandwich and then we (John, Lew, Barry, Jim, and I) headed through the streets of Pueblo.  It's a nice route going through the city park at one point.

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We are skirting around Lake Pueblo State Park and it is gorgeous country. The only blemish is the haziness of the air, which we learn later is the smoke from Utah fires.

The mountains are closer, and Pikes Peak looms large ahead of us as we are veering north.

Florence, Colorado

On October 22, 1983 Thomas Silverstein and Clayton Fountain, both inmates at then Federal Prison in Marion Illinois killed two guards in separate incidents using the same tactic. They turned their back to another cell where an inmate would quickly pick a lock and give the inmate a knife.

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The Prison went to immediate lockdown that lasted 24 years.  The Director of Prisons, Norman Carlson, argued that a different kind of prison was needed to house those inmates who had no concern for human life. Those inmates already serving a multiple life term sentence are not deterred by yet another life term, and some chafe at their incarceration so much that they become suicidal/homicidal trying to leave prison. Y committing a crime so heinous in prison that it merits the death penalty.

Based on these recommendations, the Federal Government began construction of ADX just south of Florence, Colorado in Fremont County.   At the time, Fremont hosted nine prisons.  Now it hosts thirteen.

This new facility which is part of the Florence Federal Correctional Complex houses 410 inmates including the worst of the worst and some inmates who posed a threat if they had ongoing contact with the rest of the world.  It is called Supermax as well as the Alcatraz of the Rockies.

We were biking north into Florence, somewhat downhill and a great tail wind when we came upon the complex.  There are constant no trespassing signs and the building in the distance could be dormitories with Guard towers.  It houses four federal prisons ranging from minimum, medium, maximum and the ADX unit.  In the distance I could see one prison yard, probably the minimum security prison, with prisoners walking through the yard.

Otherwise it is a place that doesn't invite lookie-loos.   So we keep biking along until close by we come along a Motel 8 improbably isolated from nearby Florence until I figure out that the majority of the guests at this hotel are visiting prisoners.

Not anybody in ADX.  There outside contact is kept at a minimum.  It houses the Unabomber, the Boston Marathon Bomber, Terry Nichols who was an accomplice to the Oklahoma City Bombing and - fittingly - Thomas Silverstein whose casual killing of a prison guard gave rise to ADX.

Five Easy Pieces to Milkshakes

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The last eight miles from Canon City were hot (101° degrees) and uphill and smokey and long.  The smoke isn't too bothersome, but the air is so dry that each breath dries the mouth and the body.

When we finally reached the eight mile mark the road leveled out and each side of the road became filled with the typical tourist "adventure" providers - helicopter tours, Dinosaur Land, Rafting, zip lines, etc.

We're staying at the Echo Park Campground, but across the street there is a Bar & Grill call the 8Mile and I suggested we go in there and cool down before we went into the campground.

"I'm so hot and thirsty, I'ld be surly to Phil," I said.  So we biked the extra 50 feet or so and got a table.  I walked up to the hostess, "Do you have ice cream?"

She nodded and began describing their sundaes.

"How about shakes?"

"No - we dont have those."

"Do you serve milk?"

"Yes."

"I see the bar there.  Surely you have a blender?"

"I guess."

"Then we have everything we need for shakes."

The manager showed us where to park the bikes and we sat down.  Kristyn, our waitress came out, "I hear you are my milkshake people.  I'm going to do my best. What else do you need?"

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We all ordered water, lemonade and Arnold Palmer's and began the serious ritual of cooling down.  Kristyn came out with three chocolate and on vanilla milkshakes and they were heaven.

She used to work for the State Territorial Prison in Canon City.  "I had to leave because I didn't like what it was doing to me."  Fremont County has 14 prisons, and the industry is the largest employer in the county "and they know it and act like it," Kristyn said.

As miserable as we were, we got cooled down, and smiles came out and we felt so much better.  Our little group of four - three lawyers and an English men - have had this tradition and ritual for a while now and to have off-the-menu milkshakes was a treat.

Royal Gorge, Colorado

In retrospect it was a good thing that I put up my rainfly over the hammock.  We have thunderstorms, not a lot of rain, but plenty of wind. Still I remain wrapped in my hammock warm and dry.

It says we are in Cañon City but really we're eight miles west close to the Royal Gorge with the Arkansas River chugging through it at full capacity.  We're camping at the Echo Park Campground ( they have the best campground showers by the way) and we have had dinner, our nightly map meeting for the next day's riding and then then enjoying the gauzy sunset courtesy of wildfires is Utah and Leadville.

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"Is it going to rain tonight Bill," I ask because Bill was a former Park Ranger and so he should have some nature cred.  We are told there is a 20% chance of rain.  Bill ponders a bit and says No.  Then he adds, "Of course that's just a guess and as about as accurate as any forecast.  It's worth what you paid."

So I left my rain tarp up and it rained.

The ride tomorrow will be challenging- nearly all up hill to some degree or another plus sixty seven miles.  It will be cooler, so that's a plus.  Then we'll be staying at Jason Lord's house in Fairplay.


• A reference to the classic scene with Jack Nicholson in Five Easy Pieces.

Dupea: I’d like a, uh, plain omelette, uh, no potatoes, tomatoes instead, a cup of coffee, and wheat toast.

Waitress: No substitutions.

Dupea: What do you mean? You don’t have any tomatoes?

Waitress: Only what’s on the menu. You can have a number two - a plain omelette. It comes with cottage fries and rolls.

Dupea: Yeah, I know what it comes with, but it’s not what I want.

Waitress: Well, I’ll come back when you make up your mind.

Dupea: Wait a minute. I have made up my mind. I’d like a plain omelette, no potatoes on the plate, a cup of coffee, and a side order of wheat toast.

Waitress: I’m sorry. We don’t have any side orders of toast. I’ll give you an English muffin or a coffee roll.

Dupea: What do you mean you don’t make side orders of toast? You make sandwiches, don’t you?

Waitress: Would you like to talk to the manager?

Palm Apodaca: Hey, Mac . . .

Dupea: [to Apodaca] Shut up. [to the waitress] You’ve got bread and a toaster of some kind?

Waitress: I don’t make the rules.

Dupea: Okay, I’ll make it as easy for you as I can. I’d like an omelette, plain, and a chicken salad sandwich on wheat toast, no mayonnaise, no butter, no lettuce, and a cup of coffee.

Waitress: A number two, chicken sal san, hold the butter, the lettuce, and the mayonnaise, and a cup of coffee. Anything else?

Dupea: Yeah. Now all you have to do is hold the chicken, bring me the toast, give me a check for the chicken salad sandwich, and you haven’t broken any rules.

Waitress: You want me to hold the chicken, huh?

Dupea: I want you to hold it between your knees. [Palm and Terry smirk]

Waitress: You see that sign, sir? Yes, you’ll all have to leave. I’m not taking any more of your smartness and sarcasm.

Dupea: You see this sign? [sweeps all the water glasses and menus off the table]