Adventure Cycling Association Forum

Regional Discussion Area => Colorado => Topic started by: merzperson on February 15, 2011, 11:05:41 pm

 
Title: Worst experience across the US was in CO
Post by: merzperson on February 15, 2011, 11:05:41 pm
I rode the TransAm solo West to East last summer (2010) and my worst experience with people the whole trip was in Colorado, especially the more rural areas.

Specifically, Kremmling, CO sticks out in my mind. This was the single least friendly town I went through on my entire ride. It was already getting dark when I visited the sheriff's office to ask if there was anywhere I could pitch a tent for the night in or around town. A police officer sitting in his cruiser rolled down his window and told me, with a smile of satisfaction on his face and a chuckle, "There's a city law against that." He told me I could either go to the RV park (and pay $12 to sleep on gravel beside RV generators) or "get out of town". I ended up pedaling just out of town (already dark) and pitching my tent in the desert, private property or not, on top of a bunch of little cacti, and was eaten alive by swarms of mosquitoes. I got out of there as fast as I could in the morning.

I was just a 20-year old kid. Would these people treat their own kid like that?

I ended up sleeping in 3 public restrooms during my 7 days in Colorado. People were giving me shit left and right. I felt unwanted, which made me want to get out of the state and never come back.

Riding through Kansas afterwards was like a 180-degree change, and it made me want to stay there as long as I could (and spend money there, stimulate the economy...).

I know that a bunch of Colorado is very friendly towards cyclists, and I'd never judge an entire state (or even an entire city) by the experiences of just a couple days or a couple rotten people, but it has had a lasting impact on me. I'm wondering, has anyone else has experiences similar to these?
Title: Re: Worst experience across the US was in CO
Post by: John Nelson on February 15, 2011, 11:47:12 pm
Yes, it certainly doesn't take much to make a bad impression. In any area, 99% of the people are friendly and 1% is unfriendly. You were just unlucky enough to run into that 1%. By the way, Hot Sulphur Springs, just 17 miles down the road from Kremmling, has a free city campground.

Kansas does indeed make camping pretty easy. Almost all of the city parks allow camping and have some pretty lush grass.
Title: Re: Worst experience across the US was in CO
Post by: John Nettles on February 16, 2011, 12:59:58 am
I got a little smile out of this.  While riding the TransAm back in '82, I camped at the fairgrounds (I think) in Kremmling but have always thought the town was unwelcoming.  While I didn't have trouble, I did write "I feel like a unwanted outsider here" in my journal.  In fact to this day, I remember a dusty unremarkable town that is best avoided.  This was back when the TransAm was still relatively young and people would continually ask what you were doing and seemed genuinely interested, amazed, and "happy" to assist in making the trip a success.  In 34 years of touring, Kremmling is one of only three towns where I did not have a positive feeling.  Portage, WI and Portsmouth, NH being the other two. Those two were much like your experience except there was no camping option.
Title: Re: Worst experience across the US was in CO
Post by: johnsondasw on February 16, 2011, 11:38:25 am
Most of my touring has been in the NW.  I have found rural areas to be very friendly throughout WA, ORE, ID, and parts of Montana.  One place I've had some issues more than once is with drivers on HWY 9 north of Seattle, up near Sedro Wooley.  Drivers there have repeatedly roared by without moving over at all, giving the one finger salute, and blaring horns.  I will no longer spend time and money there.
Title: Re: Worst experience across the US was in CO
Post by: valygrl on February 17, 2011, 01:30:06 am
That's unfortunate.  I have a couple of towns I had bad vibes in too, I'm not going to name names, but they were not in CO.

I've toured about 9 weeks in Colorado, and haven't had anything like that happen.  I've never been to Kremmling, though.

For the record, I may be biased, I live in CO - but I moved here after my first 5-week tour here, I liked it so much.
Title: Re: Worst experience across the US was in CO
Post by: John Nettles on February 17, 2011, 10:03:35 am
For the record, I may be biased, I live in CO - but I moved here after my first 5-week tour here, I liked it so much.
Please do not take my almost 30 year-old perception of Kremmling as a slam against Colorado.  I would love to move to Colorado (or Idaho, western Montana, or western Wyoming) but my better/best half prefers here.  I did live in Vail for a ski season in my younger days and that was very nice.  If I get near Kremmling, I will go through it and at least give it a shot again.  After all, if it was REALLY bad, we would hear more about it.
Title: Re: Worst experience across the US was in CO
Post by: John Nelson on February 17, 2011, 11:10:24 am
If you ever drive a car/motorcycle through Kremmling, keep a close eye on your speed. It has a reputation as a speed trap.
Title: Re: Worst experience across the US was in CO
Post by: shorecycler on February 17, 2011, 11:37:09 am
out of curiosity-has anyone ever been pulled over for speeding on their bike? kinda random question for the thread but i'm more than capable of hitting speeds over 25 miles per hour if i'm working for it and regularly do so in the summer months in new jersey to "race" cars that are sitting in traffic to get to the beach. wreckless, sure but its a rush
Title: Re: Worst experience across the US was in CO
Post by: John Nelson on February 17, 2011, 12:19:36 pm
I read a story of cyclists pulled over for speeding on the Blue Ridge Parkway, which has a speed limit of 45 MPH. The cop was inclined to let them off with a warning, but they insisted on a ticket, just for the status symbol.
Title: Re: Worst experience across the US was in CO
Post by: johnsondasw on February 17, 2011, 12:21:13 pm
I haven't been caught, but there have been lots of opportunities over the past 40 years.  I know a guy who claims he was caught and ticketed, but he's kind of a BS'er, and I don't know if it's true.
Title: Re: Worst experience across the US was in CO
Post by: valygrl on February 18, 2011, 09:58:58 am
A couple of friends of mine have been ticketed for speeding on Mt. Tamalpais in Marin - there's a bike speed trap.  I guess that's a little different, though.

Title: Re: Worst experience across the US was in CO
Post by: Gif4445 on April 06, 2012, 04:43:13 am
I love Colorado and my family and I visit one to three times a year.  But I basically expect to run across at least a couple bitchy locals each time.  And I prepare myself to hand back as much or more crap than they send my way.  Just the way it is.  Obviously the nice people are in the majority, or I would not be dropping my dimes there.  Eastern CO is a lot like my home state of Nebraska, at least off the beaten path.  People are great.  But get in the places where many tourists go, and expect to feel unwelcome occasionally.
Title: Re: Worst experience across the US was in CO
Post by: Saguache on October 26, 2012, 04:05:55 pm
Quote from: merzperson
I know that a bunch of Colorado is very friendly towards cyclists, and I'd never judge an entire state (or even an entire city) by the experiences of just a couple days or a couple rotten people, but it has had a lasting impact on me. I'm wondering, has anyone else has experiences similar to these?

Hey Merz,

Sorry to hear about this, I've lived mat of my life in this state and I understand that on occasion you're going to run into "provincial" attitudes.  Not that this should in any way excuse this king of behavior, but I've watched this become a prevalent sort of stance as Colorado's population has grown.  In fact, my family and I just moved up valley to avoid an increasing Red Neck Dixieland BS attitude that is insinuating itself throughout this culture.

While touring there are things you can to to minimize these kinds of encounters.  Some of this will apply more here tha elsewhere, but it may all be helpful.

1) Plan your stops.  For all the growth that Colorado has seen its still gifted with ample public lands.  This is also where the good stuff happens to be so it's a no brainier in my book.  I'd rather wild camp my way around the state than even use NP or forest facilities.  Plan your resupplies in the middle of the day and you'll have plenty of time to make it up into public lands before dark.

2) Avoid anything with a tourist flavor to it.  If you're entering a town where you see lots of RVs, assorted big ass trucks with ORVs, and/or "attractions" plan on getting the hell out of there as soon as possible.  The Natives are already wrestles or shell shocked or worse AND they cater to those tourist dollars already.

A cycle tourist, no matter how lavish or wealthy, is never going to leave a bigger pile of money than they dude from Texas who drove his dully pulling a fifth wheel, pulling a boat, pulling a trailer full of ORVs staying at a hotel (and yes we see this all the time).  You, like myself, probably look askance at these sort of folk too, so even if you do find a place to stay in such a town, you'll spend all your time rubbing shoulders with this guy.  It's no fun and actually pretty risky.

I understand that it can be difficult to know in advance if you're entering a sleepy little high country berg that caters to mountain bikers and skiers or a three ring circus event with law enforcement that would rather run you out of town.  There a many great place to ask in advance such as this BBS and CGOAB.

3) If you get stuck and have no other choice but to camp in a hostile environment look for FNs.  Friendly natives are more often than not going to be found at a successful "Third Place" in the town.  Anyplace where people congregate on a regular basis is going to have suggestions for you.  Look for coffee shops that have been around a while, cafes, the town library, bike shops, a National Forest Service office, I've even had good luck with second hand stores (not antique stores however, go figure?).  You want to find people who have lived in the area for a while and know all the little pockets and loop holes.  Newer places with shinny facades and huge parking lots won't help, more often than not, because they are staffed and frequented by transient populations that work most often seasonally.

4) Get geared and comfortable with night travel.  Notice, this does not include travel at dusk.  Many years ago I worked on the White River NF as a backcountry guard.  This is not a spectacular job, it's essentially a uniformed janitorial position for wilderness areas.  You know what's worse than hiking around a wilderness area swatting mosquitoes all day?  Carrying a huge backpack full of last seasons hunter trash, swatting mosquitoes and horse flies all day in the sun.  Suffice it to say, this is where I got comfortable with the dark (to keep the insect populations and trash stench at bay).  But I've found that with a little gear and forethought it works on many of Colorado's back roads and state highways as well.

DON'T do this in the dusk.  Blinkers, lights and reflective gear are useless and during a tourist season many of them will either be searching for a site to park their monstrosity or will be headed back into that circus you just left to get their nightly boozin done.

DO have plenty of good well charged gear to make you visible.

5) Get used to carrying more water than you're used to taking.  Wild camping requires it!  Doing this all the time and becoming accustomed to it makes it much, much easier in the long run.

6) Get used to collecting plate numbers and badge numbers.  Hey if that guy is supposed to help you and he didn't than make a stink about it.  Anything west of the Front range is largely dependent on your tourist dollars.  If the sheriff ran you out of town there is a local chamber of commerce and a tiny business population that is going to want to know.  Identification is critical, if you post on your blog or trip log that some dude in a town of 1500 did you wrong then you're far less likely to see any traction.  Rather if you make the same post and say Sherriff's deputy (12345) Smith in Grand county did me wrong on such and such a day then youre more likely to get follow up.

There is more, but I'm sick and I need some sleep I think.  Please don't poo poo this state, it's a beautiful place and frankly we need more bike tourists here (both to visit and to stay).
Title: Re: Worst experience across the US was in CO
Post by: Dr. John on December 18, 2012, 08:06:51 pm
I moved out to western CO 8 years ago as a very early semi-retirement.  Many people here are very nice, at least on the surface.  But there are some of the worst red-necks here I've ever come across.  I've lived in Nebraska, Virginia, SC and other places, and they don't compare.  And it seems many can't enjoy the outdoors unless they kill something.  But I have had great experiences on the Front Range where people are much more likely to enjoy an active lifestyle and to have graduated high school.  Once the real estate market picks up I'm heading back to the southeast.  Yet I fear that the bad experiences I've had here are just a sign of the times, and not unique to CO.
Title: Re: Worst experience across the US was in CO
Post by: wolfen on February 02, 2013, 02:53:14 pm
hello all, new here.  Funny, my experience in Co has been excellent.  Very few real incidents here and most people in cars are cycle friendly.  I find that as long as the cyclist is not being a jerk, riding 2-3 wide on a single lane road, or swerving into traffic or running red lights, that drivers are very respectful in Co.   

In contrast, I came from the DC, VA, MD area and let me tell you what hell that was.  Absolutely, the most anti-cycling place I have ever been too.  I was part of potomac pedalers which is a huge group of cyclists.  There was so many times, where we got run off the road or drivers threw bottles, cans and other things at us, or hit us with their mirrors, etc.  Nasty people there. 
Title: Re: Worst experience across the US was in CO
Post by: johnsondasw on February 03, 2013, 01:39:19 pm
I've spent some time in Virginia Beach.  It's potentially the perfect bike town.  Weather is fairly benign, albeit somewhat muggy in the summer.  It is absolutely flat in every direction you can see.  But you can spend a whole week there and not see one bike rider.  I saw no bike lanes or trails and most of the roads have no shoulders, even the ones out of the commercial areas. Just cars, cars, cars (and their attendant pollution and noise) everywhere.  It's such a waste of good potential.  This would be a good area to help cut our oil dependance, not to mention to increase local health metrics!
Title: Re: Worst experience across the US was in CO
Post by: Dr. John on February 03, 2013, 02:45:58 pm
The lack of shoulders is VA seems to be problematic.  The number of times I've had to ride a 4-lane for a mile or so (to jump from one wonderful country road to another), only to find no shoulder, or just as often the road was repaved and the shoulder was left only passible with a full-suspension bike and a lot of swearing, seemed to be the rule.  And the 4-lane was heavy, very fast traffic.  Often I've ended up pushing the bike well to the right of what once passed as a shoulder.
The worst story I have heard was from an old spark a couple of years ago.  She commuted to college in Boston by bike.  One day she was struck in an intersection.  While laying in the middle of the road with her mangled bike, some *&^%$% was honking and yelling at her to get out of the way.  She ended up in the hospital for the night, and it took her months to mostly recuperate.
As for CO, there are easily two different Colorados.  The most disturbing is how often I have heard the "N-word" in western CO, after almost never hearing it in the modern South.  I will say from my experiences hiking out here, I feel the mountain biking community may be the most curtious I have seen - they almost always yield the right-of-way to hikers.
Title: Re: Worst experience across the US was in CO
Post by: johnsondasw on February 03, 2013, 05:43:05 pm
[quote author=
As for CO, there are easily two different Colorados.  The most disturbing is how often I have heard the "N-word" in western CO, after almost never hearing it in the modern South. 
[/quote]
That's the mountain west. You meet the nicest people everywhere you go.  But I can't count the number of pickups I've seen in Idaho and Montana sporting the confederate flag (and roaring by with no consideration of leaving any room for the bike. ):
Title: Re: Worst experience across the US was in CO
Post by: bicycleadventurer on February 25, 2016, 03:18:03 am
Kremmling is a ranching town and the constabulary considers their job to protect the trophy land owners who have ranches near the community.  The State patrol has used it as a favorite speed trap, as well.  Don't fret, most of Colorado is pretty friendly.  Most ranchers are pretty friendly.  You just have to ask, and be prepared to move along if the answer is no.

Also, learn how to stealth camp. 
Title: Worst experience across the US was in CO
Post by: pmhayden on February 29, 2016, 11:08:35 am
Most of my touring has been in the NW.  I have found rural areas to be very friendly throughout WA, ORE, ID, and parts of Montana.  One place I've had some issues more than once is with drivers on HWY 9 north of Seattle, up near Sedro Wooley.  Drivers there have repeatedly roared by without moving over at all, giving the one finger salute, and blaring horns.  I will no longer spend time and money there.

I live in Sedro-Woolley. We are fairly friendly, but I can definitely see that happening. Hwy 9 is one of those country roads that looks rural, but has urban level traffic on it. Its a mess north of Big Rock to Sumas. You can avoid most of it on backroads. The county bike map is good.
http://www.visitskagitvalley.com/biking/ (http://www.visitskagitvalley.com/biking/)
Title: Re: Worst experience across the US was in CO
Post by: johnsondasw on March 04, 2016, 10:02:10 pm
Thanks, PM.  I have found good rides in the area that do not include that highway. I esp enjoy riding north of you on the Whatcom County rural roads.  Sometimes, of course those rides include parts of Skagit Co.
Title: Worst experience across the US was in CO
Post by: pmhayden on March 05, 2016, 11:55:07 am
Johnsondasw,

Favorite rides to nowhere include Big Lake School to Lake Cavanaugh, Sedro-Woolley to Bellingham via the network of roads between I-5 and Hwy 9, the Skagit Flats North to Samish Island and Edison, South Skagit Hwy to Darrington, and of course, the Flats out to Deception Pass. But Hwy 9 North of Sedro-Woolley is a short cut for Canadian truckers to avoid the scales on I5, and South of Sedro-Woolley it is a collector arterial for the much regretted pop. growth from Boeing employees who have moved up here and commute to Everett. I remember riding to high school every morning on Hwy 9, no problems.

As for the population, there is some resentment by the natives for the newcomers who brought changes. This place was once a sleepy hollow. Its now a bedroom community to Everett and Bellingham, and we are no longer left alone. Where can you buy moonshine now? You are getting the blow back from that (middle finger, etc.). I miss the past, too, but there is not much we can do about it.
Title: Re: Worst experience across the US was in CO
Post by: dayjack119 on June 16, 2016, 09:41:53 am
I think you missed the boat in Kremmling, Co.  I stayed at that campground in 2015 and thought the $12 was well spent.  The tenting area was in shaded lush grass, they had all the amenities of showers, laundry, and even a reading/television room.  The owner even offered to take me into town to get groceries and later the maintenance man helped me do repairs on my bike.  ...I've learned that if you want to keep clean, safe, and have a good nights sleep, one should spend the dough for commercial campgrounds.  Granted, I bypass many because they are either crappy or way over priced.