We had planned to leave for Colorado on the Monday morning of the long weekend, giving us two more days of solid training days before spending three and a half days in Clifford en route to Leadville (Collegiate Peaks, actually, but more on that another time). Well, that kind of didn’t work out as planned, but it worked out in that we had a nice weekend, including some fun times and packing Clifford for almost a full Sunday.
We finished Sunday packing around 9pm, had some dinner and collapsed on the sofa in front of the television. After an hour or so, it was time to get some sleep and prepare for a nice early wake up and final loading before departure.
Usually, Bruno would wake us up by 7am, but he was fatigued from the weekend and we had to wake up the old fashioned way, with an alarm clock. List of final to do items were reviewed, and Robin and I got right down to the important stuff- we fire up the Jura and sat down for our final super automatic coffees for the next four weeks. Wait Robin keeps telling me it’s actually five weeks. Or more? Whatever, I’ll keep thinking of four weeks, I have trouble processing time periods longer than a month.
After an hour or so with our coffees, we spent two hours finishing the final pack and finally headed down the road around 11am.
Now, I’ve driven Clifford a fair bit in various conditions, but I’ve never laden him up quite like this. I’m not sure if the engineers in Hanover ever envisioned a T3 Westfalia with as many bikes and other appendages hanging off of his periphery. Nevertheless, I had faith in the trusty, possibly as powerful as 90 horsepower, waterboxer engine.
The first ten to twenty kilometres were tentative, to say the least. I had to get used to the new “balance” of the vehicle, for not only was there a lot more mass to deal with, but much of it was up high or hanging off the back . As time passed, I became more comfortable with the situation, and before the first hour was up’,we had exceeded the speed of 90km/h more than once. Confidence was growing!
By the time we where half way to the Canada-US border, I suddenly noticed I was going 110km/h down the 401! Well, Robin noticed and alerted me, as I was busy talking to my mother on the phone. I had completely let go of Clifford’s reins and suddenly found myself above the speed limit. That didn’t last long, as I backed off to my more comfortable 95km/h and all was well.
Another discovery I made very quickly in my newly accepted role of the keeper of the slow lane was the instability and buffeting caused by the turbulence of large transport trucks. If I got any closer than almost a football field length from a truck in front of me, the turbulent air would buffet Clifford all over the road, like a small dinghy I rough waters. Thus I kept my distance from the trucks in front. Or, I tried to do so. That 100 meters or so, you see, is just about the perfect lot for a truck who’d completed their pass of us to slot in and join us in the slow lane, forcing me to drop back another football field in order to keep Robin and Bruno from getting seasick. Or worse.
Eventually, we arrived at the border in Sarnia and queued up, waiting to enter the U.S. at Port Huron. The wait wasn’t terribly long, and eventually the nice man in uniform invited us up to his booth and asked some questions. He was not so interested in the out and back format of the Leadville Trail 100 or whether we should run tubeless in our CX bikes’ tires at Rebecca’s Private Idaho. He was most concerned about the state of our salad, whether it was cooked or not, and even more so, about our two dozen eggs! Robin explained how a salad is really “cooked” and then we donated our eggs to Uncle Sam and the uniformed mans kindly let us enter his country.
After few more hours driving down Michicgan’s wonderful (well, they were wonderful in the 70s) interstates, we arrived at our first overnight spot. Not exactly mountains or scenic, but a KOA, kind of like a McDonald’s of camping. We arrived just in time to get set up, walk Bruno and and relax a bit before dark set in.
Day one completed – time for sleep!