I had said my farewells to James the night before as I was expecting to be up and out early. The 75 miles between myself and the town of Kim didn’t concern me too much, but there was going to be a strong wind all day blowing from the north and east. Being a couple of days ahead of schedule, I could have stopped at James’ for another night, but the road was calling me and I wanted to answer.
The nearest open grocery store was Walmart, but even though it was only 3 miles away I had no desire to add distance, especially into the wind, when it was unnecessary. I found a dollar store near the turn off towards Kim and so went there instead to pick up some oatmeal and other random snacks. My best deal was a 75% off bag of Halloween lollipops, or so I thought until I tried unwrapping them. They had all been individually shrink-wrapped to a level that would make the Japanese proud, and it meant they were an exercise in frustration to eat. Wrestling with a wrapper when all I wanted was to eat the crappy lollipops was barely worth it.
After the dollar store, I turned on to US-160 and found myself greeted with a sign emphasising the gap between Trinidad and any form of real civilisation. The Colorado state map had a few dots representing places between Trinidad and Kim, but riding along I found that it was desolate.
While the sky was clear and the sun was out it was still below freezing before wind chill which would have been OK, but the the winds blowing up to 40 mph made it bitterly cold. It also meant that I had the fun of dealing with either a headwind slowing me down to a crawl, or a side wind which tilted my bike so much that I had to brake going down hills to keep stable.
A couple of hours of riding in and having not passed anything, I had the fun of trying to fix a flat. My front tyre gave up and sitting on the side of the road trying to find the puncture in a gale force wind was pretty hilarious. Usually slow flats are caused by small holes and so the best way to find them is to remove the tube, pump it up and then hold it near your cheek to hear or feel the air escaping. Attempting that in a gale force wind was flat-out ridiculous and meant it took a while to find the problem. The flat was caused by one of my Park Tool quick patches failing to hold which annoyed me.
A bit further down the road I stopped at Walt’s Corner, the only business between Trinidad and Kim. It’s a trading post and the lady working was from Tampa, Florida. I had just popped in to get some water, but stayed for about 20 minutes as she was so talkative. It was nice to break the day up and gave me a rest from fighting the wind.
The rest of the day was like the morning, fighting winds and going over some rolling hills. I entered the Comanche National Grasslands which looked pretty similar to the huge open plains I had been riding through earlier. I was happy that in the couple of hours before the sun set the winds dropped a bit, and I could start to see Kim appearing on the horizon.
About 10 miles from Kim, I pulled over to have a snack and a truck pulled up next to me. The driver introduced himself as Jackson and asked if I was OK. I mentioned my destination of Kim and that I would then be looking for a place to throw up my tent. He suggested a church at the north end of town and told me to mention his name. I thanked him and was amazed by the chance meeting. There had been so few cars going past me, maybe two or three an hour, and one just happened to pass and stop when I took a break.
I made it to Kim after the sun had set and tried to look round for the church. It wasn’t on my GPS and there was nobody outside to ask. Being a town of 66, it didn’t take too long to look around. I got off the US 160, headed north and went past a school. I was coming to the end of town, but saw a house ahead of me with lights on. I figured that they would be the best people to ask for assistance and so went over. I laid my bike down, knocked on the back door and waited, no answer. I saw a lady in the kitchen and knocked again, but still no answer. The back door was just a porch door and unlocked so I could easily get in and knock on the regular door, but I felt wrong doing so. I continued to knock and tried saying HELLO for the next few minutes, and after no response opened the porch door and went to the back door.
As I knocked on the back door, which led straight to the kitchen, a man who was eating his dinner at the kitchen table stood up and came over to answer the door. I explained that I was looking for a place to camp and he called his wife over, they invited me in and asked me if I was hungry then gave me a cup of coffee while they heated up some lasagna and rolls. They introduced themselves as Rita & Frank Jacques and were trying to work out the best plan. Rita worked at the school and was considering calling a friend to confirm it was OK to let me stay there, but in the end I wound up in their spare bedroom. The night passed talking about my trip, their lives and watching Rita’s favourite TV channel which showed back to back episodes of game shows. I was so happy to have found such wonderful people, especially when the wind kicked back up to gale force conditions.