August 16, 1992 Jackson Hole, rest day (0 miles, 0 ft, $116)
This morning we had no alarm and slept until we felt like it, though we still managed to be up at 7AM. After a shower, we headed for town and breakfast at a yuppie coffee shop. We tend to not drink coffee when we ride as it can dehydrate you. That’s one of the best things about a rest day – all the coffee you can drink!
After breakfast, we found a bike shop (Teton Cyclery) where they said that Dave could use the repair stand to clean the bike. We returned to camp where Dave rode solo on the empty tandem back to the shop. I read the paper, my book, did laundry and had some more coffee. Dave returned in a few hours with a shinny, oiled bike. Our rear tire had also delaminated and was looking pretty bad – must have happened yesterday coming off the pass. Glad the tire made it without blowing. We’ve replaced it with our spare and bought a new spare. We’ll have to be more careful on those downhills, no need for a blowout.
We headed back to town for lunch at the Bunnery. Good sandwiches, and a nice change from PB&J sitting on the side of the road. Next up was a trip to the grocery store to stock on staples, spent $47 and I’m not sure where we are going to pack all this food! We managed to put a good dent in the snack pile in the afternoon sitting in the sunshine at camp though. Dave struck up a conversation with the neighbors. Interesting couple, a cowboy and his girlfriend from Salt Lake City, Utah. County music singers, playing at one of the local bars. They played a few tapes for us, not bad.
Afternoon thundershowers sent us to the tent, which was perfect, as a nap was still needed to make this an official rest day. The rain let up in time for us to hit the local café in town for dinner. Even managed to trade my book at their book exchange so now I’m set for the next few weeks of the trip. Unfortunately I don’t get to read much. Every night I take the book to bed with me but my eyes are shut before I can get through even a couple pages. Back on the road tomorrow after a really nice rest day in Jackson Hole.
August 17, 1992 Jackson Hole to Dubois (97 miles, 3950 ft, $40)
It rained very hard last night. Good test for the tent, it didn’t leak, but we had lots of condensation inside by morning. We packed up, ate fresh cantaloupe and muffins we bought at the Bunnery yesterday. We rolled out of town round 8AM. We put our raingear on before leaving as we could see some dark clouds in the direction we were going. Sure enough, about 5 miles out of town we got hit. Not too bad and considering the perfect weather we’ve had for two weeks it’s hard to complain.
We decided to take the longer option today and loop through Teton National Park for an extra 8 miles. At the entrance, the ranger wanted to charge us $4 but we convinced them we should be able to go for free since we weren’t even stopping. The ranger agreed, probably not because Dave was a good negotiator but because they couldn’t figure out whether to charge us for one bike or two people.
Outside the park, we joined back up with the Bikecentennial route. BC has some special bicyclist only camping grounds along the route, one was only a few miles up the road. We were going to stay there but along the way we ran into another cyclist that was on a sagged tour called Ride Across Wyoming. They were riding from Jackson to Dubois. It was a small group and they would be camping where we could join them. It meant a longer day but we were fresh from not riding yesterday so we decided to push for Dubois.
We stopped at a ranger station for lunch, PB&J sandwiches. It worth noting that the first day after a rest day, the sandwiches are always better. The main reason is the bread is not yet smashed from being in your bag for multiple days!
After lunch we started to climb Togowotee Pass. It was a very long climb, somewhere around 17 miles of climbing. It got pretty steep at spots but leap-frogging the RAW riders made for a good distraction. And the scenery was very nice. The elevation at the top was 9668, our highest point of the trip so far. It was also our first time crossing the Continental Divide. I don’t think the pass elevation sign are correct. It seems that some states might exaggerate pass signs to “outdo” their neighbors. Our bike computer was almost 100% accurate whenever we were at a town, be it sea level or in the mountains. Yet at the top of ever pass, we were always a couple 100 feet lower than the signs list elevation. Dave called it “neighbor-state pass envy”. Either way, they are all hard to ride up with a loaded tandem!
It was 30 miles of downhill to Dubois. Only trouble was that we had a strong headwind. Near town we got really blasted a few times, including some sand to make sure we got our money’s worth. We made it to camp just short of a century again and pretty darn tired. We set our tent near the RAW group so we got to swap bicycle stories before dinner. A little later a group of 2 German and 2 Belgian riders rolled into camp. Again, the number of cyclist sleeping in the park probably dwarfed the size of town. We should sleep well tonight as today was long day.
August 18, 1992 Dubois to Lander (77 miles, 1600 ft, $53)
We got up at 6AM but didn’t get on the road until 8. It was pretty cold and we were moving slow. We ate breakfast at camp, which was a good thing as the RAW riders were in town and the one café looked to be overwhelmed. We had a nice tailwind and some downhill to start the day (must be all the wind from yesterday getting back down the canyon!). We rode through a very pretty area called the Painted Hills in the morning. Stopped for a break at the Crowheart store, staying just ahead of the RAW riders all morning.
For the next 100 miles or so we’d be riding on the Wind River Indian reservation. Couldn’t really tell much difference from the previous country. We did see a couple herd of antelope on the way to lunch at Fort Washakie. From lunch it was only 16 miles to Lander and our stop for the night. We’d heard that the city park was not that nice for camping so we found the RV park we saw advertised on the way into town. It was kind of dumpy as well, so I talked Dave into a motel. $24 bucks for the night – what a bargain and under budget too!
We showered and did laundry. Then we headed to Safeway for dinner fixings. We had cantaloupe, carrots, rolls, bananas, chips & salsa, plums, cheese, lunchmeat and chocolate for dessert. Tomorrow we have another long day to get us to Muddy Gap, only one big hill then it looks like a long downhill.
August 19, 1992 Lander to Muddy Gap (82 miles, 3040 ft, $21)
For breakfast we had cinnamon bread and more fruit in the motel room. We were on the road by 7AM. We had some good rolling hills to start out and it warmed up very quickly. We saw a rattlesnake on the road this morning. When it started to coil we figured that it was not dead. We got away before it could get us. The road was pretty flat then until we started the climb to Barrier Divide. It was not too long but +6% the entire way up kept us going hard. From there it was rolling hills to the town of Sweetwater Station for a pop and ice cream (it was early still but very hot so the ice cream seemed fair!).
Next stop was Jeffrey City. On the way there we had to ride through some road construction. Make that road destruction. They don’t just patch roads out here, they nuke them. While all the big trucks were up on the road, we got to ride on a temporary road made of soft sand down off the side of the embankment. This went on for about 9 miles. I’m not sure how Dave kept us from crashing a couple times, as the steering was very iffy. A couple times we had to simply carry the bike, as it was even too hard to push. At some places the temporary road was one way with flaggers and follow cars. There was only room for traffic one way, as there were large mounds of dirt on both sides. At one section the flagger on our side must not have told the flagger on the other side about us at the end of the line, as he started bringing cars back towards us before we reached the end. We had to lift the tandem over a huge pile of dirt to get out of the way, ending up on the new road. When the supervisor drove up in his air-conditioned truck and told us we were not allowed up there, I pretty much lost it. I’m sure he could not hear Dave or I yelling over the heavy trucks but we let him have it. He listened for a while then told us to be careful and just drove away.
We eventually got through the construction and made it to Jeffrey City for lunch. Jeffrey City was a big uranium mining area but the mines have shut down. Lots of boarded up buildings and houses. We had sandwiches at the last remaining open store. Outside of town we passed the original Pony Express and Oregon Trails. You could actually still see the wagon wheel ruts from years gone by.
From lunch it was 24 miles to Muddy Gap. We made it there by mid afternoon. Boy, what a place it turned out to be! It was really nothing more than a junction in the road. There was a new store and an old store, manned by husband and wife owners. That was the entire population. They let us camp by the old store, next to the bathrooms in the dirt – though bathrooms is a bit of a stretch, as they were just pit toilets. Lucky the wind was blowing away from us. After the day fighting road construction, we really needed showers so Dave negotiated and the owners opened up one of the old hunter’s trailers out back. I think it was a good idea. Hunters had not used the trailer in 10 months and it was full of animal droppings. We had to scrub the shower before using it (I made Dave do that!) and a pair of pliers was required to turn on the water. It was not a shower that either of us lingered in.
We ate dinner at the store and generally hung out there until they closed. Our “dirt site” was not conducive to relaxation. Plus, I was hanging out to avoid using the “bathrooms” allocated to our site. Finally, they booted us and we wandered back to the tent. Soon after dark, our 4 friends from Germany and Belgium rode up. They didn’t bother to request a shower, instead choosing to hose each other off at the garden faucet. I think they made a better choice! Not the best accommodations that Dave has ever found for us, but at least it makes a good story!
August 20, 1992 Muddy Gap to Saratoga (88 miles, 2320 ft, $55)
We got up really early, at first alarm – I think I just wanted to get out of Muddy Gap! It was not a very restful night. The wind blew really hard and making the rainfly on tent flap a lot. I got up to fix it while Dave slept through the whole thing. We ate the rest of the cinnamon bread for breakfast. We woke the Germans up and all 4 of them actually got up. I think it was some kind of record for them as they are definitely afternoon riders. I think they wanted out of Muddy Gap also.
Starting out we had strong headwinds. Neither of us were all that excited to be on the bike. Eventually, though the wind died down and we settled into a rhythm. We saw lots of rabbits and antelope in the morning. Later, we ran into a biker going from Virginia to Missoula. We stopped in the middle of nowhere to exchange notes. He said that the infamous dogs of Kentucky were not that bad. He was the second rider to warn us of a big hill in Virginia call ” Vesuvius”.
We rode to Rawlins and had a morning snack at store. Rawlins has a huge Sinclair oil refinery. The natural gas burn off was going full steam as we rode past. Next we rode 13 miles on Interstate 80 (there aren’t many choices in Wyoming). We exited at Walcolt but really, the freeway was not that bad. From there it was only 20 miles to Saratoga and the end of the day.
In Saratoga, we stopped for an ice cream and lemonade, and to check out places to stay. We found a tent spot at the Saratoga Inn and RV park. The site was not all that nice – for some reason, they would not let us camp on the grass, but instead pointed us to a dirt “tent site”. We walked to town, did laundry and had dinner at The Lodge Restaurant, great lasagna and desert. Tomorrow we cross into Colorado, shorter day planned.
August 21, 1992 Saratoga to Walden (68 miles, 3100 ft, $58)
We started out this morning in a rain shower but then it cleared up for the rest of the day. There were lots of little hills today, going up or down all day long. We stopped in Riverside for our AM snack. From there it was a good climb up into a large valley – feels like we are really in the Rockies now.
We crossed the Colorado state border at about 45 miles and stopped for the photo. The roads changed from smooth and wide to narrow and bumpy right at the state line. Seems that all four states that we’ve been in have different standards for roads and they all stop, or start, maintenance right at the border. Soon after the border, we met a cyclist heading to San Francisco. Lots of people ride the western US, skipping the Great Plains and east. Hope we enjoy that part of the ride and aren’t missing something obvious. I think it’s more a matter of time for most people.
We stopped at the a little later for another mini mart lunch break. It was only 13 miles to Walden, our planned stop and we considered going further. Those thoughts were quickly shelved as a strong afternoon headwind came up. The wind and some more rolling hills made us pretty tired even with a little shorter day. We found a hotel for $30, did laundry and sent post cards. Late in the afternoon, the Germans and Belgians rode past, planning on another 30 miles before dark. They sure seem to like a late start. Must not realize that the wind isn’t as bad in the AM.
We had dinner in the room and made some additions to one of my bike shirts. Actually, subtractions as I cut the sleeves off to make it cooler riding in the heat. There was a big thunderstorm in the early evening, so we were glad to be in a hotel; wondered about out European friends and if they made it to the next town before the rain and dark.