My Covid symptoms are milder by the day. I am taking Paxlovid and staying indoors which has given me plenty of time to get most of my tour business done. (I still need to make my Cycleblaze journal but that will take a few days.) I expect to be released – masked for the first five days – on Saturday as long as I have no symptoms. Right now my worst symptoms (minor though they are) seem to be side effects of the Paxlovid.
While I’ve been lolling about I’ve read two books, The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, a memoir/novel about a platoon of soldiers in Vietnam. It won a Pulitzer Prize back in the early 90s. I bought it more or less on impulse after reading a couple of pages. It is extraordinarily well written. Today, I finished Larry McMurtry’s first novel, Horseman, Pass By about a family in turmoil in north Texas in the 1950s. It was the basis for the movie, Hud. I liked it a lot as well.
Today, I went through my pictures from the trip. Some were uploaded to this blog. Others were put on Instagram or sent to friends. I tried to find all of them but I am sure I missed a few shots trails and roads and rocks. I sorted them by date so you can take a quick 3,449 mile bike trip across the country by accessing my Bike Tour 2022 album on Flickr.
The bike camp in Twin Bridges worked out great. We thought we had set up our tents where the sprinkler system was set up so we scrambled to move them. It was all for nought as there were no sprinklers.
After breakfast we headed south to Dillon. Some of the truck traffic was hostile.
The road was a gentle incline all the way. In Dillon we grabbed provisions for the next few days. Then the fun began.
We climbed over Badger Pass at 6,760 feet. (Twin Bridges was below 5,000 feet, our first “low” elevation since Cañon City.)
The climb put the hurt on me. Mark rode like his bike was made of helium. Corey struggled with a balky lower back.
Of course, we immediately descended. It was fun but we knew we were giving up all that hard-earned elevation.
Next up was Big Hole Pass at 7, 360 feet. Mark zoomed ahead but Corey and I struggled. The increasing headwind didn’t much help.
We rode another high-speed descent into the Big Hole Valley, to arrive at Jackson, a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it small town.
We are staying at The Bunkhouse. The owner gave us each a can of cold beer upon arrival. Ahhh.
It’s a cool place. We’re in a shared bedroom with five queen sized beds. Two other cycle tourist are here. There’s plenty of ventilation so I’m not concerned about Covid. Knock wood.
The Lake House restaurant overlooks Yellowstone Lake. It’s a tad pricey but they make a mean spinach ravioli. Corey and Mark report that the bison burgers were pretty tasty too. Breakfast was a buffet. I ate all the Cheerios and some eggs and sausage.
In between meals I froze in my tent. Message to self: choose your sleeping bag for the most extreme conditions. Mine is rated to 55 degrees. I add a bag liner that brings the rating down to perhaps 50 degrees. I bought a fleece throw at the Grant Village store. It helped some but I sleep poorly in a tent anyway. Suffice it to say, today was the second day that my riding suffered because of sleep deprivation.
We broke camp and started to climb over the Continental Divide. It wasn’t particularly hard. Oddly after climbing to the divide we continued going up.
This was followed by a plunge and another climb to the divide. The last 40 miles or so were downhill. Thank you Jesus.
The scenery and the weather couldn’t be beat. Rock formations, deep blue streams with rapids, mountain meadows, geothermal wonders.
We stopped at Old Faithful and saw it do its thing. Today the tourists were back in force. Every geothermal site was mobbed. I’ve seen them all before so there was no need to stop. I was actually enjoying the rivers and streams and woodlands at 13 mph.
I saw two bison today. One was at the Old Faithful complex, just grazing near a bike path. The other was along the road. A car had stopped to check it out causing a back up on the opposite side of the road from me. A park ranger pulled up behind me and used a bullhorn to tell the driver to move along. (There are signs every mile telling drivers not to stop in the roadway to gawk.)
Last night’s dinner was a burrito washed down by a Dos Equis. Bueno.
I spent the night watching a documentary on George Carlin in HBO. It was quite good.
This morning’s motel breakfast was pretty lame, not surprising when you’re paying $50 for the room. After breakfast I took a left out of the parking lot and rode 41 miles on the Gypsum Scenic Byway. This road is listed as one of the 30 best rides in the US by Bicycling Magazine.
It’s a pretty darn nice ride, especially with a 3/4ths tailwind, sunny skies, and comfortable temperatures and humidity.
The topography changed almost immediately after I left town. The closest thing I can compare it to is eastern Montana but with lots of green. In place of the flat prairie I saw buttes and plenty of hills actively eroding.
The first 20 miles featured plenty of ups and downs but nothing severe. I used my granny gear a lot, mostly to save my legs from tiring out. I had no shifting problems at all.
Unfortunately the first 20 miles also featured plenty of trucks all but one of which gave me room when they passed.
At 20 miles I stopped at a dirt road crossing to have a snack. A pick up pulled along side me off the road and the driver asked if I was okay. We chatted for a bit. He told me that when I teach the town of Coldwater to have lunch at the town pizza place; it’s owned by his father-in -law. He, the driver, seemed like a truly kind person.
He went up the dirt road and I continued on toward Coldwater. The rolling hills and buttes gave way to ranch land and, eventually, flat farms. The road leveled out. The effort eased.
In Coldwater I scouted out my food choices. They were three. Ultimate I followed Son-in-Law’s advice and went to the pizza place. His father-in-law was working the register. We talked quite a lot and he seemed like another very nice guy. I watched him interact with his employees with a gentle guiding touch.
He suggested the buffet for $10. Multiple kinds of pizza and a salad bar. All you can eat. Music to my ears! It was delish.
Let’s just say Father-in-Law lost money on the deal. I kidded him about it but he seemed genuinely happy that I ate my fill. He advised me about motels in Greensburg, the next town, 20 odd miles north. “After that, there’s nothing until Dodge, 46 miles further west.” To be safe, I called and reserved a room at the nicer of the two motels in Greensburg. (The low-end motel was rated one star and was at the far end of town.)
My partial tailwind turned into a full on shove in the back for 21 miles. And the road was flat.
When I dismounted my legs were a bit wobbly and I was a little dizzy.
It ended up being a little longer day then I had planned (aren’t they all?).
It’s a darn nice hotel and the breakfast buffet has all the goodies. I have to wait out some rain in the morning so it looks like the feedbag’s going to get a workout.
My bike is holding up fine. Kansas is much easier to ride across when your brake pads aren’t dragging on the rim (as they were during my 2019 crossing). My left pedal is fine. The ticking sound was caused by the aglet of my left shoe lace hitting my water bottle as I pedaled. (Believe it or not, an aglet on my jacket ticking against the top tube once nearly drove me mad.)
I’ve seen little animal life. One deer yesterday. Lots of cattle. The cattle don’t understand English. I ask then to run and they just stare at me. Maybe I should’ve used Spanish. In Montana I could get a decent stampede going with ease.
I have seen several mirages. I swore I was riding toward a flooded out section of road yesterday. Nope. Mirage, and a very convincing one at that.
During the Gypsum Hill ride, I crossed into Comanche County. I’m now on Kiowa County. I’m keeping an eye out for Blue Duck.
Mark contacted me today to remind me that Corey, he, and I are still on schedule to meet up in Canon City, CO in 12 days. I can make it there in 7 so I need to slow my roll.
I’ve gained 1,600 feet in elevation since Fort Scott.
Today was supposed to be a 60-mile slow roll but things happened and it wasn’t.
To begin with the 60 miles did not include riding East on the Katy Trail for 3 1/2 miles to attend a day-after-the-wedding donut picnic breakfast in a park along the trail.
Of course I had already filled my tank at the hotel breakfast bar. It was well above average. As a result I had half a donut and some coffee at the picnic before heading out. The picnic delayed my departure to 11:30 which is much later than normal.
Before I left I had trouble filling my tires up to proper pressure. I decided to roll with it and it worked out fine. Along the way I found a bike repair station at a trailhead and used it’s floor pump to fix the issue.
The trail surface is unpaved but for most of the way you’d never know it. It’s as hard as pavement. Local trail users have an annoying habit of walking abreast on the trail, something I’ve never seen elsewhere. At one point a group of horses were hogging the trail. The riders moved to single file with military precision when I approached.
The trail is FLAT. The surrounding terrain varies between rivers (most often the Missouri), farm fields (occasionally flooded by recent heavy rains), wooded areas, and cuts through rock. I like that the variety keeps you from getting bored with the view.
I rode nonstop to Defiance where there was a trailside eatery. It was crowded and the bike parking didn’t work with my panniers so I forged ahead. I came to Augusta where I found a bike shop, ice cream, and a brewery. I chose the brewery and selected a “to go” box and a Coke.
The to go box had grapes, a clementine, carrots, celery, some cold cuts, cheeses, crackers, peanut butter, and hummus. Dang. I could barely put a dent in it at the brewery so I brought it along for dinner.
About 45 miles into the ride I arrived at Marthasville. Daniel Boone was buried near here so I followed the directions at the trailhead and backtracked 1 1/2 miles to see the gravesite. Along the way I rode the loaded Mule up one of the steepest hills I’ve ever ridden. I can’t believe I made it up without walking.
The Boone gravesite was a bit disappointing as it was adorned with a modern tombstone that look completely out of place.
Back into town I realized that my 60-mile route has somehow ballooned to over 70 miles! Good thing I started late.
I ground away into a light headwind. I decided not to stop to eat, choosing instead to make sure I finished before dark. I made it with ease.
The final town on the trail was McKittrick. Unfortunately all the services at this trailhead are located 2 miles north on the opposite side of the Missouri River in the city of Hermann.
The ride to Hermann was interesting. A wide smooth shoulder made for quick work. With the same effort I used to ride 12 to 13 mph on the trail, I was easily cruising at 15 mph. Once in town I searched for the town park that allows trail users to tent camp. It wasn’t much to my liking (nor was the declining temperature) so I opted for a divey motel instead. If they filmed Psycho at a Midwest hotel, Norman Bates would be from Gurjurat.
I am knackered. Tomorrow’s ride is supposed to be 55 miles. I sure hope it’s not more.