Bike Tour 2022 – Grant Village to West Yellowstone

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.)

Miles today: 56 Tour miles: 1,994

Bike Tour 2022 – Dubois to Hatchett USFS Campground

Exhausted after yesterday’s monster ride we awoke to a kind tailwind. After taking care of breakfast and on-road snacks we headed northwest to tackle Togwotee Pass at 9,600+ feet, a 30-mile climb of about 3,000 feet.

We made decent progress for the first hour or so. The last 7 1/2 miles were serious work, especially considering how tired our legs were.

The scenery kept us diverted. Wyoming is just crazy amazing. The geologic wonders on one side of the road, differ markedly from those on the left. For a long way we saw millions of trees that had been turned gray by blight. It would have been all the more beautiful if the trees were green.

We made the pass after hours of grinding away. Oddly the continental divide was about 30 feet higher in elevation a couple of hundred yards later.

To our chagrin our tailwind disappeared and a rather unwelcome headwind replaced it. Instead of screaming down the mountain at 40 mph, we were held to the high 20s. At least my rims didn’t overheat from braking.

After only six miles the descent ended. Nooo! No worries. After some annoying climbing we began a nine mile, 6% descent. And our headwind was gone!

And we had spectacular views of the Grand Tetons. Wow! Just Wow!

Signs on the road warned drivers not to stop for bears hanging out in the road. Being a bicyclist not similarly constrained, I stopped to pet a grizzly cub.

I’m kidding

We had intended to ride 70 miles to a hiker/biker campground in Colter Bay. We settled for a Forest Service campground 20 miles to the east. The price was a whopping $6.

Tomorrow Yellowstone.

Miles today: 49 Tour miles: 1,878

Great Divide riders.
Blighted trees for miles and miles
The Hack memorial dedicated to lumberjacks who cut down trees to make railroad ties in wintertime.
Someday I will investigate this in person
Geology out the wazoo
Hello my old friend
Downhill to the Tetons

Bike Tour 2022 – Jeffery City to Dubois

We knew today would be hard and it lived up to expectations. We left the motel and rolled next door to McDonalds. After a quick breakfast, we left at 7:10. We had a brief chat with another westbound TransAmer, then we rolled across town and stopped at a grocery for supplies.

After that the real festivities began. Let’s cut to the chase, 82 miles, uphill, into an increasingly strong headwind.

The winds were light initially. We knew this was temporary, after all we would spent most of the day riding through the Wind River Reservation.

We stopped at Fort Washakie at 15 miles for a break. Afterward Mark and I went seven miles off route to check out the burial site of Sacajawea. The cemetery is still in use by the resident Eastern Shoshone tribe.

On our way back to the route we rode through a residential area. Shoshones like dogs. Every house had at least one. Only one gave chase. He was just going for a run with his new buddies. For about a mile.

Back on the route the winds were obviously stronger. There were a few climbs but mostly we rode up false flats.

We stopped at Crowheart, a crossroads near the amazing Crowheart butte. Mark wisely decided to buy a gallon of water. We needed it later.

The last 30 miles felt like 60. Mark zoomed ahead and ultimately secured us space in a church hostel in the town of Dubois, pronounced Dew Boys with the emphasis on Dew.

We are exhausted. There will be food, medicine, and sleep.

Sacajawea Memorial at burial site
Jim and Pam – eastbound on the TransAm
Crowheart Butte
Note the flags
You have no idea how happy I was to see this sign. The winds continued, however.

Miles today: 82 Tour miles: 1,829.

Bike Tour 2022 – Saratoga to Rawlings

For a few minutes, we thought we were mighty. Alas we proved to be suckers for a tailwind.

The hostel worked out great. There were two couples who stayed there. We had met Mark and Sue on the street in Walden. They stayed at the same motel as us. Ed and Harry, two young Englishmen from Devon, rolled in just before dusk. They had ridden over 100 miles in that brutal wind. They looked whipped but seemed in good spirits.

Corey, Mark, and I were up at dawn on the longest day of the year. We had aspirations of riding over 100 miles. And for about 90 minutes we were confident we’d get the century ride done.

We left at 7:15. Temperatures were in the low 40s. A light tailwind out of the south have us a gentle push up a series of small hills, each with a gradual incline.

I locked into a groove and rode much faster than usual. Corey and Mark stopped often to smell the figurative roses.

After 21 easy miles, we arrived in Walcott Junction and took a breather. Then we headed west on the Lincoln Highway (a great book, by the way), US 30. It also happened to be I-80.

The interstate had a wide, paved shoulder with a rumble strip. We were quite safe and legal. We expected the winds to be crosswinds but they had shifted into headwinds.

Oof. So much for my groove. I struggled mightily the entire way. Corey and Mark rode together and swapped leads until Mark left him weeping in his wake.

We left the interstate in the town of Sinclair, home to an oil refinery. I was relieved when we were upwind of the place. Stinko!

The town itself was interesting. It was a pre-depression planned community. The buildings featured the Spanish Colonial revival style. The town was established by an oil refiner whose business, the P&R Company or PARCO, went belly up. He sold out to the company that would become Sinclair Oil.

Another seven miles of riding into the wind followed. I stopped to talk with two eastbound TransAm riders. We swapped info on places to stay and avoid.

I finally arrived in Rawlings, passing some interesting white mineral deposits along the way. They looked like salt. The hotel clerk said they were calcium.

Over lunch Corey surrendered. He wanted nothing to do with riding 60 more miles. I concurred. Only Mark seemed interested in another6 hours of masochistic pedaling.

Long story short, we checked into a hotel at 1 and decided to treat this as a semi-rest day.

Miles today: 42.5 Tour miles: 1615

The Overland Trail passed this way
The I-80 Lincoln Highway
The Sinclair oil refinery
The PARCO Inn
Susan and Colleen, eastbound TransAm riders from Eugene, OR

Bike Tour 2022 – Walden, Colorado to Saratoga, Wyoming

It was the best of winds; it was the worst of winds.

We knew what we were getting into. The weather forecast called for light tailwinds in the early morning followed by strong gusty winds in the afternoon. The route called for us to descend from Walden, Colorado at 8,099 feet to Encampment, Wyoming at 7,277 feet. Downhill yay!

We left Walden around 8 and had a nice tailwind. The road wasn’t exactly downhill but we were cruising along without a care heading north.

Then the road, the very bad road turned west and we felt the power of a crosswind. Bad.

Soon we were once again enjoying a tailwind. La di da.

Somehow somebody put a honking big hill in our way and a mighty crosswind began blowing us all over. No fun. Corey thought the hill was harder than Hoosier Pass. I think I agree.

After way too much wind and four stops by yours truly the big bad hill was defeated. Mark had been waiting a long time at the top so we didn’t linger very long after I crawled to the crest.

Back on the road, Mark took off. Corey and I did not give hot pursuit. Corey is tall and I am wide (plus my panniers act like sails).

Here we are being good bike tourists getting blasted all over the place when we came to an 11 mile stretch of road maintenance. Crews had milled the pavement for re-paving. Of course, it was downhill.

It was scary riding. The tread on my tires did not agree with the milling. Add in some strong gusts and you have Danger Will Robinson!

The milling stopped at Riverside, a town adjacent to Encampment. After conferring with a vintage barkeep, we decide to ride on to Saratoga.

Turning north, we caught a tailwind to die for. Corey zoomed ahead. Dang. Mark pulled ahead of me but he stopped to talk to two eastbound TransAm tourists. We heard interesting things about Jeffrey City which we will ride through soon.

The last few miles to Saratoga were a slog through truly brutal crosswinds. We caught up to Corey who had been waiting 20 minutes at a grocery store. After shopping we rode to the St Barnabas church in town where there is a hostel for bike tourists.

In a sense we were fortunate that temperatures remains in the 50s foremost of the day. We started to see more wildlife. I watched four redwing black birds in a dogfight with a crow. I also saw a seagull snatch a small rodent (alive) off the roadway. There were several pronghorns and cattle from time to time. Corey saw a bald eagle perched on a roadside fence post.

Oh, and The Mule turned 66 today.

And, Wyoming became the 35th state I’ve ridden in.

Total miles: 68 Tour miles: 1,572.5

My “salad” last night. Mark accidentally ordered extra chicken with his. It was monstrous. He had plenty left over for breakfast.
The Chicks sang about this.
Too bad my camera couldn’t capture the wind
Wyoming: we have rocks
The Mule turns 66