Distance: 59.48 mi
Average Speed: 9.7 mph; Max Speed: 26.8 mph
Elevation Gain: 2,546 ft
Average Temp: 51.8 F; Temp Range: 46.4-57.2 F
Today was on the rough side of things. I woke up around 5:30 because I had set an alarm hoping to wake before the rain set in for the day. It was already raining. I went back to sleep.
It was still raining at 6:30, and really picked up around 7.
Throughout all this I stayed curled up and warm in my quilt. Since I had decided to heed the advice of Greg and not shoot for Muddy Gap, it would be a short day and I wasn’t particularly worried about time. The rain let up a bit after 8 and I finally got myself moving. Phillip had already left by that time, but Greg was still around.
Even though the rain was less than it had been, it was still raining, so I disassembled my tent from inside. I crawled into the vestibule and detached the tent body from the poles and stuffed it into the dry bag while still under the rain fly. Success! Everything else might be wet, but the body of the tent was dry.
Greg, a few other campers, and myself went and hid under the one shelter in the park while we ate and, in the case of Greg and myself, organized and packed our gear. The pavilion was one that, I think, was supposed to be reserved. While we were there, two women came by to hang up a sign. The event that was supposed to be there had been moved indoors for the weather. Curious, I had a look. It was Lander’s Pride event. Happy Pride, everyone.
At around 10 or so we finally got rolling. It was still raining, but not hard. That was pretty much what the entire day was like: drizzly, occasionally dry, with near-constant cool headwinds. The only time the headwinds stopped my glasses fogged up terribly and I was properly (if temporarily) grateful for the return of the breeze. My gratitude lasted only about as long as the breeze stayed a breeze. Once it became a wind, I went back to being annoyed.
Riding with another person was a bit of an adjustment. At first I was overly conscious of my pace and pushed a bit too hard on uphills, not wanting to slow Greg down, but eventually I settled into things and was more at ease. When the shoulder was wide enough and the wind wasn’t making it difficult to hear, we would chat about various things. Greg has a good deal of backpacking experience and shared some of his worse moments (I asked, because they usually make for good stories), I talked about some of the experiences I’d had on the road or the people I had met.
Not too long into the morning we caught up with a French man and woman who were riding the TransAm as well. They started at Tillamook rather than Astoria or Florence, OR, and were headed to Yorktown. We rode with them for a while, talking about weather, destinations, and other small talk you might expected between people engaged in a similar unusual pastime. Eventually, though, Greg and I rode on ahead. They said they were aiming for Jeffery City, so we might see them tonight, but maybe not, if they opt to camp rather than stay in the church where we are.
We stopped twice on the road. Once around lunchtime, and once at a much-anticipated rest stop. I broke out the stove to heat up water for coffee and after a few minutes we were both wondering why we weren’t inside the rest station instead of outside in an open shelter freezing. Not that it was very cold out, but it was cool and windy, and we were wet from the rain and sweating. Once the water was hot, I grabbed my cook pot and my bag of food and we retreated into the warmth of the rest station. They even had hand dryers so I could partially dry out some of my clothes. It sounds a bit worse than it was, because once we were moving again neither of us was cold, but at that point, being dry and warm sounded awesome. (And it was.)
There was only one significant climb today, with an elevation gain of about 1,000 ft, ending around 6,700 ft. Compared to other climbs I’ve done, that elevation isn’t much, but my lungs have been twitchy the past few days. While riding up Togwotee Pass, I was thinking that the altitude was getting to me, and it might be a little bit, but since I’m having similar issues 3,000 ft lower, I’m wondering if it might not be some allergenic trigger that’s getting my lungs irritated. My nose certainly ran more today than would be expected from just the temperature alone. Whatever it is, I hope it passes soon.
There was a point of interest at the top of the climb and we took a short break there so I could catch my breath.
Wyoming, or this part of it, is full of wide open expanses of scrubland. You could see for miles with nothing but rolling hills to interrupt your view, and with the only signs of human habitation being the barbed wire fences along the road. Occasionally there would be antelope. Less occasionally there would be livestock (cows and horses). Rarest of all were sightings of buildings.
Introverted as I am, I still don’t think I could live in such an isolated place, despite its beauty. I do enjoy socializing in small doses, and being so far away from other people would make it entirely too easy to decide not to socialize at all. Despite not wanting to live here, it is beautiful to ride through, and likely would have been even more beautiful if there had been some sun, although then maybe I’d be complaining about the lack of shade. Who knows.
Jeffrey City was a most welcome sight when we arrived. We stopped in at the Split Rock Café and were told the same information that was posted on the window: the back door of the community church is open and cyclists are welcome. To get to the church required a bit of riding on dirt/gravel road. I rode most of it but decided it was too loose at one point and started walking. Greg ventured a bit farther before his tires sank over an inch into what had become loose sand.
The church itself is a big empty hall with a cement floor, a ping pong table, and some basketball hoops on the wall. Through one door is the fellowship hall, which has tables, chairs, and a kitchen. Yay kitchen! Through another door is a hallway with rooms off both sides. Including SHOWERS! A hot shower was just perfect after being went and clammy most of the day. The walls are lined with messages and pictures drawn by other riders, which was great fun to read.
Greg found one from somebody he had met on the road. When he pointed it out to me, I realized I had met her as well. Anna Yip, the woman I met in Montana who was so excited to see another woman on the road.
And, of course, I left my own mark as well.
Greg decided to go back to the restaurant for a bit, and I opted for staying inside in the warm. I think the cold totally zapped my energy, though, so I’m looking forward to being asleep soon.
Roadkill count: 1 bird, 1 deer
Additional Wall Drawings, because there were so many awesome ones.