20th of August till 26th of August
This week we passed 4.000 km (2,500 miles) and are halfway the route in USA.
From mind-blowing middle of nowhere to Mecca Of Skiing.
Having seen the milky way for the first time and biking through the Great Basin makes you realize again how small we are. How insignificant if you look at the greater scheme. Questions arise again on what we leave behind, once we no longer walk (spin) this earth. What is the impact you have on the course of history. Frank is very down to earth on those questions, I would like to leave more of a mark, but what is the mark that you leave. Is it sufficient to just be good for the people who are near to you, be nice to the people you meet? Has our work have any impact? Just a drop in the ocean…
Others trying to make a difference.
At A&M reservoir we met Paul who is biking for a good cause. His words on his page: “Some of you may have seen a programme on television showing the progress of ex-service personnel practicing to sing at the opening ceremony of the Invictus Games. Some members of this choir suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and it saddened me greatly to realise the level of daily suffering hidden from sight. The idea to raise money by riding the GDMBR followed shortly afterwards, coupled with the indulgence and support from a very understanding employer :-)”. https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/paul-moore34?utm_id=25 If you would like to help Paul’s good cause.
Not only Paul stayed there. Once he left I thought we were alone but suddenly there was another biker at the edge of the lake.
Dark side of the moon
It is a long, hot day with a lot of headwind, covering the same monotone rolling sagebrush landscape, which is soothing for my brain. Looks flat but it is not. Getting closer to Rawlins we cross again the CD. And as we suddenly have GSM coverage we whattsapp call, how great it is to be able to see your loved ones.
Frank is slowing down and definitively wants to sleep in a motel. Heading into Rawlins we try to find a place to sleep. Everybody is trying to take advantage of the eclipse business wise, which will happen tomorrow. Rawlins is not in the 100% bandwith but seems one of the places where people will spend the night and drive north the next day to see the 100% solar eclipse because they could not find a place or don’t want to pay + 1.000$ per night in the 100% belt. We find a motel and, as we will stay for 2 nights, we still get it for a reasonable price. I believe Frank has not been drinking enough and crashes for a few hours in the cool motel room. He even has blisters on his lips from the heat. After a few hours rest we head into town (10.000 people). We try the BBQ at the Mexican but are chased away by the music which starts, not our cup of tea. At the town centre there is a great band playing, Still House Blues! Sponsored by the Rifleman Club Bar.
Good suggestion of Frank to see the eclipse in a town and feel the vibe. We meet a few people who are staying here and will drive north tomorrow to see the full eclipse and move on from here. More than 20 years ago we saw a 100% eclipse for the first time in Curacao when we were visiting Denise and Jep. I still remember that we went to the perfect bay with bright blue water and gradually it went dark and birds stopped signing. Will it be the same tomorrow? We decide to stay in this town and not hunt for a 100% experience as we also want to use the day to stock-up for the next part of the trip and re-energize.
For a small town they have some very good social infrastructure, e.g. rodeo field, baseball, football etc and all well maintained. While at the other side you see a lot of poverty. At the soccer field, where the community will watch the eclipse, they have organised BBQ, souvenir vendors, air castle for the kids and music by Big Foot Radio.
During more than an hour it gradually gets darker and the last minutes it also gets cooler. Dark Side of the Moon from Pink Floyd plays thru the speakers of Big Foot Radio booth when the 99% eclipse is taking place.
After the 2,3 minutes you start to see more light and it slowly gets warmer again. Seeing the reaction of the kids and adults around you is very interesting. Frank sees a lady with a Big Foot T-shirt and we hear her comment on the eclipse over the speakers and that traffic is starting to roll again. After she is finished I give her thumbs-up, which results in an interview on why we are here and what we think about Rawlins. Will be broadcasted next day. Afternoon I go hunting for a legging against the sun (succeeded) and treated myself to a lovely pedicure. In the evening we have an amazing BBQ Steak at the Aspen House Restaurant and Aida & her husband treat us on some lovely red wine.
Next stretch was indicated as one with a lot of steep uphill and not much water. Therefore we decide to cut the 53 miles in two and spend the night at the Teton Reservoir camping ground. Bare, lots of wind, great wide landscape.
As yesterday was not so much of a rest, I install myself behind a wooden windscreen and have an afternoon nap while Frank works on his notes of the voyage.
In the evening one more biker arrives and for the first time we meet somebody who will also be travelling to Patagonia. Hilde from Belgium is travelling alone! Chapeau! Lightly packed on a mountain bike and on a very low budget. She has been wild camping for 99% of her time and started in Anchorage at the same time we did, so has covered quite some more miles. This is even rougher than what we do. Proud of how she is handling being on the road like this! Even if she is younger than 30, she has a lot of solo long distance biking experience, as for example in Iceland or the trance continental race from Belgium to Turkey. You can follow/sponsor her at www.workingonmycalves.com
As the next day will be longer day with quite some small hills we decide to set the alarm at 5:30. which results in the fastest departure from a camping site: 8:00.
On our way out we meet two hunters coming back from trying to shoot coyote, they seem to be a nuisance for the farms around here. They kill but don’t eat all of their prey. Shooting them and selling the fur for $60 is a welcome extra income. We have heard the coyote already often at night. More rolling hills and what is killing us is the very strong headwind. No trees so no protection from the wind which is coming straight at us. With the squeaking sound of Franks bike and a very heavy rainfall just before we arrive at the campground, we are wondering what we are doing. But the change in landscape is amazing. Seeing trees again is great.Lori and her husband, comming from the South, ask if we will take the alternate or will go to the Lodge. The Lodge would be quite some detour but seems to be heaven after all the biking ahead.Hilde is waving us into the campground which has nothing, no pit toilet, nothing. As Hilde already checked a bit down the road and there are no other flat spaces, we decide to join her. As rain has stopped we can enjoy a lovely evening at the campfire. Talking about what it is like to travel solo as a woman, the support she is receiving during her trip from total strangers, how family is thinking about the trips we make etc. Hilde is a very strong woman with a bright mindset and powerful legs. Will we see her again?
We are starting to enter the region which is covered by aspen, compare them to birch but much taller. They multiply by their roots and seem to be one of the largest living creatures in the world. When fall will come, colours of the leaves change per family group. We hope that we will see that change as now all aspen are still green but we do see the first turn of leaves.
A very short distance from where we spend the night is Aspen Alley, one of the most famous spots in Wyoming. Of course we spend some time to try to take a good shot with both of us.
Moffat country road is a heaven. Several miles only downhill over blacktop, cruising, flowing, enjoying covering miles in a changing landscape. Turkey vultures are grouping together in treetops and we can take a shot which really resembles one of Johan’s artworks. (His is from a Bald Eagle though).
Also a badger tries to be the photo model we want him to be, a very curious creature.
Not That Lodge
No longer blacktop as we turn into one of the country roads. Less farmhouses. We are aiming for the lodge which everybody is recommending. At one moment we see a lovely house but on top of a hill at the other side of the valley, which would require another steep climb. Shortly after we are being passed by Jeff, without any effort and a few of the riders of the Real Ride team. Grrr and I was thinking I was getting stronger.
A warm welcome by Kirsten makes everything OK. She offers the possibility to camp or sleep in one of the rooms in the main building, or you can stay in one of her cabins for $ 70. She will serve you superb breakfast with eggs and pancakes. For lunch and dinner fresh pizza in made in her wood stoked oven. After an hour we decide to stay 2 days! Hilde is also there but will push on the same evening to the top. Great evening with Jeff and the team of the Real-Ride who are riding from Seattle to Boston to support equality in schooling. Check them out at http://therealride.org/ .
They made for us our first S’mores: stuffed cookies with chocolate and gooey marshmallows. Next day we wave everybody off and have the whole place to ourselves.
From noon on Frank is eating pizza! We work on and publish the blog and I crochet one of the coaster wheels to give to Kirsten.
Frank got a reply from Bart, Sector2 Bikes, where we have purchased our bikes, on why the bike would be squeaking some much and what to do. Apparently eccentric bottom brackets as mounted on our bikes sometimes do this. Disassembling and greasing should fix it and it did! Thanks Bart for the great support! https://sector2bikes.nl/santos/.
Cjell is helping Kirsten to run the lodge and when it is slow he is building his own bikes. He confirms what Bart has said. So great that he and Frank have taken the time to disassemble and grease the crank set, which has solved the problem. You can read on Cjell’s bike philosophy at http://www.monebikes.com/ . When discussing bike set up and what we would do differently Cjell remarks: “You gotta run what you brung”.
For supper we get a great pasta and spend some time on the deck with the father of Kirsten and Bill, their neighbour. As a closure we enjoy the hot tub! Can we stay another month? No we finally decide to move on the next day. Weighing our bikes confirms Frank is biking with 61 kg (sometimes more if he has more water and food), I have 50 kg (sometimes more if I have more water and food), this is bike and luggage combined. Most loaded mountain bikers have between 25-35 kg. No wonder they are faster.
After again a great night and breakfast, Kirsten and Cjell wave us off with loud noise of cow bells. This really was a warm stay! So nice talks with all of the people we met, especially with Kirsten.
The Man Who Took The Wrong Turn
First slowly ascend but on a good gravel road, great warming up for Slater mountain. Slater mountain is too rough to bike with our bikes. When we start the real ascend a bow hunter walks down the road and tells us that 3 years ago he saw an older mountain biker going up and after 2 hours coming down, totally red in the face and sweaty. They are really surprised to see each other. What happened? At the ridge the biker turned left which has a dead-end, after some more climbing. When he turned around and went downhill he took a right turn instead of a left turn and without realizing it, comes all the way down again. As he was already 72, Mike suggest to take him and the bike on his ATV up the mountain to where he took a wrong turn. Going up the first steep part (which we will push!) he feels the front wheels losing traction, feels that the front is lifting up and starting to flip over backwards. Urging his companion to lean forward, more and more they manage to prevent the ATV of flipping backwards but it caused him a few grey hairs. Seems that the 72 year old mountain biker decided last minute in a pub to bike together with his brother the GDMBR and that he was having a hard time.When we reach the top we are not so tired, still we had to push the bikes quite some part of the way.
Going down is gruelling, only rocks and rocks and rocks, where we would have walked in the past we now let them bump their way downwards as it not too steep. We meet Bobby, Austin, Jeremiah and Chris for whom it is his maiden voyage on his new MOOTS, beautiful titanium mountain bikes.
Bobby took all of them from Oklahoma to bike this trail to Kristen. What a way to test your new bike! Chris is 63 and is recently converted to dirttracks, his wife is now also looking into a bike as she sees what a pleasure it gives riding in the middle of nowhere with almost no other traffic. We wish you all the best!
Bobby has his own site: www.unlearnpavement.com
Frank and Bobby spend quite some time munching about the benefit of bike details. As it is in the meantime 16:00 when we enter first signs of urbanisation and we see we have GSM coverage, we decide to already book a hotel in Steamboat It is the end of high season but most hotels are already full. As we know we still have to cover 30(!) miles we don’t want to look for a hotel when we enter the city and it will be too late to still look for a campsite.
We should not have arranged a hotel as in Clark, where we finally can have a stop and a cold drink a young guy offers us to stay at this father in law’s ranch, and 20 miles further a car (which already had passed us some time ago) stops us and offers us to stay with them at their home in Steamboat. What a weird coincidence, during the +90 days of travel we arrange 3 times beforehand a place to stay and until now nobody offered a place to stay. But more wonderful is that the young guy is the son in law of Jay and Gael! We are very sorry to have to decline both offers. Finally we arrive in the Nordic Inn where we are warmly welcomed by Emily, start laundry and in the meantime get some very healthy take away. After such a long ride it is great to not have to set-up tent and get some great dinner without doing any shopping or cooking.
Tomorrow Frank has to check if there is something wrong with his tire, it does not look straight anymore. Will this affect next week’s trip?
Ps. If you find quite a few links in here, do not think we are getting commercial or sponsored in any way 🙂 We just refer to sites and people we find interesting and maybe you will too.
PS 2 yes this was only one week 🙂