Archive for August, 2011

Week Nine Stats

Week 9 Stats:

Starting city: Arco, ID

Ending city: Mitchell, OR

Total distance traveled: 457 miles

Total distance to date: 3116 miles

Days on the bike: 7

Average per day of riding: 65 miles

Shortest day: 57 miles

Longest day: 90 miles!

Total money spent: $39

Average per day: $5.50

Appreciation level of Mother Nature’s change in exhalation direction: Extreme (Wyoming’s headwinds really made me thankful for no wind, even crosswinds, and especially tailwinds)

Breakfast made in Fairfield, ID by my WarmShowers host Laura: Whole wheat blueberry pancakes, eggs, sausage, and blue-raspberry smoothie!

Location amazing-tailwind-causing storm caught up with me: Mountain Home, ID (crazy wind and lightening all night)

Miles ridden on the interstate from Mountain Home to Boise, ID: 40

Name of CouchSurfing host Howard’s watercraft: A cataraft

Plates of catered Asian cuisine devoured at Howard’s friend’s stepdaughter’s graduation party: 4 loaded

Partiers who were amazed that Howard was “hosting a complete stranger?!”: Quite a few

Miles ridden on the interstate because I was sick of getting lost in the backroads: 1

Mountain passes biked over in Oregon: 6 (drastic changes in scenery as I traveled up down up down)

Murals in Vale, OR: Every block (it’s kind of their thing)

Community centers slept in: 1, in tiny Unity, OR

Huckleberry ice cream consumed: 1 cone (I had always assumed Huckleberry was just a Mark Twain character; evidently it’s also a fruit. A little less sweet than a blueberry, it’s mixed not only with ice cream, but also syrup, pancake mix, candles, BBQ sauce…you name it)

Dinner made at the Bike Inn (a woman’s guesthouse kept unlocked as a rest place for touring cyclists) in Mt. Vernon, OR: 2 massive salads, clam chowder, and peanut butter everything

Plates consumed at Mitchell Town BBQ: 5, packed to the edges with burgers, dogs, fruit, beans, pie, and brownies (I saw a sign outside the grocery saying “Community BBQ! Free! Everyone welcome!” So I rolled up in my bike shorts not sure what to expect, and was immediately welcomed. About 50 people were there, or about a third of Mitchell’s population. Lynn and Tim, the organizers of the event, inducted me with a Mitchell community shirt and invited me back to their house for beers. Again, as always, ridiculous kindness (I feel like those two words are written all over this blog)

Do You Believe in Magic?

Written on Saturday, 8/13/2011

On the floor in the entrance way of a library in Fairfield, ID.

“No way…this can’t be…what is this…invisible force pushing me??”

Oh yes.

It was…a tailwind! From the east! THE EAST!! Winds NEVER come from the east! It pushed me a whopping 90 MILES from Arco to Fairfield. I wonder if the Magic Reservoir I passed played a part with its wizardry…

Actually, my host in Fairfield said the incoming storm was affecting the wind patterns…I still think magic had something to do with it.

 

Grand Teton/Yellowstone

Sylvia rolling into Grand Teton Park. It's so nice to draft with someone.

Taking the lead for a bit.

Grass, Trees, Mountain, Sky

Bridge

Waterfalls

River

Range

Colter Bay at dusk

Chillin

Lots o' mountains

Lake n' mountains

Fire of '88 burned a large portion of Yellowstone's pine forests. Pine cones are into that sort of thing, though, so they're making a recovery.

Isa Lake in Yellowstone, though not much to look at, is kind of the grand daddy of lakes. From Wikipedia: "Isa Lake straddles the Continental Divide and is believed to be the only lake in the world which drains to two different oceans backwards.The east side of the lake drains by way of the Lewis River to the Pacific Ocean and the west side of the lake drains by way of the Firehole River to the Atlantic Ocean."

Yellowstone Midway Geyser Basin

Edge of the Aqua Abyss

Waiting for it...

Old Faithful!

Lesser known geysers steamin'

Fly fishin

Elk

People weren't exactly following the "25 ft. from wildlife" rule.

Grand Prismatic Spring, largest hot spring in the U.S. Not a very good shot from the side...

That’s what the aerial view looks like.

Words: Wyoming

Wind Wind Wind – I started riding earlier in the morning in the Midwest to avoid to heat; in Wyoming, it’s to delay the brutal headwinds.

High elevation – on average, I stayed between 5,500 and 7,000 feet throughout the state. The sun is more intense, though it’s deceptively cool during the day.

Sneaky mosquitos – you pull into a shady spot to rest and are immediately swarmed by the hidden buggers

Prancing deer antelope pronghorns (I was corrected twice on their species)

Town Signs – show the town name, sometimes the population, and always the elevation, so you know just how high in the sky you are

Native American influenced – both in the geographical sites and town names, such as the town of Crowheart, whose name came from…

Campers/Trailers/RV’s – in Wyoming, 1 in 4 vehicles; in the parks, 3 in 4

Big hills – the combination with wind can make for intense climbs

High desert – through most of the state, sparse fields and shrubs as far as the eye can see…

…but as you get further north: canyons, buttes, rivers, forests, mountains. Spectacular.

Overall, my toughest state, though it had the most beautiful varied scenery.

Week Eight Stats

Week 8 Stats:

Starting city: Jeffrey City, WY

Ending city: Arco, ID

Total distance traveled: 478 miles

Total distance to date: 2659 miles

Random display of speed/distance on my bike computer: Speed – 7t km/hr; Distance – t8ll_…yeah, it’s on the fritz again.

Days on the bike: 7

Average per day of riding: 68 miles

Shortest day: 60 miles

Longest day: 76 miles

Top speed: 78 mph (considering my face is still attached to my skull, that was my bike computer acting up again, though I did get into the 40’s in Grand Teton)

Highest elevation: 9600 ft. passing over Togwotee Pass on the way to Grand Teton Park

Total money spent: $67

Average per day: $9.60

Touring cyclists met: Tons, now that I’m back on the TransAm:

  • Dave, already mentioned. I forgot to add that he likes listening to techno on the bike, keeping cadence with the beat.
  • Frank – pulled up to me as I was munching on lunch on the side of the road. Older man riding from Montana to Tennessee. He’s crossing the country in segments.
  • Stacy and Sylvia – met them at a rest stop. Stacy was riding from Lander to Jackson, WY and back to climb the Grand Teton (whoa!) with a few friends. Stacy was joining her for the first 75 miles to Dubois. I met them in Dubois with a couple of their friends for pizza. They are a fun group of women – to give you an idea of their sense of humor, Stacy and Sylvia wanted to make shirts that say on the front, “Wind” and the back, “We like it from behind.” Also, turns out they know both Byron, the Jeffrey City potter who lent me his aquatic caravan for the night, and Juan, my CouchSurfing host in Lander. I guess in a small enough town, everyone knows everyone.
  • Adam and Christy – newly married couple met on the way into Grand Teton Park. They’re riding through all 50 states! They had been on the road for 7 months and I believe had checked off 43 states. Their plan was to get to Seattle, catch a ferry for Alaska, bike around up there, then take a plane to Hawaii to finish it off! Makes a simply cross-country trip look pretty ho-hum in comparison. Their website: http://www.giveabike.com/
  • Two Chinese guys – met right after the couple. They’re riding from Yellowstone to Utah, I think (their English wasn’t great). One of the guys had a suitcase strapped on his bike! He described Grand Teton campsites as “mosquito heaven.” He was right.
  • Phil – met in West Yellowstone. Louisiana to Yellowstone? (His thick accent was nearly as difficult to distinguish as the Chinese guys.) I gave him my ticket to the Yellowstone and Grand Teton parks, just in case.
  • Jeremy – met in the high desert of Idaho. Looked around my age, with a much wilder beard. Riding from Portland to live at his brother’s place in the Colorado woods. “Living in a city, no matter how progressive, eventually wears on you. I needed a break to return to nature.”
  • Darrell and David – met right after Jeremy. Two firefighters riding from San Francisco to NYC with a support vehicle. They were being interviewed by a television crew when I stopped to say hi. “You’re going to be on TV!” Daryll yelled, as the camera panned toward me. Celebrity status, here I come! (Turns out they’re staying at fire stations across the country and plan to arrive in New York on 9/11 in honor of the 343 firefighters who died in the attcks.) Their website: http://www.bay2brooklyn2011.org
  • and many others that

Leftovers eaten from CouchSurfing host Juan’s photography reception: Several platefuls

Money given to me by a motocyclists outside a McDonalds to “get yourself some McNuggets”: $5

Food given to me by Stacy before heading back to Lander: Bag of pretzels, peanut M&M’s, and animal crackers!

Miles driven in the pilot car through a massive road construction project on the way to Grand Teton park: 6

Food found in the bear box upon arriving at my campsite in Colter Bay, Grand Teton: 3 cans of soda and organic canned beans. Dinner bonus!

Bubbly stuff in Yellowstone: Lots – geysers, mud pots, hot springs, people

Continental Divide crossed: 6 times! I didn’t even know what the Divide was until a boy, who looked no older than 16 but already had his pilot’s license, informed me that rivers to the west of it flow into the Pacific, to the east into the Atlantic. Cool!

 

 

 

Nights camped on the front deck of Wind River Gear Store in Dubois, WY: 1

Nights camped in Targhee National Forest in Idaho: 1 (found out you can camp anywhere in a national forest as long as you’re 30 feet from a dirt road, or some such rule)

Flats: 1 (didn’t pop the tube trying to put it back in this time, but after I patched it, I discovered a second hole, said screw it and used a new tube anyway)

Snacks for the road made by CouchSurfing host Anne: two tortilla wrapped peanut butter, pecan butter, honey, granola, banana tasties! And dehydrated banana-coconut bars – didn’t know such things existed!

Jeffrey City, WY: Tiny Town, Giant Heart

Written Monday, 8/8/2011

In my tent avoiding the mosquito hoard in the biker/hiker section of Colter Bay campground in Grand Teton National Park.

Oh Jeffrey City, where do I begin?

Well, I should start by saying that I’m back on the official TransAm bike route! I left it way back in Kentucky when I continued north to see family in Ohio, and have pretty much stayed parallel to it through the Midwest until I picked it up again in Wyoming.

Secondly, a brief history of Jeffrey City. Not a city by any means, more one step above ghost town. It once held a population of 5,000 when uranium was discovered in the surrounding hills, but when the bust came, 99% of the residents moved out. What remain are a pottery shop and a bar.

Which brings me to the Split Rock Café and Bar. Its previous owner despised cyclists, so much so that TransAm riders would put in a massive 125 mile day just to avoid stopping here. Nikki, the new owner, thought that was a silly way to miss potential revenue. She fixed the place up and put a big “Bicyclists Welcome!” sign out front. They’ve been stopping by ever since (Also, turns out she graduated from the same high school as me in southern California. Random!)

Facing strong headwinds as I pulled into town, I was thankful for some sign of life and headed for the bar. As I leaned my bike against the front, I noticed another bike with a trailer – clearly a touring cyclist’s. When I entered, sure enough a man spotted my bike shorts and introduced himself.

Meet Dave. He’s been on the road for more than A YEAR! Started in Seattle and has been doing the perimeter of the U.S. Mostly funded by his military pension, he also earns income online. For not being a member of the Internet Generation, he seems to know his stuff. It’s not uncommon to hear him say such phrases as,

“250 new views in the last 24 hours on my YouTube channel!”

“I don’t even know who this person is, but they subscribed to my blog.”

“Oh man, what he just said, gotta tweet that!”

Between his military pension and income generated from his YouTube videos, Dave has fully funded his trip, with enough left over to do a potential second lap around the U.S.

While we were chatting, a man entered the bar and approached us.

“Do you guys own the bikes outside? Well today’s your lucky day! What’s your favorite color?”

After we responded (Dave’s is green, I went with blue), the man ran to his car to grab what appeared to be a map holder. Dave and I looked at each other, not quite sure what this guy was about. I was getting ready for a magic trick.

“You guys have never seen anything like this. Here’s the green one. Here’s your blue one. Enjoy!”

Evidently, this traveling salesman (whose name I forget) found the map in a library, printed it on cloth, and just finished traveling across Wyoming and Idaho selling them to clothing, tourist, and general knick-knack stores. He had such success on his trip, he decided to give a few away to some of the Jeffrey City bar patrons. I was amazed, both at the man’s kindness and the coolness of the map.

Byron, the owner of the pottery shop across the street, volunteers his time at the bar as well. He fixed me up this delicious burger and fries. Needless to say, it didn’t last long.

He also offered his caravan for me to sleep in that night. Again, awesome kindness (especially considering there was a voracious pack of mosquitoes outside).

The next morning, I realized I had left one of my water bottles at the bar the previous night. When I heard it had been tossed, I was prepared to go dumpster diving (with Dave ready with his Flip video camera) until Nikki informed me the trash had been taken to the dump. In that moment, three things happened: Nikki offered two aluminum water bottles, a woman at the bar ran to her car to grab an empty 2 liter 7-Up bottle, and Dave offered one of his water bottles from his bike. Ridiculous. Because I didn’t want to take Nikki’s nice water bottles and the 2 liter one wouldn’t fit in my bottle holder, I went with Dave’s offer, though hesitant to take such a precious item from a fellow touring cyclist.

“Dude, I have four. That’s like 12 pounds. Take it, you’re doing me a favor. Crazy couple of days, eh? Giant burgers, awesome random Yellowstone maps, mosquito attacks, a night in the aquatic caravan, and potential dumpster diving…now that would make a good blog post.”

Agreed.

You can check out Dave’s blog here and money-making Youtube videos here!

Week Seven Stats

Week 7 Stats:

Starting city: Denver, CO

Ending city: Jeffrey City, WY

Total distance traveled: 334 miles

Total distance to date: 2181 miles

Days on the bike: 5

Day in Denver: 2

Average per day of riding: 67 miles

Shortest day: 58 miles

Longest day: 82 miles

Total money spent: $49

Average per day: $7

Animals consumed in Denver: cow, chicken, pig, whatever’s in chorizo sausage

Cinnamon crumble muffins consumed at Aaron’s mom’s house: 3…and one after dinner…and one the next morning

% change in cloud appearance at 8,000 ft: 100% bigger and puffier

Recliners slept in: 1 (no space for air mattress in CouchSurfing host Sandra’s place, but surprisingly comfortable)

Wyoming winds: Ferocious

Direction: Sometimes from the north, sometimes from the west, usually northwest

In my face all day every day: Yep

Times woken by train horns in Medicine Bow, WY: About once an hour (note to self: always check proximity to rail crossing before setting up tent)

Miles ridden on Interstate 80: 20! (not bad at all, actually – giant shoulder, smooth road, and direct route to Rawlins, WY)

Distance of bike races CouchSurfing host Rick usually competes in: 400 miles!

Blueberry pancakes consumed at Rick’s: 10? 12? They were too good to keep count.

Jeffrey City experience: Indescribably awesome (but I’ll try anyway in a future post)