Denis Kertz, ©2008
I had an amazing view from my bed – I could just sit up and see the Tetons. Somehow it didn't seem right that it should be that easy but it was. I packed up in the morning by carrying my panniers down the stairs to my bike below. Sally was out and was in a funk again where she barked at me and would hardly come close to me. Eventually we sort of worked out our differences.
It was obvious that it made
sense for me to take care of my own breakfast given the household uncertainty
In town I decided to try the Milk Creek Grill which was one of two places Frank had suggested. It was expensive and they wanted $2 per pancake. So I decided to go with an omelet but it wasn't cheap either at $9. Breakfast was $12 plus tip, the most expensive of the trip.
Leaving town there was a
bike path paralleling the road and I took it to Victor. Victor was the last town before going over
the pass to
Frank told me about another
road that paralleled the main road for a ways before starting the climb to
Finally around 1:00 I
crested the pass and was faced with an awesome view of the
At the bottom I stopped at
a food mart in
The nearest campground was
At that point I was pretty
well committed so I decided I would just continue on and hope the park wouldn't
turn away a cyclist. I actually rode
When I got to the
campground, several signs said full but this campground, which was limited to
tents only, had a hiker-biker site where I was able to get a site for $7
compared to the regular $19 rate. So
this turned out to be a good deal and much better than I would have done in
This campground was also in bear country and all food and smelly articles had to be locked up. The hiker-biker site had bear proof containers for just this purpose.
This was an interesting day. I started it on the west side of the Tetons and ended up on the east side, not all that much progress as the fly crows. I ended up just doing a big U turn for the day.
I think I was the first one
up in the hiker-biker camp. I didn't
think I would find breakfast any time soon so I ate my cereal breakfast in bed,
after I dragged all of my food out of the bear proof locker. After I packed up I rode the short distance
down to the
After I was back on the main road I saw another cyclist behind me. I guessed it was Craig, the guy I met last night who was doing the Great Divide route. However, after a while he disappeared from view so he must have taken a turnoff. I stopped occasionally for photos of the Tetons who dramatically just appear out of the ground and project themselves into the sky.
After 8 miles or so I
After breakfast we parted
ways since he wasn't planning as ambitious a route to Dubois as I was. I rode past
With that I moved on since
it was still quite a ways to Dubois with a big climb ahead over
I continued riding and the climbing started in earnest. Before long I was climbing at the 3-4 mph rate with quite a ways to go. Road construction warning signs started showing up but it was a while before I reached the actual construction area. Then a contractor for the constructionwork who I had briefly met at the RV store stopped and offered a ride through the construction. So even though I did a fair amount of climbing I also managed to bypass a fair amount of climbing as I got a ride to the top along with some interesting conversation about the construction project and the area in general.
I got dropped off at
In camp I also met Andy, a
touring cyclist who was headed west on the TransAm route. We ended up walking into town where he had a
meal and I had a couple of beers and we talked about our various cycling
tours. Andy had already toured
It was almost 9:00 by the time we got back to camp and I was able to write up my daily notes.
After debating taking a
rest day today or tomorrow I finally decided on today. Lander would most likely have been a more
interesting town than Dubois but the KOA in Dubois was a great location and
inexpensive and I doubted I could replicate that in Lander. So after eating breakfast I washed my clothes
and retreated to a coffee shop across the street for Internet access. Later I visited the
Back at camp I took care of a few odds and ends including lubing my bike chain. Craig had walked to town so I figured I would too and have a beer. At this time some clouds were appearing and there was a little thunder and apparently a few raindrops while Craig and I were in the Cowboy Cafe.
It was chilly in the morning, just at the edge where I almost needed to put on some more clothes. After I packed I rode back to town and the Cowboy Cafe and Craig joined me for breakfast. This place offered several varieties of pancakes so I had a honey wheat pancake and a pecan pancake. They were a little expensive at $3 per pancake so I limited myself to two. Both were great and the wheat pancake came with real honey.
After breakfast Craig
headed back to camp to pack up for his trip over
It was mostly downhill to Crowheart, the first place to stop so I stopped there after an easy 30 miles and had my second breakfast. Then I did an incredibly dumb thing, the no-no of cycling. I took off without thinking. It wasn't until 10 miles later when I saw a sign that said 20 miles to Dubois that it finally struck me that something was wrong. I checked my handlebar compass which said I was going west. I couldn't understand how that could be and looked at my Wyoming map to see if I could have somehow taken a wrong turn that looped me back but that wasn't possible. Then I realized what happened. When I rode into the Crowheart food mart I turned my bike around and leaned it against a bench. That made it easy to get my money pouch out of my front left pannier. Then I forgot all about that when I left and just rode off in the direction my bike was pointed.
What a major goof. Now I had to turn around and ride 10 more miles just to get back to Crowheart, costing me 20 miles and about 2 hours. Then to add insult to injury I started getting some headwind, nothing really hard but enough to cause me to have to pedal on the modest downhills. I figured that was the cycling gods punishing me for being stupid, as if 20 miles and 2 hours wasn't enough. All the way back to Crowheart I kept trying to figure out how I could go 10 miles without realizing anything was wrong. Often riding a route in reverse looks completely different but there was the Crowheart Butte that I was riding towards and after leaving Crowheart I thought it was strange that it appeared well behind me in my rear view mirror even though I didn't ever remember passing it. Had I looked more closely I would have noticed it appeared over my right shoulder rather than over my left, where it would have been if I had been headed in the right direction.
20 miles after leaving Crowheart I came back to Crowheart. It would have been a reasonable time to stop for a cold drink but I didn't want to have to explain my gaffe so I continued on. Fortunately, about 13 miles later there was a rest stop and I was able to get some cold water to drink.
A little further on the road split and I took the right side, US287 south, to Lander. At this point I entered desert landscape that was often very picturesque as I rode through rolling brown hills in wide open spaces. Fortunately, the headwind shifted to mostly a cross wind and I started making good time. Although the road lost altitude between Crowheart and Lander there were still some undulations and some fair climbs.
15 miles from Lander I
I rode all the way through town and found the Sleeping Bear RV Park and Campground. It turned out to be a pretty decent place at $16. The camp site wasn't much, just a small piece of ground next to an RV, but it was grass and the park had nice facilities, including WIFI that I was able to use from the laundry room where I could plug in my PC.
So it was a day that should have been fairly easy since it was mostly downhill but I managed to turn it into almost a century ride. I'm sure this gaffe will remind me in the future to check my directions, or the cycling gods will have more fun in store for me.
I packed up and rode back into town looking for a breakfast place. I saw a grocery store so I did a little shopping. Then I found a breakfast place but it was a disappointment. It was kind of an upscale place that I should have just skipped. I didn't like the looks of the pancake offering so I had a basic breakfast which was OK but expensive. When I left town I found the breakfast place I was looking for when I rode into town but it was too late.
There was a fair amount of
traffic as I left town. However I had to
turn left to get on to US287 going south – I double and triple checked that it
was the right left turn – and then the traffic became very light. The road was up and down but mostly climbing
but nothing difficult. It was more
scenic desert – sagebrush and yellow grassy fields with hills/mountains. It was a cloudy day, even a little
threatening when I left, but it got better late in the morning. When I reached the top of the morning's top
climb I could look back and see the peaks of the
After some descending I
began the climb of the day. It was about
a 6 mile climb where I spent at least half of it climbing at 4 mph. During this climb I met Aaron who was riding
in the opposite direction. We traded
info on our routes. Aaron was doing
mostly the TransAm but was also improvising at times. He was somewhat concerned about the weather
since he was about 3 weeks behind after having got hit 3 days after starting
his trip and spending some time recovering.
I gave him some thoughts on riding through
Then I completed the climb
and had a great view looking towards the
At this point I only had 20
It was an old mining town that had seen better days. It had a bar/cafe and a small motel. I thought surely its motel couldn't be expensive, especially after I saw the motel, and I had read another cyclist’s trip report in 2002 who said it was inexpensive. I rode back to the bar/cafe to inquire and was shocked to hear a room cost $65. That made no sense since there was a place across the street where I could stay for free. Then I inquired about food and discovered they had a buffet for $7 with ham, green beans, baked potato, and desert. This was a great and unexpected deal and I jumped at it, stuffing myself.
Afterwards I rode across the road to a building that was open on 2 sides and had picnic tables under the roof with a concrete floor. Aaron had told me about this place and said he slept on a picnic table. I set up to do the same thing. Then I cleaned up and walked back to the bar for a beer and discovered it had WIFI. So I sat down at a table and drank my beer while I wrote my notes and browsed the Internet.
I was really tired last night so I went to bed at 8:00, on top of a picnic table. I woke up around 9:30 and noticed the cafe/bar light was off so they must have closed around 9:00. There was a fair amount of lightning during the night but most of it appeared at least a mile away. However, it did rain so it was great to be under the pavilion and protected.
When I woke up I headed to the cafe/bar after packing up. The cook didn't appear all that enthused about my being there but I ordered a full stack of pancakes, despite the menu saying the pancakes were huge. They were reasonably large but not huge and they were fine. It was good I showed up when I did because a group showed up about 15 minutes after I did. Had I been a little later it would have taken forever to get my breakfast.
I left around 8:30, having
I stopped at the Split Rock Recreation Site and hiked the short distance to the top of the nearby granite mound which afforded a great view of the surrounding area. When I left I started a long but moderate climb that was made harder by the side wind. The wind was already picking up and it was projected to be a windy day. For the time being it was a side wind and hurting but that would only last until I reached Muddy Gap Junction when the side wind would become a tail wind. Even descending to the Muddy Gap Junction was slow due to the side wind.
When I reached the Muddy Gap Junction there was a food mart so I stopped for my second breakfast around 11:00. Then I started a long ride through mostly flat yellow grassland with sagebrush with mountains in the distance. Sagebrush is a staple of the Pronghorn Antelope and I saw 3 herds of Pronghorns, two herds had about 20 each and the other had 15. As usual they cast a wary eye on me but I managed photos of them before they wandered off.
With the former side wind
now a tailwind I was really cooking and cycling was easy. I saw another famous landmark – Devil's Gate
– which was a gap in the mountains where the
After the rock I pumped out the miles through the desert with the aid of the wind. Even a fairly long moderate climb didn't slow me down much. It was really awesome riding through this area where you could see for miles and just see the pioneers walking along side their wagons as they pressed on to Oregon and California.
Then I started a long
descent to Alcova that marked a change in the landscape to a more ragged
land. I had thoughts of camping at the
The ride to
So I pushed on hoping to
find something better in town. I found
another motel for $54 that wasn’t particularly well located so I passed, a
decision I would regret. Riding on
After that I settled in my room which was really nice but at least 3 times larger than I needed with a microwave and a refrigerator that I also didn't need.
I planned to make this a relatively easy day so I took my time getting out of town. The Super 8 had a good breakfast deal. I had 2 waffles and 2 small bowls of cereal so it was a pretty good breakfast for me. I finally left around 9:15.
The plan was to make it to
It was an easy 20 mile ride to Glenrock but not particularly scenic. The sky was mostly overcast and the prediction was for rain in the afternoon with some thunderstorms. As I approached Glenrock I felt a few drops and I wondered if I might need to stop there but the sky cleared up a bit as I rode through town.
From Glenrock to
The gravel road was mostly
pretty good but it had some washboard sections that were difficult for a
bicycle so I weaved around the road to find the smoothest parts which wasn't a
problem because of the low traffic. When
the road veered left and crossed the
My concern, of course, was
that I was pulling another Dubois and would have to backtrack all the way back
to Glenrock. Fortunately, another
vehicle came along and I flagged the driver down. He reassured me I could get to
After the approximate 5
miles I turned right on to the paved 93 to take me to
After stopping for a drink in town, I rode through town where I found the Plains Motel that I suspected would be the best bet. There was actually a better choice right across the street but when I inquired I found they had no vacancy due to hunters. So I checked into the Plains Motel for $47, still a bit expensive but at least under $50. It was a basic motel which was my preference. After settling in I walked across the street to a place that was open 24 hours and had a beef and bean burrito that was quite good and filling.
Later in the evening I spent a good part of the evening on the phone with my ISP. One of my email accounts got filled up with over 9,000 emails, mostly of the “message delivery failure” type, so I think it was some kind of spam. This all apparently happened over the last 2 days. I had to call my ISP because there was no way I could delete that volume of emails with my web access and I had to rely on my ISP and it took them 30-40 minutes. I called them twice. The first time they tried to say they couldn't delete the emails but with persistence they finally said they deleted them. But I checked later and they were still there so I called again. The second time I got someone who knew how to delete them but could only delete 1,000 at a time and he eventually got them deleted. During this time my motels WIFI also had some problems where I couldn't access the Internet. So I had to use the WIFI from the motel across the street. A fun evening.
One of my goals for the day
was to minimize riding the Interstate and I unexpectedly achieve zero
Interstate riding. Afterwards I used
Google Maps to check my route and saw where I think I should have gone
straight, rather than following the road when it veered left, to stay on
I only had to walk across the street to the restaurant I ate at last night for breakfast. Their pancakes were so cheap I figured they couldn't be enough so I had 2 pancakes with eggs and bacon and it was just adequate. Before I left I checked my email and found some more spam email but few enough that I could handle them myself.
On my way out of town I did
a little grocery shopping and then I took the frontage road just past the truck
stop at the edge of town. It was nice
again to be able to avoid the Interstate although the frontage road was so
close that the Interstate could still be heard.
There were some reasonable views looking south towards the
After a little over 10 miles the frontage road ended at the Orin exit and I picked up US20 heading east. There was a train sitting on the tracks as I road over it on the overpass with all its cars loaded with coal. The next 10 miles or so were scenic with wide expanses of yellow grassland and sagebrush and some rolling hills in the distance. This was also prime Pronghorn habitat. I saw bunches of Pronghorns along the way in groups of up to 10. They all eyed me warily as I rode past.
I was really moving along
because I had a good tail wind. It was
40 miles from the Orin exit to Lusk, the planned destination and the next real
town along the way. There were several
small towns listed on the map but none except the last had any kind of services. Just before
Just when I tried to get back on the main road a coal train came through. I guessed this was the train I saw sitting at the Orin exit and it had to wait for the track maintenance to clear before it could roll on. After it passed I rode on to catch it. I had that chance because there was a modest uphill. I gained on the train as it chugged up the modest upgrade and got within maybe the first third of the train. Then the grade leveled off and the train picked up speed and left me behind. I tried counting the cars and got something around 140.
Just after this train passed by another came from the other direction, another coal train with empty cars, no doubt looking to load up. I counted 130 cars. Then another train followed shortly but I lost focus on the count and gave up on counting.
The scenery wasn't all that interesting the rest of the way but I still had a good tail wind and made good time. I rode into Lusk just after 1:00 or so. I would have been happy to ride on but the next town was 30 miles away and it only had a population of 300 so I wasn't sure what services it would have. So I made it a short day and stayed in Lusk. I found an RV park in the southeast part of town that didn't have tent sites but they were well short of capacity so the proprietress offered me an RV site away from the RVs. When I asked the rate she said “what are you willing to pay.” I said $10 because the going rate seemed to be about $16 and that seemed like a reasonable deal.
After setting up I walked downtown and ate at a Subway. Then I cleaned my bicycle chain which was pretty dirty. I tried to get Internet access at the RV park which the proprietress believed I could even though it wasn't their WIFI. Unfortunately, what I could receive was password protected. So I walked downtown to a bar and tried there. I could access two different WIFIs but couldn't get connected for some reason. Then I walked to another bar and got connected. Well, sort of. I kept losing access and kept reconnecting to a WIFI and managed to complete what I wanted but it was a bit of a hassle.
Copyright Denis Kertz, 2008. All rights reserved.