Glacier National Park to Aspen

 

Fall 2017

 

Denis Kertz, ©2017

 

Day 11: Fri, Sep 15, 2017 - Lovell, WY

 

It was raining in the morning so it was an easy decision to lay over for the day with the temperature in the mid-40s.It was just a light rain that ended in the afternoon and then was supposed to rain overnight.

 

The motel had a continental breakfast that I used.It wasnít much but I didnít need much today.

 

Later I walked a few blocks to the library and spent a couple of hours there.Then I watched golf for a good part of the afternoon.

 

There was a Maverik foodmart on the main drag that made their own sandwiches.I had a burrito for lunch and a chicken wrap for dinner and that was all I needed.

 

The rain was supposed to end tomorrow morning so I expected to leave sometime in the morning.It is only 32 miles to Greybull so I didnít need a full day of cycling.

 

Day 12: Sat, Sep 16, 2017 - Lovell, WY to Manderson, WY [53.4, 5:22, 9.9 mph, +1,645/-1,619']

 

I wanted a real breakfast this morning so I stepped outside my door and walked to the end of the block to the Branding Iron, the only place open for breakfast.They had a sun room that was attractive but I was told it was a smoking room so I had to go into the other less attractive bigger, non-smoking room.I ordered the ham & cheese scramble with a pancake rather than toast.It was a good breakfast.

 

I packed up and left at 8 am.The forecast was for possible rain and it was drizzling just a little when I left and it was in the low 40s.I wore my tights, jersey, and long sleeve shirt along with my light windbreaker.I also wore my Sealskinz gloves.

 

After a few minutes of warmup this was just about right for the weather except my feet were cold.So I put on my thin wool socks with my sandals and that was just about right.

 

The first 11 miles were mostly a moderate climb until the last couple of miles.Then the next 13 miles were mostly a descent with one moderate climb. ††Another short climb and then a descent brought me to Greybull after 32 miles.

 

Even though it was overcast with a little drizzle the scenery was still pretty good through a shallow valley of yellows and browns and a view of Sheep Mountain.About half way to Greybull the rain totally stopped and then the sky started lightening up.By noon I was in Greybull and stopped at a Maverik foodmart and had another one of their buffalo chicken burritos.

 

It was way too early to stop riding but my research yesterday showed there was an RV park with a cafe just 18 miles down the road at Manderson.I called ahead just to confirm they were open and then I headed out.

 

The area around Greybull and on was now ranching territory.The sky cleared up with white clouds and some sun and it was pleasant cycling.And then I felt something and stopped and saw my rear tire was going flat.I removed all the panniers and then the rear tire.I started checking the rear tire for anything stuck in the tire and was shocked to find the tire was worn through in several spots.

 

My rear tire was a used tire from a previous tour but I was sure it had more than a thousand miles of tread left.Obviously, I was wrong.Interestingly, the worn patches were in a stretch of about 2 feet and the rest of the tire tread looked okay.Fortunately, I carried a folding spare and used it to replace the unusable tire.The tube was a thorn proof tube but the worn hole looked like it was not patchable.Rather than take the risk, I replaced it with a new tube.

 

This episode cost me about 30 minutes.I always carry a spare tire but this was only the second time in about 20 tours that Iíve needed the spare.The spare takes a fair amount of space but itís a real time saver when you need it.Of course, now I donít have a spare unless I pick one up somewhere along the way.

 

This all happened about 3 miles from Manderson.I had been debating whether I would continue on another 20 miles to Worland but this loss of time convinced me to stop in Manderson.

 

When I called ahead from Greybull I was told a tent site would cost $20 which seemed a little high.However, the guy in the bar charged me $10 and that seemed about right.The place had a nice clean restroom with a shower, one of the cleanest Iíve ever been in.After cleaning up I walked to the cafe for a burrito smothered in chili with French fries.It was good although the burrito was on the small side.

Day 13: Sun, Sep 17, 2017 - Manderson, WY to Boysen State Park, WY [71.8, 7:10, 10.0 mph, +2,142/-1,149']

 

The cafe didnít open until 8 am on Sundays so I wasnít in a great hurry to pack up.There was a lot of dew on the tent so I tried to dry it off as best I could with my chamois.

 

When I got all packed up it was 8 am and just time for the cafe.They have a buffet on Sundays so thatís what I had which was fine.The buffet was a very reasonable $10.

 

I left at 8:40. This was going to either be an easy day or a hard day.It was 52 miles to Thermopolis and about 85 miles to Shoshoni.It was a gradual uphill to Thermopolis with a little up and down.Initially the scenery was great with basic hills.Once I got close to Worland ranches started appearing again.

 

I stopped in Worland after 20 miles and had a Chocolate Muscle Milk and a chocolate muffin.I didnít need much after my big breakfast but I hoped the muscle milk would fulfill its promise.

 

Somewhere outside of Worland I saw a cyclist on the side of the road.It looked like he was fixing a flat so I stopped to see if I could help and met Clint who was just adding air to his tires.Clint was from Florida and had started from Whitefish with the intention of riding back to Florida.The other day in Greybull someone saw who I think was Clint and asked if we were together.

 

We chatted for about 20 minutes and I would have chatted more but I knew I was pushing my luck getting to Shoshoni as it was.I was sure I had finally found someone slower than me since Clint had started from Worland and I had managed to catch up with him.So I wished him well and pushed on.

 

Along the way I saw a couple herds of Pronghorns, one herd in the field and another right along the fence next to the road.I also saw something that kind of looked like a possum cross the road ahead of me but I couldnít figure out what it was.Then I realized later it was a badger, the first badger I think Iíve ever seen in the ďwild.Ē

 

It was 3 pm by the time I got to Thermopolis.That left 32 miles to Shoshoni which meant at least 3 more hours of riding.I needed a cold drink and rode through town looking for a food mart.Just when I thought there was nothing in town I found one at the very southern end of the town where I had a quick drink and left.

 

Just outside town I descended to the opening of the Wind River Canyon and it was awesome.This canyon was the motivation for this trip.Iím a fan of the Walt Longmire mystery books written by Craig Johnson.One of the most recent books was based on this canyon and I thought this could be an interesting ride.The rest of the route for this trip was put together with this canyon as the main focus.

 

There were high rock walls on both sides of the canyon with a road, the Wind River, and a railway on the other side of the river. The road was curvy so there were always new sights.I had no idea that the canyon would be this spectacular.

 

Eventually the canyon started widening and it looked like it was about to end but then another section started up with rock walls.It was not quite as dramatic as the beginning but nevertheless very scenic.There were also some tunnels for both the road and the railway that needed to be cut through the rocky walls.I stopped to mount my headlight and turned it and my tail light on as I passed through 3 consecutive tunnels.They were short enough that I could have gotten by without lights but it was still a good idea to have them.

 

Just after the last tunnel I passed by Lower Wind River Campground.At that point it was 5 pm and I still had close to two hours of cycling to reach Shoshoni where there was a single motel.Since the motel wasnít a guarantee and I would be pushing daylight I decided to stop for the night.This was part of the Boysen State Park so I had to fork over $17 for a campsite as a non-resident.It was nice to be in a campground as part of the outdoors rather than just a campground as a place to stay in a town.

 

Since I didnít make it all the way to Shoshoni this wasnít as hard a day as it could have been but it was long enough as it was.

 

Day 14: Mon, Sep 18, 2017 - Boysen State Park, WY to Lander, WY [68.9, 7:25, 9.3 mph, +2,263/-1,455']

 

This place is apparently a fishermanís paradise.Around 7 am a couple vehicles roared into the campsite next to mine.You would have thought these folks would have respected that there were other folks in the campground.I was already awake so that didnít bother me but the fact that they were just rude did.

 

I had breakfast in bed Ė my cereal breakfast.Then I packed up and left.In less than a mile there was another campground.Then a mile or so further there was the Boysen dam that created the Boysen Reservoir.There was a good view of the reservoir from the dam but after that the road veered away from the reservoir. ††There was also a sign near the dam that proclaimed the Wind River Canyon was 14.2 miles long.

 

It was an uneventful ride to Shoshoni which turned out to be 15.5 miles from my campground and took 1.5 hours.So had I continued on yesterday I would have reached Shoshoni around 6:30 pm, well within daylight.As it turned out, I was glad I camped where I did.It was the first ďrealĒ campground that wasnít just some place to stay in a town.

 

Entering Shoshoni there was a billboard advertising the Desert Inn Motel and a cafe.So I was hopeful about getting a real breakfast but the cafe was shuttered and for sale.There was a good food mart in town so I made do with a breakfast sandwich and pastry.

 

It was 22 miles to Riverton with about a 10-mile uphill stretch that only got fairly steep the last mile or two.I reached Riverton around 12:30 and stopped for a bite to eat.

 

When I left Riverton, it was almost 1 pm and I had 24 miles to Lander.I figured that would go fairly quickly but I was wrong.First, as soon as I left town I got hit by a strong headwind.Fortunately, that didnít last very long but then I discovered I had more climbing than I expected.When I looked at my elevation profile I realized the vertical dimension was skewed by the 3,000-foot climb to South Pass.With a normal vertical dimension, I would have seen more of the climbing.

 

Then on top of that the shoulders were a problem.They started out fine but then there were a lot of 2-3 inch cracks where the crack filler was settled below the top level of the shoulder.So it was a lot of bouncing around while trying to avoid the cracks.I eventually spent time in the driving lane when there was no traffic.

 

The upshot was I spent at least 3.5 hours covering 24 miles, which was at least an hour longer than I expected.I eventually reached Lander just before 4 pm.Normally, that would have been fine but I was hoping to find a bike shop in Lander where I might be able to get a backup tire.

 

I stopped at a food mart just as I reached the southern end of Lander and the guy in the food mart told me where a bicycle shop was, just a little ways into town.Of course that didnít mean the bike shop would have what I wanted but I got lucky.The guy in the shop was a touring cyclist so he understood what I was looking for.They actually had a 700x35 Schwalbe tire but it cost $80 and spending that much didnít make sense for a backup.They also had a 700x32 Continental Gatorskin tire for $55 that was more reasonable and a decent backup.

 

Better yet, this guy was able to give me information about the area around Atlantic City. In particular, I was concerned whether I would have to pack extra water for the 75-mile, 3,000-foot climb over South Pass on the way to Farson.He assured me there were a couple places I could get water and that Atlantic City was a bailout option, particularly important given that tomorrowís weather was uncertain.

 

I ended up getting a motel right by where I came into Lander.It was a bit pricy at $79 plus tax but it had WiFi, or so they said, and a Laundromat.After cleaning up I walked through town looking for food.There was a restaurant next to my motel that advertised Monday as Mexican night but I discovered that just meant some tacos.I continued on looking for a pizza place but after a while I found a real Mexican restaurant and had a huge burrito along with chips that satisfied my hunger.

When I got back to my motel I discovered the WiFi didnít work.I could connect but web pages wouldnít load.Fortunately, the motel restarted the WiFi and that fixed the problem.I also did a load of laundry since there was a washer/dryer in the complex.

 

This turned out to be a harder day than I expected due to the Riverton-Lander section.On the bright side, there was a fairly fast descent near Lander and I suddenly noticed that there was no wobble in my front tire.It was a mystery why this problem would have just gone away but it was nice to just head downhill without any vibration.Weíll see if that continues.

 

Day 15: Tue, Sep 19, 2017 - Lander, WY

 

When I got up in the morning it was drizzling slightly and the weather radar was showing a big glob of green except where it was showing ice/snow at the higher elevations.I walked next door to the restaurant for breakfast.Afterwards there was no weather change so I decided I needed to stay over for the day.However, the problem was that tomorrow was good weather except that it would be very breezy with the wind 20 mph out of the southwest Ė the direction I would head once over South Pass.So that didnít look good either.The next dayís forecast was for less wind and change in wind direction but some chance of showers.Not an inviting forecast.

 

I ended up walking downtown and spent some time in a coffee shop and then the library.Later in the morning I noticed the sun was shining into the library.That looked good but the wind for the day was not good and was forecast to gust up to 30 mph, not what I wanted to deal with on a bicycle.In any event, I had earlier signed up for another day at the motel.

 

In the afternoon I walked downtown.I was thinking about checking out a museum at the other end of town.However, I ran into another bicycle shop Ė Gannet Peak Sports.I saw it previously and thought it was a general outdoor shop with some bicycles but closer examination showed it was a real bicycle shop, one that converted to a ski shop during the winter so they adopted a more generic shop name.

 

The interesting thing was this guy asked what size tires I used (700x37) and wondered if I was interested in a partially gravel route to the pass.He pulled out a brochure for the Lander area and showed how I could take the (paved) road to Sinks Canyon and then pick up a gravel road to the pass.He noted that it was mostly a good gravel road that he rides as part of a loop out and back from Lander and that it would offer some protection from the wind.So I was kind of excited hearing about this alternative.

 

When I continued walking and got to the other end of town I found the museum that I thought was free actually charged admission.It wasnít that much but Iíve never been much of a museum fan so I decided to take a pass.In the end it was an almost 3-mile roundtrip.

 

When I got back to my motel I checked out the South Pass alternative using RideWithGPS.com.I use this website to define routes so I can see the elevation profile.What I discovered was this alternative was 12 miles longer and required 1300 feet more climbing.On top of that it was 19 miles of gravel for the 42-mile route.That quickly squelched my interest in this alternative.I decided I would stick with my 30-mile route with 3000 feet of climbing.

 

After thinking about this for much of the day, I decided my best approach was to climb South Pass tomorrow morning and make that a dayís ride.There are two B&Bís in Atlantic City and a BLM campground and it looked like there was a place for food.Then the following morning I would continue 40 miles to Farson when the wind was more favorable.Rain wasnít expected then before the afternoon so I might be able to avoid any rain or at least most of it.

 

Day 16: Wed, Sep 20, 2017 - Lander, WY to Atlantic City, WY [30.8, 5:42, 5.4 mph, +3,874/-1,449']

 

I wanted to get a reasonably early start to avoid as much wind as possible so I was eating breakfast at the restaurant next door by 6:15 am.I had a good pancake breakfast with 2 large pancakes and bacon and eggs.

 

I left town about 7:45 heading east on US287.It was 9 miles of ranches along the foothills of the Wind River Mountains before I took the turn on WY28 to head up South Pass.South Pass is famous because it was where the Oregon Trail, the California Trail, and the Mormon Trail cut through the Rocky Mountains.The Pony Express also passed through here.

 

It was a scenic ride to South Pass.The highlight was the Red River Canyon where I also met Greg from Quebec and Bob from New York City.They were riding the Continental Divide Trail and got caught in some snow near Pinedale.They ended up getting rescued by Wild Bill and stayed at his place in Atlantic City last night.Now they were headed to Jeffrey City and Rawlins.

 

At that point everything looked normal Ė good scenery and I was making decent time.Then the wind picked up and everything changed.There was some head wind previously but nothing that really slowed me up.When the wind picked up climbing became a lot harder.Then the wind really picked up, maybe in the 30 mph range and gusting higher.I usually handle climbs pretty well if slowly but on a long climbing stretch I stopped numerous times.

 

Then the wind became so onerous that it was no longer rideable.I pushed a little to the crest of a long climb and stopped.It would have been dangerous to keep riding if even possible.I also thought I still had 3-4 miles to go and that would have been impossible with the wind.So I started thumbing for a ride.I thought folks might understand the conditions and why I was thumbing for a ride but no one stopped.

 

I decided the crest of the hill might not be the best place to try to catch a ride.Plus, the wind was howling and it was getting chilly.So I pushed my bike down the other side of the hill to Beaver Creek where there was a bridge with a guard rail and tried that.I figured people would have a better chance to see me and stop.While looking back up the hill I noticed what looked like a small bush alongside the road.I didnít recall that being there and it looked out of place.I kept noticing it and I finally saw that it moved a little.

 

Eventually, I discovered this bush was a guy pushing his recumbent bicycle which was pulling a 2-wheel trailer with his dog in it.He said, and I agreed, that this was the worst wind he had ever encountered.He pulled off into some protective bushes for some coffee and a break.

 

I continued thumbing for a ride.I must have spent a couple of hours at this without any luck.Finally, I noticed that the wind didnít seem as intense as earlier so I decided to try to make some more progress.It was probably about a mile to the top of the next hill.Half way up there was a sign that said the exit for Atlantic City was another Ĺ mile, much to my surprise.

 

Buoyed by that unexpected sign, I pushed on and took the exit.Shortly after the exit, the wind gusted from the side and almost knocked me over.It continued very strong and it was all I could do to keep my bike and myself upright.Finally, I pushed on a little to get by a small hill.That cut the wind and then I was okay continuing.

 

It was about 2.5 miles to Atlantic City which sat in a bowl.There was a BLM campground in a mile but I had heard that this Wild Bill guy catered to hikers and bikers so I continued on to Atlantic City.I found his place just on the other side of town.He wasnít there but showed up a short time later, having been out on a wood cutting expedition in preparation for winter.

 

He had one of two B&Bs in town but the Continental Divide guys said the B&Bs were closed.So I was surprised when he offered me a 2-bunk cabin with a restroom/shower cabin next door and breakfast in the morning for $60.This was an amazing turnaround from just about an hour before when I thought I might be camping in the bush overnight.

 

Wild Bill looked like a wild Bill with white straggly hair and beard but he was all gentleman.He offered me a drink and we chatted a little on their deck.Then I took a shower and when I got back his wife had left some sandwiches for me which was totally unexpected.

 

One of the hardest touring days Iíve had and certainly the strongest head wind Iíve ever had.I started before 8 am and expected to be in Atlantic City in early afternoon and didnít get there until 5 pm.And I ended up in a B&B for $60.

 

Day 17: Thu, Sep 21, 2017 - Atlantic City, WY to Farson, WY [51.4, 5:33, 9.2 mph, +1,345/-2,405']

 

I got a knock on my door just before 7 am that breakfast was ready so I walked down to the house.I entered a big room that was an open area with a kitchen, dining table, and a big screen TV with various trophy heads mounted on the wall.I was directed to a spot on a kitchen island where I was served pancakes, bacon, and scrambled eggs along with coffee, just like I ordered yesterday morning in Lander.

 

In addition to getting fed I learned some more about the Wild Bill family lifestyle.They are avid hunters including Wild Billís wife.She is also an avid ice fisher and said she fishes 2 or 3 times a week during the winter.They also have to drive 28 miles to Lander for gas for their vehicles so they have to make the trip count when they go.Wild Bill was making antelope jerky and gave me 2 long strips of jerky to take along on my trip.

 

I left around 8 and immediately started climbing to get back to the main road.The road was unpaved but generally in good condition.However, the first hill was too steep and I ended up pushing my bike up.I pushed up another short hill that I probably could have ridden but didnít want to risk straining my legs after yesterdayís hard effort.

 

It was almost 4 miles and 700 feet of climbing to get back to the main road.Then I quickly hit double digit speed that I wasnít sure I was ever going to see again.The 40 miles to Farson were essentially downhill but the only significant downhill part was the first 10 miles or so.There again I marveled how my bike had rehabilitated itself and tracked smoothly on the steeper downhills.

 

In the early part there were some good views of the Wind River Mountains with snow at the high elevations.Then the landscape became sagebrush fields as far as you could see with occasional grazing cattle and some Pronghorns. ††The road, while overall descending modestly, was mostly long undulations with the road going straight ahead as far as you could see.

 

There was a rest stop along the way and I took advantage for a second (cereal) breakfast because this was likely going to be the only good stopping place along the way.Otherwise I just pedaled on enjoying the thrill of double-digit speeds.

 

I entered Farson near 2:30 and was surprised to see a town sign noting a population of 313.I had just assumed it was larger since google maps showed a motel.There was a town park but it noted that overnight camping was not allowed.I became worried when I didnít see a motel.It was another 40 miles to Rock Springs which I didnít want to have to do because I would likely run out of daylight.

 

At the intersection with US191 I rode north a little ways.I saw a place with a cafe sign but it looked like it was closed.I rode back to the intersection and got a bite to eat at the food mart.Then I asked about a place to stay and was told there was a motel just past the cafe.I rode back to the cafe and, sure enough, there was a motel.I had noticed a pole with 3 rectangular unlit neon signs with the middle neon sign missing.I just assumed this was for something no longer around but on this second look I saw there was a motel sign.

 

I got a room for $50 that looked better inside than it did outside.In any event I was happy I didnít have to push myself on to Rock Springs.After settling in I went back to the food mart to get dinner.I was rather annoyed that there werenít prices anywhere.It was hard to pick from the sandwich options without knowing the prices.Nevertheless, I picked a sandwich and some chips along with a liter of soda and walked back to my room and ate dinner.

 

Later, sometime after 6 pm I walked back to the food mart for desert and the sky was cloudy with some ominous looking clouds with only a few blue patches remaining.

 

This was a pretty easy day.The only hard part was climbing out of the Atlantic City bowl to get back to the highway.After that the shoulder was great except for about a 5-mile stretch where the road was chip sealed.The chip seal ended just beyond the white line but some of the chip seal got sprinkled on the rest of the shoulder making for a rougher ride.

 

Yesterday the forecast called for possible rain in the afternoon but nothing appeared today.However, the forecast for the next several days all calls for at least 40% chance of rain and even the potential for some snow showers.So the future was uncertain.

 

Day 18: Fri, Sep 22, 2017 - Farson, WY to Rock Springs, WY [42.8, 4:46, 9.0 mph, +797/-1,071']

 

It was drizzling slightly when I walked to the cafe next door for breakfast.I ordered a ham & cheese omelet that I thought was a little expensive at $10 but it turned out to be a fair amount of food.

 

When I was getting ready to leave around 8 am it was drizzling.I had checked the radar and it looked like the rain was moving north out of the area.So I waited a bit to see if the rain would move.I finally gave up near 9 am and decided to hit the road.I put on my rain gear Ė jacket, pants, and helmet cover Ė and also my Sealskinz socks and gloves.

 

When I left there were a lot more folks at the cafe.I was fairly comfortable heading south on US191 to Rock Springs, 40 miles away.Shortly after I left there was almost no rain and I thought the rain was gone but it came back a little later.

 

The route was harder than I expected.It was a gradual uphill until about 15 miles to go when it descended to Rock Springs.The scenery was pretty much sage brush like yesterday until the last 15 miles when hills came into view.

 

I entered Rock Springs at 2 pm and stopped for a bite to eat at the first food mart. Then I rode into town and got a room at the Cody Motel for $55 that I found through Google Maps.It was a pretty decent room for the price and it also had a laundromat so I was able to do a load of laundry.

 

The bad thing about the motel was it wasnít located very well for food.There was a Taco Johnís nearby so thatís where I ate.While I was eating it started raining again.It had also rained some when I was doing my laundry.

 

The next couple of days were still iffy weather wise and then it looked like the weather was okay for a while as the current cold front finally moves through the area.

 

Day 19: Sat, Sep 23, 2017 - Rock Springs, WY to Aspen, CO [10.7, 1:20, 8.0 mph, +632/-122']

 

I walked to the nearby Taco Johnís for breakfast since there wasnít anything else nearby.I had what was basically a scramble bowl and it was fairly decent.

 

Back at the motel I checked the weather again and it didnít look good for the next 2 days.In fact, there was a winter advisory for Dutch John, UT, my next destination.When it was raining yesterday morning it occurred to me that I didnít need to do the rest of this route to Aspen.After the next leg to Dutch John I had previously ridden the rest of the route.So the rain and continued cold front triggered me to thinking about renting a car and driving to Aspen to visit my nephew and family.

 

Last night I had checked whether I could rent an Enterprise car.I was interested in Enterprise because there was a location nearby and Enterprise lets you pick your vehicle, which was advantageous for picking something to handle a bicycle.

 

Turns out there was something messed up on the Enterprise website.It showed 5 locations in Aspen for drop off but would only allow me to select two of them and when one was selected it said nothing was available.That didnít make sense.This morning I called Enterprise and the agent said there was nothing in Aspen for drop off, as opposed to the 5 places the website showed.The nearest drop off place was Glenwood Springs and that didnít interest me.

 

So I went to kayak.com and they came up with an Avis intermediate rental for $250 for drop off at the Aspen airport.I decided to go ahead with this and made a reservation for a 10 am pickup.I called my nephew to warn him of my impending arrival in late afternoon.He didnít answer so I left a message.I guessed he was probably out hunting and had his cell phone turned off.I didnít have Sabrinaís cell phone or I would have called her and realized something wasnít going to work right.

 

By the time I was ready to leave it was just after 9 am.It was 10 miles to the airport outside of town, 2 miles to get to I80, 4 miles on I80, and the rest to the airport on a hill that was a 400-foot climb.I hadnít counted on a hill, which was a 3-mile steep climb at 4 mph.When I got to the airport it was 10:40 and no one was there.However, there was a number to call and the guy said he would be there in 10-15 minutes.

 

When he got to the airport, he didnít have an intermediate car available so he assigned me a Subaru Crosstrek SUV which was perfect.After folding down the seats the bicycle just fit.

 

With the airport sitting on a plateau, there was a great view of the surrounding area.However, unlike on a bicycle it isnít easy to just stop for a photo whenever you want.And when I was riding up to the airport I was late for my pickup time so I didnít take the time to really appreciate the view.

 

When I made the rental reservation, a route was suggested, one I wouldnít have come up with.At the bottom of the hill there was a road that went west and dead ended at WY430 which I took south to the Colorado border.There were fantastic views along this road and I regretted I wasnít riding it.There was no shoulder but very little traffic.It would have been almost non-stop photos had I been riding.However, this wasnít a very realistic route for a bicycle since there were no services until Irish Canyon campsite in Colorado and I didnít see any water sources along the way.

 

When I reached the Colorado border the pavement ended and it was replaced by a pretty good gravel road.The scenery changed somewhat from rocky outcrops to rounded hill tops with a scattering of trees.Still scenic, especially Irish Canyon, but not as dramatic as the Wyoming scenery.

 

Eventually the road ended at CO318.CO318 skirted the east side of the Dinosaur National Monument.I was considering riding this road from Dutch John but the section from US191 to the Colorado border was a gravel road with some 2,000 feet of climbing.I was unsure how good this road was for bicycling.

 

Where I picked up CO318 was near the turnoff to the Gates of Ladora that lead to a campground.The rest of the way to the end at US40 was okay scenery but nothing that would have enticed me to ride the gravel section.But maybe the gravel section was more scenic.

 

I picked up US40 east near Maybell and then just a little later I picked up county road 57 which I would never have thought about.It turned out to have some great scenery over the 40 miles to Meeker.One section was just a fabulous view of a bowl with the mountains to the west contrasting with some light colored fields.

 

At the junction of CO64 and CO13 near Meeker, I stopped at a food mart for a bite to eat.Then I continued south on CO13 to Rifle where I picked up I70 to Glenwood Springs.This section to Rifle was very scenic as I remembered it from several years ago when I rode it after a snow/ice storm.

 

It was 27 miles to Glenwood Springs on the Interstate, which I would have avoided had I been riding.Glenwood Springs turned out to be a mess.The normal exit to pick up CO82 to Aspen was closed because the bridge across the Colorado River was under construction.Instead there was a detour from the previous exit across the river and then partway through town before picking up CO82.This section was fine for me but it was awful for folks going in the opposite direction.The cars were lined up for a couple of miles through town.It wasnít obvious if this was the normal 4 pm traffic or much worse because it was a Friday afternoon.In any event, it must have taken these folks at least 30 minutes to get through town.

 

It was a straightforward drive on 82 to Aspen Village where my nephew lives, about 10 miles from Aspen.When I turned off 82 there was a food mart and I filled my rental vehicle with gas in preparation for the return at the Aspen airport about 6 miles away on 82.

 

However, when I got to my nephewís abode, there was no one around.Calling my nephew resulted in another ďleave a message.ĒThatís when I suspected things werenít going to work out quite right.I called my nephewís mother who, of course, didnít answer.I left a message and then texted her that I was looking for Sabrinaís cell phone.An hour or so later she texted back with Sabrinaís cell phone but said they were camping for the weekend at Lake Powell and guessed they didnít have cell phone service there.

 

The good news was that my nephewís garage didnít have a garage door.It had heavy vertical hanging vinyl blinds that I just walked through and a motion detector turned on the lights.At that point I realized I was going to be camping effectively in a large tent.That wasnít a problem as I just laid my sleeping pad on the concrete floor and my sleeping bag on top of it, just like I would have done in a tent.I also noticed that my cell phone battery was getting pretty low so I charged it up overnight from an electrical outlet.My only complaint was there wasnít something like a Lazy-Boy loungerÖ

 

Day 20: Sun, Sep 24, 2017 - Aspen, CO [16.6, 1:33, 10.5 mph, +392/-905']

 

I slept okay in the garage, just like I was in an oversized tent.I walked down to the food mart only to discover they didnít open until 8 am so I had to wait about 20 minutes.Then I had a breakfast sandwich and coffee.

 

I needed to return the rental car at the Aspen airport before 11 am so I set up to take care of that.Since I had nothing else to do I figured I might as well head into Aspen afterwards on my bicycle and spend some time there.

 

When I got to the airport I returned the SUV without any issue but I discovered my rear bicycle tire was low.I presumed it was a slow leak and I debated whether to fix the problem at the airport or wait until I got ďhome.ĒI ended up using my small portable pump to pump up the tire and hope that would hold the tire until I got home.

 

I didnít know if it made sense to find the bicycle path into town since I was fairly close so I ended up just riding the shoulder of 82 into town.In town I wandered around looking for a coffee shop with WiFi.I found Ink Coffee and made that my home until mid-afternoon.

 

Around 2:30 pm I got a call from Nick when they got decent cell coverage around Hanksville, UT, on their way back from Lake Powell.I got the house access code and Nick estimated they would be home sometime around 7 pm.

 

Not long after that I left for home, using the bike path.It was basically downhill so an easy ride.However, I realized I didnít know exactly how far I had to go and when I would have to exit the bike path.I knew the exit was something like Gobaz (it was Gerbaz Way) but I wasnít exactly sure.I got a little nervous that I somehow missed the street sign but then it turned up and I made it back home.

 

When I left town I pumped up the rear tire again and just when I exited the bike path I could feel the tire was too low so I pumped it up again and that got me home.Then I removed the rear tire and found a small leak.After patching the leak, I matched the patch position to the tire position and felt a small wire inside the tire.Thatís why the leak was slow Ė the wire was partially plugging the hole.

 

Around 7 pm, Nick and the family made it home.Sometime later Sabrinaís friends from Florida, Bob and Yvonne, arrived with food.I had eaten earlier so I didnít get to take advantage.

 

Later, Nick and Sabrina talked a lot about their experience with building their house which involved a lot of trial and tribulations.

 

Day 21: Mon, Sep 25, 2017 - Aspen, CO

 

I got up early because Genevieve had a school trip to Denver and Nick was going along as a chaperone.This was a 2-day trip so this was the last I would see Nick and Genevieve.

 

Sabrina had a 9 am appointment for her nursing job.When she returned, Sabrina, Bob, Yvonne, and I took off.We visited Castle Creek. ††We also planned to take the Aspen gondola but it wasnít running.So instead we rode up towards Independence Pass and spent some time at the Grotto.

 

Later Sabrina cooked a meal of elk steaks and a variety of vegetables.

 

Day 22: Tue, Sep 26, 2017 - Aspen, CO to Glenwood Springs, CO [35.6, 2:46, 12.8 mph, +257/-1,695']

 

I had planned to leave around 7:30 am so I could at least see Johnny off to school.It was 32 miles to Glenwood Springs with a 1400-foot descent.Given the train wasnít scheduled to depart until 2:17 pm, that was more than enough time to make Glenwood Springs, have breakfast, and still have at least a couple of hours.

 

I had a cinnamon roll that I had been carrying around for about 2 weeks and a cup of coffee.When Johnny left to catch the school bus at 7:30 I went into the garage to retrieve my bicycle and was surprised to see that my rear tire was flat.I was sure I had fixed the flat on Sunday after I returned from Aspen and hadnít ridden the bike since so I had no idea why the rear tire would be flat again.

 

I removed the rear wheel and pulled out the tube.I quickly found the leak and patched it.Of course I had to clean my hands.Then I loaded my panniers and was ready to go.By this time Bob and Yvonne were up to see what a real cyclist looked like.They were amazed that all of my ďluggageĒ fit on the bike.As I started off, I discovered my chain was not on my rear cog.So I had to fiddle with it to get it aligned.Then I had to clean my hands again.

 

Finally, I was off at 8:30.This was still plenty of time to make my 2:17 pm train schedule.I got on 82 south and then took the Gerbaz Way exit to get to the paved Rio Grande Trail that goes all the way to Glenwood Springs.It was a chilly morning at 39F but the sun was out and it felt okay in the sun and definitely chilly in the shade.

 

I had ridden this Rio Grande Trail to Glenwood Springs once before so it shouldnít have been a problem.†† However, somewhere I missed a sign or turn because I knew the trail crossed over to the west side of 82 and I never made that crossing.I ended up on a side road and eventually it crossed to the west side of 82 and I found the trail again.I missed another turn in Carbondale but I realized it because I reached 82.So I backtracked a couple blocks and found the trail again.

 

I reached Glenwood Springs around 11:30. The last block of Main Street was a mess because it was part of the bridge rebuilding.There was a pedestrian walkway but it was very narrow and not wide enough to lock up a bicycle.So I had to lock up my bicycle at the corner and walk to the Daily Bread where I had a good ham and cheese skillet.

 

I rode the block from breakfast to the train station where I still had a couple of hours for the train arrival.However, the train was about 50 minutes late so I had even more time.I got my bicycle tag, cleaned up, and repacked my panniers so one of my front panniers had my essential and sensitive items that I could put under my seat.

 

This time my boarding was the opposite of my trip start where I was first to board because they wanted bicycles loaded first.This time my bicycle got loaded first but the conductor arranged everybody by party size.Since I was a party of one I was one of the last to board.By the luck of the draw I got assigned a seat with another passenger.

 

As soon as my ticket was checked I made a bee line for the observation car but it was completely packed.However, the snack bar below the observation deck has some tables so I went below and got a table but the view was not as good as the observation deck.

 

The initial scenery leave the station is very dramatic as the train passes through the Glen Canyon.After that the scenery was not as dramatic but still very nice.I stayed below the observation deck until it got dark which was when we reached Granby.After that I retreated to my seat, gathered a few things, and made my way to the observation car that had space on the upper level.

 

There were several completely empty seats in a couple of cars to I asked one of the conductors about changing seats.She said fine but to be sure to move my seat tag so no one would bother me while sleeping.I went back to my car and found someone else had already moved into the couple empty seats.However, I found an empty seat in the next car.There were seats tagged with CHI so I knew it would be safe to change cars.

 

Day 23: Wed, Sep 27, 2017 - Glenwood Springs, CO to Naperville, IL [2.0, 14:00, 8.7 mph, +81/-49']

 

As usual I slept with fits and starts.Shortly after 6 am I basically moved to the observation car for the day.I found a guy was sleeping in the observation car.Iíve seen that before but this guy took it to another level Ė he had his sleeping pad and sleeping bag and was decked out on the floor.I noticed the observation car was chilly.Apparently they werenít heating it overnight, probably to discourage folks from using it as a sleeping car.Later I could tell the car was heated.

 

The train was late, mostly due to the fact that it was about 45 minutes late getting to Glenwood Springs and then there was a 12-mile section where the train was limited to a max of 20 mph due to some signaling issues.The train was due in at 4:57 pm and made it around 6:35 pm.This caused some folks to miss their connections but it didnít bother me.Bicycles are allowed on the Metra commuter train but not during rush hour.They werenít allowed on the train until 7 pm during the evening rush hour.So I was able to get a quick bite to eat at the Union Station food court and then get on the 7:40 pm commuter train, the earliest train I could get my bicycle on.

 

The problem with taking a bicycle on the train was that bicycles were confined to the limited space reserved for handicapped people.This particularly can be a problem if the handicap person has a wheel chair of some sort.In this case, I got on first and two others showed up with bicycles later.My loaded touring bicycle basically takes up the space for two bicycles.I was a bit of a nervous wreck fearing that a handicap person would get on at the last minute and I would get pre-empted.It turns out a handicap person did get on at the last minute but she didnít have a wheel chair so she didnít pre-empt any bicycles.After the train left, two other bicycles came on the train but there was just enough room to accommodate them.

 

It takes an hour for the night train to get to Naperville because it stops at every station along the way.This contrasts with the express train to Naperville during rush hour that only takes 30 minutes.At the Naperville stop I had to carefully ease my heavily loaded bicycle down 4 steps, using the brakes.Then it was just a 2 mile ride home.



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Copyright Denis Kertz, 2016. All rights reserved.