We all know timing is everything. Weather, stock market, wedding proposals. Whatevs. Timing is huge. And so is luck.
In our case this morning it was… when should we break camp and dash to Hartsel from Como. The rain forecast told us we needed to be strategic. There was a window. We’d already decided to layup in Hartsel to ride into Salida on Wednesday. So it would be an easy day for us. Just 30 miles to Hartsel.
After quickly packing up we rode a quick 30 to Hartsel (with some rain and mud but no big deal). Once there we pretty much hung out in the small town supporting the local economy with purchases of beer and food while we watched our cycling buds roll in one after the other.
We also met this cute family riding the Transamerica Trail. What a beautiful family with such an immense spirit and love for each other and God. Ya just knew it!
We’re camping in the back yard of the saloon. It’s been raining off and on all day but we found a window to set up the tent and just in the nick of time.
Well there is one thing I need to make perfectly clear. Boreas Pass is only 11,482, not 14,000+ feet as noted yesterday in the blog. Sometimes I fall asleep with my phone in my hand and I wake up in the middle of the night and continue blogging. That’s what ya get, typos. Hate ‘em!
But I do love a stellar bike trail, climbing higher on a bike than ever before and listening to rain falling gently on the tent. And all three happened today.
We kicked off the day riding on an exceptionally scenic bike trail that connected the towns of Silverthorne, Frisco and Breckenridge. It also skirted around Dillon Reservoir. It was well marked, well traveled and for us heading to Boreas Pass, all uphill from Frisco to Breckenridge. Seriously though, could we have more bike trails in Indy? So many people were out using them.
After a quick snack break in Breck we began our 10 mile ride up Boreas Pass. I was definitely anxious about this one and for good reasons. Rain was expected later and I wanted to avoid a repeat of the chilling ride down Lynx and Gore Passes two days before. Also we’d never ridden above 10,000 feet before and it was our fourth mountain pass in three days.
But up and up we peddled, Tom leading and waiting for me to catch up every so often. Like pennies from heaven, before we knew it we were at the top! And Tom must be making it look too easy. Twice today (once in Silverthorne and once at the Pass) someone asked him if he was riding an e-bike. 😂
No time to celebrate our good fortune, however. Yep… the rain began. Again. It was a windy, wet, sloppy descent down Boreas albeit a shorter one than Saturday’s ride in the rain.
The route took us to Como, a tiny town with the only shelter options for cyclists at the Community Center – outside. No water or food options were available but… there is a pit toilet, plug outside the old building for charging devices and cell service! Pennies from heaven!
Gary and Kurt who are section riding the divide also landed in Como. They considered continuing on 30 miles into Hartzel but then opted to stay. We chatted it up for a while exchanging stories before we hit the sack – at about 6pm because of the rain.
Just an easy ride into Hartzel tomorrow where rumor has it a pizza place offers free camping in his yard and pizza to hungry cyclists. 🍕
Wyoming we love you but what’s up with the send off?
The best part about today might have been late checkout at the Hampton Inn. 😂 We did laundry, updated the blog, backwashed the water filter, did some bike maintenance, ate a huge breakfast, bought more food and water for the road and even stopped at McDonalds for some lunch.
Late checkout was clutch after arriving later in the evening. We just took our time getting out.
Although we left Rawlins in the heat the day we were totally revived after our ride out of the Great Basin. It was super smooth riding on a newly paved road.
This was our last night in Wyoming so we had our eyes peeled for a scenic yet convenient camping spot. It looked like weather was coming in so we began to get a little more serious about finding one.
Finally we just pulled off a county road and plopped the tent down ensuring it was anchored down well with the storm coming. Dinner, stowing food, brushing teeth, securing bikes were finished so we hunkered down in our tent thinking what an easy day of riding it was and that we were both actually still somewhat clean. 😂
Next thing we know a huge gust of wind came and picked up all the dust (and whatever else is mixed in since we are in a cow pasture) and blew it up under our tent fly all over our clothes, skin and sleeping bags. It was like laying out in the beach with all the sand. Why Wyoming would you want to send us off like that? Until next time…
Even though today was our longest day of riding yet and we didn’t start until 10am this morning it felt like a vacation for our legs. It was the combo of friendly road surface and the tailwind! Yes sometimes Wyoming plays nice. 😉
We planned on stopping at 60 miles at a sweet camping spot Chere mentioned but it was only 4:30pm, and although scenic there wasn’t a lick of shade so we continued. So glad we did. Gotta just go when you’re feelin’ it. We spotted so many pronghorn today and I was able to get a short video of them.
I forgot to mention yesterday that this isn’t our first bike experience in Wyoming. Back in 2016 we rode the Tour d’Wyoming and had so much fun. Amber is the ride director and if the saying “good things come in small packages” is true, it was written for her. She’s a sweet little lady with a heart big as the state of Wyoming itself, not to mention she’s a kicka$$ cyclist. She’ll be back at it in 2022 highlighting some of the best cycling roads Wyoming has to offer. Check it out here. It’s a super popular multi day tour so sign up early.
I don’t think I’ve ever cycled though such desolate landscape (although that’s probably going to change tomorrow as we enter the Great Basin). I mean it’s hot, dry and dusty but it’s absolutely stunning. And again, pics don’t do it justice.
Along the way we met Marshall the horse and his owner (don’t know his name). Marshall carries his owner 12 miles a day and loosely follows the Continental Divide Trail. Cool! Sometime Marshall brings a buddy horse to carry camping gear. Sometimes Marshall gets a break and gets to ride in the horse trailer when his owner’s wife sags for them. Who knew that was a thing? 🤷🏼♀️
We’re just a short distance from South Pass City so that means we may find our way to a coffee first thing. Until then…
And thanks for the follow and words of encouragement. It means a lot.
Where to begin describing our ride through the Great Basin? I would say it’s a love hate relationship. We loved it, but it was tough mostly because of the relentless headwind and being anxious about about adequate drinking water.
We resupplied at Wild Bill’s with Carmella and Chris taking good care of us. This was especially helpful as on Monday it appears most everything is closed in Atlantic City (population 57).
As much as we celebrated the tail wind the previous day we lamented over the persistent headwind. I thought a lot about tailwind metaphors in life and advantage but won’t go into it here. #toodeep
It’s beautiful in the Great Basin; the landscape rarely changes, there are herds of wild horses racing across the land and it’s pretty much all sun, no shade. The pronghorn thrive and we never tired of seeing them.
In late afternoon on Monday we just plopped our tent down when we’d had enough and enjoyed a simple dinner while sitting on our old maps sparingly drinking water.
Tent fly free camping gave us an unforgettable view of the stars.
On Tuesday it was just 30 miles to the next water source and if we were gamblers we would not have thought we would make it to Rawlins which was 80+ miles away but we did! Don’t think I’ve ever been so spent and thirsty.
Thanks to Tom for being my constant cheerleader. There comes a point when you’d do just about anything for an ice cube or cold drink. Making it to Rawlins was a big incentive for us.
We rolled into Rawlins, got something to drink at the Sinclair gas station and promptly rolled our bikes over to the local steak and burger joint for some real town food.
We are celebrating that the Basin is behind us and very much looking forward to Colorado in about 50 miles.
Last night we didn’t know how to pronounce the name of this Pass and tonight we can say it correctly and say we did it! For these two Hoosier flatlanders that’s something. Again… we’re not fast but we’re deliberate.
We began our morning by setting our alarm early so we could get coffee and charge up our devices at the restaurant at Colter Bay. They also have Wi-Fi. 😉 There are key variables when deciding if and where to stop and most times wi-fi and electricity ranks higher than showers.
Blog posted, devices charged, and bellies full, we took off and headed for the hills to tackle our first eight mile climb. It was on gravel but it’s always easier in the morning when the legs are fresh. Another bonus? It was overcast and even rained a little. We’re thinking Mamaw was looking out for us.
We said goodbye to the Tetons and hope next time we see them it will be a bit more clearly as haze and smoke somewhat hid this majestic view.
We stopped in a c-store in Togwotee and then went on to pedal six more miles to the top of the Pass on pavement. The views both up and down the were spectacular.
After a steady downhill on pavement we rolled into the Lava Mountain Lodge where we are tenting in their back yard. And the bonus? They have a wi-fi extender that reaches our tent. 😉
Tomorrow we take on Union Pass and will likely be out of range. But guess what…. We reserved a hotel in Pinedale so yahoo! That means food, bevvies, electricity, wi-fi and showers.
Hope your day was extra special. Ours sure was. 🚵🏻♂️🚵🏻♀️
Just when you think things can’t get any better, they do. We realize not every day is going to be a good day but every one that is, is a gift!
Some places are like a vortex. You could stay there forever. Like the Llama Ranch, Jeff and Jill’s and then Swirrel Creek. We had so much fun visiting with LeAnn and her dad, Sheldon, and then we ran into them on the trail. Bikepacker Ben from California let us know what to expect on Union Pass. All good!
We had another stellar day of riding. We crossed the Wyoming state line without fanfare and a small sign for such a big state. And that brings us to map three which will take us to and through The Great Basin and the end of Wyoming.
A heavily forested gravel road took us through the area where the 1988 Yellowstone forest fires took place. New growth abounds with wildflowers and trees even though several areas are still scorched.
After stopping at Flagg Ranch for lunch we hit Rockefeller Memorial Highway and entered Grand Teton National Park. The traffic was nuts though!
Drivers were courteous and we safely arrived to the biker hiker camping area in Colter Bay. There’s lots of bike tourers here as Adventure Cycling routes the Great Divide and the Transamerica Trail through here. Alex from the Ukraine, a westbounder on the TA Trail rolled in late last to the campground with some stories to share.
Again, our bikes are holding up well (and surprisingly these old bodies of ours 😉). Our Salsa Cutthroats (named for the state fish of each state we pass through) has a map on the frame of the Great Divide Route. Yesterday it was Flagg Ranch. Cool!
Wishing our dear Rosie the happiest of birthdays today. She’s 3️⃣! ❤️🌹❤️
Tomorrow we tackle Togwotee Pass and we will reach our highest elevation yet at 9,659 feet. Woohoo! ⛰🚴🏼♀️🚴🏼♂️
Today we drop into Idaho for just a couple quick days and then on to Wyoming. The Idaho state line is actually at the top of Red Rock Pass. How cool is that?
Had a little snafu today. I was getting on my bike and commenting that I think there are cows at the top of the pass (saw fresh cow stuff) when I lost my balance and fell over with my loaded bike on top of me. I make it all the way up and over Lava Mountain and Fleecer with nary a fall and I fell over while getting on my bike. How embarrassing. Gratefully I didn’t fall in the cow 💩.
We had nice easy riding with spectacular views in the morning.
And then we got to Big Spring and Island Park. The community of Big Spring is experiencing somewhat of a water emergency as their drinking water has been contaminated. Ya can’t drink the water! So instead of filling water bottles we bought water and ate ice cream. First it was grizzled, then the wildfires and now water issues. I’m not going to ask what’s next. 😂
At Island Park we could drink the water but dang… the ATVs are out of control. These aren’t farmers or ranchers using them for work. Its mostly youngsters a lot of them. I think I know who businesses can’t find employees. It’s nuts! We got out of Dodge as fast as possible.
We’re camped at Buffalo campground just outside of Island Park and on the hunt for some fried chicken today. Thank you all for following! It means a lot. Sending hugs and good vibes your way today. 😘
Today began most ordinarily and ended with the most exceptional people. Here’s how it all went down.
We woke up camped in Deadwood Gulch to fierce wind knocking on our tent. Our first thoughts were, “Oh please God, let that be a tail wind.” We planned a 70 mile ride to Upper Red Rocks Campground just past Lakeview.
Having packed up, we started peddling in a TAILWIND toward Lima to get breakfast and resupply. Tom said maybe we should keep going because with this wind we could be in Colorado by noon.
Right out of Lima we ran into northbounder Mark who shared some stories, gave us some helpful ride intel and shared a few laughs. I could have listened to him all day. Cyclists find all sorts of booty on tour… everything from food, money, ride mascots, etc. but Mark topped them all. He found, and still carries a sheathed saber. I kid you not. Below he’s pictured with his riding mascot, a rubber Flamingo.
Alas the tail wind was short lived and shifted to a full blown head wind. The roads were rough and the sun was was out without a spot of shade all day. We outran another afternoon thunderstorm and spotted another forest fire we later learned was burning about 15 miles away.
I “mustache” you a question, Tom. When in the heck is this wind going to stop?
Thirsty, a bit tired and ready to call it a day we stopped at an outfitter where we thought we might be able to get a cold drink before riding on six miles to Upper Red Rocks. We’d been fantasizing about how cold the water might be. They were closed.
A little dejected, we rode ahead through the community of Lakeview, and noticed a woman and a man carrying an empty growler walking down the gravel road. As you know, Tom and I love our beer, cold beer especially and could only imagine what it might taste like after a windy, dry, dusty day of riding.
Tom jokingly said, “Don’t be twirling that around in front of a couple of thirsty, tired riders. He replied, “Pull over by that camper and we’ll fix you right up.”
I’m not sure if I’ve ever experienced such a well timed bit of trail magic but I know this family sure threw out the red carpet for us. Jeff and Jill, both scientists, live here in Lakeview with their daughters. Jill’s brother Andrew and his wife Jen and their two kids travelled from Vermont, with camper and mountain bikes in tow. Jill and Andrew’s mom, Sandy was in from New York. We chatted all evening. They fed us, kept our red solo cups filled and let us throw up our tent in their back yard. Tom and I kept shaking our heads at the welcoming bunch and how grateful we were to have met them.
We didn’t take many pics today. It was a longish ride and with nothing extraordinary, except maybe Lima Damn. 😉 And we were certainly too rapped up in the convos to take pics. Unless one is snapping pics, without Internet or cell, ya just don’t pick up your phone.
To give you some perspective on riding verses racing the Great Divide, we just finished our 15th day of riding and finished Montana. Jay Petevary, winner of this year’s race, finished 2,500 miles and won the race in the same amount of time. I can’t imagine the athleticism, mind set and maybe a little bit of luck that involves. Hats off to JP.
Tomorrow we leave Montana and say hello to Idaho. Here‘s what I’ve come to learn and love about Montana: I’ve never seen more American flags flying, friendly doggos, tasted thirst quenching craft beers, encountered helpful folks, especially those riding ATVs. It’s a land of vast spaces, mountain vistas, and sweet mountain cabins tucked away. Montanans love their land. And by the way, did you know one can experience snow in any month of the year and that there’s likely more cows than people in Montana? That’s according to Mike at the Silver Saddle in Basin so don’t quote me.
We have crossed Montana latitudinally (in 2018) and longitudinally on bikes during the last two weeks. It’s a pretty magical place. So long Montana. It’s not “goodbye”, it’s until next time.
Today was all about the cows. And the wind. I think that Montana is slowly introducing us to Wyoming, the state known for its strong enduring winds.
We also saw a badger and a nice sized herd of big horn sheep. They blend in so well with the landscape they are hardly noticeable. And oh yea I accidentally ran over a small snake. Didn’t mean to. Just happened.
Both of us are salivating in our tent right now for a LaCroix. We have been drinking lots of water but it’s just not quenching our thirst. It wasn’t super hot today but the route over Medicine Lodge Divide was all day sun and sun wind.
Looking forward to hitting Lima tomorrow in about 15 miles for some carb loading – like carbonation. We need some COLD bubbly water.
Had pepperonis and string cheese on tortillas for din din with assorted other snacks. Not missing the stove. Not one bit.