GDMBR South Pass to Rawlins (Day 23 and 24 | 140 miles, 5,300 ft elevation | The Great Basin: Legs Back to Work

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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 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 tire 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.

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GDMBR Day 22 | Pinedale to South Pass | 79 miles, 3,465 ft elevation | Leg Vacay

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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.

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GDMBR Day 21 | Strawberry Safety Shelter to Pinedale | 58 miles, 1,572 ft elevation | Hold On! I’m Coming!

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Today’s theme is “Hold On, Tom! I’m Comin!” If it wasn’t the narly rocks coming down Union Pass, it was the headwind. And if it wasn’t the headwind, I needed to make a clothing change, or change my Spotify playlist or grab a snack. Thank goodness Tom was behind me at one point, because my Oofoos sandal fell off my seat bag. #bikerideprobs Thanks for your patience, Tom!

We said so long to Chere and passed Mosquito Lake, the place we were were thinking about camping. Gorgeous!

We stood in awe of a beautiful herd of elk as they moved on up to higher ground. The high meadow at daybreak was breathtaking.

Our roll into Pinedale was punctuated with scenic views, fellow bikepackers and of course ATVs with a few prancing pronghorn thrown in for good measure.

Pinedale did not disappoint. We resupplied, showered up, did laundry, new rear brake pads for my bike and hit up the money spitter.

More of Wyoming to come!

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GDMBR Day 20 | Lava Mountain Lodge to Strawberry Safety Shelter | 36 miles, 3,924 ft elevation | Hovering 9,000 feet

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The day started with Tom finding a dollar bill on the road. I thought about my running bud Mary Beth who would bend over in the middle of an eight mile run for a nickel. MB he hit the jackpot! 🎰

Not gonna lie. We were anxious about today’s ride over Union Pass, especially after having just crossed over Towgotee the day before. And it was tough but we did four of the five climbs before noon.

We bounced up and down around 9,000 feet most of the day amid what I know would be spectacular views had the skies been free of haze and smoke. It was still such an amazing feeling to be riding up there!

We’d planned on riding to Mosquito Lake (that name tho, not enticing). Northbounder Ben told us about a sweet safety shelter near the top of the pass so we were watching for it.

When we arrived we knew we were done for the day even though it was early. The shelter was just about brand new! And so comfty.

I immediately took a nap. And Tom puttered about and then napped. We awoke to company. A couple of ATVs stopped at the shelter and soon the shelter was filled with visitors including one of the cutest little toe headed toddlers.

We stepped out to chat it up. We must have looked thirsty, hungry and tired because they offered us a couple of Coors Lights and some… wait for it… homemade beef jerky. It was SO tasty! And they kept offering and I sure kept taking. Jane, her daughters and their husbands and of course Baby Brock were a lot of fun to hang with. We shared our blog info, said goodbye and sure hope they share that jerky recipe.

Before they left they mentioned they saw another solo female rider headed toward the shelter. That’s when we knew we’d be having a slumbie with a friend we hadn’t met yet.

Chere, is a northbounder that started in New Mexico and will end her journey in a couple days due to time constraints. I was so inspired by her courage, perseverance and outlook. And y’all her IG snaps are da 💣 You can see them on IG at BlueEyesMTB

Looking forward to rolling into Pinedale for a hotel stay tomorrow. I love cotton sheets!

GDMBR Day 19 | Colter Bay to Lava Mountain Lodge | 55 miles, 3,717 ft elevation | Up and Over Togwotee

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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 Pass 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 town food, bevvies, electricity, wi-fi and showers.

Hope your day was extra special. Ours sure was. 🚵🏻‍♂️🚵🏻‍♀️

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GDMBR Day 18 | Squirrel Creek to Colter Bay | 52 miles, 3,235 ft elevation | I See You Wyoming!

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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 Squirrel 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 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! ⛰🚴🏼‍♀️🚴🏼‍♂️

GDMBR Day 17 | Island Park to Squirrel Creek | 40 miles, 1,381 ft elevation | A “Nero” Day Cycling Along the Warm River

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From Tom:

We debated last night whether to take the alternate route to avoid riding in the deep lava sand on the 15 mile Yellowstone Brach Line rail trail. We decided to always “Float the main stream” and keep to the Great Divide main route when possible.

The deep lava only lasted a couple of miles and the remainder rode along the Warm River below and the view was absolutely breath taking.

We planned on a short ride today with a stop at a local golf course for lunch. I wanted to take some time to play the 9 hole course built up in the mountains, but decided we better head on down the road 😁.

Our final stop at Squirrel Ranch was just a few miles ahead. We were in need of a soft bed in a cabin, shower, and laundry followed by a good meal sitting and talking with our new friends Leeann and her dad Sheldon. Sheldon is a walking encyclopedia (google for the younger crowd).

We are looking forward to entering Wyoming tomorrow and heading to the Colter Bay area on Jackson Lake.

Click on the image below to view the video.

This is Nick. He does it all at the Squirrel Creek Ranch and he understands customer service. Thanks for everything, Nick!

GDMBR Day 16 | Lakeview to Island Park | 48 miles, 1,496 ft elevation | Well Hello Idaho

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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 grizzly bears, 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 and a lot of them. I think I know why 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. 😘

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GDMBR Day 15 | Deadwood Gulch to Lakeview | 65 miles, 2,336 ft elevation | Until Next Time Montana

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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 Dam. 😉 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.

Click on the image below to view the video.

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.

GDMBR Day 14 | Grant to Deadwood Gulch | 56 miles, 2,999 ft elevation | Holy Cow It’s Windy!

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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.

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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.

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