Montana 2014 Part 2 – Day 106 – Lake Creek CG – Dead Indian CG: Breaking my speed record

Tuesday September 2, 2014, 24 miles (39 km) – Total so far: 4,712 miles (7,583 km)

Some days on tour are hard. Some days are long. Some days are short. Some days are perfect. Some days are miserable. And some days like today are a relaxed saunter full of visual delights and low mileage. The road I’m riding today, the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway, was my favourite stretch of road on all of last year’s tour. However, I did the ride all in one day and was so exhausted by the end of it that I felt like I failed to appreciate some of its beauty. So this year, I’m splitting the ride into two days and will have plenty of time this morning to really stand around and absorb the sights I passed in an exhausted daze last year. Read more

Wyoming 2014 – Day 107 – Dead Indian CG – Cody: Dead Indian Pass – Take 2

Wednesday September 3, 2014, 39 miles (63 km) – Total so far: 4,751 miles (7,646 km)

It’s not all that often that you can see the first seven miles of your riding day all laid out before you. But that is the case today. From the campground on Dead Indian Creek, you can trace the curves and switchbacks of the road all the way up to the top of the pass above you. You can either dread the climb first-thing, or consider it your lucky day that you get the biggest climb of your day out of the way just after the start-line. Read more

Wyoming 2014 – Day 109 – Cody – Thermopolis: Uplifted

Friday September 5, 2014, 87 miles (140 km) – Total so far: 4,843 miles (7,794 km)

The sun filters through thin clouds to light the landscape with gentle rays. The muted brilliance matches the muted colours of the landscape. There are no bright shades of green or glossy leaves standing turgid with moisture. There is no showy excess of life like we saw in Illinois and Iowa in spring. The sagebrush is…well… sage-coloured and the sparse grasses cured long ago. Here, the rocks and soils are all Cretaceous-aged. Nothing about Cretaceous-aged rock is flashy – they’re almost all shales and sandstones with colour pallets of various browns and grey. This landscape is a lot more about texture than colour. Read more

Wyoming 2014 – Day 110 – Thermopolis – Casper: And I ride and I ride – breaking my distance record

Saturday September 6, 2014, 130 miles (209 km) – Total so far: 4,973 miles (8,003 km)

Sometimes on tour you regret the things you were not able to do, or the places you missed, or the scenery that disappeared underneath a blanket of rain. On last year’s tour, one of my biggest regrets was not being able to do a day ride down the Wind River Canyon and back from Thermopolis. I came down with the flu in a big way, and I spent the day I’d planned on riding the Wind River Canyon not doing much but feeling fairly miserable. So when I figured out that I was going to ride down through Wyoming this year, I immediately decided Wind River Canyon had to be on the route. Today we get to right a regret. Read more

Wyoming 2014 – Day 111 – Casper: Cult soccer

Sunday September 7, 2014, 12 miles (20 km) – Total so far: 4,985 miles (8,023 km)

Ah, the grass is so soft. Who needs a mattress with air in it when you are fortunate enough to camp on irrigated grass? I lounge around and enjoy a lazy morning. Hunger is what eventually drives me from my sleeping bag. I don’t even have to pack a wet tent for once. We raid the nearby Walmart for ridiculous quantities of vegetables, fruit, sliced turkey, cheese and crackers. We also get a few days worth of non-perishables because I’m not too sure of our plans for the next few days. Read more

Wyoming 2014 – Day 112 – Casper – Medicine Bow: 5,000 miles!

Monday September 8, 2014, 94 miles (151 km) – Total so far: 5,079 miles (8,174 km)

It’s that time of day when all of the vehicles still have their headlights on, but the drivers heading east are blinded by the low angle of the sun. The steady stream of commuters heading into Casper all have their car’s sun visors down but still squint into the glare. I wish those low angle sun rays landing on my back could reach out and give me a push, because the westerly wind is a formidable force this morning as I head out of town. I slowly climb up the long hill that heads over the end of the anticline. Read more

Wyoming 2014 – Day 113 – Medicine Bow – Saratoga Lake CG: Domes, deposition and a distinct lack of dryness

Tuesday September 9, 2014, 56 miles (91 km) – Total so far: 5,135 miles (8,265 km)

The earth has moved. And moved again. It has pushed and shoved. It has pulled and fallen away. It has sat still and stable while basins filled up with sediments which came tumbling down the peaks and high points under the constant pressure of wind and water. The compression and movement of the earth has created an absolute spectacle of deformation. Rocks bend and curve along anticlinal ridges. Blocks of earth tilt at impossible angles, sometimes fully overturned. Domes rise up like scabby pimples with sloughing slabs of rock disguised beneath a skin of sage and grass. It’s like the earth was creating a small showcase of its power and geologic variety. Read more

Wyoming 2014 – Day 114 – Saratoga: Dawdling

Wednesday September 10, 2014, 6 miles (10 km) – Total so far: 5,141 miles (8,274 km)

I sleep late. I listen to the wind build. It is not going to get very warm today, but it should be windy enough to dry out all of my damp gear. It will also be windy enough I’m glad I’m not riding today. I’m supposed to meet my friend Wayne in Walden on Saturday, so I’ve got a couple extra days up my sleeve. So I dedicate today to getting everything dry again, eating stupid quantities of food and sleeping as much as possible. Read more

Wyoming 2014 – Day 115 – Saratoga Lake CG – Sixmile Gap CG: A change is coming

Thursday September 11, 2014, 47 miles (76 km) – Total so far: 5,189 miles (8,351 km)

I start to peel back my sleeping bag. But I decide it is just too cold. The sun isn’t out. So I curl back into the warmth and go back to sleep. How many times in normal life do you wake up on a cold, dark day when the alarm goes off and wish you could just stay in the warmth of bed? How many times do you think, “Ugh. I soooo don’t want to get up and go to work.” But you have to, because your employment depends on it. It would be nice to think that your employer depends on it, or the world depends on it, but most of us probably overinflate the importance of our positions to the general needs of society. But still, we get up and go in.

My second attempt at the day 30 minutes later is more successful. I emerge from the tent to find a cold, wet world enveloped in fog. It is only 33F, so the damp day makes it feel colder than that. The droplets in the air settle on surfaces and saturate anything slightly porous. I start packing up since it doesn’t look like the thick fog will lift soon. Read more