July 20, 2006
“I’d like three pancakes please.”
“Uh… well… are you sure? Our pancakes are dinner-plate-size,” the waitress shapes her hands to show the size.
“Okay, I warned you!”
I couldn’t finish them after all, and was a little ashamed of that. There was a substantial dent in them by the time I was done, though. Maybe I won’t be having pancakes again for a little while… ugh.
I rode out of Saratoga around 10am, and soon came upon some road construction. There were some guys on motorcycles waiting in traffic that have been traveling around the country. They were really interested in my trip, asking me all the usual questions. The construction zone was short and no big deal, as opposed to the one I went through yesterday near Riverside. That one went on for miles, and had all these annoying, tiny stones on the shoulder.
The construction crew today told me, “Be careful, there’s a lot of rattlers around here.” Ha, I don’t expect any snakes to leap off the side of the road to make a kamikaze dive for my ankles, especially as I pedal by at 15 miles per hour! But I guess I ought to use some extra caution when wandering in the brush to take pictures and such.
Soon I came to Walcott, where I met Curt outside a gas station. He’s riding from Colorado Springs to British Colombia. There I had can of orange soda and a bottle of Gatorade, and kept moving.
The route now turned west and actually put me on an Interstate… I-80 for twelve miles. With a huge shoulder and sparse Wyoming traffic, this wasn’t an especially nerve-wracking ride. I’ve ridden on plenty of worse roads. The toughest factor was that I was now battling a brutal headwind.
Faith No More – Epic, The Kinks – Lola, Def Leppard – Let’s Get Rocked, and U2 – Where the Streets Have No Name helped me blaze through the wind. I must have seen at least a dozen small furry mammals along this stretch – gophers or prairie dogs or something. They were about the size of a red squirrel. They’d stand on their hind legs, and scurry into these little holes as I’d come close.
Now off of I-80, I rode through this small town called Sinclair, directly by a large oil refinery of the same name. After I took a picture of it, this man drove over to me in a pickup truck and said, “You wasn’t takin’ any pictures, was ya? …well please don’t take any more.” He wasn’t in a security uniform or anything. Weird. Oil refineries aren’t exactly like nuclear power plants or anything, right?
The remaining miles west to Rawlins were slow for me. They had a McDonalds on the outskirts of town. I don’t think I’d seen one of those since eastern Kansas, so I stopped in and had three double cheeseburgers.
In town I found the bike shop, tended by a lone 15 year old kid. His mom or grandmother or whatever, who’s usually there, had gone to the UPS store. My riding shorts have developed a tear along the inseam (No doubt due to my rippling muscles ;)), so I thought it would be a good idea to get a new pair, before I become a flasher-biker. I got some decent ones for $25… not bad considering that the name brands were running for $70 in Breckenridge, Colorado… for a pair of tight shorts.
By now it was 6pm, and I had it in mind to go on for 30 more miles. I left Rawlins now in a northerly direction. Somehow the wind had shifted, and remained a headwind. Fortunately it wasn’t as strong as it was earlier this afternoon.
I climbed again over the Continental Divide, and not for the last time. Today it was at 7,200 feet. From there I descended into what’s called the Great Divide Basin. My route leads me across this “basin” for about twenty miles, and then back over the Divide again. Where does the rainwater go that falls in the basin? That’s beyond my knowledge… maybe the Bermuda Triangle.
The riding was scenic and beautiful, and I’m so glad that I continued on past Rawlins, and rode until 9:15pm. This open range country was littered with mule deer, of which I must have seen a dozen. There were plenty of cattle, too, and the rock formations and landscape looked wonderful during the golden evening light. There was an amazing sunset, of course, and the subsequent ride into dusk was equally great. Perfection.
Tonight I have my tent set up in the middle of nowhere, behind this roadside restaurant called Grandma’s Cafe. There was nobody here when I arrived, but it says on my Adventure Cycling map that they allow cyclists to camp out behind the store.
It was still windy, so I had to be sure to stake my out my tent properly – no lazy setup tonight. There’s also probably a 30 percent chance of a storm, but I’m hoping to be lucky as far as that goes. Life is good.
View Larger Map
Google Map Route is not accurate. I couldn’t establish a waypoint for Grandma’s Cafe.