Lander, WY to Dubois, WY
Total Miles: 4392
I slept so good last night and not just because I had been cycling my ass off on only 4ish hours of sleep the previous two day. The park we camped at had the softest, most fluffy grass ever and it almost felt like a real bed along with my sleeping pad and I’d also pitched my tent right next to this little stream so it was like I had a live sleep sound machine to lull me off to dream land. But let’s be honest, it was mostly the drunken sleep deficit I had built up 🙂 I woke up at 5:00, got my stuff packed up, ate some pop tarts for breakfast and we hit the road. It was another beautiful morning for riding, a little too cool for my liking but the sun slowly peaking over the horizon soon banished the last bit of the night chill and the forecasted winds for the day hadn’t picked up yet, so it was pleasantly calm.
Ever since leaving Pueblo I’ve been absolutely spoiled for scenery and today was no different. The first 15 miles or so was through a relatively flat valley surrounded my huge snow tipped mountains. Even though I knew today was going to be a lot of climbing I was still lulled into complacency by the ease of those first few miles, right up until the valley ended and this big, bad beast of a hill had the nerve to set itself in our path. Is having nothing but downhills really so much to ask for while in the mountains?! When we got a bit closer I heard Gene say that this was going to be the biggest climb of the day. Not the last one, the whole route today trended upwards, nor the steepest as I would later find out but the largest single gain in elevation. Hmmmm. Challenge accepted. I broke away from the group and headed towards this fucker at full speed! I kept imagining it like it was some sweet bike jump, that I’d get to the base and just rocket ship over the other side and execute a perfect landing in the city of Dubois 60 miles away. Only in your dreams, James. In reality my burst of speed took me maybe 30 feet up the hill after which I was forced to slog up this beast using only brute force and determination. Once I reached the top I waited for Sebastian who wasn’t too far behind me, I guess he was trying to rocket ship it to Dubois as well, and continued the daily grind.
The next 30 miles took us through the aptly named Wind River Indian Reservation. The terrain was about what I expected for the day, some stupidly steep climbs followed by some decent downhills repeat ad infinitum and, of course, lots of wind. If you’ve been reading this from the beginning then you know the first leg of my journey from Virginia to Florida I struggled with a lot of headwinds. I seem to remember having like 5 days straight battling 15+ MPH headwinds along a particularly nasty stretch of the Florida coastline. This, thankfully was nothing compared with that. Sebastian and I took turns riding in front every few miles while the other drafted behind and we were able to sustain about a 13MPH average for the day. We popped into a convenience store in the town of Crowheart (We were still on the reservation if you couldn’t tell from the name of the town) to get some snacks and take a much needed break. 45 miles, nonstop, with lots of wind and climbing and I was feeling pretty damn good. It’s amazing how much my body has adapted to the torture I’ve been putting it through. 2 months ago the thought of doing that would have killed me but now I’m just like, meh, jus another day. Hooray for my holiday ham sized thunder thighs!
The last 30 miles had us riding through a canyon carved in the rocks by the Wind River. It was magical. I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon but I imagine it looks like this but on a much, uhh, grander scale. Giant cliff faces layered with a dozen shades of red, gold and green. I couldn’t really appreciate the scale of these things until we were riding right underneath of them, and, like gazing up at the night sky, they really made you feel small and insignificant. These massive natural structures, persisting over hundreds of thousands of years, shifting so slowly you’d need to live a thousand lifetimes to notice it, and yet, they’re just a tiny footnote in the long history of the Earth. It would have been nice to camp right there next to the river surrounded by them, but, fuck that. There’s like a billion rattlesnakes out there. I don’t do snakes.
We got to town right at 12:00 and hit the first bar we could find for a couple of ice cold beers and to wait for the rest of the guys to show up. Today was really tough and I’m so tired but god damn does it feel good. Tomorrow we tackle Togwotee Pass, a real bitch of a climb, first thing in the morning. Yay… Stay tuned for the next edition of James and his Bike!
Too Drunk; Didn’t Read (TD;DR)
-James doesn’t get drunk
-James jumps his bike 60 miles and executes a perfect landing
-Actually, no, he doesn’t
-Headwinds and the Hearts of Crows
-Mind bogglingly beautiful cliffs and sneks