River deep, mountain high

Hint to work folks: If you need a Friday song, try this.Use the Memorial Speaker and turn it up loud enough to make the neighbors complain or come and join you. If you need others, try “Higher” -Sly and the Family Stone, “Higher and Higher” – Jackie Wilson (used for this post 4 years ago), or “The Wheel” – Jerry Garcia – used last week.

Sleeping outside (and getting up at 5 AM) is a lot easier at 60 degrees (15.5 C) than at 35 (1.5 C). Breakfast burritos, French Toast, oatmeal, and fruit fueled today’s ride.

We rode into a blinding sunrise (made worse when a tank truck going the other way spewed water on the road, which collected in the rumble strips and reflected upward dazzlingly).

Leaving Worland we passed a sign extolling local veterans with the phrase “sword and shield”, which led to today’s song, which I sang for many miles.

I saw Brownie and Sonny in the Great Hall of the Memorial Union some 50 years ago and they sang this.

We rode up and down for a while, knowing that each down would have to be made up for later as we climbed to the Powder River Pass at 9666 feet (2946 meters). At mile 35 we transitioned from a smooth asphalt shoulder to a gravel-strewn chipseal shoulder. It got better, but we coped with periodic sand on the shoulder which made descents interesting.

At about 25 miles we entered the town of Ten Sleep, so called because it was “ten sleeps” (10 days ride by horse) to several other outposts. An espresso with my name on it was waiting at “Dirty Sally’s”, along with a fancy version of a Reese’s peanut butter cup (dark chocolate and almond butter). Rereading my post from 4 years ago, I see I had the same snack.

We left Ten Sleep to climb Ten Sleep Canyon. I guess this made up for descending through Wind River Canyon yesterday. The espresso wore off too soon and I was hoping they would deliver. I needed one more cup of coffee.

Ten Sleep Creek
Switchbacks climbing out of Ten Sleep Canyon. Note tiny cyclist lower right.

Climbing the pass I set my computer so I could see the clock and the altimeter, not the odometer. Miles come much too slowly at that speed, but I could celebrate each 100 foot elevation gain. We topped out at Powder River Pass and put on a jacket for the descent. After several miles of screaming downhill (after a few miles I realized what I had just done and screamed out a “Yahoo” and almost hurt my face grinning) we came into the cruelest part of the ride. Miles 65-70 were mostly uphill and seemed tougher than the climb to the pass.

After focusing on big things for so long, I stopped to pour water on my head and admire the wildflowers.

I stopped for a snack at mile 70, took off my sunglasses, and got out my rain jacket. The sky had been darkening and thunder rumbled. I ended up putting the jacket back but kept it in easy reach. A few drops fell, but nothing to speak of — but it’s getting dark again as I write. My laundry isn’t dry.

In the 70s there are a series of steep (8%) curving descents, each ending in a sweeping curve to the right and an uphill. This repeated 5 times, with multiple warnings to trucks. I think we were losing elevation overall, but each climb seemed tougher.

We rolled into Buffalo (a 35 mph descent into town) and I kept my eyes peeled, spotting the Occidental Hotel and Saloon, where Graeme and I stopped in for a Ten Sleep Golden Ale (for me). This looks like a classic old western saloon, with a tin ceiling and rooms upstairs. The stage was set for bluegrass tonight but I will not make it back down there. The bar is filled with stuffed animals, and I don’t mean teddy bears. I had to have a seat, not at the bar, but in the comfy chair. I even managed to get back up and on my bike.

After our beer there was a final climb to our campsite. Tomorrow we’re off to Gillette, the scene of my worst moment of the 2018 ride.