Winnie-the-Pooh and the Blustery Day

Our caterer failed to show up in Riverton Tuesday night, apparently thinking we were having breakfast Wednesday and then dinner Wednesday night. We were ferried into town and dropped at a seemingly random intersection, with no restaurants in sight.

I found a Thai restaurant and discovered three other riders there. While the food was good, the service was so slow I think they cooked the rice after I placed my order.

The caterer showed up for a breakfast that I’d rather forget. We headed out of town and were soon on new asphalt for 1/2 mile. It is amazing what a difference the road surface makes. I ride 3-5 mph faster on new asphalt than on chipseal. We hit another stretch of new asphalt later, which lasted longer.

Mountains loomed ahead and our cue sheet said 12 mile descent. It was hard to believe. We turned parallel to the range and continued on some up and down which began to feel like a slog. Leaving a water stop my rear tire began to feel spongy. Before I could get back it had gone flat. I walked the last 100 yards, removed a wire from my tire, changed the tube, used the van’s floor pump to reinflate, and was soon on my way. We turned toward the mountains and into a gap and were suddenly in the beautiful Wind River Canyon. While it wasn’t really a 12 mile descent, it was more down than up.

The third of three closely-spaced tunnels. Note mine shaft openings in wall at right.
Mine shaft a bit closer up.

We only caught glimpses of the river below and never in a spot where photography was an option.

Out of the canyon we came upon Thermopolis which claims to be home to the world’s largest mineral hot springs. Fearing that once I got into a hot spring my legs would turn to rubber with 35 miles left to ride, I opted for an espresso instead.

The ride got long after 85 miles. Arriving in town I spotted 4 familiar faces on the patio of a Mexican Restaurant. Beer was in sight, so I stopped before setting up camp.

I texted a photo of my post-ride beer to my co-workers. It was still working hours. This was their reply.

I set up my tent and clothesline, then took a shower. Storm clouds loomed on the horizon but appeared to be passing us by. They didn’t. Fat raindrops began to fall. Within minutes of hanging my clothes, I took them back down and ran to the tent to batten down the hatches. My head was holding up the tent against the onslaught of gusty winds. Since the last storm bent a pole, I did my best to hold the tent in shape with my body. The rain was minimal but the wind continues to blow. The sun is shining, the weather app says 22 mph winds, but the gusts are more like 40 mph. Each gust flattens the tent against me. At least I feel useful;) Soon I will have to leave the tent to its own devices to go eat dinner.

The camera operator (or director) never seemed to figure out that David Hidalgo was playing the guitar solos, so the camera avoids him.
Happy birthday JU!

Hot springs, or just hot feet?

Today was a lesson in humility.

The flags were flapping with a strong breeze out of the northeast (the direction we were headed), so I decided to go with strength in numbers and left breakfast with a group that usually rides at a pace that is comfortable for me.

Trouble is, I usually start slow and warm up for about five miles before I ramp up to cruising speed. Steve (pictured the other day at Teton Park in a yellow jacket) led the way out of town at a blistering pace. I knew within a few miles that this was not a sustainable pace for me for 90+ miles. When a tendon behind my left knee started complaining, I dropped off the back (after taking a pull at the front).

I would pay for that error for the next 80 miles.

Pretty soon I decided that finishing in time for dinner was my only goal. I expected to be on the road for 10 hours.

Relief came when we turned onto US Hwy 20 West. The good news is that got us out of the headwind. The bad news is that that is inconsistent with getting to Boston.

We rode through the crumbling town of Shoshoni.  On the way out of town we passed what might have been a trailer park and might have been a junkyard, I couldn’t tell.

5A6A9C98-0427-4DA0-94F6-CAE2FB68FF32We headed into the Wind River Canyon and the day changed for the better. By this time I was riding alone, at my own pace, with no desire to try to keep up with anyone.9D4A8989-5BF6-4396-85C9-996740AA4B97

Wind River Canyon is phenomenally beautiful. We rode through three short tunnels and had lunch at the “Wedding of the Waters.”

White people are funny. Someone “discovered” the Wind River and named it (at least he didn’t name it after himself). Someone else “discovered” the Big Horn River (and also didn’t name it for himself). Only years later did they figure out it was the same river. Rather than change one or both names (or find out what the people who already lived there called it), they decreed that our lunch spot would be henceforth known as the “Wedding of the Waters”, and upstream would be the Wind River, downstream the Big Horn.

We rode into the town of Thermopolis, home of a hot springs. 7741E692-FDD1-42A3-8DA5-ED93282307FBWe were encouraged to stop and take the waters. I was afraid that, were I to get into a hot spring at that point in the day, I wouldn’t want to get out. If I did get out, I didn’t think I’d have 40 miles left in me. I looked, but did not get wet.

A hot spring at the end of the ride, especially with massage therapists, would have been a great idea.63D83E46-29C7-4ECE-B9F0-79FCBF00710E

At mile 80, as tends to happen on hard days, my feet were on fire. I took off my shoes and used my water bottle to cool them down. This made the last 13 miles survivable. Now I know why you can buy shoes with vents you can open under the toes.

I finally joined forces with Kevin at that water stop and rode into town with him.

Steve later confessed that his speedometer wasn’t working in the morning and he had no idea he was going that fast.

I finished riding at 2:30, about the same time as usual.

Thursday we climb Powder River Pass, a 25 mile climb. We climb almost 9000 feet for the day. The pass tops out at 9666 feet, and we ride >90 miles again before we say goodbye to the mountains. Time to get some sleep.