Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Day 48: Another state, another ton and a bad case of wind

Day 48
Walden, CO to Rawlings, WY 110miles

I'm racking up more centuries than Alistair Cook on an Ashes tour! Although today I fell 1 short of a Nelson. (Note: If you dont follow cricket, the previous sentence will mean very little to you!)

Set off at about 8 this morning. Sad bye to Tom, who was only planning on doing a shortish day today. Which is sensible for what would be only his 3rd full day on the road. I, on the other hand, had kind of thought about putting in a big day today and trying to make it Rawlings, and the end of the current set of maps. Overall, today would be a bit downhill, but not by a huge amount. But I thought I would try for it.

The first point of order for the day was to make the crossing into Wyoming. It was about 22miles from Walden to the state line and the early morning riding was pretty good so I got there nice and quick. Stopped for the obligatory shot of the sign, and also one of the scenery with the moon still high in the sky.
"Forever windy" would be more appropriate!

Then it was back on the bike. My plan was that if I made it to Saratoga by around lunchtime, I would then push on to Rawlings. There was nowhere in between to stay, and a distance of around 42miles between them, so if I committed to it, there was no going back!

I had read that the winds in this part of Wyoming can be pretty strong. And it didnt take me too long to experience them. On a road into the small town of Riverside (it was next to a river), it was right in my face and slowed me right down. The wind was coming from the west. Most of my day was spent heading north, so it was generally across me, but I could still feel ho strong it was. This didnt bode well for later...

Arrived in Saratoga at about 12:30ish, so after some lunch decided to try for Rawlings. Naively, I thought “well if I can keep at 15mph then I'll be there by 4 easily”. Didnt quite work out like that!

The first part wasnt too bad. The wind was across me, but not really slowing me down. I also came across Jeff, who was riding from Astoria to Peublo. I didnt find out exactly where he was from, but judging by his accent, if he wasnt from Texas I'll eat a cowboy hat! He was very helpful, and gave me a few good places that I can stay in the next few days. The 120miles or so after Rawlings are pretty barren, so I was grateful for the advice. For my part, I told him about Paul's place in HSS, and about Bill in Guffey. We had quite a long chat, and his parting words of “Enjoy Wyoming, they beat the hell out of me!” didnt fill me with confidence.

The last 22miles or so of the day bought a new experience - I'd be riding on an Interstate. Interstates are like motorways in the UK, and have many of the same restrictions regarding the type of vehicles that can and cant be used on them. However, some sections of some interstates do allow cyclists to ride on the hard shoulder. The stretch of I-80 I rode on wasnt actually that bad. It was only 2 lanes in each direction, so wasnt really any difference from a few other roads I'd cycled on already on this trip.

The big problem was the wind. This last section would take me pretty much due west. Directly into the face of the wind. I knew it would be bad, but it turned out to be even worse!

As soon as I got on to the road from the on-ramp, the wind just hit me. It was much, much stronger than anything I had experienced back in Kansas. It just slowed me right down. I quickly decided that if I could keep above 10mph I'd be doing well. I didnt do very well!

It was so strong, you almost had to laugh. Probably the funniest bit was when I was going down a hill and still only managing about 8mph! In fact, some of the uphill sections were actually easier to ride as the ridge I was climbing over acted a bit like a windbreak. But once I got to the top...

All in all, it took me almost 3hrs to do the last 22miles! The wind just never stopped. Apparently it's like this a lot in Wyoming!

But despite the wind, it was a very good day. Another ton-plus day is always good, and puts me nicely ahead of schedule. I might well do a shortish day tomorrow, and start a bit later. One of the good things (from my limited experience) about this area is that it doesnt seem to get the sudden, violent storms that I saw in Colorado. Last night, me and Tom went for some food. Walked back in lovely weather, and within 10minutes it was chucking it down, blowing a gale and a whole load of hail was coming down! Not being so closely surrounded by mountains here (I'm now in the area called the Great Divide Basin) obviously helps. So probably do some camping in the next few days.

I need to sit down later and look through the next set of maps and work out where I'm going to stay. Blog updates might be a bit sporadic for the next few days as there isnt a great deal of civilisation until I get to Lander. Also, my phone hasnt had reception for days so havent been able to call anyone!

But 6 states now done and dusted. Making some steady progress now.

1 comment:

  1. A lot of miles Mike! You must be super-fit now. And you've missed a terrible British summer. See you soon,