Saturday, 23 July 2011

Day 50: Setting a Land-er speed record

Day 50
Jeffrey City to Lander 58miles

A half century of days on the road. If I make it to 100 then something has gone seriously wrong, and I will also have missed my flight home!

And what better way to start my 50th day than a 5:20am alarm. Well actually, I can think of plenty of ways! I decided I wanted to try and get away as early as possible to avoid as much of the wind as I could. Seemed to have particular trouble packing my tent away (probably out of practice!) but eventually I was on the road at about 6.30am. Didnt bother with breakfast.

What I was hoping would be the good thing about today's ride was that overall it was quite downhill. Although for the first 19miles I gained a bit of elevation, but it was very gradual. Even this early in the morning, I could feel the wind was having an effect. It wasnt yet strong enough to slow me right down, but it was kind of limiting my speed. Today was also another very sparse day with regards to services. There was a rest stop (toilet to you and me) at 19miles, and that was about the extent of it really! Luckily by starting off early, I avoided the main heat of the day.

After doing the 19miles to Sweetwater Station and then a few more miles of gentle uphill, I was then on the crest of a fantastic downhill, and also some spectacular views. I've seen a few roads signs that have made me chuckle whilst out here, but one which says “6% grade for next 5miles” put a huge smile on my face! And as the landscape dropped away before me, the scenery was amazing.

I managed to set a couple of speed records whilst descending. Reached a new top speed of 45.5mph. Actually would have got higher, but I started braking as I wanted to stop and take a photo of the view. I also, according to my Garmin, covered a mile in 1min and 29seconds – an average speed of 40.1mph for that mile! I cant see my beating that one anytime soon. And because the road was a) very little motor traffic b) wide and good quality and c) not twisty I didnt feel unsafe at those speeds. Im just glad I didnt have to climb up it! It does seem like quite a few of the big climbs on the trip are easier when riding from east to west. We have to put up with the headwinds though.

After the descent, the winds got a bit stronger and did slow me down a bit. Thankfully today was a reasonably short day (58miles) so they didnt have so much time to get me. And because I was heading on a more northerly bearing today, for some of the time they were across and a bit against me, rather than full into my face.

I eventually made it to Lander in about 4hrs. I hadnt eaten yet, and I had only used a single bottle of water all morning. I must be getting better at this whole cycling thing!

I headed straight for the Holiday Lodge. For $10 I got a place to camp in a lovely secluded spot by the river, use of some hot showers, the hot tub, breakfast in the morning and they also had a coin-op laundry. Pretty good value I reckon!

I pitched my tent and then had my first shower since yesterday morning. Because the weather is so nice, I havent bothered with the fly sheet on my tent for the last couple of nights.
Perfect camping spot

Went and had some breakfast at a nearby restaurant, and then hit the hot tub. Or just plain 'tub'. It wasnt that hot, not cold but just kind of warmish. I also met my first ever Native American in the hot tub! She was in Lander to attend a Pow-Wow. Apparently she did a lot of traditional Native American dancing and there was a competition later in the day. She also seemed very excited to meet someone from London. She wanted to know if people in London wear hats like she saw in the Royal wedding all of the time. I think she was a bit disappointed when I said they were usually only for special occasions! 

Went in to town a bit later to get a couple of things from a bike shop (some lube for my chain and some lube for my, erm, undercarriage). Then spent the rest of the day doing a bit of reading, bit more hot tubbing and then went for a couple of beers and some food.

Decided to take tomorrow as a rest day. Put on some pretty good miles since the last one (even after doing zero miles tomorrow I'll still be over 250miles ahead of schedule), and the next couple of days riding are all uphill to take me over the Togwotee pass. So decided to give my legs a bit of a rest before that. Might try for a haircut tomorrow too!

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