Bicycling the TransAmerica Trail

Cycling Across the US, Coast to Coast

Bicycling Adventure #3

54 days, 3,783 miles, Jul-Aug 2010

Ray Jardine

2010-08-01Wyoming page 18 of 54

Day 18, Wyoming

From stealth camp to stealth camp.

I got going just past dawn, and once again enjoyed an amazing sight of fog-cloaked terrain, but this time of colorful sky also hanging above it. In a half hour I stopped at a gas station. It was not open yet, but I only wanted to find an electrical outlet to charge my smart-phone. Writing last night's update had depleted the battery, meaning I could no longer take photos. In twenty minutes I had enough charge to last for awhile.

With the valley starting to fall away behind me, the view to the west of the Tetons was superb.

The road led steeply up toward the next pass, and I was in for a workout because Togwotee Pass is the second highest along the entire route.

A dip in the landscape. I stopped to admire the gorgeous forest and surrounding mountains.

Togwotee Lodge

Still several miles short of the pass I reached Togwotee Lodge, and stopped at the small c-store to buy coffee and donuts. I got to talking with the clerk who said his first love was his 500 horsepower drag racer. It's street legal, he said, and he wanted to drive it across the country. That's the thing about dreams. They are a precious commodity regardless of their nature. Show me someone without dreams and I'll show you somebody who's no longer living. The guy invited me to eat in the resort's lounge and gave me directions to find it. So I enjoyed a comfortable and quiet breakfast.

My breakfast nook.

Back on the steep road, I was making good time, (slow but good) while enjoying the magnificent scenery, when I heard a loud, metallic "snap" and the bike ground to a halt. Something on my bike had broken. Fortunately I had been going only 5 mph, grinding up to the pass. Unfortunately, the bike would no longer move.

At first I thought that something had given way inside the rear axle, but then I realized that the whole back wheel was out of whack. I checked for a broken spoke, but did not find one.

I carried the bike up this hill to get away from the traffic.

I needed to get away from the road so that I could put on my thinking cap. So I carried the stricken bike up the hill and found a nice place hidden from view. At the moment I thought that I would have to abandon the bike, hitchhike to a bike shop for parts, and hitchhike back. But that would be a long hitch. Meanwhile I was being devoured by mosquitoes, so I dug out my repellent.

Examining the wheel further, I found the broken spoke. It was still in place, but the head had popped off. The problem was, I had no spare. To make a long story short, eventually I figured out how to true the wheel by adjusting the remaining spokes to compensate for the missing one. That done, I swapped tires, front and back, because the back one was far worse for the wear. And while putting things back together, I thought to myself, "You know, this might just work."

With the back wheel back together, I'm nearly finished swapping tires.

I set off again, with about 3 more miles to go to the pass, riding gingerly.

The road up to the pass was in pretty good shape, but after the pass, all the way down, for about 10 miles, it was so rough that I couldn't believe vehicles could drive it. Even though it was downhill, the best I could do was about 5 mph. But my back wheel survived and I gained a whole lot of confidence in the bike and my repair.

When I reached good road again I started cranking. I stopped at the Lava Mountain Lodge for a tasty lunch, and later, in Dubois for a short snack. Then I kept cranking throughout the rest of the afternoon.

The route turned onto highway 287 and climbed a steep hill, then leveled out on a high plateau, and that went on for miles. It was just about dark, and I was looking for a place to camp. Technically I could have camped about anywhere, but the land was so open that there was nowhere to make a camp hidden from the road. I don't consider it safe to camp somewhere visible from a road, and anyway I had been warned not to camp on reservation land because it's highly patrolled.

Finally I found a big pile of gravel next to the road, so I set up camp behind it. This camp had looked very unlikely, with gravel, sagebrush, cactus, trash and quite possibly snakes. And as I was pitching my tarp, the wind kicked up to about 40 mph. Moreover, the ground was so hard I had to drive my tarp stakes in to the ground using a rock for a hammer, which I rarely have to do.

Underneath the tarp it was really cramped with sagebrush. But once I got the Spitfire set up and crawled inside, I found it was quite comfortable. The storm passed after a couple hours, and I slept comfortably, feeling quite pleased to have done 101 miles today, despite the broken spoke.

Golden sunset in high winds.

Miles pedaled today: 101

The story has 54 pages. This is page 18.
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