Day 19, Wyoming
From camp behind the gravel pile, to Lander, and back to Lander.
Up early to start the new day, I broke camp and began to pedal away the miles. But the gears were not working properly, so I stopped and tried to adjust them - but largely without success. What the problem was, this time, I would learn later.
I stopped at a gas station in the small Indian town of Fort Washakie to buy food and to charge my phone. While in the store I noticed a policeman (white) enter, and was expecting some kind of trouble. Everyone else in the store was Native American. But instead the cop started chatting with the women running the place as if they were good friends. What a different country (world) this would be, I thought, if only people on different sides of the fence got along that amicably.
A white guy pulled up in a nice car with a commercial sea-kayak tied on top. One look at the kayak, and I thought "What the heck?" I just sat there holding my thoughts, without saying to the guy something like "What kind of a dufus designed that boat?" With that much rocker, the kayak would tend to go in circles, and the paddler would spend much energy throughout the day trying to get it go straight. And in high winds the boat would lay beam-on, regardless of what direction the paddler wants to go. That kayak was intended to look good in a catalog or show room, and make money for the company. In boisterous seas it would seriously misbehave.
I mention this only to point out how I think the corporations tend to prey on people's ignorance and tell them they are making wise buying decisions. The person who knows nothing about sea-kayaks would not understand my analysis, and probably think I'm quite naive for not believing the hype.
I also think it's much the same in backpacking, where people have so much expensive gear sitting in closets or basements because it does not work all that well. (Although it looked good in the stores, and was well spoken of by the so-called experts.)
Speaking of something that does not work well, take my bicycle for another example. I didn't plan to take this bike on this trip - it's what I use around home - a cheap aluminum racing bike, and not meant for long trips. I'm putting it to the test, with all these long and steep hills, and it's breaking down.
Originally I intended to take my tandem, but two days before departure my pedaling partner for this trip (not Jenny) dropped out. No big deal, except that I hadn't shown much foresight. I should of had a better single bike on hand, just in case. Of course I had already shipped the tandem to Oregon, along with my helmet and favorite tire pump. So now going solo, I had to ship the tandem back to Arizona, where it subsequently arrived no worse for the wear.
Back to here, I plan to get a better bike at some point along the way.
I pedaled into the busy city of Lander, and found a bicycle shop on Main Street. I needed spokes and chain lube. The shop was not yet open, so I proceeded to a c-store, and found an electrical outlet on the outside, and a nice patch of shade. After enjoying refreshments I pulled out my tools and got to work on the bike. Amazingly, when I had taken off the pedals, I found the bottom bracket was falling out - again. So that is why I had not been able to adjust the gears this morning.
I'm at a c-store in Lander, working on the bike yet again.
I reinstalled the bottom bracket (I'm learning more each time) and adjusted the gears. Then I visited the bike shop.
Ed replacing the missing spoke.
The mechanic was a friendly guy named Ed. He replaced the missing spoke and re-trued the back wheel. Also I bought a new set of tires.
Back on the road again, I resumed the journey.
But seven miles later, while climbing a steep hill, I heard another "Snap!" and the bike came to a stop. I had broken another spoke, and not the same one. I had 125 miles to pedal across the desert to the next town, and at this point it was clear to me that I needed a more reliable bike.
This bike is teaching me more than I feel I need to know about bikes, but this time I knew what to do to get the bike running again (retension the remaining spokes). And in 15 minutes I was back on the road - heading back to the shop in Lander to order a new bike.
Reaching town I pedaled down the sidewalk, and finding that the door of the bike store open, I pedaled right in, to the shop area in the back. I got some strange looks for that one. But I had called Ed, so he knew I was coming.
Ed spent the next two hours helping me choose the right bike, and planning how to modify it with some of the equipment off the old bike.
At that point, I had two or three days to kill, until the new bike arrives.
Miles pedaled today: 45