Month: September 2019

Day Twenty-Nine – A Look Back

Total Miles: 1,644.29
Total Elevation: 73,162.7 ft 
Total Time on Bike: 149 hours 25 minutes 19 seconds
Total Estimated Calories: 72,168
Total Flats: 1
Total License Plates: 7 w/ 1 catch & release Utah.

When I first brought up doing another trip like my Pacific Coast trip to Megan, she said go for it. I would have the time available after nursing school was over and before I take the NCLEX and begin my job in October. Things worked out strangely as we decided to travel back to Oregon to see the Avett Brothers and Lake Street Dive in Bend. Bend is 29 miles off route of the TransAmerica Trail. Megan would be working in DC in September and another concert she’s been dying to see was Glen Hansard. He was coming to Oklahoma City while she was in DC, but he would be playing Denver a few days later. With tickets purchased to both concerts, things were in motion.

I didn’t really know if I would follow through so I posted about it. I had to tell others. I needed the pressure, otherwise I’d get on the flight back to OKC from Portland with Megan and just say things didn’t work out. I did very few training rides. I only purchased a few additional items that I didn’t have on my other trip. I didn’t spend enough money to call it s loss if I didn’t go. Even as I packed the bike and on the way to the airport for our vacation, I was still unsure. 

The first few days of the trip were hard. Not physically. Mentally. The first day I was a disaster. Sick to my stomach and not eating. I’m thankful I found a James in Dayville to ride with as I started out on my trip. He made things tremendously easier. When we separated in Missoula, I was mentally capable now to go solo. The remainder of the trip, I was solo. 

You have a lot of time to think about things when spending so much time on a bicycle by yourself. You remember saying goodbye on day one. You remember the landscapes, the scenery, the wind and peaceful times and the stressful ones. The times where you’re alone and having trouble finding camp. The times where you reach 46.5mph on a bicycle and you know if something goes wrong, it’s going horrifically wrong. The beers you have with friends and the beers you have with strangers. The times where you yell at passing cars because they’re being assholes and the times where people give you a thumbs up, a peace sign, or stick their heads out of the window to yell “awesome trip, good luck.” You remember each time you cross a state line. When you waited out Old Faithful long enough to be faithful and the time when you roll around a corner to lay eyes upon the Tetons for the very first time. You remember when you have your first flat. Each time you perform bike maintenance. Each ramen breakfast and each time you knew you heard a bear. You remember the river/creek/lake/sink showers and each scrape, bruise, bloody sock, painful mornings, sore butts. When you are back in the tree line after days and days of Wyoming wind. You remember the endless climbs and each pass that greets you with a downhill. When seeing mountains off in the distance. You remember the excitement that finishing a ride like this brings. 

Meeting cyclists along the way going all directions on so many different routes was incredible and to see. How far they have gone or wanted to go was inspiring for my own trip. I will always remember the details of this trip but what sticks out the most in my memory are the people I met along the way and the ones that supported me from afar. Each comment I received encouraging me to keep going and inquiring about my day’s events was special. Knowing others were enjoying reading about my journey and following along made me want to keep posting and writing about my experiences. Being able to bring Megan along with me on this trip was by far the most exciting. On the pacific coast, WiFi and cell service were far more difficult to come by than this time around. I don’t know if it’s the 5 years difference or if the coast was that much harder to provide service, but I was able to speak to Megan daily and only a few nights were there ever without either WiFi or cell service. I’m thankful for that and I’m thankful for Megan who encouraged me along the way, supporting me on this trip and the last 17 months. Our relationship has grown. 

I’m excited that I accomplished this journey , surpassing my last tour by 400 miles. I was able to see many parts of the country that I haven’t seen and was able to do so all on a bicycle. I know I’ll remember more as the days go by but for now, thank you to everyone who followed along, my friends and family for their support and thank you to my friends at home who helped out while I was away. 

And now to relearn nursing school. 

Day Twenty-Eight – Hot Sulphur Springs to Frisco, CO

Day: 28
Day Mileage: 64.2
Total Miles: 1,640.5

It rained throughout the evening. It never got terribly cold but I was still bundled up. I woke up early excited for the day. I New it was my last day on the road if all things go as planned. I contacted Adventure Cycling Association when I was at Jenny Lake. I was questioning my route into Denver so I thought I’d ask the pros, the ones who put together all my maps and the maps others use. They didn’t have a route they recommended which meant the ones into Denver were unsafe or interstate riding. They suggested the shuttle from Frisco which would cut off a day from my ride and almost 100 miles in total. So that was the plan: end today in Frisco and catch the bus into Denver. It was just over 60 miles for the day so I wanted to get started. 

I packed everything quickly and made my way to the cafe that opened at 6am . I hung out my rainfly to let it try to dry a little before rolling it up as well as a few other items that had been rained on. I had coffee and s delicious bagel breakfast sandwich and even watched the news for the 2nd time this trip. Haven’t missed the news. Leah and Oakley followed behind me shortly to do the same as they wanted an early start too. They were attempting Frisco or maybe even Breckinridge for a hotel/hostel with snow in the forecast at elevation. We said our goodbyes and wished each other good luck and I was rolling for my last ride of the trip. 

18 miles to Kremmling were at a net elevation loss. I couldn’t figure out the temperature again and was layered up trying to adjust to the breeze created by the bike and the actual temperature which was near 50 at this point. I didn’t feel my feet for those 18 miles though so I stopped for additional coffee and cell service while my feeling came back to me feet. From here, it was a 2,000ft elevation gain over the next 40 miles. Again the climbing wasn’t going to be terribly difficult but it was going to be all uphill. 

The ride took me along highway 9 in Colorado which is heavily trafficked by trucks but did have a nice shoulder for a charge portion of it. This made for somewhat of s stress free ride but not peaceful by any means. I then turned to take an alternate route around Green Mountain Reservoir. I was the only one on the road for those 13 miles around the reservoir and they were terrific. After reconnecting with highway 9, I had 14 miles into Silverthorne. 14 miles are small, chipped shoulders and heavy traffic. 

One item that was of concern for today’s ride was my tire. Last night, I noticed a little separation from my wheel and my tire where the valve stem was. It wasn’t large but it definitely shouldn’t have been there. I needed it to last 14 more miles to Silverthorne where there was a bike shop if I needed it and at the very least, I was going to be on a bike path the remainder of the miles from Silverthorne into Frisco. I was hoping and hoping. I kept feeling the bumps of the increasing tire bulge and was nervous about my tire and my wheel. This was my tire that I had changed less than a week ago and bought new in Missoula. 

I made it into Silverthorne and knew I’d be able to finish on the tire. It was a paved path along the Blue River through the mountain town Silverthorne. The path climbed up a few switchbacks to the Dillon reservoir dam before turning in the direction of Frisco and 9 short miles away. I took my time over those 9 miles taking in the views, looking back at the trip and enjoying the path that wasn’t next to the highway. I rolled easily into Frisco and went to the transfer center where the bus would pick me up. There was a brewery right next door to the transfer center so I walked over, grabbed a beer and like that, my trip was completed.

Day Twenty-Seven – Walden to Hot Sulphur Springs, CO

Day: 27
Day Mileage: 61.3
Total Miles: 1,576.3

It got cold last night. Per my phone, down to 32 degrees. It felt like it too. In my tent, I was tucked into my sleeping bag with tights, pants, wool socks, a wool top and a micro puff jacket. I also had on a beanie and a buff around my neck. Only my feet got cold but I did sleep with my head all the way in the sleeping bag all night. I was awake at 5:15 and I knew the cafe opened at 6. I was on my phone for a bit before beginning to pack things up.before too long, I was sitting in the warmth drinking hot coffee. After lingering too long waiting for the sun to rise a little more to warm the ride, I was rolling by 8:05. My phone said 42 degrees by this time but I was still in pants, short sleeve quarter zip and my rain jacket with my big gloves. All of it was needed as I began. 

The first 10 miles were like the last ones from yesterday: rolling hills. The biggest noticeable difference was the lack of wind. It was almost enjoyable.  I couldn’t quite figure out the temperature but by the end of mile 8, I was into my shorts and I had taken off the rain jacket. And eventually put on my arm warmers underneath the layer I had. 10am rolled around and I was 20 miles in for the day and the wind decided to pick back up. Lucky for me, I was passed the town of rand where only a post office existed and was going a little southeast into the maintains for my one big climb for the day so I was hoping I’d have some wind block from the trees, finally.

The biggest climb of the day and my last time across the continental Divide. It rose to 9300 feet but starting the climb at 8000, it made for a moderate uphill. After the last few Wyoming days with the constant winds, I will take climbing any day of the week over winds. At the top, a car pulled over and said another group of riders was behind me about 5 miles. It was Leah and Oakley, the mother-son duo from Maine. We had made plans to be at hot sulphur springs tonight but I had set off before them because I couldn’t stay in my tent any longer than I did at 33 degrees. The descent from the top was the least exciting decent I had experienced up to this point in my trip. With the moderate winds, my speed was limited and at points, had to pedal downhill. Not fun at all. However it was still downhill and not uphill into the wind so I’ll consider it s good thing. 

A few more small climbs and a little wind from the west, I made my way to a short 7.5 miles away from the day’s destination. Luckily for those involved, the wind was directly out of the west and I had a long 50 minutes into camp. As I made my way into hot sulphur springs, I noticed I didn’t have cell service, so I found WiFi quickly to check in and to figure out camping for the night. The map called for a city campground, but that city campground ended up being $15 with ports potties and no showers or water even.  I made due. Took a nice river shower and walked to the gas station in town to fill up waters.

After a few hours at camp, Leah and Oakley rolled in. They had trouble getting out of town and a problem on the road with two flats throughout the day. The winds picked up by the time they had left town so it was a hard(er) day for them. They joined me in my camping spot and after they had dinner, we all went for a walk. I showed pictures from our trip to Peaks Island and they still couldn’t believe they met someone on s bicycle trip from Oklahoma who had been to their island off the coast of Maine. 

With no service at camp and it becoming dark, I crawled into the tent shortly after 8pm and was done for the day. 

Day Twenty-Six – Saratoga, WY to Walden, CO

Day: 26
Day Mileage: 67.6
Total Miles: 1,515.0

I woke up just after midnight and the raining had stopped. It was a terrific temperature and I was bundled up. I returned to sleep only to wake up at 630 ready for the day. Turns out I just need the pitter-patter  of rain on the tent to put me to sleep for good. I paid $10 for the plot of grass and to use the covered area for my bike which was money well spent. Dan, the owner of the copper line lodge, talked me into breakfast for an additional $5. He had me coffee is on at 6:45 but kept on with the homemade breakfast ready to go at 8 with bacon, a quiche, biscuits and gravy, fruit, cheesy potatoes and what was left from the morning before. Best $5 of the trip. 

I lingered much longer than I anticipated but the terrific morning, with good company and breakfast with bottomless coffee was hard to move away from. I chatted with a family road tripping from Portland to Phoenix and taking the scenic route. It’s always hard to hear people say they left area I left a week ago to arrive at the place I worked terribly hard to get to in a single day. They were going to enjoy the hot springs before getting on the road while a British couple entertained the group with a guitar and banjo. Amazing what people offer up when they’re somewhat forced to mingle and discover information about one another. It was a very cool spot to camp and even better place to have breakfast. 

I was on the road just after 9am and the general direction I was heading was into the wind, thankfully. It was nothing terrible, but I knew I had to get through it. About 15 miles in, a mini van I recognized passed me with folks waving out of the windows. It was the family for Portland on their way to rocky mountain national park. This happened to me a time or two on my pacific coast trip, where you met folks at camp to see them in the roads few hours later, but surprising was my first of this trip. It was fun and gave me a quick pick me up on my way into riverside. At riverside I stopped to refill water and have a snack before getting back on the road for 48 more miles into Walden. 

I had turned east and happily had the wind at my back before turning southeast still with a moderate tailwind. No complaints knowing what I had ahead of me when I turned immediately south to Walden. A long open stretch was my last goodbye to Wyoming as I hit the state line with excitement. I stopped for the photo opportunity before keeping on. I was welcomed into Colorado with no shoulder to work with and immediate crosswind. At this point in time, I had no idea which direction the wind was going just that it was going. I ducked my head and had another 10 miles before turning south for the homestretch. 

I finished one moderate climb and then it was time to face the smusic. Turning south to Walden was a 13 mile stretch and wind blowing at 20mph out of the west. With no tree cover and just land and land until mountains on either side in the distance, I was struggling immediately. It took what seemed like forever to get into town and I needed to get out of the wind. I headed to the restaurant in town to check in and order green Chile fries that I so desperately needed. I checked in with everyone and sat in silence attempting to recover from what I had just been through. It was done and I was thankful as wind with rolling hills toward the end of the day with s fully loaded bicycle left a sour taste in my mouth.

The county swimming pool offered showers so I took advantage. After a warm shower, I began to set up camp in the local park. These town parks are pretty incredible compared to the ones at home. Or maybe just the ones I’m aware of at home. Nice shelters, great grass, clean restrooms. It’s impressive. As I was setting up, I lady walked up and asked about my ride . She and her 16 year old son were on the TransAm heading to Yorktown, VA. I had been bearing about this mother/son pair since Grant Village in Yellowstone. Campers along the way have been mentioning them as I’ve been about a day or two behind them all trip. They’re from Peaks Island off the coast of Portland, ME where Megan and I spent New Years back in 2015 and actually took a day trip to Peaks Island. 

It was at that moment, as we were talking, a mother was with her two kids when another family and their unleashed German Shepherd happened upon each other. The dog began to go nuts circling the mother and kids and that mother elevated the situation but going HAM back to the dog. With a bunch of yelling and a few tense moments, the cops, whose station is literally 2 blocks away, were on it taking witness statements from Leah and I. Things escalated quickly and the adrenaline was flowing, but it was getting close to dark and an expected cool night, I crawled into the tent.