Day Twenty-Three – Lander to Jeffrey City, WY

Day: 23
Day Mileage: 59.2
Total Miles: 1,336.1

I woke up at 10:30 last night to noise in the woods next to me. I couldn’t see anything but it was big based on the twigs breaking with each foot step. It took about 5 minutes before I was able to shine my headlight and see two beady eyes staring back at me. It was a horse shaped bear or was a horse. After catching a glimpse of what was making the noise I was able to get back to sleep easily and slept great throughout the rest of the night. 

I popped up and gathered and packed everything to head to town for coffee. I discovered that Lander is home to a small catholic college and teaches based off Good Books curriculum (which I will need to read more about). I couldn’t figure out why so many young kids were up early and at this one coffee shop called a crux Coffee. I refilled my water bottles and was off.

As I headed out under cloud cover, it was a terrific temperature but it took about 15 miles for me to really feel ok pedaling. As I began to find my groove, the clouds disappeared and the heat began to bring the pain. I had a bit of a tailwind and I was seemingly the only person on the road for good stretches of the morning . I discovered shortly that I had a big climb I was unaware of which made the heat seem more extreme. I knew I had only 1 water station on the way and that was 40 miles into the ride but I was fresh out of water after 30. Luckily, I had reached the top-ish of the climb and was flat-ish pedaling into the rest stop in Sweetwater Station the remaining 10 miles. I took a long break.p inside the cooler rest stop. Read up on some Wyoming history. Refilled my water bottles. Drank my water. Refilled them again as I convinced myself I should get going. 

I had 19 miles left for the day into Jeffrey City, WY so it was going to be an easy ride in to finish the day early. I finished the day early, but it wasn’t easy. 13 miles in, all of a sudden, I hear thunder and I look up and around me. Dark clouds loomed and rain was in the distance behind me. I had s touch of a tailwind so I figured that storm was heading my direction and needed to book it. The next 6 miles were fast and furious or as fast and furious one can get on a loaded bicycle. I tucked my head and pedaled hard for the next 25 minutes as I kept hearing thunder and smelled the rain coming. I looked back to see if it was catching me and could see where the rain was hitting the road a little ways back and saw a strike of lightning. That’s when my nerves were shaken. I had always read, when researching this trip, that in the afternoon, storms just pop up. So everyday around 3pm when in Wyoming, plan for it. Trouble with Wyoming, there isn’t anywhere to take cover. It’s desolate with towns scattered about so planning isn’t really an option. 

Finally, with sweat running down my face, I wheeled into Split Rock Cafe where I chatted with the person behind the counter before ordering a burger. Jeffrey City, pop. 58, used to be bustling as uranium mines were just outside of town. Roughly 4,000 people lived here at one time before the uranium market tanked and people moved to Casper or Lander, Wyoming. Now, it’s just the cafe. There is an old church in town that offers a place for cyclists to stop in to shower and sleep inside but there season officially closed August 31st. I called Rick, who leads service twice a month here, to ask if that was a hard date and he offered up the church for me to stay in, thankfully. 

I road from the cafe to the church where I found the back door to be unlocked. Perfect timing as another storm was looming in the distance and the winds were picking up. Rick and his friend a Ralph pulled in as I was taking pictures and I spoke to them as I helped unload a horse trough that is going to be used as a temporary baptistery because the main one is leaking. After they left, I showered and went back to the cafe for dinner. It was a trip as I sat at the bar and watched two younger guys cook my food, a two year old running around with an older dog and a puppy. What are you going to do, not eat at the only place that has food for 60 miles and eat the remainder of your ramen and peanut butter? 

I got back to the church, settled in and was done for the day. An easy day turned pressured, I was ready for bed.


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