Sunday, August 06, 2006

Saturday June 17 – Day 28 – Jeffrey City, WY

Since Steamboat or so I had been thinking about going around the basin on the highway. It’s 124 miles without water, and going south to north the route is mostly straight west, into the prevailing wind. I made up my mind yesterday, as I watched the wind try to pull swinging plant pots off of the Key Inn, that I wasn’t going to try to do that on my own. It's gorgeous country, so they say, but this wind could pin me down with no water for a couple of days if it decides to kick up. (Apparently they had 70 mph gusts the other day.) So I’m going to take the highway.

Today I was out of the room early – around 7 AM – and it was cold. But, the sun was out, and the wind was pushing but not howling from the side (that would be the SW). I made it to the halfway point, this café called Grandma’s, by 11 or so. Grandma was a little surly, but the food was good. She told me that where I was going there were mosquitoes so thick you couldn’t see your legs through them, and so strong that the wind (which by 10 AM was pushing 20 mph) couldn’t blow them away. Turns out the mosquitoes numbered about three, and one squirt of Off sent them packing. (I would later learn that exaggerating the cruelties nature will inflict on tourists is something of a WY spectator sport – even when there aren’t any spectators.)

I met lots of people today. First up was this fellow named Dane, who was sort of a racer looking fellow. He had the shaved legs and kept talking about the Trek Madone he had in his garage and how he was getting so strong that he was going to win all kinds of races with it when he got back, and win back the money he spent on the trip. He was planning on doing consistent 200-mile days once he got out of the mountains (he was doing about 70-mile days in the mountains). I think he underestimated the country west of the Rockies, but we’ll see. Doing a 200-mile day is possible on the right day, but averaging 200 a day loaded (and he was pretty heavy loaded) would take help from a supernatural force. But whatever…

Later on today I ran into Alan, a fellow I met back in Steamboat. He was driving sag for his buddy Jack, who is going to try to ride all the way to Anchorage. I ended up camping with them tonight in a city shelter in Jeffrey. They’re both retired military, and a real odd couple. Jack doesn’t talk much, and Alan will absolutely talk your ear off, but they’ve been buds for 25 years nevertheless.

The wind turned vicious today around 2, when I still had about 15 miles to go. It took two hours to do those 15 flat highway miles, sometimes in my granny gear just spinning to keep the bike going. Those panniers are like trying to pull a sail. That wind is really something though. I saw a tour bus almost fishtail when the wind swirled around suddenly. Man I’m glad I’m not out in the basin right now.

Jeffrey City is not a pleasant town. There was a mine/air force base here awhile ago, but it closed and just about everyone left with it. Most of the town got boarded up at that point (the map lists the population in the thousands – I’d say it’s 100 tops, and probably more like 50). The grocery store there doesn’t have much of anything either. Also – apparently I made enemies with the bar guy by bringing in a PBJ. People in this part of the world sure are surly. Maybe it’s the wind.

Day 28 stats:

68 miles
1500 feet up
one vicious headwind


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