Waking up in the armpit of the West.
We woke up in Rawlins at the Super 8 Motel. Our CTO Todd decided that we better spend some time working on the bikes if we wanted to finish the trip. They have been taking a beating. Most of the trail we travel is very dusty dirt roads. In a typical day we travel 200-300 miles (over 10 hours) of trail. Usually about 20% of this is asphalt, and the rest is dirt road. At times, we are moving at 10 MPH, but there are times on the dirt where we travel at 60 MPH for quite a ways. To cut down on dust, we try to ride side by side as much as possible, but a small percentage of the trails have been wide enough for one bike only. In more common cases, the road has more curves, or blind areas due to trees or rocks, so we end up following each other. We have taken turns eating dust, and man is there lots of it. So, the repairs we are making are to clean the air filters, and then to tighten things that are just rattling off- like the exhaust on the Ducati.
While Todd worked on the bikes, I was hard at work on the blog. Little did I know when I started it, but this thing is taking me about 2 hours per night. When added to the fact that most nights we do not have Wifi, or even cell service, that makes the nights where we stop at hotels like a desk job for me. It is not uncommon for me to spend 4-6 hours on the computer in a hotel. At least I know my bike will be fixed better if I am not working on it!
We were the last people to check out of the hotel in Rawlins, and the staff asked us at least a dozen times when we were leaving. At one point, I explained to the man that I was just working on getting the blood stains out of the carpet, and we would be gone soon.
Desert Crossing attempt #2
As we left Rawlins, we had to get on a state route for about 10 miles, and then we turned into a desert. It was novel at first, as we saw tons of cows (imagine that), and lots of Antelope. At this point, we are starting to feel more comfortable riding through herd of wild animals than we are in traffic. I guess that is because animals are rational creatures, whereas people in automobiles are not. Video is tough to get with the head mounted GoPro, as it always looks much further away than we actually are, but I got this decent video trying to intersect with an Antelope.
For the first 100 miles of this desert road, we passed 4 other cars (ok, trucks). The road we were travelling on was pretty well-marked, with us only getting lost one time, however there were intersecting trails about every 1/4 mile. None of these were marked, and they all stretched over the horizon. We got some great shots of nothing:
It was truly desolate out there. At one point, Todd asked me to listen. I couldn’t hear anything. That was his point, we could not hear anything. No cars, no planes, no electric hum of a city, no bugs, no birds, no wind. NO SOUND. I don’t recall ever having heard nothing before, so I started talking non stop to make sure he felt ok.
Somehow we came off the marked Continental Divide Trail, and road about 15 miles to a paved state route. We asked some people for directions, and headed back into the desert. Once back, we travelled quite a distance again, and we came into Atlantic City. This looked to be a town of about 40 homes, but no businesses. We asked a homeowner if they had any gas to sell us, and he let us have 5 gallons. He was a really energetic guy, building houses, digging ponds, restoring a Unimog, and running around like crazy. We were thankful to have met him for reasons other than the 5 gallons of gas he sold us (at pump prices, even).
We have gotten much better at reading the maps, but it is not uncommon for us to lose the trail several times daily. We typically find an alternate route to join it again, but in some cases we backtrack. At times, it feels like we are cheating, and not doing the whole trail, however I can’t imagine that one desert road is much different from the other.
Bicyclists are the heroes
One thing we talked about a lot today was the bicyclists that travel the Continental Divide Trail. They are amazing, and neither of us has any desire to do the trip while pedaling. This desert day was long for us, at 225 miles, but we imagined that it would take 3-4 days on a bike. That would be too much silence, nothingness, and wrong turns on unmarked roads. No thank you! Another interesting thing is that of the 20 or so bicyclists that we have seen, only 2 of them have been travelling together. The rest have been alone.
After we came out of the desert, we came to a very affluent community named Boulder, Wyoming. It is next to Pinedale. Like so many of these high country ranching towns, there was the airport and the private jets.
Wyoming State Troopers
We know better, but after riding 220 miles in the desert, we forgot how to act in a resort community. A Wyoming State Trooper gave us a reminder. He said 82 in a 65 was just too much. He also said he wished he was on our trip with us, because even when we were getting tickets we were smiling and laughing.
We left town, and looked for a camp site. It turns out that not only has Ted Turner bought all of the land in Wyoming, but he has put a fence around it all. We drove 20 miles until we could find a spot between a dirt road, and a fence that could fit us. No fire, just bitter cold and an early night to bed.