18 May 2008

Gruelling Day

State Line

After I wrote yesterday's post, young Carl rode into town having taken the sneaky shortcut from Kremmling which saves a hefty amount of mileage and we decided to grab dinner together. We ate so much at the local diner with a few salad/pasta bar visits and a big chicken strips with jacket potato meal. It was actually good to spend some time with Carl as he wasn't as taciturn as the other day so I found out a lot more about him - he went to uni for 2 years then the army for 5 years and is now back at uni doing International Relations having been over to Iraq and Afghanistan for some first hand experience as a soldier!

Carl is only taking the ride as far as Missoula, Montana as he has to get back for uni in early June so is working on a nice easy 60 miles a day schedule so can afford to take it relatively easy from now on. I don't have that luxury yet and so have to push for a few more miles than Carl each day but we agreed to head out together and see how we held the pace. With an 05:30 start and breakfast at the local diner we were on the road by seven a.m which was good and Carl's aim was 66 miles to Saratoga which looked easily achievable compared to my 115 miles to Rawlins.

Anyhow, we started off together and Carl was behind me but after a mile or 2 I looked behind me and I had put a fair amount of distance in so he was out of sight already. I was riding well so carried on and that was the last I saw of him, for which I felt a bit bad for not saying goodbye! I nailed the next few miles to the Colorado/Wyoming border and at the 50 mile mark it was still only 10:30! On this stretch I set a new top speed of just over 42mph which was great but a bit scary as the bike started wobbling above 40 and I was terrified of hitting the brakes in case I flew off...
I do
At the 50 mile mark and the town of Riverside I stopped for a banana and some more water and got chatting to some girls who were taking a boat out for the day. They echoed Carl's sentiments about the wind in Wyoming (apparently it is a horror and can really kill your progress) but I thought that nothing could dent this day having had such a fast first 50. As I turned out of town, the wind began and didn't really leave me for the rest of the day. It toyed with me along the way, switching from headwind to crosswind to a delightful combination of the two, and if I turned a corner, it would switch again so that I was still getting blown backwards.
I wish I had just stopped here
The 18 miles to Saratoga were slow going due to the wind and some light hills but I was in town by 1pm so I bought a couple of sarnies and some water as well as a box of cherry tomatoes for the healthy side of lunch. From here it was another 41 miles to Rawlins with a service station 20 miles in but with the heat and the wind it felt like 80. By 15:30 I was at the halfway point (Walcott - population 35) and was dying on my feet but a sit down in the shade was ended by red ants running all around the one shady spot in town..
Always funny, particularly if you know someone called Johnson!
The first 13 of the next 20 miles were on the hard shoulder of Interstate 80 (US equivalent of a motorway) which was scary with huge lorries zooming past at high speed and the wind was a full on headwind so I was clocking between 5 and 8mph. I finally crawled into Rawlins at about 7pm and there was no way I was camping as I needed a bed and a shower really badly. The first hotel was asking $129, the second $145 and so I took the Days Inn option at $95 which is still ludicrous compared to just about everywhere else on the trip...greedy f8ckers. I couldn't be bothered with my healthy eating gig this evening and so dined under the golden arches which was as delicious as ever.

I am so sore now as my saddle still hasn't broken in properly so I am sitting on a brand new tough bit of leather with no padding which is getting tiresome to say the least. Also I am quite badly sunburnt from yesterday when I rode without my riding mitt on my right hand and so that got a whole day of sunshine for the first time on the trip. It is now bright red and swollen which isn't comforting...I spent whole day today with a long sleeved top on and my thick winter gloves to protect the hand from any further burning and so I wasn't really dressed for the sweltering heat!

I have a pleasant 62 mile ride tomorrow but the weather channel is promising 20-30mph Westerly wind and yep, I'm heading west but I shouldn't moan as I'm onto a new map, in a new state and am only 300 or so miles from Yellowstone Park which is meant to be epic!

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