First days

Man is nothing else but what he makes himself 

Jean Paul Sartre  (on our bike guides t-shirt)

Up at 5:45 breakie ride to bus then a wild and crazy bus ride arriving besishahar and transfer to 2 jeeps. 2 jeeps, 2 driver, 2 assistant, 8 of us, our gear and 8 bikes.   4 hour hard core 4 wheel drive arriving 7:15. Whew lots and exhausted. The wild ride of mr. Toad

Next day and we began our first real ride. We managed 16 kilometers in almost 4 hours. Technical riding Rocky steep and huge drop offs. In a canyon which I figure is over 2 kilometers deep. We are at 1900 meters here in dhalapani and the peaks above which, we have not seen, are 7900 meters. 

The monsoon has not departed as yet and the waterfalls are raging as is the marshyangdi river which continues up the valley. We are riding through jungle and it is very lush growth. Occasional rain but mostly at night, sometimes very hard. 

And we arrived earlier than our porters which have all our gear. We no longer feel bad about carrying a 10% tip for the porters (a total of $420 each). We have two guides, a bike and overall guide, one cook, 4 kitchen boys, 12 porters, and two general apprentices for a total of 21 for our 8. The porters carry supposedly a max of 35 kg. My bag is 17, Rein’s is 16. And the porter carrying our bags had a sack of potatoes on top. We estimate over 50 kg and wearing flip flops. Amazing people and happy. 

Fun afternoon as arrived here at village of dhalapani about noon and porters did not arrive til about 3:30 so no change of clothes battery chargers, solar chargers etc. 5 of us started up another valley. Two suspension bridges which are pretty wild to ride across. They are much improved from the wooden flats often broken from years ago, but you watch where you are riding with no looking around as do not want to hit handlebar on side. You are also a long way up. Apparently there was a landslide up valley and Janga, our bike guide says you do not want to be in area when it has been raining. Do we turned around and came back to sit around camp awaiting gear. 

I decided I wanted to see what carrying one of the loads is like, so walked back down with Janga, our bike guide, who said not the first one as it was probably too heavy.  Here in Nepal they use tumplines over the head, instead of shoulder straps and waist belt. And either our packs are strapped into a bundle or stuff is put in a big basket. Second one I tried and when I got up the load tipped over but they were ready. Back in town center I took the load again. 35-40 kg. ;(80-90lbs) 

I then had to walk through town center where nearly all the inhabitants were lining the street. ( not much to do here I suppose) laughter and comments on who the new porter was. Wow I am impressed and I was in bike shoes as opposed to the flip flops the regular porter wore and he trekked 16 kilometers whereas I did 100 meters. 

But all gear arrived and as soon as loads delivered, without a break the porters were setting up tents. We riders got out our batteries and those with solar chargers began their work. I charged phone and GPS and am glad I got extra batteries for camera as first battery died this pm 

It has been a wild couple of days now have a wifi connection and feel urge to post before it goes down  

lots if help for flat tires

So have posted this but rereading difficult. Sorry about that but lots going on and I jot down notes as I can. Now adding as I realize it is 3:30 am in anchorage and 5:15 pm here in Nepal. 

Everyone is tired. I ride walk and think what have I done, I can’t do this, then look at the others and realize they are feeling the same. And as I have mentioned these are some of the strongest and most amazing riders I have ever ridden with. Sometimes one will be able to climb a hill next time not and someone else can. We all take our rounds of exhaustion.  And we are riding 17 kilometers a day in 4 hours. That is about the farthest distance  the porters can go and it takes them 8 hours. 

Currently two are down feeling somewhat sick. A bummer because one must keep riding. Fluids rest and pepto bismol is my answer thus far, and only feeling a bit of stomach jitters occasionally but I keep the toilet paper always handy.  I do feel the lungs are congested, but that I feel is the ride about Kathmandu without a mask. Altitude is not going to help. Only 2700meters so far (8900 feet) 

Nepal is incredible. Obviously poor but everyone seems happy.  This valley is gorgeous deep and steep. The road continues as a very rough 4-wheel drive road two way traffic and drops of several hundred meters without guard rails. I walked about 1/2 today due to steepness and roughness. When rideable usually technical with rocks, holes, flowing water, (sometimes deep) 

Kathmandu, Nepal holy ****

If you dream of a toilet, do not use it. 

Seen on a shop sign in Kathmandu

Holy shit ! Yesterday our first full day I the city and beginning the trip we (8 of us) went to the Buddhist stupa, a world heritage site. A spectacular “temple” for buddhists. 

Unfortunately it was destroyed in the earthquake but is being rebuilt. Spectacular and sad and inspiring and amazing.

But for its awesomeness the bus ride there and back was the kicker. We all were amazed at the traffic and the driver ability to navigate, and the navigation was not which street but survival amongst the traffic. I was in New York City a few years ago and was scared to death to just contemplate driving there. One had to have an exquisite sense of exactly where all points of your vehicle were. That was nothing compared to Kathmandu if it were not so filthy we wanted to get down and kiss the ground on arrival back at hotel. (One considers the ground totally filthy here) 

We’ll progress to today and our first ride about the valley. We thought maybe  a bus out of town but no we ride from hotel. Holy shit. 

Basically we were all scared but when we got on the bikes the beauty of biking returned. This was very technical riding and requires 100% concentration with a high degree of situational awareness. There are no bike lanes, you are part of the traffic: buses, autos, motorbikes, hand carts, push bikes, pedestrians crossing, and bikes totally loaded with 100-200 pounds (100 kg) hanging off aides and sticking out. And they drive on left here which one best remember because instinct will take you to the right of whatever comes at you and they can kill you. 

One has to be aggressive and as Rein says “brutal” it is like a giant game of chicken sometimes you have to give and sometimes you just move out and hope they stop or maneuver around. There is no one meter rule and if you allow a meter between you and the bus a motorbike will come rushing through hoping its handlebars will fit under yours. As noted earlier traffic rules seem to be general guidelines. But it seems to work. 

Then there are the cross streets or just crossing a street. You just start working your way out into traffic. Be brave be strong and if not you will be there all day. And none of this bike to side of road. You go where there is room which is sometimes in opposing lane squeezing between incoming traffic. Buses are scary because they seem to randomly pull over, stop allowing passengers on off, taxis will just do a u-turn in mid street. 

And also keep a careful eye on road  as this is third world and manhole covers are often not there which means a huge hole without barrier.  As in la Paz, Bolivia.  

I did not wear my buff today. Always wear a buff even if it is in the high 90s temp. Which it was today 36 degeees c. And humid. The buff one could cover ones nose and mouth and not breath in the dust, diesel and whatever else. Would have been nice even in the sweat I was pouring off. 

navigating road construction
keep in minds these pictures were taken in the quiet times when i could get camera out

And when we got back to the hotel we were all excited- we survived and had a great time. It was technical, exhilarating, exciting, and it felt good to be an equal out on the road. 

And tomorrow we depart by bus for 6-7 hour ride to besi sahar. For the trip the porters will carry 35 kg per porter which is two people’s gear. This afternoon after coming back changes money getting 52000  rupees for next weeks. ( $500). And deciding what gear to leave and what to take. I have my bag to 16.2 kg. Rein noted how some people have it all (me) and some have none..  I loaned my tool kit today to do adjustments to others bikes. Ok. 

Now sitting in restaurant with wifi drinking beer and thinking of tomorrow. 

Arrival at Kathmandu, Nepal 

“real generosity to the future lies in giving all to the present.”

Albert Camus

Finally made it, arrived Sunday evening about 7:45 and out of customs immigration by 8:30. 3 cab drivers wanted to give me rides but finally someone with my name on a card found me. He had been looking for someone with a big bike box. 

And immediate sense of Nepal is different.  Tv screens advertise cell phones but the official stuff is still just on a sign. Paid for my visa then onto customs to get the visa where as soon as my passport went on scanner the power went out, leaving a room of several hundred people in the dark. Lasted only a short time but the computers were not working, so we waited for 5-10 minutes for the system to kick in. Always a concern when waiting for a customs officer to give that magic stamp of the passport. Something about customs officers: they always seem bored and they know they have the power.

Nima Sherpa arrived who is our lead outfitter,  guide, guru. As the fellow who had my name said he is the big boss. Turns out he has a niece in Bethel, Alaska and a brother in Portland. Nima and I talked while the driver navigated the maze of streets. 

I seemed to notice Kathmandu is cleaner although driving on the streets is third world and not for the faint of heart. Driving regulations seem to be only general advisories. Which side of the street seems determined by which side has room and getting through an intersection is a matter of just get out there and keeping moving. And as in 1992 if someone or thing is blocking the way or in threat of being hit, notify them with the horn. Just do not hit a cow. My body was on high alert for the drive although that is dumb sitting in the back. 

And Kathmandu seemed cleaner more orderly, then we entered Thamel the tourist district with crowded streets cars people shops even inside the car there was a cacophony of sound. Ones senses are assaulted. No peace and quiet here. 

Arrived at hotel where Nima made arrangements for my bags to go to room and out from the restaurant walk Buck and Rein.  I said I would come down as eat I as wanted to check the room. Rein gave me the key as I will be rooming with him. In my wanderings I came across Michelle and Chad. They had arrived a couple days ago to explore Kathmandu. Oh my gosh, the trip is happening.

Buck is the person who has put this together. Last October he was here climbing and met Nima. He had inquired if he could put together a bike trip. In his discussions with Nima, he learned very little of government aid ever made it to the people. The only help actually doing something has been NGO’s and the return of the tourist industry. If one remembers, there was a devastating earthquake here in April 2015. As we drove here I noticed the Star hotel where Jeanne and I spent many days sitting out on the patio. It is still being rebuilt. 

I met Buck in about 2000 when he would come to anchorage for the tour of anchorage ski race held every march.  He owns a hardware store in Michigan by Lake Superior. There were 5-10 of us with “bucks hardware” racing suits. I lost track of him when we quit racing. Then unbeknowst to me he signed up for the Andes trail bike ride where we again reconnected. I usually roomed with him on hotel nights and he has always impressed me with his clear way of looking at the world. 

Rein is from the Netherlands and loves to ride his bike. He is probably one of the best riders I have ever met. Pleasant, friendly, unassuming, and incredibly powerful although his skinny frame does not forecast that. In the Andes, pulling up some horrendous grade he would come along side and carry on pleasant conversation, then excuse himself and fly on up further, leaving me to wonder “how does he do that?”

Michelle was also on the Andes trail and goes without saying also loves to ride her bike. She was the one who was hit by a car on second to last day in Argentina. She survived although bike was totally destroyed. Insurance replaced it with a Santa Cruz “tall boy”, perfect for this trip. She still has a day job working as a researcher for the University in Australia. And is a self described geek. Awesome lady 

Chad,also from Australia, works as a computer programmer and he and Michelle began hanging out together a few years ago. Must be great if he is with Michelle. 

We shared stories of the Andes and what a different ride this would be. Although officially now a road except for Thorong La pass the Annapurna circuit still qualifies as rough mountain biking. 

The James and Bridgett joined us. James is from Virginia and won the Andes trail race. He is a happy somewhat quiet person and also loves to ride.  I recently saw a post in Facebook of him racing an old penny farthing bike (the one with a huge front wheel and tiny back wheel. 

Bridget hails from South Africa where buck met her on some bike ride. She apparently won the Cairo -Capetown tour of Africa race. Anybody who is friendly on arrival, appears excited and says “where can a girl get a beer around here” is alright by me. 

Only Paul from the Netherlands is yet to arrive. And that is our crew, hand picked and promises to be a great interesting trip. 

Thus today we assemble bikes, take care of business with Nima Getting permits, then tomorrow a ride of Kathmandu. 

And I cannot get on to internet here at hotel, but am assured it is here and decent. Am told we will have cell coverage most of trip. But the big if is electricity. Charging phones, GPS, etc maybe it is time to go back. (Nah I like my world)

If you see this or any post problem solved for now. 

hotel marshyangdi restaurant
thamel district apartments outside our hotel
 

Dubai

The question is not what you look at, but what you see

Henry David Thoreau

Well now I remember travelling is a kick but oh my gosh is it tiring.  Left house in Seattle  at 6:30 am Thursday catching train to airport carrying the two bags with bike in it. Whew and emirates airline is of. course at far end of terminal.  I needed some exercise so walked it carrying bags forgoing a cart 

Onto the plane at 9:15 and sat in that seat for the next 15 hours except to get up for bathroom. But a great flight. Was able to sleep a bit, had room to move, emirates airline fed us good, two fine meals, dinner and breakfast, lots of snacks( crackers, cheese, pizza, beer, wine. International flights are great.   

Was fun as always nice when they have a displayed map or flight info and where we are. Flew pretty much straight north until we were going straight south. And the best part is seeing parts of the world I had not seen: canadian rockies and Canadian Shield, Arctic Ocean north of Greenland, then down over central Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan,  and Iran. All looked like incredible country. Could have been many places. Fields, farms, cities, roads. Mountains looked amazing and we weren’t even over big ranges.  Reminded me very much of Utah and eastern Montana. Interesting how biased we can become reading the news. 

somewhere over notthern canada

Then Dubai and off the plane. I thought the airport ( bigger (it is)  than Las Vegas and more plush with far better air conditioning.  I did not realize how hot it was until finally got off the metro train a hundred yards from hotel. Then when you stepped outside the building and walkways it hit. 
Room was not ready as arrived at noon so sat in lobby but decided to ride the train about as I had a day pass. Was going to get off and explore side streets but was noticing my exhaustuon and went back and slept. 

Awake and it was dark as in no lights in room. Realized I had not put key card in slot by door for power but it did not work. Tried figuring it out myself but ended up going downstairs and maintenance  guy came up removed a cover off one of light switches, played with wiring and viola all worked. Just be careful of hitting the button which is magnetized to do something with the electricity. Whatever. Sort of like the main bathroom light switch in Delhi which was in the shower. Sometimes they do things differently. 

But room is great 900 square feet (84 meters square) big bedroom, sitting room, dining area, kitchen with laundry 2 bathrooms.  One could get lost In the king bed: all for $200 for two nights including taxes, and a full breakfast. Wifi is slow though. 

Out to eat finding a hole in the wall place which was Indian Chinese food. But my Hindi and or Arabic language skills are non existent, and ended up pointing at pictures. I thought the waiter signaled they were small but was two meals which I ate. Very good lamb and chicken masala with  fried rice. 

Enroute home found a pharmacy and got some cipro for potential problems. No wonder there is antibiotic resistance in the world. Antibiotics require no prescription and cost about $8. In the states that is at least $50 unless they have jacked the price again.   

Ok a full day in Dubai started with a great breakfast here at hotel, then off for the 160 meter walk in the blast furnace to train station. To the Burj Khalifa- the worlds tallest building at 828 meters (2717 feet).  The observation deck is only at floor 143 as I remember some 600 meters up. Not bad for a building which houses 15,000 people. 

It did surprise me the cost of going up there 500 dirhams $(190). Turns out though for that I got to go to highest floor (143) have all the orange juice I wanted a all the dates I could eat, plus there is more I got a explanation of the building. Sometimes the extra money is worth it. 

looking up
looking down

I did ask if I could walk down but the answer was no. 

Then on to mall of the emirates in hopes of checking out the local ski scene.  Made it  to discover entry (lift ticket was 500 dirhans (about $200). A bit steep for a lift ticket although it seemed to include the 400 meters of skiing with Poma lift and ultra slow quad chairlift, access to sleds ; on the flats, sledding (with 2 turns), penguins. I chose to have a cup of coffee overlooking the sleds and penguins. 

watching the ski area
ski area floor
penguin show (i found it sad)

The mall was huge as in ginormous. One can easily get lost and when I finished walking I had done 8 miles. Back via train only feeling the heat when getting on or off train for the seconds while train doors and building doors are both open. No open platforms and walkways to the mall. Everyone I talked with said it was nicer now than a month ago when it was near near 50 degrees (122F). 

All in all it reminds me of Las Vegas strip on steroids, but without the tourists. I am ready to get back on the bike. ​​

train station (noor bank)
And I fully expect a decrease in these ramblings due to a shortage of electricity and secondary a decrease in internet availability. Especially with pictures. The spot tracker shows recording locations but not showing up. And I just changed batteries. 

J. R.’s Spot location
And also finding this using only the phone much more difficult. My fingers seem to never fit only one key and autocorrect is my own worst enema (enemy)

On to Kathmandu 

Traveling 

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover

Mark Twain

Well off again, that was a short stay at home. But then that was the plan. 

Last fall I was working on the ski jumps preparing them for winter, when my friend Buck called having just returned from a trekking trip in Nepal. He was excited about a potential bicycle trip there, and was inquiring about interest. He mentioned the devastation from the earthquake in April of 2015. It seems much of the aid is often misused and is short term. The only real way to help, is get their tourism industry back on track. Buck was contacting a few people whom we had ridden the Andes trail with and it looked like a great group of people and a great trip. Sign me up!

In 1988 I trekked the Annapurna circuit. At that time it was very much a trek without vehicle support. 4 of us took about 4 weeks with 2 porters and a guide. We did not understand the inns and such and camped out the entire trip, cooking our own meals, carrying our tents, and setting our own camps. ( often paying an inn 50 cents or so to stay in their yard). 

Then in 1992 Jeanne and I spent 2 1/2 months trekking, including 2 weeks on the western side of Annapurna circuit, skipping the 17650foot (5600 meter) thorong la pass. This time we got a vehicle ride for the first part as the Chinese were building a road to Tibet and it was partially completed. 

Nepal was very different in those 4 years. In 1988 the black market was alive and well, in 92 the government had begun to figure out money. Also the tourist industry was more developed. Jeanne and I stayed in inns and ate there although we had camping gear, but did not use. And a lot more people were there. Nepal had been discovered. 

And so I am returning to the Annapurna circuit, this time to ride on a bicycle. Apparently it is 75% rideable with the rest being hike-a-bike. Exciting. Back to biking at altitude. Thinking the trip to the great divide will help acclimate but we were only at 9500 feet which we will be at on day two or three. Also going to the mustang area which was still closed to tourists in 88 and 92. A friend of Nancy Brady, braught coughtburn (sp.) in Jackson Wyoming, said the road was in, but we would be riding faster than the buses due to rough conditions. Yahoo. 

Anyway arrangements made and here I go again. It is a bit too busy for me, but sometimes when an opportunity hits one has to take it. Only a week from getting off the divide which was awesome and feeling bad we did not get to finish. Spent the past week giving the bike some much needed loving care. Replaced bottom bracket, new chain, replace tires with something hopefully more appropriate for the terrain, cleanse thoroughly, and take apart again for packing. This the same bike used in South America which I love. It is a 26″ wheels, a front suspension fork and pulls apart to carry in a duffle bag and the wheels are in a wheel bag. Gear gets packed into the bags for padding and two bags are 16 and 22 kilograms. No extra charge or hassle for flying. 

Have been thinking of traveling recently. Why is it some people go and others just like to stay at home. Nothing wrong with either. Sometimes it is nice to develop an understanding of ones home. Jeanne’s mom was one. She had an adventurous spirit, but it was sometimes difficult to leave St. Louis because, well this week is this and that week has this other thing going on. She loved St. Louis although understood there ere other places in the world. 

Inertia is another thing. Sometimes one gets settled into a routine and it is hard to break.  Sometimes I think though people are afraid of something new and or different. My dad used to tell me before I left on a trip “you be careful out there!  They do things different there, not better or worse, just different”. 

I remember the first Asian toilet I saw in Thailand. Wow one sometimes thinks we have it figured out and then there was this hole in the floor one squats over. Hmmm 

That is part of the adventure,  seeing different ways of doing things. Live and learn. Maybe it works better if you allow yourself to realize there are differences and those can be good. 

I grew up traveling, maybe not exotic places, but going to relatives in different parts of the country. Seeing new sights, new landscsapes. We moved a lot which meant learning to meet new friends. 

In 1962 I got to travel cross country with my cousin and uncle taking three weeks. Chicago, Florida, and across the southern United States to California. Whew they had different attitudes in the south. I am still jaded. 

Then in 1964 on an afternoon jaunt to Yellowstone (we lived nearby) I saw a group of bikers riding across the United States. Wow. In 1965 I took off on a train alone to philadelphia where I joined 10 other 16 and 17 year olds. The trip leader was 22 years old. We biked for a month in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, and washington D. C.   Not sure one could do that now as a teenager but I was hooked. 

Over the years I did numerous trips by bicycle. Always interesting, sometimes difficult, sometimes I quit, sometimes just a chance to connect with myself. I was reading John Steinbeck “travels with Charlie” one mid November and just got the urge to go, so took off across Colorado in November. A week later I wrote a philosophy paper about the trip for a college class. Good results as a remember, although later flunked as a philosophy major. The point was to just go. 

Sometimes it is good to break ones routine. Get out of the rut. Stop being comfortable. Scare oneself. Life is not easy and we as a species are not designed for easy. We are designed to work, figure it out and perhaps that way we can survive. If we sit and just watch the world, soon enough it will just pass us by and sooner than we expect we will be left behind. 

It is scary, what happens if something goes wrong. I worry on this trip of a multitude of potential issues. What happens if I get sick, what happens if the bike breaks, what happens if I embarrass myself, what happens, what do I do?  On and on. Ok just deal with it, enjoy the journey, there will be problems, enjoy them. There is good and bad in the world and eliminating the bad just removes the ability to see the good. Diversity is good as sometimes memories are created by hardships. 

This time around not only do I get to see new things but establish new connections and restablish old connections. One never knows what will happen but we have a group of 8 from USA, Australia, South Africa, Netherlands. That should provide different viewpoints. 

And for those who want to follow locations here is the spot address

J. R. Spot location
This site may or may not be useful. I am expecting internet to be very sporadic, intermittant, slow, and weak. 

So I still have not answered why some travel and some do not.  I guess there is no answer, we are all different. The diversity of life on earth. One does not have to travel. I seem to remember a story of Jules Verne who felt he did not need to travel because he accomplished it in his writings.   Sometimes traveling in your own mind is the best. 

I just like the experience. Enjoy!

Thoughts on finish

The nice thing about about riding a bicycle about is you have time to smell the road kill.

Roy Thoren

Up early (5:30) at Frisco motel and off, Jeanne and I went with James to the car rental place at Denver airport.  It seems when we packed to drive down here, we still had a bit of room in the sprinter van so put in some extra stuff.  Now we have to deal with it.

James was off in a sad farewell and our trip is over.   We managed to get Jeanne’s bike into the rental car, mine was already torn apart and in the duffle bag which went on top of Jeanne’s along with other bags of stuff.  Jeanne and I wanted breakfast, wifi, and coffee, so off we went in search of the three essentials.  We ended up at McDonalds, sitting there just drinking coffee, had pancakes, sausage, eggs, hash browns for 3 1/2 hours.  Just enjoying the quiet down time.

Some folks ridicule mcdonalds but I find their coffee good and less than a dollar as opposed to starbucks which is 2-3 dollars. And starbucks only has croissants,  scones and such.  We wanted breakfast.

Thus we enjoyed just sitting, catching up and resting.  When we started the trip I had suggested riding 3-7 days then a rest day.  That is enough riding then I find , for me anyway, a rest day of just for a day or even two of not riding the bike is rejuvenating.  We had been riding for 12 days.  The tetons was our last rest day.  Rawlins was the next town and not exactly the most exciting place to just sit around.  (Rest days often consist of hiking, touring the area, fixing bikes, or just toodling around.)  Joe and I had taken a rest day in Steamboat Springs and we thought of it but decided to carry on to Dillon, Frisco, Breckenridge as James could take the van in for maintenance easily from there.  If I did it again I would take a rest day in Steamboat and again 3 days later in Frisco.  Live and learn.  But we were tired.

Off to a bike shop for a bike box to ship Jeanne’s bike in.  Talked with them about tires a bit, explaining our luck with tires. According to Constance, our keeper of the numbers, we had 14 tire replacements (lots of tires falling apart or side wall blowouts).They tended to commiserate with me but I am not sure believed it. They suggested glitter in the fluid.  At first I thought they were joking but they continued to say you can get particles in the fluid which will help seal holes.  Most of our holes were caused by sharp rocks either on outside or side wall blowouts. Once I stopped a leak by pushing a small pebble into the hole and it sealed. Glitter!

Met our friend Roy and had a delightful visit, talking, catching up and going into Boulder for food and a bit of a hike.

hiking above Boulder, Colorado

On to Colorado Springs to visit friends of some 40+ years.  A delightful visit and seeing the sights.  Jeanne has never been here.


But the urge to get out and ride the bike is strong.  Has been 3 days now and I can feel the body saying “am I going to be used or shall I just deteriorate?”  I firmly believe the human body is not designed for easy, hence it does better with hard work.  Sometimes though the mind takes over and lets one relax a bit too much.  I feel that now, but perhaps it is just the inertia of doing something every day which makes me feel like doing something.  I am sure in a few days I will come up with some excuse to not exercise.  What a dilemma! Alas first world problems.

OK I will figure it out and move on to the next trip.

 

To our half finish

The only important world is the one behind your eyes. And no one can access it but youNeil Gamen

Depart steamboat springs after a delightful stay there.  Just plain relaxing, and the ride out was superb through the ranch lands at first on a bike path along the yampa river then a county road which it seemed was a usual route of many local cyclists out for a morning ride.  

We moved along Dave, Constance, Nancy, and I with James and Jeanne driving vehicles.  Joy and Sammie had departed on their own as usual.  Soon we were several miles south and climbing a winding paved road which I could not remember.  Oh not unusual, but nothing was matching up with my 2011 map or Constance’s 2014 map which were slightly different.  But the gps said we were right on track, although several miles back the gps had said turn right and both maps said turn left.  We had believed the gps as it went towards the mountains and up, not back down into more ranchland.  We came to the lake and Constance asked if anything was familiar.  I said there was a great dam we had to cross but I was having trouble remembering the landscape.  But we kept going following the GPS.  

Finally I realized we were at the upper end of lake at opposite end from dam and climbing higher.  We asked a girl cycling by and she said the route to Lynx pass was the way we were going.  Somehow we had missed the dam.  Later I discovered I had set the GPS to go only on roads and the dam route was a walkable bike able trail but no road for cars.  

As we climbed  higher and eating lunch Joy and Sammie caught us and told us about the dam.  Alas, technology!

Made Lynx pass campground and had a delightful afternoon evening imbibing in Colorado delights.

Second day from steamboat the nice hills rolling through the forest then descent to the Colorado river. But on the ascent I gave up.  I knew the climbs to come and had been thinking of them for a few days.  Just tired and my heart was not in it, so jumped in truck with Jeanne and went to junction for Kremmling.  When the riders arrived I watched the bikes while Joy and Sammie went into town with James for their general delivery packages of supplies mailed before the trip.  

nancy fording some creek
three days out of steamboat springs
The returned and we three rode the 12 miles to Williams reservoir campground.  Another great camp.  Had a swim after riding then we just enjoyed the evening sitting around talking.  

Up at usual 6 am off by 8:45, Jeanne and Dave driving.  A splendid ride up to and over ute pass.  A ride right through the processing mill and tailings pond of Henderson mine and the molybdenum mine.  Joy managed to get to the top despite an asthma attack,mrelieved by her inhaler and rest at the top.  

stretching before ute pass climb
A rapid descent  topping 71 kph (44mph) then the highway with good shoulder up the blue river to Frisch where the group is planning a rest day.  We’re hoping for Breckinridge but no rooms.  Frisco is nicer.  I spent the afternoon in the garage with motel owner taking my bike apart and packing it up. 

Alas our ride is done.  The others continue to Mexican border. We are sad to leave.

Wyoming to Colorado

Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience.

Paulo Coelho

Left Rawlins into a headwind. Not bad riding just into the headwind which was very tiring. I remembered this section from the previous trip as a very long uphill which most was visible as one big climb.  The big rollers of up and down.  My memory did not disappoint. Approximately 4500 feet of elevation gain most of it also into a headwind.  Probably the most tiring day yet for us.

But at the end of the day the last 5 miles was in the trees.  Had been 5 days since we saw a tree.  Everyone felt great with that.  Warren and Jeanne had found us a great site off the main road, which was busy probably with labor day holiday traffic.  And it was noted during the day one of 2 cars which slowed down and gave us a wide berth was a logging truck.  Pretty bad when a logging truck is noted to be polite with bicyclists, the other cars not impolite but definitely in a hurry to get somewhere with lots of resulting dust.

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Nancy doing her evening hot drink

But the best was yet to come after we went to bed.  I was up about 2 am for nightly duties and the stars were out, lightening going off in the south horizon.  Inside tent and a few minutes later pitter patter of rain.  I told Jeanne to ignore it as stars were out and it would be short-lived.  It was, but 10 minutes later rain hit hard and we buttoned up.  The lightening was overhead, then going off incredibly bright right over us, with less than 1/2 second for the incredibly loud thunder to resonate.  Next day James and I said we both were thinking of evacuation routes if needed, as we were near the top of hill with big trees sticking up.  Quite the show.  Nature showing her stuff.

Next morning as we rode off lots of fire trucks were coming down the road although no signs of fire for us.  Rode through a section of the road they have preserved called aspen alley, a delightful section of large aspen trees.

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Aspen Alley

Took the alternate route through snake river valley to Columbine where Dave and Constance had a friends near the trail who had invited us to spend the night. Joe and I had ridden the main route over watershed divide with a steep climb and descent.  The alternate profile looked relatively level with a steep descent then somewhat flat although it did show Columbine as being about same elevation as last nights camp.

The alternate proved delightful with scenery but by the end of day it proved as tiring as yesterdays.  The up just kept going up.  Finally made it to Columbine where I promptly ate two ice cream bars and a fanta.  Whew. But the cabin was 2 miles off road apparently rough and again very uphill.  I rode that part in the sprinter van.IMG_4311

Today my turn to drive into Steamboat Springs.  A nice time by myself although one certainly does not get the feeling of the area sitting in a car.

And the trip is coming to an end for Jeanne and I.  A bit more than half way down the great divide but as planned we must return to Anchorage for other commitments.  Alas life gets in the way of life.  It has proven a delightful trip, but as noted very different than when Joe and I did our self supported trip in 2012.

This one has proven luxurious, with gourmet meals breakfast and dinner almost every night.  Joe and I had one pot glop meals full of calories and such but after many days it did get old.  This trip we have libations, soup, 3-4 course meals, fresh salads, and sitting around after the days activities discussing various whatever, is truly delightful.  Everyone has been wonderful, with chores, driving, and help along the way.

But a few more days into Colorado and near Breckenridge and or Dillon we will depart the group and spend some time visiting friends in Denver and colorado Springs, then fly home.  Alas things must end but it is a delightful memory. A premier bicycle trip.

 

 

Wyoming

Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride. 

John F Kennedy 

What a day!   A stupendous breakfast at at the “Heart & Soul” the depart Pinedale while leaving James, Warren, & Constance to do the shopping and catch us later. Jeanne was riding with us until they caught us. 

Departed Pinedale on nice highway with s good shoulder. I just started Dave following, just cruising at about 15 mph. Then save commented Jeanne and nancy were with us. Awesome, a four person pace line. We went for nearly twenty miles, just cruising enjoying the ride. 

Supposedly gravel came at 30 miles buy it just changed to a perfect dirt road, no washboard. 

The trucks caught us at big sandy creek where book lists water available, but totally fenced off. A gate  was there but heavy chain and padlock with two no trespassing signs. Not sure what the big deal is but certainly did not feel welcome.  And we had water.  On the next twenty kilometers of rolling hills contributing through the magnificent sagebrush country. When one drives interstate at just cruising in the automobile one looks out and sees the scenery without feeling it. Here it is stupendous. 

evening camp set
sammie
And another delightful camp here on the lander cutoff of the Oregon trail. A couple of gals have joined us and are a nice addition. Sammie and Joy from Massachusetts. For carrying some water for them they got us two pies, Apple and blueberry, which we devoured after the soup, salad, potatoes and onions, and barbecue brats. Delightful. Made it to A & M reservoir 3 days from Pinedale.  Yesterday from lander creek camp to sweetwater water. Once again thinking of trip with Joe and there were more cows at sweetwater. This time we went bathing in the creek. Feels so good at end of day to just sit in the water and get grime, sweat, dirt, off.   Again tonite at reservoir where could actually swim about. Awesome 

A&M reservoir camp
A & M reservoir
pronghorn. the antelope always wins
desert wheel
midday break
after big sandy creek
scenery along wyoming
lander camp views
the big dipper and friends about 11 pm lander creek camp
evening camp james, jeanne, dave, nancy, j. r. , constance warren, joy, sammie
  

A & M reservoir camp

Thus we made it across the four days of “waterless section”of Wyoming.  In a car it would be probably pretty boring with miles of miles of dirt and sagebrush, but on the bike it was awesome and amazing.  The afternoons were hot in the low 90’s (mid 30’s c) but the van and truck stopped every 25-30 miles and we got off and sat in shade for a bit, then on peddling , peddling, peddling.  

And the stud dumps were there, where the wild horses mark their territory by leaving their mark. The biggest piles of horse shit you have ever seen.

Bikes working good although Constance who is keeping track of numbers says we have changed out nine tires thus far. Me 2, Jeanne 2, James 2, Dave1, plus I cannot remember the rest.  All are tubeless or a variety thereof.  Yesterday nancy, Jeanne, and J. R. all developed leaks and were spewing fluid out but just keep on peddling and rolling and the sealed without much loss of pressure.  

A father son duo riding the great divide on motorcycles, commented to us the commeraderie on the trail. People keep track of each other up and down.  2 notes ago a hiker came through (name of dirt monger) hike the pacific crest trail this spring now going down the continental divide trail ( a slightly different route the the great divide bicycle route. ). And saw him coming into Rawlings today, he is as fast as we are.  On his sixth pair of shoes this year.  

along the oregon trail

It is amazing country. The history of south pass which is in the midst of Wyoming is phenomenal.  Some of the more interesting history in the development of the western United States.  Not only does the Oregon trail go through here, but the California trail, the Mormon trail, the pony express trail, and the Indian have used it for far longer than our memory and history relates.  
And the antelope are beautiful. They run as if standing still but move across the country at seemingly high speed.