Chame-Manang

We arrived Chame somewhat early about 2 pm. Was 17 kilometer but 840 meters of hard climbing. My GPS showed only 13 kilometer for the day. Today though, I found the setting for pause when stopped. It was set at 5.4 kilometers an hour, a normal walking pace. Hence anything less did not register. We walked a lot and it was definitely slow walking. I changed it to 1 km/ hr today and will drop it further. 

Kami our lead guide was unable to find a camping place so we had to stay in hotel. It filled up but our rooms were on the street away from hotel commons and restaurant so somewhat quiet. 

Inns in Nepal have progressed from sleeping in a big communal room with smoke stack stopping before exiting roof. Now own room or shared with one other. Still no heat but a sheet and comforter. 1 light and 1 plug in room. Rein and I both worried about the cleanliness of sheets and decided on our sleeping bags. But by morn I only had my sleeping bag over me and I was all over the bed. 

Paul and I went with one of Sherpas to public free hot spring and had a great bath with some of locals. We went almost as soon as arrival because it would take a while for porters to make it with our gear. Just went in water with bike pants, but it was still warm and although deep in canyon sun still up. 

Others wanted to wait for gear and clothes and when they went a local family had taken over and refused them entry. 

Wifi available for 150 rupees (about$1.50) and for duration of stay. Most place are only for an hour. And the owner said he paid extra for good wifi his wifi is better than most which often does not work, especially when numerous people sign on. And this was 150 rupees for the duration of stay, usually only an hour. So I signed on and gushed out that last missive.

But a bit chilled later as cooling off now that we are gaining elevation. Chame at 2745 (9000 ft). My gear finally arrived and we had  a great dinner. Momo’s, green beans, peeled vegetable salad, sardines in a tomato sauce, fried potatoes, and boiled potatoes. Seems I am only one who likes sardines but all thought the meal great and finished off with a banana pie. 

Kami found a jeep to take kitchen staff and our gear to Manang, a distance of 29 kilometer. That way we would have our gear otherwise we would have to stop part way and cut into our rest day. 

They left in the jeep, the remaining porters began trekking with 10-15 kilogram loads. And we cyclists began ascending. View of Annapurna II above us and the Marshyangdi below us. The road continues as a jeep track with some big drop offs. 

But entered pine tree forest and I remembered bits and pieces of the trip in 1988. The  venders along road with Nepal stuff. And topped out a steep hill with road cut in side of Clif and a long valley. We got almost 10 kilometers of rideable road. 

marsgyandi valley. annapurna II above

Arrived Manang and all excited about a rest day. Acclimate to the 3540 meter altitude (11700 feet) before the two day push to pass at 5460 meter. (17600). 

Rest day yahoo. All tired dirty. Showers or porters brought us all pans of hot water for cleaning, some washed their own laundry, I gave mine to hotel  got 700 rupees ($7.00) 

And we are camping in the cabbage patch behind a restaurant.  Our cooks cook our meals in shed or on ground outside. 

Rained hard this morning and was very humid. Expected it to be cooler but warm 15-25 (55-75f). 

And bring a rest day one does not want to lose what one has gained so Kami took us on a short trek this morn up to gangapurna glacier overlook, about 5 k. 

Worked on bikes I think I have generator fixed. And derailleur cleaned as it has been giving me grief. Paul bled his brakes as the tiny air bubbles will expand at altitude. Mine seem ok. It is the engine which is problem. 

Wifi is a bit slow here and may be for some time. One is always surprisedsuffice it to say Nepal is incredible as ever. Manang a gorgeous village sitting below Annapurna III and IV, and Ganggapurna, Tulicho further up the valley. The locals say Nepal mountain do not start until 7000 meters the rest are foothills. I will leave it at this for now as more things to do. 

break and rest time
locals bringing in the fields

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. 

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.

 

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.

IMG_8177
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.

IMG_4314
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. 

Rest Days, Tribulations, onward Journeys

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous. leading to the most amazing views. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.

Edward Abbey

Interesting days. When last entry was made we were sitting beside the road under a tree providing great shade, realizing  the highway was nasty with farm equipment, semi trucks carrying barley, and increased traffic from tourists and winnebagos with no shoulder. We just gave up and decided to wait for James and Jeanne to rescue us. 

The two vehicles arrived much quicker than expected and we loaded all six of us into the vehicles with bikes attached.  It was decided the showers at Tracy and Ian’s  would be quicker and more efficient than over Teton pass and into Wilson.   Thus a great lunch at the Brskeman Cafe in Victor, a trip to bike shop where I got new bike shoes then on to Tracy and Ian’s for showers. 

My shoes were losing the fight for survival. They were ripped, the soles glued on and wearing out. But they were with me for the first great divide, South America, Germany, this trip and numerous trips in between. Maybe 10000 miles in the past 4 years. Hopefully these new shoes will be as good. 

Constance, Dave, James, and Nancy moved on over the pass to friends in Wilson.   Jeanne and I stayed and waited the arrival of the homeowners. It was great to see them and the kids. Rylan 3 years old and Harper who celebrated her first birthday while we were there. 

On arrival home Ian began gathering  empty plastic milk jugs and filling with water and consolidating the freezer foods into the one big freezer. Turns out a forest fire had begun about 4 miles away and they were worried about the power connections knocking out power. Evacuations were being discussed for a subdivision closer to the fire and a mile away.  And the air was thick with smoke. A small bit of ash fell fell as we were setting up the table outside for dinner. 

Tracy very kindly took the next day off and we got to spend the day with her and the kids. Very pleasant!  

We drove to Jackson where Jeanne and I were searching for a new tent. The old Walrus 2 person tents zipper, we had been jury rigging for a couple of years, was finally not reacting to our attempts to save it.  Time for a new one. 

Settled on a 3 person (or as Jeanne would say 2 people and J. R.’s technology.  We set up 3 different tents in the store, climbing in and out, debating, discussing various attributes. Years ago we had a tent with two separate entries and separate vestibules which was great. Have been unable to find since, but now again we have one. Yahoo excited and room inside. 

Met nancy, Constance, and Dave for lunch and discussion of potential future days. Roads still closed and seems best to just drive to Pinedale, skipping ahead basically 5 days of riding. Going back to warm springs camp and continuing from where we left the trail was proving not an option due to the fire at Jackson lake which blew up and closed the roads. Alas!

Tracy drove us up through the Teton park where the mountains occasionally showed themselves through the smoke. James was up climbing there somewhere. We

Returned over the pass to Victor, to find Ian and the neighbors up on the roof watching the planes circle around the fire 4 miles away dropping retardant. Always a fascinating site. I cleaned and worked on bikes and slept soundly.

This am we returned to Wilson, via Tracy who was going to work, and met out group again. Breakfast then to grocery store for supplies for the long trip from pinedale to Rawlins, a remote section of the great divide. While waiting for the shoppers Dave, James, and I called the pinedale forest office for fire update as the web was not updating very fast. Turns out the road over union pass was just opened today.  We could go north instead of south, although not to where we departed trail. We would skip 2 days of riding instead of 5. Whoopee. 

Off to the Turpin meadows camp where Joe and I camped four years ago. An ok camp. But when we drove up signs saying absolutely no tent camping, due to beat activity. We all agreed we have seen no signs of bear activity except forest service signs. Officialdom. We just moved up the road about 2 miles to a bush camp which is probably nicer than the campground with Winnebagos. 

And Warren and Colleen return from Boulder today. We will have another driver. 

Ok writing a few days later (like 3 days). Having internet again which is always a novel idea, especially internet that works at a resonable speed.  Always an issue on the divide.  

But the story continues: we left Turpin meadows on our first riding days in 3 layover transport days.  Within a mile Jeanne’s front tire was spewing whit liquid stan’s fluid all over.  The fluid makes the tires tubeless so small leaks and punctures get fixed before you know it.  A very nice requirement on the divide ride, especially as we enter cactus areas.  But there were puddles and we could not stop it.  Finally I think it lost enough pressure and spinning the tire stopped the leak.  She had not replaced her spare tube from giving it to a rider several days ago heading north.  But nancy had hers, mine are 26″ and would not fit.  But no need.  Onward and upward toward togwotee pass at 9600feet (about 2900 meters), but then Dave noted a protruding inner tube from his back tire sidewall.  This he had a spare tire for and 45 minutes later we were off again.  This was our ninth tire change on the trip.  

Made the top and a bit of a debate as to route.  When Joe and I went 4 years ago we read the map as go one mile from  summit then left .  We did and climbed back a mile and half up the 6% grade to the left about a hundred yards below pass.  My gps said go left, and Jeanne proceeded but the others were not so sure.  I speeded off to catch Jeanne which I did in a mile and as we discussed the return the others came along realizing this was the correct way.  And it was gorgeous, going the ten miles by brooks lake and where Joe and I had stayed.  Again though this time there were no tents allowed due to grizzly activity, of which we saw none except forest service signs all over saying it was so.  Proceeding on down the valley I found the route changed and it turned on a forest road up the other side of valley before the union pass road which Joe and I took.  We were some of the first bike riders to go through the fire area and it was black.

looking back over valley towards brooks lake and togwotee pass
climging through the old lava mountain fire area

This new route was very ice except for the climb through warm springs creek area.  Some very steep climbs at end of day.  We did over 4500 feet (1306 meters) of climbing but the three vehicles found a wonderful camp on warm springs creek.  I was way too tired to even go the 30 yards to clean up.  Gut was off a bit hence limited the alcohol  to one beer to let the carbon dioxide smooth things out which it did.  

The next day was a total misinterpretation.  The book and map said we had a climb out of camp then it was downhill to union pass.  Ugh argh and ugh! You could see the 13% slope rising out of camp which we assumed was the climb.  We chugged up it for a mile then road for a mile or so on some nice forest road reaching the union pass road which then roast at a 7-9% grade for 4 more miles.   We reached the top all disheartened and tired and cold.  We proceeded on down a gentle wash boarded road where the vehicles were waiting.  Apparently this was union pass on the side of the mountain, usually they put passes at high points between mountains but this was different.  Oh well on we went toward whiskey gulch campground some 35 miles away.dropping a few hundred meters in the process but nothing significant and on a washboard rocky road.  We all agreed the descent was as tiring as the ascent.  

But whiskey gulch campground was great, on the banks of the Green river.  

riding by mosquito lake
union pass road with wind rivers beyond
the new cockpit view
And Colleen returned to Boulder to work leaving Warren to help us drive.  7 of us and 2 cars.  Always interesting but it makes for a luxury trip.  

Helena Butte Montana

The man who sleeps on the floor never falls out of bed.

Bedouin proverb

Some nice riding.difficult easy hot cold rest in Helena.

Rest day was good nancy and Jeanne went shopping which took much longer than anticipated, 4 hours for Costco and grocery store.  James called me at 4:40 to ask if I could pick up his and Nancy’s bikes as repair shop closed at 5.  Dave and I arrived at 4:57 just as they were poring the beer to end the day.  James had tubeless tires installed and Nancy’s brakes adjusted and new pads.  I had also put on a new front pad on hers and the rear was replaced in whitefish.  She and nancy tend to ride the brakes going downhill as not used to gravel and steep.  Ok.

And a good conversation with Joe to update him and compare rides.  He asked if as hot (no), how early we left (8:30 usually), and if bikes holding up.  Nice to say hello and compare different trips and remember.   Warren had to return to Boulder for some work stuff and Jeanne now driving truck, which seems ok with her.  Heat and she does not have the drive to ride like we do.  She just wants to have fun.  Ok. 

Enjoyed watching nighthawks fly overhead as we ate dinner at outside restaurant. Have ever seen them before. 

departing Helena going by civic center of Iranian architecture
J. R. departing Helena

And we were able to leave  by 8:40, James and Jeanne having to drive around due to rough road we would travel.  We climbed for 7 miles, down 5 then began what, for Joe and I was the worst due to heat, climb 7 miles of 5 to 10 % slope, but temps were a balmy 90 degrees and we survived. Made it to where Joe and I camped by lunch at the little creek.  Then on and soon off the little forest service road to a rough 4 wheel drive off-road route for 3 miles.  Very rough and walked a very significant portion of it up and down.  I told the others Joe’s advice: “keep the rear wheel behind the front wheel”. Not necessarily that easy.

climbing lava mt.
a reprieve at the top of lava mountain
nancy ascending lava mountain
lava mountain trail
descent of lava mountain
constance nearing the end of three miles of lava mountain trail forest road 544

Shortly after lava mountain we met James riding up to us.  We still had about 16 miles (25 k) to go but theoretically mostly smooth and downhill.  Jeanne was waiting a short while later and they were a bit concerned at our lateness.  But all good.  Arrived camp about 6 pm exhausted a 47 mile (76kilometer) day with 5300 feet Of climbing (1760meter).  We were tired. 

And a mile from the end the trail diverged from Joe and mine. Used to parallel the interstate and the six miles of downhill riding on interstate into butte. Now the route although 20 miles farther is delightful with campgrounds all along the route.  We stayed at Mormon gulch an old unfunded site, which was delightful.  I slept outside for first time on trip to watch the Perseid meteor shower, but unfortunately my eyelids refused to open for most of the night.  But stars are always nice to view.  I do like looking at old friends in the constellations and discovering old friends.  

Then into Butte arriving about 1 pm and the new route ride right through town which is delightful.  An old historical mining town. Shortly after sowers and a bit of rest we will walk to the Berkeley put which closed in 1982.  Almost two killed meters across and as one book described it an open gaping oozing wound on the earth.  Old mines drain into it a toxic conglomeration.  Apparently nets are over it to prevent birds from flying into the water, as the do not leave.  Ugh.

above butte

And a thought on cattle guards.  They still scare me. Dozens a day at various speeds and wonder when a rail will be missing, or loose, or a open area. But they are always interesting. 

Addendum: discussion of next big town on route. Looks like pinedale wyoming, although will have visits with people in victor Idaho Wilson Wyoming and a rest day somewhere. But Internet will be questionable. 

13 august ride profile

Yet another upcoming ride

The person who says it cannot be done

Should not interrupt the person doing it.

Chinese proverb

 

Well preparing for another ride.  Again heading south, this time back to the Great Divide, which I did in 2011 and 2012.  As a recap here is the synopsis of those rides.  Both rides were self supported, meaning we carried our own stuff rather than someone carrying it for you.

2011 – Wanted to do the whole ride but timing was not right.  So I rode solo from Banff to my sisters house in Columbia Falls, Montana  8 days 250 miles (400km) of wilderness and back country.  Great ride with a few adventures.

2012 – My friend Joe, wife Jeanne, and  I started the entire ride again in Banff, where I had started the previous year, although on day two Jeanne took a fall and fractured her ankle which required surgery and Joe and I skipped the Canadian wilderness part which I had done the year before.  After making sure Jeanne was good, Joe and I took off.  The trip lasted a total of 71 days including 10 rest days (4 in Columbia Falls with Jeanne and my sister) and 2700 miles (4000 kilometers) It was amazing and I love self supported rides as one can stop when one wants to, and go when one wants.  But it means carrying all your gear and on the divide the food is the best you can cook supplied by gas station grocery stores along the way.  Awesome.  But I learned as I have over and over, although it never seems to sink in, one rides (or does anything) one day at a time.  Thinking of the entire trip is too daunting ,so just go day by day.  After we initiated that attitude it was a great trip.

Those trips were such a meaning to my life I ended up writing a book about it before I discovered this blog thing.  It was in an electronic book self published via Smashwords (Memories of the Great Divide) and on Apple iTunes.  Whoopee, if I remember right 2 people read it.  But has served Joe and I well to remind us of what who how when and where. Memories are such skittish things.

But currently in the throws of getting ready for another ride.  I was taught many years ago one should be ready to go anywhere on 5 minutes notice, and I have tried.  And I could, but I have found as one gets older it takes longer and perhaps there is more to do, although I do not believe that is it, although the former seems true.  As our friend Jim Howard told me when I was pondering the earlier Great Divide rides (“Do it now, as every year it just gets harder”)  It seems it is not a good time, the house needs work, the garden needs tending, ski jumps need work, next week my fingernails might need clipping, or whatever excuse comes up.  And the usual one of “oh, I could never do that” (without even trying).  And too easily the opportunity passes.

So the opportunity arose and our friend Nancy Brady and husband James wanted to do the Great Divide and hence the invite is there.  It may not happen again.   When the timing is there, one has to grasp at what one can.  Life can pass by.  I suppose it is like having a child, the timing is never right, but you just have to begin and it seems to take care of itself.  I would rather have memories than things, although the accumulation of stuff in our house might testify otherwise.

IMG_7908
The bike getting ready

And so the lists are being created of things to take, and things to leave behind, but have access to if needed.  I had been working at the ski jumps (my latest passion) but have had to stop in order to get this stuff done.  I can still go watch the kids jump and who knows maybe take a jump or two, before departure next week.

As with a packing a pack, time seems similar. You will fill up the space available. The trick is figuring out what is important.  Every item needs to be tested and checked. Bike riding, I have discovered, is a lot more fun if the bike is not getting thrown around by weight, scattered about. Several trips have involved checking things down to the tens of grams.  Last trip on the divide we carried 21 pounds (9.5 kg) which was bags stove, fuel, sleeping bag, tent, extra clothes  plus the bike,food and water. I felt we were comfortable and lacked in nothing.  Someone called it the luxury of not having anything.

This time we have support, hence a vehicle to carry the stuff. Sweet!  Still, must be ready to depart on own if the need arises. Contingencies

I must remember this is a different trip. Different people, different stuff, different weather, different time of year (three weeks earlier).  I will try and let new stories be created and not relive the old ones.
 

Netherlands

One should measure oneself not by ones dreams but the fulfillment of those dreams.

Bike dreams
Well we departed Xanten Germany with its 4000 years of history and found ourselves back riding the dikes along the river, occasional dropping down into a village or just riding along side, every once in a while climbing back to the top.  Once I thought I would rush up and rest, while waiting for Jeanne to catch up, but alas as I hit the summit 4 or 5 meters above where we had been and looked back to begin my rest; alas there was Jeanne right behind, just cruising along without a care.  So much for rest.  

Then we noted a beer garden ahead and beside it along side the road coming up to the dike was a German flag and on the other side of the road a Netherlands flag.  The border.  Barely a line and being European Union no control between countries, but a very distinct difference.  From the beer garden we heard German being spoken and at a bench on the Dutch side three people were speaking Dutch, which we had not as yet heard.  Only a political line but things change, hard for me to describe.  I never have figured out how come there is such a distinction just with an arbitrary line.

The dikes were shall I say neater, (maybe) and the bikes changed.  German bikes were cruisers and would easily be recognized in the United States as general bikes.   The bikes in Holland for the most part were more utilitarian, no fancy lightweight things but bikes built for everyday use to and from somewhere for something, often with baskets or boxes, almost always with kickstands, and full chain guards. (Bottom and top chain protector) one sits upright.  And still a large number of e bikes with little old fat ladies roaring past us.  

Then there were the road bikes.  We saw very few in Germany but now there were pelatons of 20 or so riders racing along in a whir.  Side by side and 10-15 deep.  But the track is a two lane track and they did not slow much for oncoming traffic which scared Jeanne a bit.  I usually kept riding to the right but Jeanne usually stopped and pulled off.  They were generally flying along at speed.

passing the pelaton
 
But in general it was a delightful afternoon.  Had reservations in the city of Nijmegan through booking.com and the GPS took us winding through some narrow streets.  On arrival from the countryside we joined numerous bike riders just going wherever in the city, along the bike path beside the road next to the sidewalk.  We are learning to watch the signal lights.  There are car signals, pedestrian signals, and bike signals, of which going the same direction can all be different.  More than once we wait

then a signal for bikes to go, it turns green but the pedestrian signal does not.  And when you hit the button often it does not just wait for the car signals to clear but gives a specific right of way to bike or pedestrian.  But

we rode into town with a continuous line of bikers going here and there.  But the GPS took us to the Prikkels sign which was our hotel except this was an ice cream shop.  I went in inquiring about the hotel and it was the right place, just no hotel sign, only ice cream, so I bought an ice cream cone.  Now this is a hotel.  

Hotel Pikkels

A delightful place only open as a hotel for two months and the steepest staircases yet to the second floor.  No wasted space on staircases here. 
no wasted space on staircase
  
lots of space
  
room with a view
 
   And another delightful evening wandering about and another superb meal.  Is there bad food anywhere along this trip? We have not found it

But booking rooms is becoming a necessity as we realize We cannot just wander about looking for a guesthouse, hotel or whatever as often we do not know what to look for.  And now getting closer to the end, hotels, seem difficult to find, so we agree to nearly 90 k tomorrow and get to Rotterdam in another 70 k.  Will be some of our biggest days.  

So we ride skipping the GPS directions and sticking to the dikes along the river and a ferry ride across to the north side and the city of Gorinchem and our first motel similar to ones along the freeway at home.  And no restaurants nearby except Macdonalds so we eat at the motel restaurant and it was bad.  Deep fried breaded stuff.  Went to Macdonalds for desert and coffee.  It was nice riding today but not our best day together, but only 80 k as overrode the GPS.  For whatever reason it does not like dikes even though it shows them and definitely does not like ferries.  

Then our last day riding through the city which is no problem as seems there is always a bike path.  The GPS often guides us through countryside in the midst of the city.  Delightful.  Over the bridge and the Rhein river is big here, especially when compared to 26 days ago between Andermatt and Disentis Switzerland.

Rhein river near the mouth at Gorinchem

I had concluded when putting in waypoints and for the map it was going to be a navigational day, and it was.  I can’t count the number of times I told Jeanne we are lost again.  4 ways of navigating, GPS, the map, directional bike signs for the route, and just heading downriver.  If 3 out of 4 agree that is good, but often total disagreement.  GPS wants the shortest without ferries, and today it shows a total of 150 kilometers getting near Rotterdam and going back to the last bridge at Gorinchem to cross to the north side, signs in Holland have become sporadic and one does not necessarily know if they point the route to the east or west.  And the map shows no detail but does show what may be a more scenic route which is where I get my GPS waypoints from.

And it was delightful, through little villages and out into the countryside of farm fields. On and on but getting lost and going backwards, generally having a great time just riding our bicycles.   

rhein river delta riding
 
We had seen on the map an area which said national park.  Now what could be here to make a national park?  Well it turns out quite a lot.  We are in the delta area of which people told us the Rhein is not really a river at its mouth but a series of canals all over.  Well we came to the park headquarters and museum hidden in a mound of dirt.  DeBiesbosch National Park.   

Museum nationaal Park DeBiesbosch
     
A movie was shown in English and learned the history of the area from the year 1421 when work began on utilizing the area often flooded with either River floods or high storm tides from the ocean.  Over the centuries various things have worked well and harvest in the area were of the bull rush reeds then willows.  Complicated system of dikes, channels, canals were developed each changing the landscape and preserving a little bit.  Then in 1995 and 1996 there were floods which required more extensive work and large dams and holding areas were developed.  But people have realized with climate change the floods from the river will only increase and sea level is rising.  For a country below sea level that is not good, so a change in attitude is coming about.  They seem to realize you cannot just build the dikes higher and in the future they are going to give the river more room, not less, which means some farm country is going away.  

The park I believe translates to beaver national park and they have introduced beavers there to help with habitat, and apparently they are helping, but as noted time will tell.  It was a wondrous museum although mostly in Dutch, but pictures, artifacts, and diorama most helpful to our understanding.  And the mound of dirt did not look big from the outside but from the inside seemed huge.  

Then on taking a total of 4 ferries (which the GPS hated) one a bicycle, pedestrian only ferry across the Rhein.  Again we were wandering about the countryside going through the towns of Dordrecht and Papendrecht before approaching Rotterdam which the building are beginning to be seen some 16 kilometers to go.  (Did I mention there are no mountains here to block the view and it is flat). A most delightful ride winding our way about various canals.  

Then we find ourselves riding between two canals with old windmills all about.  The famous windmills.   

 

the famous windmlls built in 1740
 
 
We ride for several kilometers the crowds getting thicker as we approach the other end.  Turns out this is a tourist area and it is Sunday afternoon and we heard Spanish, Japanese, German, Dutch and English languages.  From our end of entry it was free but from the other end there was a charge walk amongst the 20 or thirty windmills.  Awesome. They use the windmills to pump water to and from various canals and water systems.

Then another ferry ride and into Rotterdam.   
Be careful as pedestrian sidewalks, bike paths, trams, cars and all with separate signals.    

   
What a concept bikes have right of way.  Roundabouts with bike lanes.  But be careful bikes can move a speed and you must watch when crossing or stepping into a bike lane.  

But directed ourselves into town center which seemed to be the railroad station hoping to find a sign which said end of trail.  Instead we found some folks from Perth, Australia (who speak excellent English although Australian English) who took our picture at the end of the trail.   

 
Contrast to 

 
It has been quite a journey.