Thursday, July 29, 2010

Best Town on EARTH

Sunday, July 6th. Josh woke me up about 5:45 today. It sucked, but I had agreed to it and we really did need to get a move on. We showered, got ready, and hit the road. The plan was to follow I-90 to Moorcroft then drop Southeast along CR-16 toward South Dakota. If we made good mileage it's highly possible to reach the border tonight. We had t0 make some stops first though. We rode back to Walmart where Josh bought a raincoat. We also stopped by the post office to ship his old rain gear back home. All in all we were ready and on the road to Moorcroft by 8:15. Not too shabby.

On the way out of town a trained passed us. Sometimes you have to keep yourself preoccupied when biking...

All in all the ride to Moorcroft was uneventful and easy. Fairly flat, nice in cool under the morning Sun and it was a quick 30 miles. We stopped in town for a quick lunch and made our way to CR-16.

I expected the road path to begin getting hilly any time now. Once we got to South Dakota we would be in the Black Hills. And while I know nothing about them I imagine they're rather hilly. So I was mentally preparing myself for this.

Another 10 miles or so down the road I started having an issue. The shirt I had bought was too lose, and the wind was flapping against my body every time I pedaled. At first this is no issue, but after forty miles of flapping my poor man-nip was getting chaffed and bleeding! I took pity on my man-boobage and took the shirt off.

After that smooth sailing! I came across an antelope of some sorts. Going along with the theme of the day I decided to race it!

It was a close race, I let him win.

We continued on down the road until we came to a small town called Upton. I had seen it on the map and thought it might be a suitable place to stop and rest. God was in I in for a treat when I got to here. The sign alone screamed "amazing."

Sure, I had to make fun of the place, but the town really had some charm. It was cute. In a dilapidated sort of way. We stopped into a convenience store to grab some items. There was a lovely young girl inside who talked to us for a while. She was very friendly! We asked here if there was a cafe or anything in town I could get wifi and she said no, but that I could sit in there conference room and use theirs. So we took a break, Josh wrote his journal and I went online a bit and wrote 50+ postcards. While I was writing them my good buddy Dave Gould (hi Dave!) sent me a bunch of Frank Rizzo audio clips. For anyone who doesn't know Frank Rizzo you're missing out. God he's hilarious!

We stayed until 4ish and laughed until we cried. I felt bad, I think we overstayed our welcome a bit. Sorry! But thanks again for letting us stay! You're a doll.

I lost your name, but thank you mystery girl!

We left town quite refreshed and in good spirits. There was still plenty of daylight left and we were making solid time. The town of Osage was 15 miles down the road and Newcastle 30 miles. If we kept this pace up we'd definitely make it to the South Dakota border tonight! The land was beginning to get a bit more hilly like I had expected. I was just real curious to see if we'd make it.

Right before we got to Osage Josh had to piss. I felt the need to poke fun at him and his new safari-style hat. Enjoy.

As we pulled into Osage the wind was really picking up. Not normal "annoying" wind. It was that wind you feel before a storm comes through. The sky was darkening fast and we even heard some rumblings of thunder in the distance. Osage was little more than a few houses thrown together. We pulled off the road and found a bar and went inside. Figured they had to have some grub, right?

The bar was nothing special, and they really didn't have much food. They had some frozen pizzas so we ordered like 5 (they were small). We sat and talked to the bartender for a while and she told us all about herself and her family. Apparently her son had passed away which was very sad. About a half hour after arriving a few local boys showed up. They told us the storm was approaching and should break any minute now. We stepped outside just as the lightning started sparking like crazy. It was pretty sweet.

The rain came down and came down hard. It became obvious we weren't going to make it any further. I just wanted a safe place to pitch my tent so we didn't get struck by lightning (not really many trees around, ya know?) We asked the bartender if we could pitch the tent out behind the bar. One of the locals heard us asking and he offered us the fire station for the night. Apparently he's a volunteer and had access to it. We gratefully accepted! The fire station was only a minute away so we hopped on our bikes and he let us in. Check out this place....

Pretty sweet huh? So what did we do? We had about 4 beers each, got hammered, and dressed up like fire fighters! I mean, what else would you do? We drunkenly say in the ambulance and realized we could totally drive this thing around and no one would be the wiser but decided against it. After all, these people were super generous to begin with.

All in all a solid day. We made good mileage, met good people and had good times. Sorry today was a bit video heavy but I think it was worth it.

Trip Summary
Day's mileage- 67.0
Total mileage- 1381.7

Bummin' Round

Saturday, July 5th. I woke up well before Josh and decided to let him sleep. I got up, worked on my blog for about 90 minutes before Josh got up. We had a bit of a serious talk about his health and whether we should take the day off and let him rest of continue on. Josh had been and continues to be a bit worried about our pace. He just doesn't want to run out of money or leave Jen alone too long. I completely understand but at the same time I can't have his health deteriorating any further it's just unsafe. Josh was adamant on trying to make some ground so we agreed to try and make it to Moorcroft which is about 30 miles from Gilette.

First things first, we needed to find Josh some appropriate headgear. We biked to Walmart to check out their inventory. It was shady so Josh watched the bikes while I quickly ran in for a haircut. I ended up walking out with a huge sandwich, a bandanna and an athletic shirt. A little splurge but I wanted something to cover my pale irish skin and I was tired of having sweat drip into my eyes! It was Josh's turn so I sat on their display furniture and relaxed.

Yeah baby, I'm stylin'.

Josh took a bit of time but I really didn't mind. It was shady. I popped my sunglasses on and relaxed. About 15 minutes later security came out and checked up on me. Apparently more than one person had reported than a young man had "passed out" on a lawn chair in front of the store. I appreciate the sentiment people but uh I'm fine. Kinda funny though.

Josh didn't find any head wear he liked so we biked a few miles down the road to a sporting good store. He did find something more suitable. The hat made him look like a total ass but at least his head would be less constricted but covered.

We sure look like asses, but hopefully it'll help.

Afterward, Josh wanted to find some new rain gear- seeing as his wasn't too effective. We went back to Walmart to look around. I don't fully recall but I'm pretty sure he didn't get anything.

All in all it was a fairly non productive day so far. It was well into the afternoon and we both agreed we wouldn't get very far if we tried today. We decided to stay in town for the night and get up super early tomorrow to maximize our day.

We went back to Crazy Woman Campgrounds and set up. I pitched tent and Josh decided to try out his hammock again. We called it an early night.

Trip Summary
Day's mileage- 6.1 (Day "off", 6th day of rest)
Total mileage- 1314.7

Independence Day

Friday, July 4th. Independence Day. We awoke around 10am in Buffalo. About a week prior we had been discussing spending the 4th of July at Mount Rushmore but the distance just simply wasn't feasible. I'm sure they put on one hell of a fireworks show though. The plan for the day was to cycle along I-90 to Gilette, a city about 70 miles East of Buffalo. There was no towns at all between these two points so I was frankly concerned about water. It was hot out today and I knew it was going to be upwards of 90. I asked some locals if there were any stops along the way and they said there was a rest stop about 25 miles outside Buffalo which was essential. We could bike 25 miles, stop, refuel and go the remaining 45. Solid plan if you ask me.

We got underway and compared to yesterday things were a breeze. The topography was definitely hilly but I was expecting that and therefore was less pissed. The hills were in fact rather large and I started playing a game with Josh to see who could more accurately guess the distance from one summit to the next. We were both a bit too good at it. We've been on these roads way to long, man.

It was a pleasant ride in the morning. There were these lovely Yellowish-Green plants all along the road. The locals told me they typically aren't there but since it had been such a wet Summer there was a lot of unique vegetation.

About 20 miles in there was no sign of a rest stop. We came across men who's car had broken down (they were headed West, opposite of us). We asked if they needed a hand or to use our cell but they had it under control. I asked them if they had seen a rest stop when they traveled from Gilette but none of the men could recall seeing one. That definitely made me nervous. I decided I needed to start conserving my water a bit more just in case this rest stop didn't actually exist..

I was making real good time. For once I was actually ahead of Josh. I kept thinking there was no way the locals could make up a rest stop. It just had to be there. But I was still nervous. I kept watching my surroundings. I'd see a stream or dirty river and think "I guess if I have to I could drink that." Josh was far less concerned. The man's really a machine. He was quite convinced he could make the 70 mile trip on one water bottle and sacrifice the other to me. I appreciated the sentiment but honestly sometimes I feel Josh doesn't know his own limits. Not that he wouldnt make it on one bottle but he shouldn't make it on one bottle. The man really needs to drink more water.

Luckily though not too far down the road was the rest station. I eagerly pulled off and Josh followed suit. We got a nice spot in the shade and sat, filling our bellies with food and water. I chugged every last drop I had. I went inside the station (little more than a bathroom and a water fountain) and took a swig of the water and there was something wrong.

Sulfur. More of it than I'd like to admit. Sulfur has been a bit of a plague throughout Wyoming. Ever since we got to Cody I had noticed the air itself had a smell of sulfur. It was simply displeasing. It seemed the well this fountain was connected to definitely had some sulfur in it also. So I weighed my options- fill my bottles with sulfur water or go without it for 45 miles in 85+ degree heat? Life isn't always glamorous on the road. I knew I needed to stay hydrated so I chugged a bottle of sulfur water and filled up.

We finished eating and waited for the temperature to drop a bit before heading on. I inspected Josh's head to find spots of sunburn. Perhaps that's what had been causing all the issues? Also, check out this huge puff ball I found! We got to talking with a kindly old man while waiting there. It turns out his son was also biking across the country! What are the odds? We talked a bit and somehow got on the topic of sulfur water when he offered us some fresh filtered water. Josh declined at first but I certainly wasn't going to pass it up. He ended up filling a little over one bottle with the fresh stuff. We weren't going to wait around for more to filter so we thanked him and got on our way.

It was hot. Damn hot. We had 45 miles to go, but frankly it felt like an eternity. After about 15 miles Josh had acquiesced the lead from me and I was starting to lag behind. It was the smell. And the heat. It just smelled like hot, clammy sulfur and it was gross. I had a belly full of nasty H2O and it just wasn't working. After another 10 miles I pulled on the side of the road and just had to sit down.

My head was pounding. I felt light headed. I just wasn't doing okay. I literally laid down right on the side of the road. Josh thought this was funny because it later caked my back in pebbles and he thought I'd find it funny in hindsight. I guess my dehydration and nausea was a tad humorous looking back. We really didn't have many options though. We still had plenty of miles to put on and little choice but to go all the way tonight. I thought perhaps I had sweat out a lot of my electrolytes and munched on salty snacks. If nothing else I figured maybe I could "placebo" myself into feeling better. Although I'm not too sure that works when you do it to yourself? Regardless I felt slightly okay after 15 minutes and we continued on.

Josh was clearly in the lead at this point. He was like a graceful gazelle- powering up hills and gleefully rolling down them. I was like an awkward turtle- sluggishly making my way, looking sad and hopeless while doing it. Another 10 miles down the road Josh was way ahead of me. At least a quarter mile if not more and he was flying up a hill. I needed a break. I was hurting. I screamed at him. No response. I pulled out my rape whistle and blew as hard as I could. Nope. Nothing. He disappeared over the hill. I was getting annoyed. What if something happened to me? How far would he go before turning back to check up? I was so pissed I kept going, no break for Ross. I found out later Josh kept a good distance ahead of me to try and motivate me to keep going. You bastard Josh. Guess it worked.

A bit further down the road Josh waited up for me. We agreed we'd take a quick break while I snapped a photo of our 1300th mile.

Milestone 13 of 35ish!

After this brief break I was feeling a lot better. I knew we were getting close to the end of the day and the temperature was dropping. We were starting to see sporadic houses so I knew if absolute worst came to worst I could beg someone for water. I just felt safer. The landscape also was getting real interesting the closer you got to Gilette. There were all these small bumps in the fields. It was practically flat everywhere except for these "pimples." I didn't know what to make of them.

Not long after we arrived at Gilette. I was thrilled to be there! We stopped at the first subway we found and we scarfed down exactly one buttload of food. Afterward we were hanging around outside the restaurant making some calls and in general not doing much when a man approached us. His name was Jonathan and saw our bikes and had gotten curious. He too was a biker and was traversing the states as well! We stayed and talked to Jonathan for at least an hour before parting ways. He was a real cool guy, I believe he worked for Apple and started in California. He biked through the desert and was headed to Glacier National Park which he was highly recommending. Apparently this wasn't his first ride either, although I commend him on going solo. I really do think that takes balls (although he was hoteling it the whole way). Was great meeting you Jonathan!

It was late already and we had still yet to find a place to sleep. We heard of a camp ground called "Crazy Woman Campgrounds" and rode over. We made camp for the night and faced some tough decisions. Josh's head wasn't getting any better. If anything it was getting worse. There was a hospital right next to the campgrounds and we decided Josh was going to have to go to the ER to get this checked out. I was beginning to get fearful Josh would not be able to finish the trip. It'd be real shitty to make it this far and have to leave due to medical issues.

It took until late in the night for Josh to see a doctor. I offered to stay up with him but he told me not to bother and to sleep. I mean, what could I really do sitting there? I felt like a prick but I was exhausted. I asked again but he declined so I went to bed about midnight.

I woke up as Josh crawled into the tent that night. I asked him how everything went and he told me he had a blood test done to see if there were any kidney issues. Apparently he had a bit of low Potassium and was dehydrated (shocker). The doctor felt the culprit for the swelling was likely the bandanna he was using to shield his head. Perhaps it was an allergy to the fabric or perhaps it was too tight but either way she recommended not using it.

By the time Josh got back from the hospital the sun was rising. Sorry you had to go through all that buddy.... hope you feel better tomorrow.

Trip Summary
Day's mileage- 72.1
Total mileage- 1308.6

Biking Uphill, Both Ways!

Thursday, July 3rd. It had rained during the night. We could hear the thunder a bit off in the distance but I slept well. We awoke to dozens of mosquitoes trying to make it through the mesh of my tank but thankfully we were safe inside. We got up and ate breakfast and broke camp. I likely have about 60 dead mosquitoes in my tent fly but what can you do?

It was a beautiful day and it was early enough to be cool (although I didn't expect much heat at these altitudes). I was on the side of the road stretching when Josh realized he had misplaced his biking gloves. We went back and checked camp two or three times but simply couldn't find them. Josh was pretty pissed. Not that they were the best pair of gloves ever but I wouldn't be very comfortable biking without them. Josh was more pissed about the financial loss. Funny how the two of us see things differently. On top of that Josh's head was really starting to hurt. He thought his bald scalp was starting to get a bit burnt causing a headache and we didn't have anything to remedy it. Poor Josh is having a tough morning! On a separate note- check out my awesome tan lines!

We continued uphill. I was impressed how non-stop this mountain was. Most hills have some breaks, ya know some briefs flats or downhills in them. Not the Big Horns. Literally one long uphill. We made it another 5ish miles before the grade decreased which was absolutely wonderful! As we approached the peak you could see large piles of snow. Pretty damn cool seeing snow in July.

Only a few hours after beginning our day we reached the summit with what I'll call "pessimistic joy." I was obviously thrilled to be at the top but pretty pissed I had to go up the thing in the first place.

There were a fair number of people at the top. They had a little information station informing you the elevation was 9,666 feet. We had started at 4200 feet down at Ten Sleep. So we had gone approximately 5400 feet in about a day. Let me put that in layman's terms for you. Go out side for a moment. See that cloud up there? That cloud is probably 10,000 feet in elevation. Now go get on a bike and pedal your ass up there. Look like fun to you?

That's the equivalent of 4.3 Empire state buildings!

... or 16,000 apples.

So finally 16000 apples later we were there. We stayed a bit, ate, drank, took in the sights. There was a large pile of rocks at the summit as well, and I was kind of in the mood to go climb on them. No real reason. I just felt like monkeying around. Josh was a bit worried about time but when I put it in the perspective of "when will you ever be here again. Lets go check out the view" he was okay with it.

We started walking up towards the pile. From the road it didn't seem too far away or too high but the closer you got the more you realized this was not a quick 15 minute hike. We soldiered on though. I was still wearing my biking cleats which were rather slick. So I too my good time. These rocks were sharp and one wrong move and we could really hurt ourselves. Not to mention there were icky spiders all over the place. This photo should give you a little perspective on the height of this rock pile.

After what must had been an hour we reached the summit. I presumed it must had been another 300ish feet up this rock wall which would put us at near 10,000 feet. Short of taking our plane flight this would be by far the highest point of our bike trip.

The view from the top!

In fact, sitting there that moment, looking over the huge horizon I couldn't help but feel so accomplished. We had come so far, overcome so much! I mean we had cross the Rockies and biked hundred and hundreds of miles. Perched up there Josh and I felt like kings. We celebrated by eating pistachios and spitting their shells all over the mountain we had conquered.

Before we left I gave Josh the camera and he took a whole bunch of photos. Notice anything wrong with this one?

Our conquest was brief though and we climbed from our lofty throne. We had both been a bit worried leaving our bikes on the side of the road when we first went to climb the rock pile. We jokingly hoped our bikes were gone so we could give up with dignity and go home. Lucky us though, no one stole the bikes laden with dozens of pounds in gear. Shucks. In typical fashion I gave the mountain the finger and we began biking down the Eastern slope.

Screw you Big Horns. I won.

It was easy riding. We flew down the hill hitting upwards of 40mph without even pedaling. We were going so fast I even stopped to put on some extra clothes/my helmet just in case I fell (again). Josh and I were quite pleased to finally have some downhills. I mean, I had just faced 26 miles of continuous uphill. I DESERVE easy riding. On another good note we soon hit our 1200th mile!

Milestone 12 of 35ish!

We were joking and having fun, it was quite pleasant really. The two of us had a unhealthy obsession with trying to hit 50mph's on a bike. Here's my first attempt..

Shortly after my first try at 50mph we came across a hill. A little annoying but sometimes there are slight uphills on the downhill side. We pedaled up the inconvenience and continued our quest for 50!

We were about to start going downhill again when a truck drove past us and beeped suddenly as it crossed Josh. Josh was noticeably startled (although things like this happen all the time). When I caught up to him Josh went on about how the guy was a prick and bitched about what the guys problem was. Honestly it takes a lot to piss Josh off and I was a bit shocked to see him like this. It really got to him.

About another mile up the road we came to yet another hill. Hmm, well that's annoying. Josh was still pissed and he powered up the hill in a fury. I took my time- I already biked up a mountain yesterday. Today's supposed to be my easy day. I earned it.

Josh takes advantage of the slope and goes FLYING down the next hill! He actually managed to hit 49.9 mph and because of that we deduced the speedometer probably maxes out there. Good work Josh ol' boy. We continued another mile. Another hill. This was starting to get to me. I mean the majority of the distance we were traveling was downhill but it's taking me 5 times longer to go up this mini mountains. I was starting to get pissed.

Josh was starting to get a bit reckless, he was clearly still upset from that truck driver and his horn and started drafting cars and trucks on the downhill in a quest for speed. Definitely dangerous but I was getting so pissed about biking UPHILL the downhill face of the mountain I didn't give a shit.

After about 3 or 4 more hills I'd had enough. I got off my bike, picked it up and THREW it on the side of the road. When it landed a reflector broke off my back wheel and Josh picked it up, handing it to me. I took it and launched it as hard as I could into the woods. Josh burst into laughter over my childish behavior.

"Fuck this Josh! I'm not spending all day biking up both sides of this mountain! This is so fucking gay! We didn't get a break on the opposite side! It's just not fair!"

I sat down with my laptop and looked up the topography of the mountain vowing to walk up any more uphills I faced. Josh was laughing, knowing I was just super pissed. Somehow knowing I was even more upset than him put him in a good mood. He threatened to tell everyone I didn't actually "bike" the whole way if I walked up any hills. I got super pissed and didn't talk to Josh again for about 45 minutes.

At about that time we came across a sign saying "cautious 7-8% grade hills for next 5 miles" meaning there were no more uphills. I thanked God Almighty and flew down the hill. I literally spent 2/3rd of the day biking back up the mountain today. I'd had enough of it.

Once we left the mountains we reached the town of Buffalo. No fucking around tonight. It was already evening and I was hungry and grumpy. We went to a pizza shop and each ordered a large cheese pizza. That's right. Each of us dammit. I literally ate the whole damn thing. It was more to prove I could because after about 5 of 8 slices I wasn't that hungry. Josh had a slice or two left over and opted to bring it with him. What a pussy. Some day I'll teach that boy how to eat.

We went and found a suitable campsite for the night. We did some laundry, wrote in our journals and blogs and enjoyed some relaxation. We decided to go for a little walk through town before the night ended. We ended up just buying 5 kit kats each. Josh's head was still hurting a bit and when he went to inspect it he noticed his right temple was severely swollen. Inspect this photo again and see if you can notice (hard not to now that I mentioned it). We didn't exactly know what was up, but we decided if it didn't get better soon we'd have to do something about it...

Little swollen Joshyboy?

When we were going to bed I informed Josh I planned on sleeping in tomorrow because today sucked so much. Josh pointed out though that tomorrow was the 4th of July and he didn't want to be on the road late at night due to the likelihood of drunk drivers. It's times like now that I'm glad he's here. I would had never thought of that. Thanks Josh, take care of your melon-head, will you?

Trip Summary
Day's mileage- 49.7
Total mileage- 1236.5

Monday, July 26, 2010

One Mile Marathon

Wednesday, July 2nd. We definitely slept in today. Yesterday was a long day though, so I say we earned it. When we awoke the Schwede's children were outside our camper playing. They asked a million questions and it was funny how interested they were in us. It was refreshing in a way. We could see the Rocky Mountains in the distance and knew we had a hellish day in store. It was best to get started. We said goodbye to Mrs. Schwede and got on our way.

I tried not to think about how horrible today was going to be. You all know how much I hate hills, let alone mountains. I had looked at all the routes and considered all my options. There was no way around it I was going over the Rocky Mountains. today The only consolation I had was the rumor the Rockies weren't steep, just high. God I was hoping that's true!

First things first though, we had to get to the mountains and they were 30 miles away. The ride was really pretty. There were all these red hills off in the distance. The photos (like most) do them little justice. It was fairly flat and a real nice day and we were making great time.

Oh, and Josh upgraded his head piece. He's now rocking the "Arabian Prince" look.

We arrived at the foot of the mountain to find a cute town called Ten Sleep. I had been seeing the name on my maps for days and it piqued my interest. We were both real curious where the name came from but there were more pressing matters. Were starving and it was time for lunch. The mountain slope was right here and I need to fuel up! We had a yummy meal and stopped at a convenience store to get some supplies.

We started chatting with the locals and they asked what we were doing. We told them we were biking over the Big Horns to which they replied.. "Really? I have a hard time driving over them! I can't even imagine biking it!" Cause that's what you want to hear. before doing this. We asked how far it is from the base of the mountain to the top. Turns out its TWENTY SIX straight uphill miles to the top, totaling a MILE increase in elevation. A mile high marathon indeed. Simply sounds horrendous. Seeing as there was no camp until the other side of the mountain we loaded up on food and water. As we biked out of Ten Sleep we came across a sign that satisfied my curiosity. I think we should describe everything in "sleeps!"

The hills really weren't so bad at first. A "pleasant" slope. Perhaps the rumors about the Rockies being gradual was true? For about 8 miles we continued up the slopes without too much trouble. I mean, I was still going slow and Josh was clearly making easier work of this than myself but I wasn't stopping. At mile 9 it all changed. The slopes began increasing, becoming more and more brutal. It was pretty though, have a look-see.

We kept moving, although very slow. We were averaging 3-4 mph. When moving that slow you just can't help but feel a bit disheartened. I mean you've been biking for HOURS and you're barely moving. You can't help thinking with each pedal...

"What if I hadn't brought these items? How much lighter would my gear be?"

"Okay, I've gone X miles. I'm going approximately 3.5mph. That means I just have Y more hours to the top."

And let me tell you, when Y is 5+ hours you just can't help but think shit this sucks. The grade of the mountain had to be as steep as Steven's Pass if not steeper. My body was obviously in better shape to handle the mountains but still- I was struggling. At the beginning of the mountain I'd go 3/4 miles or more without a break, but toward the end of the day I was dying. I'd go a quarter mile or so if I was lucky without needing a breather. I'm just not cut out for these hills!

The day was growing late and I was getting tired. In an interesting turn of events Josh was very adamant on stopping before myself. It was about 8:30 and we were about 8 miles from the summit. We approximated our elevation to be about 8000 feet and it was starting to get fairly cool. Being a fan of cold weather I thought we should trek on and just make it to the summit while it was colder out. I figured Josh owed me after dragging me out of Yellowstone at midnight. But he was pretty serious- he really was worried he'd be too cold during the night at the summit and I really didn't want to bike any further.

We found a nice clearing about 50 feet off the road and made camp. I gotta say Josh was pretty nice about things today. Not that it's easy for him to handle these hills but if I wasn't there slowing him down he definitely would had made it to the summit if not further. He was a real sport though, he complimented me on my ability to "keep up" with him today, which I appreciated. We just laid there in the tent for hours and talked. We discussed everything from God to how our bikes were handling. We discussed how we shifted and what we found most efficient and how we powered through the tough parts. We sounded like old cycling masters at this point in the trip. It was a really nice talk I must admit. About 11 o'clock we decided it was time to sleep.

As I laid there I couldn't help but think of those girls from the night before. There was no sight of the family at all today. Had the 9 year old girl made it over the Rocky Mountains in one day where I could not? Man, I'm such a pussy.

Trip Summary
Day's mileage- 51.76
Total mileage- 1186.8

Iowa Sucks

Tuesday, July 1st. We awoke promptly at 8am. We showered, shaved, and got ready to hit the road. We again went to Bubba's, this time only gorging ourselves on the well-priced blueberry pancakes. We had a long day of riding ahead and knew there would be few if any stop from here to the next closest town. Josh thought it might be a good idea to load up, so we stopped and purchased a gallon jug of yellow Gatorade. Would it be piss warm by the time we drank it? Yes. Would we stay hydrated in the Summer heat? Well, I hope so.

We left Cody heading East on the main highway. We knew that about 100 miles ahead we were going to face some of the Rocky Mountains at what were called the "Big Horn Mountain Range." I obviously was not looking forward to this and was considering my options. There was a Northern path (along highway 14) and a southern pass (along highway 16). I decided to ponder the decision while on the road since no matter what we had to head East to Greybull. The road was pretty easy. A couple rolling hills but for the most part it was flat, dry, and rather pretty. Josh had decided to purchase a bandanna to cover his bald head. It was a good idea I thought, I didn't think sunscreen alone was going to be enough to protect his ghastly scalp. Sadly though, Josh was still learning how to tie a bandanna.

Seriously, he's not joining the KKK..

The ride was going nicely. I felt a lot better knowing the 55 mile trek wouldn't be much of an issue with our extra gallon of fluids. After stopping for a break I took a look at the maps and noticed there were some small towns slightly south off the main highway. If we were going to take the southern Teir of the Bighorns it'd actually save us time to shortcut down highway 30. So, that became the plan! Not too long after (about 30 miles outside of Cody) we were biking down a nice slope when we saw a man by himself pushing a bicycle up the hill. We of course stopped to see if he needed some mechanical assistance and to see what was up.

When we met him we discovered he too was a transcontinental cyclist! He was a Japanese student who was studying in the US and had decided to see America. This kid (his name was Toshi I believe) was insane. He had started in New York and was headed to the West Coast. He literally went to a Walmart, bought a 200 dollar mountain bike and hit the road. No special seats. No bike shorts. No special packs. Just an old rugged backpack and a tent. I felt like a total pussy after meeting this kid. We shared stories and he had this piece of advice for us....

If you're having a hard time understanding, he's saying "Iowa.. Iowa sucks. Sorry Iowa."

We had a lot of laughs and he told us all about his adventures. Getting caught by the police camping in parks in Chicago, biking through the shitty corn fields of Iowa, he really was an awesome guy. It turned out he was running low on water and was walking up the hills to conserve fluids. We promptly took our gallon of Gatorade (we hadn't drank much) and gave it to him. No way we were letting an awesome dude like this go another inch without all the Gatorade he could drink! Either way, now that I had changed routes it wouldn't be much further before we were at a town to fill up, and we had more than enough. Seriously though, this guy rocked.

We took our detour down route 30 and we came across another cute town called Burlington. Made me think of my buddy Matt who went to school in Burlington VT! This one's for you buddy. On the way out of town we hit our 1100th mile!

Milestone 11 of 35ish

We filled up our bottles and kept moving. We were making great time and for the first time in a long time I had taken the lead over Josh. I'm not positive if he just let me or I was actually in the zone but either way we were flying!

We got to Basin (the junction of route 30 and route 16) and grabbed a few burgers. They were just too cheap not to pass up. Nothing too heavy though, we still wanted to make it further today. Ultimately our hope was to get to the foot of the Bighorn mountains today. That'd leave us fresh and ready to take on the uphills the day after!

We made our way South getting to Manderson, a nice little community. We stopped at a local diner where people were curious what the hell we were doing. We ate and told everyone about our trip. A local family (the Schwedes- pronounced Sweetys) said they lived a couple miles down the road, and if we made it to their house by night we could stop and fill up our water bottles. We were quite appreciative and said we'd certainly try to make it there by nightfall. It was getting late however.

We were full. Uncomfortably full. But thought it'd be best to do a few more miles since we were still 40 miles from the base of the mountains. We had decided if we got the Schwedes and they offered us a place to stay we'd definitely take it. It was late, the wind was blowing hard against us, it had been a long day and I was tired.

It was about 20 miles further to the Schwedes house. We were about 10 miles down the road when we started to notice some figures on the side of the road. When we got closer we discovered four figures with bicycles! How odd to two run into two sets of cyclist in a day. We had been hearing about these people for a couple days actually. They were a family of four who had started on the West coast (California I believe?) and were working East. Apparently we had finally caught up to them. The troop consisted of a mother/father (early 50's I'd guess) and their two daughters ages NINE AND ELEVEN! How crazy is that? These kids were spending their Summer vacation biking cross country with their parents. I personally would had never stood for it at that age. I didn't even like biking to the next town (5 miles each way) when I was a kid. I'll give those kids some props. While talking we started to notice lightning off in the distance and figured it'd be best to get moving and find some shelter.

About a half hour later we rode up on the Schwede's residence. When we got they filled our bottles and offered us a few brews. The father told us he had a travel camper and we were welcome to stay in it. Of course we gratefully accepted! It was a really nice and large interior. We tarped our tents (preparing for the impending storm) and slept like rocks. Good day!

Trip Summary
Day's mileage- 78.13
Total mileage- 1135.04

Fifteen Hundred Guns

Monday June 30th. We awoke in the campgrounds and got an early move on. We of course were not going to pass up a shower, but right after we got a move on. We had been eying this diner across the road called "Bubba's." We figured it just sounded like a delicious establishment. We went across and order a boatload of food. It came to like 9 dollars each.

Try and keep up Mr. Phelps.

After eating what could only be described as a "retarded gluttonous" amount of food we went over to Walmart. We had decided to make CD's of our photos and mail them back to our families. They were going to take a while, so we decided to go to the local museum the Buffalo Bill Historical Center. Now I'm not really a big museum man. But I gotta say I had fun! They had a sections about the Plain's Indians, the local wildlife and even Buffalo Bill himself. It was interesting. There was also a section about firearms. Literally hundreds and hundreds of them. Josh thought his father would be interested in them. God I hope he is because Josh took photos of literally 1500 guns to show the man. If you like guns let me know, I'll mail ya a CD. You'll cream your pants.

We got the CD's and mailed them out. We had spent a lot of time already today and it was a solid 55 miles to the next town (there was really nothing in between so we had to plan on the full side). We were making our way out of town when we came across a Subway. I think it's fairly obvious at this point we can't resist the allure of a Subway.

While chowing down we noticed it was getting really dark out. Clouds rolled in and the temperature was dropping rapidly. We figured a storm was about to come through.

I'd say that was an accurate assessment.

After the downpour we weren't sure what to do. It had been 97 degrees prior to the storm and it had cooled off significantly which was nice. But the wind was in the wrong direction and it was getting late in the evening. We decided to hold off for the day and catch up on our blogs and journals. We sat at McDonald's a few hours and leeched their wifi.

We went back to the same campsite. The owners were surprised to see us again., they expected us to be well down the road by now. What can I say, sometimes you have to be a tourist. We purchased another nights stay. There was a rodeo going on that evening and I was pretty interested in going. I mean a real wild west rodeo? That'd be cool, right?! But Josh convinced me it'd be a good idea to sleep early. After all, we were definitely going to have to get a move on tomorrow!

Trip Summary
Day's mileage- 11.13 (Day "off", 5th day of rest)
Total mileage- 1056.91

Premature Baldness

Sunday, June 29th. We awoke in the woods sans bear attacks. I was pleased. We had slept a good amount, but not as much as I'd of pleased. At least Josh didn't wake me up at 8. We broke camp and realized we really weren't that far off the main road. We were both a bit surprised no one had noticed us or bothered us considering there was a sign that clearly forbid our presence.

Biking was decent this morning. Nothing too noteworthy but the scenery. This was our first day in Wyoming. Okay Yellowstone was technically in Wyoming also but Yellowstone doesn't count! Why? Cause I say so.

Seriously though, the scenery was quite different here. Everything was very much what you'd expect from Wyoming. Large rock bluffs and cliffs. Montana looked nothing like this. Neither did Yellowstone. It was literally like you crossed a line again and bam! Everything was different. I mean it doesn't get much more "Wyoming" than this, does it?

A dude ranch!

We were following a river, snaking around bends and small mountains. At times the wind would pick up and blast us in the face. A bit annoying but for the most part the wind wasn't much of an issue. Once we escaped the mountains it got pretty flat. Pretty flat and desolate. Realistically it started turning into somewhat desert-like conditions. I mean there was still vegetation (probably because we were next to the river) but it wasn't like previously in the mountains.

We continued along. Toward afternoon we came across a lake the river was feeding. A bit further down the road we noticed a huge concrete structure. Upon further inspection we realized it was a dam! Hey pretty cool. I had never really seen a damn before up close. We parked the biked and checked it out. Turns out it's the "Buffalo Bill Dam." You'd be amazed how much water can blast out of this thing! Take a look...

I just can't believe this thing doesn't run out of water.

Right next to the dam on the main road was a huge tunnel blasted through the mountain. It was nice- once you entered the channel it literally dropped like 5-10 degrees. It was quite noticeable. It was a solid 1/4 mile if not 1/2 to make it through the hole. We both liked it. It was neat! We popped out the other side and went through a couple smaller tunnels that were not nearly as exciting.

So lets see... pedal pedal pedal. Nothing out of the ordinary. Until we came across a decent sized down in the middle of nowhere. I was pleased because of the name of the town. Cody! I immediately got excited and called my good buddy Cody Ture to inform tell him all about it.

Cody was a cute little town (which is not unlike Mr. Ture himself). We found a nice campsite and pitched our house for the night. The town was large enough to have a good sized Walmart (which was literally next door to the campgrounds) so we took a stroll over. We bought a giant like 15'' sub for 5 dollars. I'm pretty sure it was made of only highest quality Wyoming meats and cheeses. Josh also had the strong desire to shave his head. We had talked about this a few times now, but he was serious. He thought it'd help keep him cool and make biking in general easier. So he bought an electric trimmer.

We went back to the site and devoured/showered. We discussed if Josh REALLY wanted to go through with this. He was insistent. I grabbed the clippers and started buzzing...

Say goodbye to those pretty locks Joshyboy.

This was shockingly difficult. I figured I'd buzz his head and bam. End of story. Well, the damn clipper was so shitty it wouldn't even cut his hair! It literally took me a 1/2 hour to cut this much off...I soldiered on though. After about an hour we were getting somewhere.

Josh is a real trend setter. I see this look catching on real soon!

No joke but after about an hour of this we had dulled the blades so much they literally wouldn't cut hair. Josh was left with his half shaved head and looking super hot I gotta say. I was glad he was sleeping with me tonight if you know what I mean, hubba hubba. He was thinking of going back to Walmart, returning the shears and getting a new pair. I mentioned how it MIGHT be obviously they're used considering his head looks like it's been butchered. We got out Josh's Swiss army knife and I literally used the scissor piece to cut his hair off inch by inch. An hour later we were getting close. Enjoy the highly photogenic images of my compatriot.

It took a grand total of 2 hours. For some reason I decided not to take a picture of the final product. But I assure you, I shaved his head bald. I gotta say, he has one pasty white head. Hope you don't regret this Josh!

Trip Summary
Day's mileage- 43.91
Total mileage- 1045.78