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Across America North, page 2
Boise, ID to Casper WY
(Northern Rockies Ride)

current date and time 2006-10-21 | 09:18:46
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Number of Journal Entries online: 10
Day 9 - June 27, 2006 - Boise, ID - REST DAY!!
Welcome to Boise!
The 1st official rest day of the Across America North Tour.
Everyone really enjoyed the day off the bike playing tourist.

posted 2006-06-30 | 12:22:41 | article number: 1

Day 10�June 28, 2006�Boise, ID to Mountain Home, ID�50 miles�1277� climb
We�ve been on the road for nine days (664 miles) and have climbed a cumulative 24,539 feet in that time�that�s 4.6 miles. Jetliners cruise at 30,000 feet, less than one mile higher. Think about that the next time you see a jetliner at cruising altitude. Riders have already climbed nearly as high on their bikes, just took them a little longer.

All had a great day off and almost hated to take to the road again and leave Boise. In fact mechanic Jim pedaled to Mountain Home and then turned around and returned to Boise . . . in the van, to pick up Ron�s rebuilt bike. This because when Ron was washing his Raleigh in Boise, he discovered that his titanium frame was cracked. Georges bike store is only one block from the motel, so Jim and Ron took the bike there where they stripped it of all its components and ordered a new frame. Raleigh overnighted (that�s only a real word in bike lingo) a new frame, and one of George�s mechanics rebuilt the bike. Today Ron rode Michelle�s Kestrel and claimed to love it.

Today we left Boise along a lovely paved bike trail for about 7 miles. At times the bike trail paralleled the Boise River and a Native American wildlife area. After leaving the bike trail, we climbed out of town on Rte. 21, in the process crossing the New York Canal. The NY Canal was built in 1882 by a group of New York and East Coast investors who organized the Idaho Mining and Irrigation Company, a Boise canal company. Soon mining engineer Arthur D. Foote planned an enormous project that Boiseans called the New York Canal. Seventeen feet deep and 27 feet wide, it would run 75 miles and feed more than 5,000 miles of lateral ditches. Foote projected that nearly a half million acres of arid land could be brought under cultivation. It was much more of an undertaking than originally planned and was not opened for use until 1906.

At about the 12 mile mark, we got on I-84, and spent most of the rest of the route on it. Since it was a short day, we had one SS today, set up by Christine at an I-84 truck stop. She found a little shady area under a pine tree. Riders all parked their bikes along an adjacent wooden fence (see photos above). Thank you Joyce and Bill and others who ate dinner last night at The Melting Pot, a fondue restaurant, and asked the server if they could buy a fondue skewer. When they explained the tour and our SAG stops and told the server that they wanted the fondue skewer to replace my hand carved pickle stick (a sharpened stick), the server gave it to them for free. Riders fished pickles from the jar with newfound facility.

Yesterday it was 105 in Mountain Home. Today we were blessed with cooling headwinds and cloud cover so even heat wienies like me managed a comfortable ride. It was a short, relatively easy day and all were in by 1, despite numerous flats due to the wire strewn shoulder of I-85. The Mountain Home Best Western where we have stayed for the past several years had set up coolers of cold water, Fritos, chips, other salty snacks, a basket of granola bars, and another of apples for riders, many of whom chose to cool off in the waterfall-fed pool while waiting for their rooms to be made up.

OVERHEAD ON THE ROAD TODAY: ***�Where�d the bike trail begin? I missed it!� This from a rider who was carrying his bike to the trail from the adjacent road. (Several riders missed the beginning of the trail.) ***�WOW, look at that smog hanging over Boise. How can that be? It seems so clean and open out here.� *** �What a beautiful pool!� *** �Sun bad; cloud cover good.� *** �Where�d the nearest DQ?�

posted 2006-06-30 | 12:25:29 | article number: 2

Day 11�June 29, 2006�Mountain Home, to Twin Falls, ID�97 miles�2450� climb
When we left the hotel this morning after a good breakfast at AJ�s, the sky was gray and cloudy and it was raining lightly. No one minded the cloud cover, least of all me. In fact many of us were thankful. Not five miles out, the sprinkles quit sprinkling and all doffed and stowed their shower caps and rain jackets.

While the sprinkles quit, the sprinklers did not. As far as the eye could see, field after field of sugar beets and potatoes were being irrigated, the large rolling sprinkler systems looking like dinosaur skeletons. Irrigated fields are green; unirrigated ones brown in this area of the country. In one vast field a lone field hand in a red shirt hand-hoed rows of plants. I hope he just wanted to get a head start before the heat of the day and that many others were going to join him. If not, his task was akin to emptying a pond with a thimble.

Jim set up the first SAG Stop today in the town of Glenn Ferry. Just as in years past, the gnats were gnasty. When I left the SS, my legs were dotted with gnats that had stuck to the sunscreen I was wearing. Shortly after SS#1, riders climbed up King Hill and then had a three mile swooping downhill before eventually turning onto a little used frontage road (see photo above) which takes them along the top of the bluffs to the little town of Bliss, ID. Here many stopped at a convenience store for a cold drink or strolled across the street to a rock shop, the owner of which was a nonstop talker. At one point, after learning that I lived in OK, he asked me to look at him. He stared into my eyes for 30 uncomfortable seconds and then told me that yep, he could see Cherokee in my eyes. Not. What he saw may have been my Dutch-Welch ancestry but certainly not Cherokee.

After turning onto the Rte. 30 Scenic Byway, riders rolled off the plateau and down to the river, stopping at an overlook which overlooks the green (irrigated) valley far below. They also stopped to read about the fossil beds in the area and then climbed back up to the plateau again and enjoyed watermelon and other tasty snacks at SS#2, which was set up this year in a Community Park.

Most of the last third of the ride today was on small farm-to-market roads lined with stockyards. Riders� speed increased by 3 mph when passing these. They also faced one detour. Road crews were patching sections of road.
Both bicycles and vans found that they could ride through the detour, however.

Today was a near century day (I know of one rider who made it a century by cycling around the parking lot) sandwiched between the trip�s two shortest days: 50 miles yesterday and 38 miles tomorrow. Tomorrow�s 38 miles will fly by as riders form teams to take part in the day�s scavenger hunt. Tune in then and find out which team was the most creative.

OVERHEAD ON THE ROAD TODAY: *** �Why is there a detour here? Can I go straight?� *** �This is Justin, my SAG set-up assistant. He�s 10.� *** �Wow! What a view!� *** �When are we going to get to that sharp �V� on the elevation view?� �Don�t worry, be happy. It�s the bridge over the Snake River.�

SHOW & TELL: Several saw antelope in the roadside sage today and many cottontails and jackrabbits, too. There were also several road killed snakes and birds, one of which was a screech owl.

posted 2006-06-30 | 12:26:06 | article number: 3

Day 12�June 30, 2006�Twin Falls, ID to Burley, ID�38 miles�1178� climb
A lazy, lovely day . . . clear and sunny but with milder temps than we�ve been experiencing. Also cooling breezes that served as a tailwind to push us over the puny 38 miles of today�s ride to Burley, Idaho, a small farming community off I-84. (Burley�s only �claim to fame� is that three cows traced from the Canadian mad cow herd were found here.)

Many slept in this morning because with the short day we didn�t load until 8 am. Riders planned on stopping by Shoshone and Twin Falls on their way out of town, such stop requiring steep curving downhills . . . and their opposite (see photo above). This year riders were invited to swim in the deep pools at the bottom. Don�t know as anyone took up this offer, but Mike was all for it the night before. Tom Chappell talked with a ranger at the bottom and found that there is a bike trail that runs for a couple of miles up to and along the ridge to the spot where stuntman Evil Knievel attempted (but failed) to jump the gorge in 1974.

Last night groups formed teams and plotted strategy in anticipation of today�s scavenger hunt. At luggage load, I revealed the list of items to be found. Some were so eager to get a head start that they�d read last year�s web site to see if any of the required items were listed. The scavenger hunt is always enjoyable, and the inventiveness and ingenuity of the riders makes our post-dinner judging of the team a riot of laughs. This year we had two big teams: Team Rails to Trails whose leader was Bill Weidenfeller, and Team High Rollers, lead by Barb & Steve Hauke and including Ken Iobst, Rob Dahlstrom, Annie O�Grady, and Lois Evans (see photo above), all of whom also shared the presentation of objects. The presentations were very inventive, but Team High Rollers won by a slim 3-point margin and will now get to be first in all buffet lines for the next week.
Our route today followed the Snake River Canyon for about 9 miles. Then we broke away and followed I-84 on frontage roads. It was quite a lonely route except for the sound of interstate traffic and the pulsating sounds of the watering systems that were virtually everywhere. There were fields of sugar beets, newly planted beans, and white russet and red russet potatoes, as well as colorful swatches of yellow wild mustard and an occasional sunflower. Also along the roads flowed many irrigation ditches, which attracted birds and other wildlife. There wasn�t much climbing today either, unless riders opted to ride down to the Snake River (and many of them did). Everyone got in early, ate lunch at one of the nearby restaurants, gathered their scavenger hunt items, and got a good rest in preparation for tomorrow�s 112 miles.

OVERHEAD ON THE ROAD TODAY: *** �Where�d the road go?� [from riders who missed the turn under the Interstate and found themselves at a �Pavement Ends� sign]. *** �Gotta love a tailwind.� *** �This was a great day!�

SHOW & TELL: Yesterday Abe watched and took photos of parachutists base jumping from the bridge high above the Snake; one rider saw an emu; many of us saw the small, yellow crop dusting planes up close and personal. I was following behind Jeff & Julie when both planes flew not 25 feet over our heads and landed at their refueling station which was just up the road from today's SAG stop.

posted 2006-06-30 | 21:37:44 | article number: 4

Day 13�July 01, 2006�Burley, ID to Blackfoot, ID�111 miles�1969� climb
Blackfoot, our destination today, is the largest potato producing community in the world, providing a third of the nation's potatoes. On the way into town we saw numerous potato fields and potato barns � barns buried to their sod roofs that work as cold cellars. The town name came from a bad translation of �Siksika� which means "Black moccasin" a term probably derived from the discoloration of moccasins with ashes. It was used as both the name of a single tribe (the Blackfoot), and for the confederacy to which they belonged. They called themselves Ni-kso-ki-wa.

The weather today was sunny and pleasant, even though the temps climbed to the low 90s because of the breezes and low humidity. It was windy today but the wind shifted all day as did the road, so riders had a variety of conditions. We began today�s route in vast, fertile fields of sugar beets and potatoes but after about 10 miles, the terrain changed to open range grazing land (though I don�t know how the cattle found anything to graze upon) through a very desolate part of Idaho. The road to the first SAG was rough chip-and-seal, and in places where we had a vista, it seemed to ribbon out endlessly across the sage-dotted terrain. Because it was open range, riders crossed eight cattle guards � the rails they put across the road to keep the cattle within a section of range (see photo above). Cattle crossed our route in several places today or grazed beside the road.

After the first SAG stop, the road , which was now freshly tarred chip-and-seal, rolled to I-86. Though it meant several miles of gentle climbing, riders were very happy to see I-86 because its shoulder was smooth concrete. Riders rolled 8 miles on I-86, exiting at American Falls. Six miles after exiting, they came to SS#2, which Tom had set up at mile 60, American Falls Dam Park. Here they enjoyed chips and salsa before beginning the second half of the route.

The second half of the route was pretty flat and rolled again past vast potato farms and fields. Christine set up the last SS at mile 89 in the shade of a small apple tree. Riders stopped and enjoyed cooling watermelon. And then riders booked it the last miles to Blackfoot so that they could watch the World Cup and also learn what had transpired in the Tour de France.
As in years past, our dinner this evening was catered by Gene Parrish and his family. They do a fantastic job. BBQ chicken, veggie. and regular lasagna, scalloped potatoes, green beans, huge pots of coffee and cold drinks, and desserts to die for, including Dutch ovens of apple and cherry-chocolate cobbler, which riders can top with ice cream. The perfect meal after a long day (see photo above).

OVERHEAD ON THE ROAD TODAY: *** �I was irrigated . . . and it felt good!� *** �Sshake rrattle, and rroll!� �Did you see the potato roadkill outside of Rockford? So mashed you couldn�t tell a red russet from a white russet.� *** �There are an awful lot of spud farms on this route.�

SHOW & TELL: Julie & Jeff saw white pelicans either floating in the river or in flocks flying high into the thermals . . . so did several others. All remarked on the round mud nests of the cliff swallows under the I-86 underpass before SS#1. Chris found three adorable kittens on the roof of a shed behind SS#1.

posted 2006-07-01 | 21:16:01 | article number: 5

Day 14�July 02, 2006�Blackfoot, ID to Idaho Falls, ID�34 miles�376� climb (somewhere)
After a 7 am breakfast and 8 am load, riders left Blackfoot and headed for Idaho Falls, a bustling little city nestled among the Rocky Mountains and sitting astride the Snake River. In fact, the short route today followed the Snake for most of its length � the route's length, that is, not the Snake's. (The Snake is the main tributary of the Columbia River and is 1,670 miles long.) Idaho Falls, originally a fording point over the Snake River was first settled by Mormons, but it owes its existence to the River and the railroad. It was and still is a resting place for travelers on their way to other places such as Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, Targhee, Sun Valley, Craters of the Moon, the Sawtooths, and Jackson, our destination tomorrow.

Our short, 34-mile route today snaked along the Snake and took us through field after field of potatoes and sugar beets. Most of the fields have an irrigation ditch running alongside of them from which water is siphoned onto the crops. Crops are also watered with gigantic motor-driven irrigators that roll slowly across the fields and look, to me, like dinosaur skeletons. I took some photos of riders as they passed a horse ranch that has a practice bull in its corral. Talked with the rancher for a bit here and he told me that his brother had ridden a hand pedaled bike across country a couple of years ago. Said he remembers us from years past.

It was Ray�s 16th birthday today and all at the Sag Stop sang him a rousing rendition of �Happy Birthday� when he arrived. Then, brother Chris who had been riding in the van with me, took mom�s place on the triple-turned-tandem and rode the rest of the way to Idaho Falls with his birthday brother. Later that evening at dinner, the group sang Happy Birthday to Ray again as he blew out the candles on his birthday cake, which he shared with all.

We�re at a lovely Red Lion Inn in Idaho Falls, directly on the river across from the falls and a Mormon Tabernacle (see photo above). Because it is such a short ride, our rooms are never ready when we get here so riders pack their swimsuits and lounge by the pool or fan out to various local restaurants, museums, and points of interest. I think the last ones got into their rooms about 2:30.

Tomorrow will also be our last day in Idaho. We will cross the state line into Wyoming on our ride up the mountain toward Teton Pass. It will be a tough day with our steepest climb of the trip . . . no late breakfast tomorrow. But the pride of accomplishing this climb, whether on foot the last steep miles or on bicycle, will be remembered by all.

OVERHEAD ON THE ROAD TODAY:*** �What a scenic ride!� *** �Ahhh, leftover cookies from last night�s picnic. Any of that great lasagna?� *** �Gotta love these laid-back days!�

posted 2006-07-02 | 20:35:27 | article number: 6

Day 15�July 03, 2006�Idaho Falls, ID to Jackson, WY�88 miles�5989� climb

All were up early today, and after fueling big for the strenuous day ahead, riders loaded their luggage in a split second and hit the road, anxious to get some early miles in. They had a pretty stiff headwind for the first 45 miles until they turned left and started the climb to Pine Creek Pass. The day was warm, so the drop box was full to overflowing.

Michelle and Chris Herrly�who�s been having a bit of trouble with his young 13-year-old knees�set up the first sag stop at a little park at an overlook about 25 miles out. It�s a beautiful spot with a wonderful view down to the Snake and the valley below. When I got to this SS in the van (I have a heavy viral cold, laryngitis, and cough so will be driving the SAG van for a couple of days), Chris jumped in with me and we set out to get to the SS#2 before Chris�s mother, Lil, and his brother, Ray�who were sporting climbers� red polka-dot jerseys and blasting along at a near 20 mph average despite all the climbing. We did get to the Pine Creek Pass Summit before they did, but not by too much (see photo above.)

After SS #2, many riders enjoyed the great descent into Victor where they had a sandwich and drink at a small sidewalk cafe before riding the final 23 miles to Jackson . . . trouble is, their climb to Pine Creek Pass was just a warm-up for their climb over Teton Pass at 8431 feet. These last 23 miles contained 6.6 miles of climb to Teton Pass, some of it 10%, and then a screaming 5-mile descent at 10% (see photo above). At Route Rap, we learned that Dan Crandall took the descent at 58+ mph. Whooooosh!

The scenery today was breathtaking. Fir trees and snow spotted mountains; rivers and valleys, wildflowers everywhere�Indian paintbrush, wild roses, some pretty big-petaled yellow flowers, lupine, etc. Those riders who came up the mountain late in the day were cooled by a brief rain and then boosted along with a great tailwind. The last rider reached the motel after 6 pm.

Dinner this evening was a pizza party at Pizza Hut. Riders outdid themselves fueling up for tomorrow�s climb over Togwotee Pass and the Continental Divide at 9,658 feet.

OVERHEARD ON THE ROAD TODAY: *** �I haven�t had this much fun since my kidney stone.� *** Rider: �Andy, why don�t you put on those latex pants and get on your bike?� Andy: �Latex? Are those the shorts that look painted on?� *** �Gee, when the riders come through next year there will be a cherry grove right here and a peanut farm.� *** �We�ve passed the 1000-mile mark. My computer says that we�ve come 1001 miles since Astoria.� *** �I ran over a stick and it took 10 seconds before the rear wheel ran over it.� *** Today I learned that horseflies can fly at 5 mph.�

SHOW & TELL: Kirk reported being entertained by the clear musical voice of Bell�s vireos on his climb to Pine Creek Pass; Barry saw a soaring golden eagle;, Chris saw a moose in the river; and someone reported a bear but I cannot remember who.

posted 2006-07-03 | 21:54:49 | article number: 7

Day 16�July 04, 2006�Jackson, WY to Dubois, WY�88 miles�3689� climb
What a fantastic day. Though I�ve staffed/ridden this route twice before, this day never ceases to amaze. The first part of today's route took us out of Jackson and along the valley known as Jackson Hole. As soon as we rounded a curve in the road outside of Jackson, the magnificent, snow splashed Grand Tetons knocked our socks off and dominated the western skyline. The Grand Tetons are the youngest mountains in the entire Rocky Mountain system, their jagged peaks (12 over 12,000 feet) being only 2 or 3 million years old. When French trappers first observed the three most prominent peaks � South Teton, Grand Teton, and Mount Teewinot � they dubbed these mountains �Les trois tetons,� meaning "the three breasts." Later when they discovered that these were surrounded by numerous smaller peaks, they renamed the range �Les grands tetons.� Definitely mother earth at her finest.

Our ride today took us up over Togwotee Pass and the Continental Divide at 9,658 feet. Riders climbed for 17 miles, much of the time at 6%. It was not as steep as yesterday but riders were noodle-legged after yesterday's strenuous day, so felt the miles. At the summit, however, they were rewarded with cooling breezes (they�d had a tailwind climbing up), a magnificent view, the Continental Divide sign (see photo above), and about 25 miles of mostly downhill, ending in the small western town of Dubois (pronounced �du-boys,� not �du-bwaa�). In years past this was a yippppeeee! descent, but this year 8 miles of the road was torn out so riders got in some mountain biking.

We are in the Stagecoach Motel, right on the Wind River. Today the Stagecoach shut down at 2 so that its owners could participate in the town�s Fourth of July parade (riders participated, too; and one of the support vans got hung up in the midst of the parade so took the opportunity to smile and wave at the locals) The sidewalks of Dubois are wood planks (two with America by Bicycle branded into them), the architecture western, and the natives cowboys and cowgals.

Across from the motel is a store called Horse Creek Station, its player piano tinkling out tunes until dark, and farther down main street is a drugstore where one can still sit on stools and get a fountain drink. This evening we were fed a lasagna dinner in the back room of a western eatery called the Rustic Pines. We had to eat and run before the square dancing began at 7. We were all invited to come dance. Some riders took up the invitation, others did laundry in the little laundry/picnic pavilion behind the motel, quaffed a cold one in the saloon, played horseshoes, swam in the pool, shopped in the quaint stores along the main street, and watched the fireworks display in the evening.

Congratulations to the winners of the Fourth of July bike decorating contest (wish I had space for pix of all): 3rd Place, Sarah Grant whose bike was decorated with red, silver, and blue streamers, a special flag, and wind wheels. Sarah also wore the tinsel streamers under her helmet as hair. 2nd Place to Tim and Kathryn Tolford, who managed to put stars and silhouettes of Lincoln and Washington at their hubs and Tim wore a huge red/white and blue Uncle Sam Hat, and 1st Place to Raymond Herrly and mom, Lillian Pfluke, whose tandem top bar was entwined with blue tinsel wreathing and whose spokes were red/white/blue. Great work, too, to all the other riders who decorated their bikes so artfully.

The riders and staff all send a huge THANK YOU to Tracey Bail who sent dozens of huge chocolate cookies for the SAG Stops. We miss you Tracey!

OVERHEARD ON THE ROAD TODAY: *** �This last climb was much easier than yesterday�s!� ***�This could be the setting for the �Sound of Music�.� *** �This is the most beautiful day ever!� *** �Boy, after yesterday, my legs felt that!�

SHOW & TELL: Franz saw an elk; a buffalo crossed the highway right in front of a group of riders; a large group of riders from the Triangle X dude ranch crossed the road in front of riders; many noticed the flowers and reached the summit to ask �What was that __ flower?�

posted 2006-07-05 | 18:20:44 | article number: 8

Day 17�July 05, 2006�Dubois, WY to Riverton, WY�79 miles�2200� climb but dropped 1900 feet
For all those who are following our progress and thinking about riding with us someday, eat your heart out . . . you�re missing a great ride now! Just when we think we�ve had the perfect day, along comes a day like this. Everyone really enjoyed today: the terrain dropped overall from Dubois to Riverton, we had light tailwinds, and though it was chilly when we left Dubois, it heated up to the low 90s, which is still moderate (for this area) . . . not to mention the scenery. The departure out of Dubois was spectacular, the changing colors of the hillsides caught everyone�s attention, and the early morning shadows on the weathered landscape caused riders to stop frequently for beautiful photo memories of the trip.

Our route today was Hwy 26 all the way to the motel in Riverton. Ninety percent of the time we had a nice shoulder and traffic was light and polite. Most of the day we followed the romantic Wind River through the beautiful Wind River Valley. The river provided greenery for pastureland, which, with large ranches, was the scenery of the day for the early portion. Many of the ranches in Wyoming have gates made of huge peeled logs and intricately cut and welded scenes across them, and names such as Big Sky Ranch, Wind River Ranch, Red Rock Ranch, etc. As we got closer to Riverton, we found ourselves in high desert with sage and sparse population. The only town, if you could call it that, between Dubois and Riverton was Kinnear and it had a population of 44. You've got to love solitude if you live out here. I really love riding through this area, but I don�t think it would be too much fun to have a steady diet of this type of riding . . . only one paved road through here.

We met a couple at the second SS who were riding self supported to Colorado. They, too had started in Astoria. Then a little later we passed small groups of Adventure Cyclists who were traveling self-supported from Virginia to Portland. Today, at least, we had the terrain (mostly downhill) and the weather (tailwind) with us. I didn't envy them their push uphill and into the wind on such a hot day.

Everyone was in good spirits at the end of the day. The riding and the weather has just been too good. Riders needed this easy day before tomorrow�s tough 120 miles. Tonight they need to rest, because no matter how good the winds might be, 120 miles will make them ready for their day off in Casper. But that�s tomorrow.

OVERHEARD ON THE ROAD TODAY: *** �Could you please make the rest of our route like this?� *** �Wide open Wyoming.� *** �Yeehaw!� ***�Finally I can breathe again. The oxygen molecules are closer together at this altitude.�

SHOW & TELL: We saw prairie dog colonies along the roadside and several groups of antelope, plus a field of emu across from SS#2. I saw a burrowing owl at one of the prairie dog colonies. We all marveled at the striped and painted rocks in the first half of the day.

posted 2006-07-05 | 22:53:45 | article number: 9

Day 18�July 06, 2006�Riverton, WY to Casper, WY�120 miles�2860�climb
Whatta day . . . 120 miles � 125 for Lil, Ted, Steven, Don, and Dale who made it a double metric century. It was another of those days that the directionally challenged adore�left out of the motel; then ride 120 miles before a left-right-left into the motel. I drove the luggage truck today in an effort to separate myself and my cold from the guests. Tomorrow I�ll go to the doctor who will probably say �Yes, you have a nasty cold. Drink plenty of fluids and get some rest.�

For the first 34 miles out of Riverton, riders have occasional interesting rock formations, roadside businesses and houses, trees, parks and other roadside things to hold their interest. After the first SAG Stop, however, there is NOTHING but wide open spaces, occasional cattle and small groups of antelope, and many a poor rabbit that didn�t make it across this highway, which stretches out endlessly over the scrubby sage plains. Yes, riders do pass through some towns: Moneta, pop. 2 (no joke), Hilland, pop. 10, (this is the site of SS#2; the owner of the bar there counted the population as 2, said the other 8 left years ago), and the town of Natrona, pop. 0 (site of SS#3 � a couple of abandoned buildings).

Each year, riders look forward to breaking this monotony with a stop for buffalo burgers at Hell�s Half Acre, a small store/restaurant at the edge of a geologic oddity � a craggy horseshoe-shaped gorge that drops away from an otherwise flat plain where Hwy 20 runs east. The 150+ ft. deep gorge � actually 320-acres total as it spreads south � is filled in one section with jagged rock spires, naturally sculpted into nightmarish chaos by an ancient offshoot of the Powder River. This year we were all disappointed to find the restaurant closed and boarded up . . . for good it seems, unless some enterprising person thinks he or she can make a go of it in the middle of nowhere. An interpretative sign at the entrance explains how Indians used to slaughter buffalo years ago by stampeding a herd over the cliffs to get meat for the winter. Today the gorge with it�s hoodoo spikes and striated walls is a beautiful, peaceful sight that belies its previous use.

A bit after HHA, Chris and I came upon Peter S. with Hand-on-Helmet. Turned out he had run over something that had gone straight through his tire, tube, and rim, gashing an inch and a half hole in the rim and ruining his wheel. We loaded his bike into the truck and sagged him in. Kirk also ran over something nasty and tore up his tire. After SS#2, riders had a wider, smoother shoulder, and for most of the day they had a kicking tailwind . . . until the last 30 miles or so when the road turned and they had to battle a strong crosswind/headwind that beat them up pretty good. The day also heated up, and many rolled in with sunburns despite repeated applications of sunscreen. Several of the faster riders had completed half the day by 9:30, and this with sag stop.

OVERHEARD ON THE ROAD TODAY: *** �Um peanut butter!� [. . .this donated by Dave and Bob, who qualify for DUH of the Day. They bought peanut butter and rolls and made themselves sandwiches for on the road today, giving me the rest of the rolls and peanut butter for the SS . . . then they rolled out this morning and left their sandwiches in the room fridge.] *** �You put the peanut butter on the banana and then dot it with raisins. That�s called �ants on a log.�� *** If you have a 120-mile day, this is the weather for it!� [at SS#2�probably taken back after SS#3]

SHOW & TELL: This is the first night we�ve had an official S & T in a while so riders were surprised to find that Leslie, Kathy, and Dana had seen Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart in a restaurant in Jackson; Jim Benson reported finding a brand new paved bike trail that will bring riders almost to the door of the motel next year. While on that trail, which follows the river, Jim reported seeing a woman in a wetsuit trying to boogie board.

posted 2006-07-06 | 22:17:17 | article number: 10

Back to Page 1 Astoria, OR to Boise, ID (The Northwestern Tour)
On to Page 3 Casper, WY to Sioux Falls, SD (Badlands Ride)
On to Page 4 Sioux Falls, SD to Niagara Falls, NY (Northern Tier Tour)
On to Page 5 Niagara Falls, NY to Portsmouth, NH (The New England Meander)

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P.O. Box 805
Atkinson, NH 03811-0805
(603)382-1662,    (888)797-7057
FAX (603)382-1697,    E-Mail:America by Bicycle Info

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