Five tourers met – None going West

I should add sprinklers to my list of things not to pitch a tent next to. There’s nothing quite like being confused first thing in the morning. I was annoyed that it was raining today, then laughing because it was just the sprinklers, then annoyed again because I now had to dry the tent.

Another annoyance was that I had found out I had another broken spoke on my rear wheel. This was a wheel that I got in Grinell, Iowa, and the difference between this one (apart from the hub) is that it has 32 spokes as opposed to 36. With 36 spokes I had none break for 1,500 miles. With 32 I’ve had 2 break in 1,000 miles. You do the math.

This detracts from the main problem. I’m now carrying too much weight on the back panniers for this wheel. Now the dilemma. I have just over 1,500 miles left to ride. Do I; buy front panniers and bags and spread the weight, or, ride my luck and hope the spokes hold out. I say luck.

Unfortunately for the poor people of Wyoming I was riding topless today to quell these damn tan-lines. I would find out later that there is a little triangle of sunburn where I am obviously incapable of reaching with the suncream – idiot.

I wasn’t expecting there to be anything till Rawlins 70 miles away, but after 25 miles I came across a gas station in the middle of nowhere. Since it was all alone it had two traits. Everyone stopped here and their prices were twice as much as elsewhere. They even made you leave a tip for the toilet! Although their ice-cream was $3 for a scoop, it was homemade and the lemon ice-cream I opted for was delicious – just what I needed in the sweltering conditions.

It was at this remote gas station that I met up with the horse riders of yesterday and two other cross country cyclists. They were going west too, but they were heading further north to Oregon after starting in Florida. We literally crossed paths and wished each other luck. It was a shame I didn’t get to ride with them because it gets pretty lonely when you’re in the great expanse of the Midwest.

Climbing further, I reached the Continental Divide and sauntered down past a place to Baroil. Here the shoulder became very broken up and I had about a 10 inch riding area between the grumble strips and the broken tarmac. It took a great deal of concentration to ride along, the last thing I need with a spoke out is a bumpy ride which may buckle my wheel.

At this point I had done 55 miles and was actually riding south east – sometimes you’ve gotta take a step back to take two steps forward. A large car pulled over about 100ft in front of me and a lady got out. She stopped me and asked if I needed a lift into Rawlins. I was really hesitant, I wanted to ride and nearly declined until she mentioned she was getting a tyre for another cross country rider.

I justified getting a ride for four reasons. The lady seemed really nice and I could have a good conversation with her. I had a broken spoke and already ridden 55 miles on it. I was going south east and not gaining any mileage across. And finally I got to meet another rider who might have been going the same way.

LB (that was her name) wasn’t sure if Mike (the other cyclist) needed a tyre or an inner tube, all she had were some dimensions. The only bike shop in town, Murrays, was closed for the day so we tried a few hardware stores. None had the right size. I’ve come to the conclusion that you won’t find 700c or 28″ tyres or tubes in places like Walmart – you have to find a bike shop.

We rang the emergency number of Murrays and the woman who owned it said she would be down in 5 minutes! We got the tyre and some tubes and if Mike didn’t need a tyre she would take it back to her place in case someone else needed one. I dropped off my bike for the spoke repair and we then went to find Mike. He was about 20 miles east on I-80.

After riding around the rest area we eventually found him underneath a shelter and gave him the tubes he needed to get his bike back in a rideable condition. Unfortunately I found out Mike’s riding east and he’s on a really tight schedule to get back in time for college. He needs to be averaging 100 miles a day but he seems to have the drive and ambition so I’m positive he’ll make it!

As he had lost half a day, LB said she would drive him to Saratoga. Just before we loaded the car with his bike and gear the sprinklers decided to activate and proceeded to wet the entire sheltered area. Who the fuck designed the sprinkler system to water the shelters. THEY DO NOT NEED WATERING. When Mike and myself returned to LB’s car it looked like we had taken part in a wet t-shirt competition. We drove 50 miles and dropped Mike off at a bar where the owner let Mike pitch his tent in the back yard.

We drove back to Rawlins and by now it was dark and approaching 10pm. I had a fun evening and was glad that I decided to get the lift earlier. I found out the Mike went to Sheffield Hallam a few years ago for a few months and he also recognised I was from Northern England – not Australian which I get more often than not.

LB dropped me off at the hotel. She was awesome and couldn’t do more to help both Mike and myself. She has a campsite on the road I was coming down on, but it’s hidden away. I’ll do a separate blog post on it after the trip because from Mike’s description, it was like a cyclists nirvana.

After I checked into the hotel which was only two blocks from the bike shop I went down to the 24hr diner where not only did I devour a Buffalo burger, but also started talking to another couple of cyclists who had already eaten. They were part of a race from North to South and were riding from Bamff in Canada to Mexico. About 100 people started the race but it seems to have quite a high attrition rate and they had a couple more weeks to go. One of the chaps was from Cardiff and it seems strange but it was nice to hear a familiar accent.

Back in the room, and knowing that my bike wasn’t going to be ready until tomorrow afternoon, I rang the desk and extended my checkout time to 12 so that I could enjoy a little lie in.

Thinking about today it seems like Rawlins is a very central location for touring. I’ve met 5 touring cyclists today, all going in a different direction to me. It was reassuring that there are more riders out there than I thought.

3 thoughts on “Five tourers met – None going West”

  1. Finally, you’re getting my point about the back wheel and the weight distribution! Get yourself a front pannier or you’ll only have more problems. And for goodness sake get yourself a couple of spare spokes too!

  2. I’d like to suggest a wonderful invention in sunscreens–SPRAY-ON! You can buy it in Wal-Mart or most drug stores and groceries. It will eliminate that pesky corner of the back that NO ONE can reach themselves.

    1. I was so close to buying the spray on version of the sunscreen but I figured I hadn’t had a problem with the lotion. If I run out I’ll get the spray on next time – or maybe I’ll stop making people heave and keep my shirt on! :)

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