I woke up at a reasonable time considering yesterday, I thought I would be a little more resistant to getting back on the bike. Again, yesterdays effort meant that starting out was slow- it took me ages to ride down the I28 to the toilets just off the trail. My hopes were dashed when I mistook South Pass City and a hot breakfast for Atlantic City. But after a short climb I was there and demolishing a full cooked breakfast and stack of pancakes (I find the reputation of American pancakes falls short on taste- they are always too acidic).
After riding around the tiny town trying to find my way out, after a short climb I was on the flats and looking forward to what looked like a flat and easy day. I was mistaken, as most that have ridden the Great Divide Basin can attest. The first difficulty is the directions: there are no real distinguishing features to signfy turn off roads, the map does not always have enough detail to differentiate between a driveway/lesser trail and the real trail. At a couple of places especially before the turn off to Crooks Gap road I spent some time working out which way to go, and even then, setting off gingerly. The second problem is the road: most of it is average rutted trail, but after the turn off to Crooks Creek road its sand. I spent my time weaving across the road, trying to fine patches where the sand does not look as deep but ended up still having my speed significantly checked. The third problem is the isolation: the was no water between Sweetwater River and A&M Reservoir even though the map says there should be, something that I mentioned in my post, and that I hoped would be put in Purvis update (“Duty of Care” anyone?). I didn’t have any problem with the water as I had been warned by the guys I met the day before, the complete lack of trees and shade was a little more uncomfortable. Riding past one of the only ranches (deserted of course) I was approached by an ewe. With the lack of other sheep and people in the area, I assumed that she had been left behind. She followed me up to a caravan that had a cowboy (the only person I saw for 120 miles) and I presume he took “care” of her. He offered me water but I had plenty. The fourth problem is the weather: the heat was uncomfortable but bearable (even without shade), the wind was annoying. A headwind followed me from before midday the 50 miles to County Road 63. The combination of sand and wind before the reservoir was demoralising (note when I say “demoralising” it is more of an annoyance that depresses me because most of the time it means I will be moving slower. It pisses me off but the thought of stopping (in the middle of nowhere) doesn’t enter the equation).
I debated bypassing the reservoir, but I wanted to be sure I had enough water if the rest of the day proved harder than I expected. The scenery through the day, though bland, was pretty amazing- a flat desert bowl, ringed by mountains, and it made great scenery when I ate a late lunch with my feet in the water.
I moved fast after the feed, aided by a slight downhill (even though the headwind had seemed to change 90 degrees while I had stopped- for future GDR’ers I would assume a headwind the whole way). When I hit the pavement of County Road 63 I was stoked to find myself sitting at 20 miles per hour, and a glance at the map said flat till Rawlins- with the maintenance of the speed, I could make up time I had lost during the day and get to Rawlins by dinner- Sweet!
You can see the cars on the I-287 from a fair way off, and I was aided later by their lights I got closer and the sun went down. I turned onto the I-287 and immediately met two guys doing Transamerica. They had heard about the race, and I then made the mistake of dropping them on the climb up onto a plateau. It seemed to take forever to cross the divide by nighttime, and the two guys caught back up to me. We chatted in the dark and were going to share a room until one of them flatted and I kept riding.
I came down into Rawlins and immediately got lost- unlike Butte where there were several signs on the highway explaining the way to motels and food outlets, there seemed to be none on the way in. I quickly found myself in surburbia. I asked some guy which way to go and we chatted for a few moments, but I was keen to find a motel and food (it was 10.30 and I was hoping the bigger town would have more open later) and he seemed to want to tell me his whole life story, so I thanked him and exited.
I stopped at the first motel I saw and luckily it was still open. I got a room and asked the owner to help me call Dominos. Of course they had just closed so I was left with not much food to eat and I was starving. The owners were a young Indian couple and thankfully they offered me some dahl heavily spiced with cumin and unbelievably hot due to some other ingredient and some roti’s. The room was very cheap and luckily the tv worked. I was tired after two days of 150 miles and I could barely walk from the office to my room, but I had achieved what I wanted/needed to by getting to Rawlins at this time and the plan was to take the next day easier. I had a great shower and ate half a jar of penut butter and the rotis (the dahl was dangerously hot- I couldnt risk it).