Week #8 – Private Camping and Parade Crashing

Week #8 – Private Camping and Parade Crashing

Day #50 – June 29, 2019

Miles – 65.7
Silverthorne, CO -> Sawmill Gulch Campground,  CO

We had breakfast with Bruce and then hit the road. The first section of the day circled the Green Mountain Reservoir. The clear water and mountains made for spectacular views.

We came to Colorado-125. This road ran alongside a wide creek and between mountains. We rode 10 miles of difficult climbing before we reached the campground. Even with the climbing, Jason and I agreed this was one of the most pleasant roads of the entire trail so far. The views were incredible, and the road was quiet.

We camped at Sawmill Gulch Campground, which is closed to cars. The road washed out at some point, and it was never repaired. The drive is now gated with a “Campground Closed” sign, but a little research indicated it is still available for dispersed camping. We pushed our bikes down the washed out drive and found we were the only people there. Graffiti on the wall in the bathroom indicated this has become a haven for touring cyclists, away from RVs and cars.

It felt like it for us. We had a really peaceful night cooking on the campfire, skipping stones, and camping right beside the creek. Not a single generator could be heard.

Day #51 – June 30, 2019

Miles – 45.5
Sawmill Gulch Campground, CO -> Walden, CO

The start of our day had us climbing to the top of Willow Creek Pass, our second mountain pass of the journey. The final elevation was much lower than Hoosier Pass, and the climbing never felt too difficult. 

The descent to Rand was a disappointment. A headwind kept us from gaining much speed on the downhills, and we frequently encountered small uphills, where we lost all momentum completely. Coming down was nearly as much work as going up.

At a general store in Rand, we chatted with some recreational cyclists. We also discovered a horrible fact about northern Colorado: it is overrun with mosquitoes. I  received about 20 bites in 20 minutes.

We camped at the Walden city park. Another touring cyclist and a few million mosquitoes were also camping in the park.

Day #52 – July 1, 2019

Miles – 67.0
Walden, CO -> Saratoga, WY

We made pretty quick time to Saratoga despite bad road conditions. The road had cracks about every 10 feet. They were partially filled in, but enough of a dip was left that we felt every single one. 

Crossed into Wyoming.

We stopped by the public hot springs in Saratoga. The water was way too hot (110 degrees) to enjoy, but the facility was really nice. 

We stayed at the Episcopalian church in town. They own a house next to the church with a wonderful kitchen, dining room, beds, and more. I even got my own bedroom. 

Day #53 – July 2, 2019

Miles – 109.7
Saratoga, WY -> Jeffrey City, WY

The southern part of Wyoming is relatively flat, so we felt like it was a good time to cover some serious ground. Our options were to ride only 40 miles to Rawlins or continue another 60 to Jeffrey City. We opted to ride a full century to Jeffrey City.

The ride to Rawlins included a few miles on I-80. Riding on an interstste isn’t ideal, but they typically have wide shoulders. Fortunately, the westbound lanes of the interstate were closed for construction. Cyclists were permitted to ride in the closed lanes, so we had the entire road to ourselves. I doubt I’ll ever have the chance to zig-zag across all the lanes of an interstste ever again. 

After Rawlins, the scenery started to dramatically change. This part of Wyoming is filled with arid hills and unique rock structures. The traffic was calm, but one semi passed us with such force that it lifted my rear wheel off the ground. It was a strange sensation to suddenly feel like I was about to be tossed over the handlebars and then drop right back down a half second later. 

We had some decent climbing to do but made great time to Muddy Gap. We were averaging just over 15mph. While at the convenience store in Muddy Gap, a storm was beginning to blow in from the south. The winds picked up dramatically and blew dust into our eyes as we fueled up on candy and sports drinks. Unfortunately, we were heading west from Muddy Gap, so we had a really nasty crosswind for our last 22 miles. One large gust blew me off the shoulder of the road. I slid out in gravel, but it was a graceful fall.

We stayed at the Jeffrey City church hostel. They ask cyclists to write their name and home location on the wall. The marker graffiti with hundreds of cyclists names, homes, and information on their journey is an impressive sight.

The sunset in Jeffrey City was one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. I tolerated a few hundred mosquito bites to take some pictures and soak it in.

Day #54 – July 3, 2019

Miles – 59.9
Jeffrey City, WY -> Lander, WY

We encountered quite a bit of wind on the way to Lander, but it was mostly downhill. The scenery has really picked up in Wyoming. I rode down valleys with large rock bluffs, saw snow-capped peaks in the distance, and had my jaw drop at bright red rock walls.

In Lander, we had a beer with some of the ACA guys and waited until our WarmShowers hosts were available. We stayed with a really fun couple named Aven and John. They had a friend named Fox staying with them as well.

Day #55 – July 4, 2019

Miles – 0
Lander, WY

The ACA group ended up getting registered to ride in the Lander July 4th parade and invited all of the other TransAmerica cyclists to ride with them. There were about 12 of us altogether. The parade started at 10AM. It seemed the whole town of Lander and a few surrounding communities must have come out for the parade. The streets were lined entirely with a few rows of people. I threw Cliff bars instead of candy. The kids seemed really excited about them, but the parents were confused.

Ed’s trailer decked out for the parade.
The parade finale – fire trucks spraying down the crowd.

After the parade, Jason and I walked around town to see the celebrations. Lander really goes all out for the 4th. The town lifts all fireworks and open container laws for the day. Alcohol and fireworks are apparently a classic American combination. 

In the evening, the fireworks really started to get underway. It seemed like every other house had their own arsenal of professional fireworks. We stood outside and looked around in the sky, seeing fireworks shoot up from every direction.

Day #56 – July 5, 2019

Miles – 76.1
Lander, WY -> Dubois, WY

Lander is at the base of a valley, so we were forced into quite a bit of climbing for the day. Jason and I drifted apart after about 30 miles and rode at our own paces. The scenery keeps getting more interesting. Lots of buttes, hills, rock walls, and streams.

With constant climbing for the day, I was feeling more worn out than usual, but Jason and I still managed to make it out to the Dubois Friday night rodeo. It was a neat event. We looked out of place in our shorts and sandals. I forgot to pack my cowboy hat, bootcut jeans, and cowboy boots.

Week #8 Mileage: 423.9
Total Trip Mileage: 2,890.8

One Reply to “Week #8 – Private Camping and Parade Crashing”

  1. Enjoyed the update, last couple I followed across end there ride 8n

    Thanks foe update, last couple I followed ended their ride in Lander.
    Over the years I have completed the one week “Ride the Rockies” six times, the event takes place in early/mid June, have never encountered mosquitoes.
    That must be why it’s done in June. Some of your best days are yet to come, enjoy them. Dave

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