Crossing into New Mexico! At last!
Look Out Mountain
Poor photo of Big Horn sheep
Snow caps Indiana Pass above Superfund site
Indiana Pass 11,910′ wow!
JD and I atop Carnero Pass
Getting rescued off Marshal Pass
Carnero Pass Camp w/JD our new traveling companion
Carnero Pass camp
(Enlarge for full effect)
Juan Carlos spoke no English but was
Biking up Aspen Alley
GDB: Friday 9/25/2015
The last three days have been quite the ride. The weather perfect, scenery sublime. We left Rawlings, Wyoming on Wed 9/24 and cycled 43 miles up-to the arid and exotic high desert. Primarily private lands free of hunters there were Antelope in abundance. There were also more mountains and steeper hills. 😁
That nite We camped on Dirty Man Creek near some road construction equipment. The creek was great for bathing and we washed up in the late evening sun. The water was cool and refreshing after our sweaty and dusty ride. Sleeping in grime encrusted sun screen is sticky and really sucks. Really. So we always search for good water resources near our camps. Sometimes it happens others not. During the nite we were surrounded by coyote yipping and howling–cows baying…there was a light frost as well when we awoke.
That morning the road construction guys were very friendly and informed us we were in for a spectacular but hilly ride. They were right on both counts. It was a fabulous ride into wonderously beautiful gold & red Aspen forests, wooded mountainsides and bluebird sky’s. The Aspen are huge here frequently reaching 80′ and higher creating a cathedral like effect when you ride thru them. Very spiritual with their sunny gold leaves rustling in the breeze.
Ever since Lima, MT along the roadsides and near fences we’ve joyfully observed the most beautiful blue birds. On some of our faster stretches they fly along with us just above our heads. Outstanding!
The Sage Creek rd out of Rawlings (aka: Aspen Alley) is a national scenic highway and is undergoing upgrades but was excellent cycling and stunningly beautiful. The fall colors and sunny skies make it. I highly recommend it.
The hills? Not so much. 5-10 seconds down, 5-10 minutes up…or something like that. There were some doozies on this road. I hit 43+ mph on a couple downhills. May not sound fast but when pulling wobbly BOB trailers behind us it gets pretty hairy–and screamin fun. But, OMG! What incredible views from the top(s)!!!
We climbed out of Aspen Alley and headed for Steamboat Springs via the Little Snake River and Elk River Valleys.
With the rivers running down them these small valleys have perfect bottomland. The farmland, pastoral fields and pastures were so picturesque in their fall ploomage, with the prettiest elegant, quaint, and sometimes large farmhouses. It was a very scenic stretch.
We ended up at 7700′ elevation in the back country of Colorado on Steamboat Road camped in a very pleasant valley on Tennessee creek. There, we ran into Juan Carlos, a Peruvian gaucho sheep herder living in a covered wagon (w/solar panels) with his two horses, 10 sheep dogs and 3-400 sheep. Sounds crowded, eh? 😉 He spoke no English but Dave new enuff Spanish to learn a few things.
Our camp was situated so we could view the entire valley and it was great fun watching Juan and his dogs move and control the flock. They knew how to work together and the camp turned out to be one of our best tho the water wasn’t too good. We call it “cow water.” Yum.
All thru the nite we heard Elk bugling, coyotes yipping, cows baying, sheep baying, and dogs barking. But we did manage to sleep 10+ hours. Juan told us his dogs don’t like the dog food but prefer fresh bear kill (sheep) and showed us pictures on his new iPhone 6. The dogs gang up & run off the Bears. Fresh lamb chops! What a trip.
We broke camp and started cycling toward Steamboat Reservoir and steamboat Springs. The weather was gorgeous, not too hot, and a little tailwind to help us along. The fall colors? Did I mention those? Wow! We made it up to the top of the pass and had a long 6 mile screamin downhill (on pavement!) which we have not had for a long time. Zoom zoom.
Steamboat Springs is nice but spendy, touristy, and spendy. We’re movin on tomorrow. — Chris
View of campsite on A&M Reservoir
Dave soaks it in. Beautiful sunset
GDB: Tuesday 9/22/15
Wow! The last three days have been sensational. We left Pinedale on Saturday and climbed up onto the high plain headed toward The Great Divide Basin. At between 7500-8500′ elevation over the entire 160 miles the views rocked.
Pronghorn Antelope were everywhere–and so were the hunters. It being the weekend and all. We camped over looking the Landers River in a spectacular area and settled in just in time for a beautiful sunset. It did not disappoint.
Also, at this spot were an amazing amount of Robins flying about. In small flocks, no less. We watched them throughout the evening.
Sunday morning we climbed out of timberland onto the grassy plains. No trees for the next 100 miles. And there weren’t. But, OMG, the exotic beauty of rolling prairies, windy gold carpets of prairie and sage grasses was captivating. The road went on forever and, Bonus! We had a huge tailwind pushing us! You just don’t know… We camped on the banks of the Sweetwater River. That evening we had a coyote check us out from a ridge just across the river. His noble profile was silhouetted perfectly against the purple blue hues of a late evening sunset. A nice quiet spot. Until the next morning, that is, when the hunters started shooting. A lot. The antelope were spooked all day.
A very pleasant surprise were a heard of wild horses alongside the road who were checking us out but not quite sure what we were. They appeared very healthy and beautiful with their long manes waving in the prairie winds. The pictures don’t do them justice.
The Stallions leave “stud piles” along the road to mark their territory. And they are impressive piles, too. The sun bakes them rock hard and they’re dangerous even to automobiles. Dave and I have left a few stud piles ourselves along the way…
Monday was a 70 mile day. There was no fresh water along this stretch so we opted to push thru to A&M Reservoir. Plus, we still had an excellent tailwind helping us along. It was a great ride even as long as it was and we had great fun looking for antelope all along the ride.
The A&M Reservoir was teaming with trout! Two guys stopped by and caught several. I was envious. The fish were very active and jumping everywhere. Later that nite we watched the moon reflecting off the lake while it rose over the open prairie and star gazed at the magnificence of stars at 8000′ elevation.🌝
This morning (Tuesday) we left A&M Reservoir and biked down into the Great Divide Basin proper. It was the coolest spectacle as it seemed to go on forever, and ever. Most enjoyable.
Tonite were in Rawlings, WY. A scruffy, oil town. I don’t suggest moving here. –Chris
Mountain Man Museum in Pinedale
VO2 Max! Anatomy & Physiology 101
GDB: Friday 9/18/14
Some of you may be wondering at some of the physical demands required for our bike trek over these intimidating mountains and trails. This is an attempt to explain some of it.
The following is based on basic knowledge/experience gained over the years plus some research and theory. All off the top of my head. It may not be totally accurate or correct.
VO2 Max: the volume of Oxygen (02) that can be absorbed by the blood thru the lungs on any given breath.
Max Heart Rate: (Karvonen Method). Max heart rate = 220 – age. Ex. Mine is 220-62=158. This is the “safe” upper limit one’s heart rate can achieve w/o exploding…variables, of course, like lifestyle, diet, genetic inconsistency affect this number. I am considered, by the medico’s to be “young active” so my MHR is above my chronological age.
Aerobic energy: energy produced by the body utilizing 02. Most efficient.
Anaerobic: energy produced w/o 02. Ex. Sprinters, downhill skiers, etc. very inefficient.
Real Age: physical age of the body based on lifestyle. Again, being young active I’ve the body of someone 10-15 years younger. Cool.
Chronological Age: actual age in years.
We’ve been cycling at altitude above 5000′ for a month. And the last two weeks near 7-9000′. We should be acclimated to altitude now.
Even so, we must be careful. Cranking up these long steep hills is very arduous and frequently we achieve MHR. It’s kinda tricky. Everyone’s VO2 Max is different and even tho our hemoglobin count is increasing each day were above altitude we still struggle to catch a complete breath at times. Think asthma or asphyxiation. In extreme 02 debt situations (we’ve been there) at MHR/VO2 Max the sensation is palpable and felt from the lungs down thru the solar plexus and deep into the groin. Very intense and a little scary.
In college my VO2 Max tested at the peak of the bell cure. Average. However, my cute lab partner at the time was above average. She had a nice set of lungs, too. But I digress. Lance Armstrong, the infamous elite cyclist, tested in the 90th percentile. He could gobble huge amounts of 02. Incredible. Not me…
V02 Max can be improved. Somewhat. Thru basic fitness training but mostly training at or above altitude. Kikkan Randall, the elite Olympic Nordic Ski Champion does this. As do many high latitude elite athletes. She also sleeps in a barometric tent that mimics high altitude. We don’t have a tent like that.
Therefore, our aerobic capacity frequently gets stretched to its limit. In biking these mountains we’re utilizing the largest muscle groups (quads & hamstrings) in the body and they demand prolific amounts of 02.
The “autonomic” nervous system regulates this 02 demand by Vaso-constricting blood flow to non-essential muscles and funneling the lion share to our legs. Redundant. The kicker? Even tho you may be experiencing extreme 02 debt at the top of a hill you can’t stop pedaling. If you do the autonomic system reacts instantly and reroutes blood back to all those nonessential muscles too. Double whammy! Thus, the intense asthma/ asphyxiation sensation. It’s both scary and painful. I’ve yet to pass out but Dave said he came close.
That being said, it is just one more of the challenges we face on this bike trek down the Great Divide. But we are getting incredibly physically fit and are constantly amazed at the strength and endurance level of our legs. A most extraordinary phenomenon. And, we’re getting stronger everyday.
Basic anatomy & physiology. I hope you enjoyed this rather long explanation. –Chris
GDB: Friday 9/18/15
The ride out of Flag Ranch (w/wallet…) on Tuesday thru Jackson Lake and Grand Targhee Nat’l Forest was spectacular. Forest fire smoke had moved in a little but nothing compared to Montana. The autumn colors are in full bloom and radiant.
Everywhere we go people are friendly and always interested in our story. We’ve met people from all around the world on this trek as well as fellow Americans. It sure spices up the ride.
The weather finally caught us.
We knew weather was coming but had to get to the Post Office in Cora & Pinedale, WY before the weekend to p/u care packages from our beautiful and wonderful wives. ☺️ Out of Jackson Lake we started climbing toward gathering clouds and 9500′ Powtowgee Pass. We stopped to camp at Powtowgee Lodge 1500 vertical feet and 9 miles from the top. The lodge folks were great and pointed us to free camping and gave us passes to the lodge hot tubs and showers.
It rained hard that nite and during a break in the weather the next morning we broke camp and headed up to the lodge for breakfast. It began to rain again and did so all the way to the top of the pass. Cold too.
We flew down Powtowgee and started the climb toward 9200′ Mission Pass and finally camped at Crooked Creek Guest Ranch half way up the 12 mile pass.
We’re very bear aware and have been hanging our grub in trees or stashing it in bear boxes, horse trailers, other campers pick up trucks, etc. None of that was available this nite so we put it on the covered porch deck of a cabin a safe distance away.
It rained more that nite and we woke to half our grub missing and et up by a bear during the nite. Dave found the remains in the woods but could not locate his hydro pack and contents. The Wiley bear left us one dinner and a breakfast plus gorp and cliff bars. Oh yeah, the dirty bastard got our whiskey too. Dirty bastard.
Union Pass was snowy, blowy, and frigid. We froze our asses off and took refuge in a hunters 5th wheel trailer who took pity on us. We dried our clothes, kinda, had coffee and it stopped snowing! But it was still windy cold. Oh well.
We had a loooong muddy bike 41 miles down to whiskey grove campground and camped on the banks of the Green River. It was a hard ride. We were pooped.
This Thursday morning we pedaled 34 miles on into Pinedale. No rain but had a cold steady headwind the whole way. Checked into a hotel, showered, ate, drank some beers and watched Monday Nite Football. Rest day tomorrow. Nuff said. -Chris
Bill & Jerry, the driverS
GDB: Monday 9/14/15
After we escaped Big Springs and made it to Squirrel Creek Lodge we headed out the next morning all sunny and optimistic.
A few hours into what turned into a great ride we met up with a wagon train. We were surprised and delighted. Bill and Jerry were the drivers of a modern day covered wagon that had almost everything an RV does.
Bill and Jerry were a pleasure to meet and very talkative. There were three other wagons behind them which we met later in the day. They also introduced us to Dolly, Bill and Bob. The three horse team pulling their wagon. They were all draft horses, large and quite suited to their task. It was fun. We petted them of, course and they nosed us back.
They were on a 7 day, 40 mile wagon train trip complete with SAG wagon, trailers and other support vehicles. We wished them “happy trails” and they us and cycled on. It was a good ride this day, and we met some interesting people.
Our destination was Flag Ranch and beyond. The day was warm and sunny so We stopped at the top of an unnamed pass near Grassy River reservoir, had lunch and took a nap (our routine on warm days). Sweet dreams.
The ride down was fun and exhilarating with tall pines, beautiful fall colors everywhere and the Tetons looming over us. We made Flag Ranch around 5:00 to eat an early dinner and buy groceries. Ah-oh. No money belt, no passport and no wallet!!!! I’d left it 16 miles back up the pass at our lunch stop right where I used it for a pillow. Great.
I grabbed my water bottle, phone, candy bar, and windbreaker, knife and lighter and hustled out to the road and stuck out my thumb. It took 10 minutes to get a ride with an Argentine couple (only two cars came by). They were cute and took me up to Grassy Reservoir where I started walking with my thumb out
I’d walked several miles when I began to question the wisdom of my decision since no cars had passed me in either direction. It was also getting late and nearing dark and I was high in the mountains of Wyoming in bear country–by myself. Fun. I was mentally preparing to be out there in the woods in the dark. In bike shorts, In the middle of nowhere on a deserted mountain road. Hmmmm? Fortunately, Greg & Judy Houda happened by shortly there after and rescued me.
What wonderful folks, he a teacher and her retired they took me the remaining 6-7 miles to my wallet and returned me to Flag Ranch. Awesome! We never saw another vehicle on the road. Dave was worried but had got us a spot at a camp ground and had things all set up when I got back. That was a close one. Happy trails, –Chris
Red Rock Lake
BGD: Sunday, 9/13/15
We cycled out of Lima, MT up into high plains where the deer and the Antelope play. And they do. The prairie offers so much for being so, well.. “plain.”
It was a great ride thru rolling hills, Hawks, antelope, and endless fields of sage grass. tho a
might hot we thoroughly enjoyed it. The antelope were, indeed about. Their speed is astonishing. We ended up at Upper Red Rock Lake, some 58 miles further down the road.
Scott and Lolita Pine were there to greet us with beer, dinner, latte’s in the morning, and much cheer. Tom Preston, who pedaled on ahead of us days ago had camped at Red Rock Lake the nite before with Scott and Lolita and having experienced their gracious hospitality alerted them to our eminent arrival. None of us had met them before, they were simply good Idaho folks who wanted to share our adventure. It was a wonderful evening with some amazing star gazing, great food, and stimulating conversation.
After many thx we bid the Pines adieu and headed 47 miles down the road to Big Springs, MT. Another great ride. But OMG! We camped on the Big Spring River which is a jewel in the rough. It bubbles up right out of the ground, and it’s crystal clear waters are almost magical. Big Springs itself? Yikes. It’s like a war zone with atv’s, side by sides, and dirt bikes everywhere. Everywhere. Dirty, dusty, noisy contraptions with huge corpulent beings driving them. My word. So much obesity and such extravagant glutinous excess.
It took us all day of washboard roads, atv’s and tons of dust to escape this arm pit. Yuk. We cycled out of there thru Grand Targhee and Grand Teton National Forests and could see the (now smokey) Tetons in the distance as we set up camp at Squirrel Creek Lodge. Which happened to be closed except to hunters–and two dirty bikers they took pity on…It was an interesting day of contrasts.
More tomorrow. –Chris
Breakfast at cow pie. Yum.
Cow Pie Camp
GDB: Wednesday 9/9/15
After surviving our frosty 25′ morning we pedaled 58 miles and we’re desperately searching for a camp site. Which were few and far between along this stretch of road. The ride was great but we were beat.
Just the other side of Bannack State Park we came upon a huge ranch with a field of freshly cut hay along side the road. next to the fence and hayfield was a huge old Willow. Bingo! Home at last!
As fate would have it this huge shade tree was a favorite of the cows, too. There were dried cow pies everywhere! Everywhere! Oh well. We were tired and hungry and so…we made camp. And what a great camp it turned out to be!
The sunset was gorgeous across a broad valley of fields and rolling hills. A flock of sheep had escaped into the hayfield some distance away. After 30 minutes or so the farmer rode out on his ATV and herded them off. We ate dinner, set up camp and enjoyed the sunset.
At dusk a heard of 40-50 Elk appeared in the Hayfield. Cool. We watched them for awhile and went to sleep that nite with Elk trumpeting in the cool nite air. Later on their trumpeting was replaced by coyotes howling all around us. Literally a wild nite on the road.
During breakfast Early the next morning we were greeted by Old Yellar. A friendly big galoot of a dog. The yellow labs name was Dumpster–which was on her collar. She was fun.
We said goodbye to Dumpster, packed camp and pedaled into the morning sun. It was another long ride, beautiful and scenic. The Montana country side is gorgeous. 61 miles later we arrived in Lima. Tired and hungry but happy with our effort. –Chris