Dave's Cross Country Bike Tour 2004
West Yellowstone, MT to Rawlins, WY
7/15, Thursday, 9:00 AM MDT
Conversation with Winnie
Hi! Iím in Dubois, Wyoming. It reminds me a lot of
Pinedale on the west side of the Wind River Range. Itís
drizzling this AM which everyone says is unusual. I just
came over Togwotee Pass (9,658 ft) and Iím hoping to get
to Rawlins tonight.
I havenít gotten to a computer in about a week. There
just arenít any places to do that out here. Iíve missed
reading all the messages, but the scenery has been
spectacular. Sitting back in a recumbent, seeing the beauty
of the Tetons. Itís like sitting in a seat at an IMAX
When I came into Yellowstone from the north, the lakes were
still, and the sun was setting behind the Tetons. Just
gorgeous. Iíve been stopping on bridges along the Madison
River to watch the trout fishers- looks like theyíre
having fun, catch and release, big trout. I got to see Old
Faithful. They say Old Faithful used to blow 100 ft into
the air, now itís only about 50 ft. Itís losing its
power or something. I spent most of the next day on one of
the loop trails, where I saw lots of elk, deer and a bald
eagle. The bald eagle was on a dead branch between two big
olí pines. No one else saw him so I didnít stop and
take a picture because then everyone else would have stopped
and I didnít want to disturb him by creating a crowd
scene. I felt good about that, protecting his peace. I got
about 100 yards from a buffalo herd. They were rolling on
the side of a dusty hill, giving themselves a dirt bath.
Eventually, I came out on the south end of the park. I got
caught in ANOTHER thunderstorm. Can you believe that? I
had stopped by the Ranger Station earlier that day and told
them, ďIf youíre having a drought, Iíll fix it.Ē
Sure enough, it rained. Theyíd had dry, beautiful weather
until I got here.
Yesterday was a tough pass. I was identifying with the Tour
de France riders. Theyíre in the mountains, too, now. In
Yellowstone, I crossed the Continental Divide three times!
Twice the passes were over 8,000 ft and once over 7,000 ft.
I got my second flat of the trip coming down from one. I
was lucky. I had just stopped to wipe the sunscreen off my
legs, since sun was going down, and when I got back on, I
noticed the tire felt soft. It was half flat. It took me
½ hour to change it due to being on the rear tire. You
have to unload everything to get to the tire.
I really like getting to the top of the passes and turning
around to look at where Iíve been. At the top of one
pass, there was this German guy and his sister. They wanted
me to take some action shots of them and then they took some
of me. We had lots of fun goofing around. He was very
methodical about getting just the right background. Those
pictures should be coming soon.
Probably one-third of the cross country riders I meet,
whether west- or eastbound, are European. In Yellowstone, I
camped at Colter Bay Village with three westbound German
men. They had minimal English, but it was still great to
meet up with them. It was a beautiful campsite. The bay is
on Jackson Lake north of the Tetons- what a cool view! When
I arrived, the purple light in the evening lit up the
mountains and reflected off the water. It was just
The camping in general has been wonderful, especially at
biker-hiker sites. Cyclists leave things behind at places
like this for whoever comes through next. I found a can of
white gas in the bear-resistant box and so I got the stove
running clean again.
Overall, I have to say that Yellowstone was good, but not
great. Iíve told you about the highlights, but the
downside was that there were so many RVs. People are
talking about outlawing them in the park because they tear
up the road so badly. I got so dirty on the mud roads that
were all torn up with construction. There was so much
traffic and people everywhere. It took away from much of
I stayed at a cool site last night. The lady who runs it is
an EMT. She was telling me all about how difficult it can
be to get to EMS calls in the wilderness. They have Mercy
Flight out of Idaho Falls that has a high tech bird that can
fly in bad weather. She and another guy at the camp
practically run the volunteer ambulance out of the
campground and close the office to take calls. It was 80
degrees at midnight last night- the warmest night yet on my
Iíve looked into what to do about the portage, which I
will definitely have to do to make the family reunion. Iím
comfortable with it. Anyway, trains donít take bikes. A
car rental is prohibitively expensive since itís one-way.
The buses make it easy and all I have to do is a minor
breakdown- take off the seat and handlebars- and they have a
bike box to put it in. So Iíll catch a bus just after
midnight in Pueblo, Colorado and take it most of the way
across Kansas. I really want to ride through all of
Missouri. Iíve always wanted to do that.
Iíve been doing about 70-80 miles a day. I would have
done more yesterday but for the lightening. Today Iíll go
through Crowheart, Fort Washakie and Lander (all on the Wind
River Reservation) and Sweetwater Station. Iíll be on
Indian Land most of the day, so Iím offering up my ride
today for Gwendolyn-Janeís birthday. Tonight I hope to
camp at an unnamed campground east of Lander. There will be
lots of streams if I have to camp out, but I still remember
7/17, Saturday, 5:00 PM MDT
Conversation with Winnie
Hey! Iím a little beat up just now from the heavy winds.
Iíve had either head or cross winds (or both) all day long
for the past two days. Itís been slapping me around
silly! The worst part was on an 18-mile stretch of I-80.
The bike maps actually take you out on the interstate
because thereís just no other road at this point. I was
buffeted by tractor trailers, RVís, cars, and mostly the
Now Iím in Saratoga, WY, 30 miles from the Colorado
border. I did 85 miles yesterday and will do 95 today. The
wind is dying down and for the next 18 miles it will be at
my back. Yeah!
I finally got to use a computer the day before yesterday.
There were nearly 100 messages on the website (that feels
like an obscenely high number). I glanced at the pictures.
It looks really nice and made my day. I just canít
believe so many people are writing to me.
Since Dubois, Iíve been riding about 60 percent of the
time in the rain. I went through Fort Washakie on the
Indian Res. They were getting ready for a pow-wow.
Thursday evening, I had a nice camp 10 miles south of
Lander. I had thought of bushwhacking it and just pitching
my tent anywhere, but decided on the campground. Thereís
nothing out here. No towns, sometimes not for 200 miles.
Not even mountains anymore, just sagebrush. Tomorrow, Iíll
be in the Forest Service scene again. I canít wait.
Itíll be like Idaho, which was my favorite part so far.
So, this was a nice RV site. It had a nice Western town
feel to it with live music. The lady said I could rent a
campsite if I wanted, but I could have a dorm room cabin for
$2 less. Well, that sounded good. Since there was hardly
anyone else there, I had a dorm room with 8 bunks all to
myself. I spread out my gear and dried everything out.
I went to see the music and met some really nice people.
The people that ran the place were down home folks, just
neat. I also met Chris from the UK who is walking the
Continental Divide. Heís about 60 years old and had to
come down out of the mountains because he scalded his arm
and needed medical attention. He walked down to the road
and a rancher on a motorcycle came by and took him in.
Yesterday, I saw lots of antelope, red tails, dead
rattlesnakes (one was as big around as a coke can and 4 ft
long!), and jack rabbits (live ones). The antelope donít
know what to make of me. They look up, like ďwhere did
you come fromĒ, then snort, and run off.
Last night the only place around was a restaurant called
Grandmaís Café. The lady there charged me $2 to camp.
It was pretty neat. She had 2 nice cats. I gave them some
leftover oatmeal and water. One of them ate the oatmeal
and the other drank about ½ cup of water! What was up
with that? (Note from Winnie: I asked Dave what was up
with him and the cats since heís really a dog person and I
havenít heard one doggie story. He finally fessed up that
he likes the cats on this trip because he hopes theyíll
keep the rodents away!)
At one of those roadside historical markers, I met some
mountain bikers in an RV who gave me ice cold Dannon yogurt
and ice water. Oh, that was good! We had a good time
I had lunch today in Rawlins with 4 people biking the
Continental Divide. We found this Mexican restaurant- Su
Casa- that was just about to open, so we hung around talking
outside until it did. Two of the cyclists had biked through
Central America. They reminded me of the ones we met in
Central America on our honeymoon. The Continental Divide
trail comes down onto the road now and then. They were
doing insane miles each day- 90 miles on trails on mountain
bikes- and so fast. They were all in their late 20ís.
The lady at the restaurant treated me really nice when I
ordered ďhuevos y chorizoĒ in Spanish and she found out
I speak the language.
These people- like everyone I meet- are having great
weather. One guy told me, ďI used to live in Eastern
Oregon, it never rains there!Ē Iíve decided Iím a rain
and thunderstorm magnet.
The upcoming towns are Riverside (tonight), then a long
stretch of nothing on into Colorado. Then Cowdrey, Walden,
Kremmling, and eventually Dillon, Silverthorne, and
Breckenridge (big ski resort towns). Thereís a 30-mile
bike path between Silverthorne and Breckenridge that Iíve
really been looking forward to. Then I have one more big
pass- the biggest yet- Hoosier Pass (11, 542 ft). Itís a
gradual ascent, not like the others Iíve done. Then
itís pretty much downhill into Pueblo. Iíll be able to
do 150 miles a day or better on that stretch. Iíll be in
Pueblo Tuesday night and Iíll take the bus east to the
Missouri border. I hope to arrive at the family gathering
on the river by Friday evening.
I have a confession to make. Iíve always liked solo
trips, craved them at times in my life. But this is going
to cure me of solo trips forever. Iím having a great
time, donít get me wrong, but I miss traveling with my
wife. I saw a couple today touring on a recumbent tandem (a
bicycle for two) and they looked like they were having so
much fun together. So next time, weíll do it together and
take three months or more instead of trying to do it in 6