Find Your Way
July 12, 2002
Lander to Dubois

Today's Miles = 95.0
Average Speed = 10.7 mph
Maximum Speed = 40.5 mph
Total Miles = 3117.8

I had a great start to my morning, with another of random act of kindness kicking off what turned out to be a long day. I had ducked into a coffee shop for a big breakfast, and happened to get engaged in conversation with a father and son at the next table. Even though they lived in Lander, they didn't know about the TransAm trail that passed through their town so I told them about the history of the route and answered all their questions about what it is like to cycle cross-country. We talked about the construction work they had done restoring some local historic buildings, about some of the activities in and around Lander, and then they paid their bill and left. After I finished reading the newspaper I went to take care of my bill, only to learn from the waitress that they had paid for my breakfast as well. I had gotten a free meal out of them and they had left without me even having the chance to thank them.

After breakfast I met with Mark and Emily at our preplanned departure point and we started the ride towards Dubois and the associated 2,200 feet of climbing. After everything I've already ridden I can't say that these climbs were too difficult, but as Mark and Emily pulled further and further ahead it was clear that they had an advantage over me. I did catch up with them briefly once when they stopped to read a roadside history marker, but after that they pulled completely out of my sight.

About two hours into the morning I lost all hope of catching them when I suddenly heard the hissing of air from my rear tire. I suspected that I had just picked up a thorn or nail, but when I stopped and inspected my rear tire I found that it had simply worn down to the point of failure. After 3,000 miles the inner belting was exposed and the sidewall had given out. While I sat down to replace the tire with the spare I carry, Jackie pulled up in the mothership and kept me company. Once my new tire was in place and tested, Jackie rolled on down the road ahead of me and that was the last I saw of any of the mothership crew for the day.

The temperature hovered all day around 100 degrees, which is 20 degrees hotter than is normal for this time of year. The terrain, although stunning, offered nothing in the way of shade or shelter from the heat and I was finding myself increasingly drained of energy as I tried to make it to Dubois. Looking over at the Wind River running aside the road I decided I simply had to cool off, but was discouraged by the barbed wire fence and "No Trespassing" signs in my way. Luckily, I only put one small tear in my shorts climbing the fence and the back of the signs didn't say anything. I spent around 45 minutes lying in the river watching the birds wheel overhead and the water flow over the rocks before climbing back over the fence and returning to the road.

During the final climb up into the town of Dubois my chain somehow got bound in my front derailleur and my pedals seized up. I quickly undid the shift I had just made and reversed my pedaling, but looking down I could tell right away that my derailleur wasn't pointing in the correct direction anymore. A few test shifts showed that I had lost at least a third of my gears and the ones that left were making a lot of noise. The bike was still ridable so I continued my way into Dubois with the hopes that their bicycle shop hadn't yet closed for the day or weekend.

When I pulled up to Bob's Bike Corral all the lights in the store were off and they looked to be closed, but just before I rode off the owner came out and asked if I needed anything. Despite having already closed, and it being happy hour at the bar across the street, Bob welcomed me into his shop and started to take care of my problems. It turned out that I had stumbled into a crossroads of bicycle history because Bob Schwinn, the owner, was the great-grandson of the founder of Schwinn Bicycles. At least I knew I was in good hands. About an hour later I left around $50 lighter with a new tire, a working derailleur, and a retrued rear wheel.

Bob recommended a place in town for good food at reasonable prices and over dinner I mulled my options for the evening. I was pretty exhausted and mostly just wanted to find a place to sleep, but there weren't any camping sites in town. The motels I checked at all were charging about twice what I was willing to pay, and I hadn't seen the mothership all day. My maps did show a USFS campground about 20 miles outside of town, so despite wanting nothing more than to hit the sack I pointed my wheels west and started pedaling. Fortunately the climbing out of town wasn't too bad, and just after darkness had fallen I made it to camp, threw down my tent, and immediately passed out.

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