Day Twenty-two: Wamsutter, Wyoming to Medicine Bow, Wyoming - "Vibes" - CycleBlaze

From "Vibes"

By Jeff Lee

July 6, 2024

Day Twenty-two: Wamsutter, Wyoming to Medicine Bow, Wyoming

I woke up several times in the night. I thought it was the sun, but instead it was the extremely bright lights outside my room, streaming through the threadbare curtains. I finally got up for good around 5:30 and started my slow process of getting everything ready. My chocolate milk in the refrigerator had partially frozen, so now it was a sort of morning milkshake. Cool. The semi-frozen leftover pizza, though, disgusted me, and I put it in the garbage can. Ugh. I think I'm getting sick of pizza.

I manhandled the heavy bike down the rickety outside stairs with some difficulty (I was in a second floor room by choice; I hate hearing people walking above me.)  It's clear that I've lost upper body strength on this tour.

I stopped at the truck stop, but they didn't have any fresh pastries, nor meatless breakfast sandwiches, so I just bought a cold bottle of lemon lime Gatorade and drank it there. The annoying fratboy-ish manager was already there. Yesterday afternoon I'd observed this guy, probably in his late twenties, behaving like a bit of an asshole to his employees and a foreign-accented truck driver, who he mocked. I've already forgotten the details, but the fratboy-ish dude and I engaged in a bit of banter, which turned slightly mean as I needled him. Weirdly, he seemed slightly hurt by this - "Dude, I was just kidding - no need to dig in like that!" He was not all bad, though:  He helped me locate a larger container of chocolate milk that had been pushed to the back of the cooler.

I took a few photos of Wamsutter before heading out.

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This motel appeared to be defunct - it's not the one I stayed in.
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I rode onto I-80. Traffic was initially lighter than yesterday. The shoulder continued to be wide. It felt safe enough, but it was not pleasant.

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There were several exits this morning that led to dirt roads. Sometimes I would take one of these exits, look around, and immediately reenter I-80.

One of the exits I took led a short distance up a very rough dirt road to a couple of interesting historical markers:

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Mark BinghamI remember driving that route and crossing the divide twice, which I knew was impossible; once, or three times, but not twice, so I looked it up on the map. Very interesting.
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I took another exit, which contained nothing but a fireworks store and the remnants of a long-closed gas station:

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A strong tailwind developed. I flew along. I decided to just keep riding I-80 all the way around Rawlins, and not stop in the city. There were several exits off the interstate to Rawlins, and it was slightly hectic navigating around the off- and on-ramps. Also, for some reason the rumble strips changed on this section to horizontal strips, which I had to ride across, instead of the traditional strip to the right of the white line. I don't understand the point of this at all. The horizontal strips didn't even extend to the white line, so a vehicle would already have drifted a foot or so onto the shoulder before hitting the rumble strip. Dumb - at least from my bicyclist perspective.

I gritted my teeth and kept riding. The big tailwind made this a lot easier.

Finally, I took the exit to Sinclair, a very pretty "company town." The town is on the TransAmerica Trail, and I'd spent a frustrating hour here in 2006 struggling to change a flat tire. Today I had some time to look around.

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The Sinclair oil refinery itself, just outside of the downtown, is a massive, ugly thing. It's hard to get a sense of the scale of it from photos.

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Before getting back on I-80, I stopped at the truck stop outside of town and ate a grilled cheese sandwich and French fries. The woman at the register taking my order was, oddly, sort of rude and dismissive to the older couple in front of me, but then was very nice to me when it was my turn. Later I observed the employee talking to the couple, and determined, based on their similar appearance, that the two women might be either sisters or cousins.

I got back on the bike. It was extremely windy now, with strong gusts that blew up clouds of dust in the truck stop parking lot. I rode back onto I-80. 17 or 18 more miles, and I'd be done with it forever. 

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I exited I-80 at Walcott and went into the small gas station / store there. There was a small table and a single chair. I ordered a few snacks and a fountain pop and sat there for at least a half hour, decompressing from the stressful ride on the interstate. While I was there, the store's point of sale system software crashed, leaving them unable accept credit card payments. I listened while the store's employee, a man about my age, and a much older woman, talked to someone on the phone about it. I heard the phrase "blue screen" mentioned several times. That will mean something to a few people reading this, maybe.  Heh.

I went outside, where a friendly lady pumping gas engaged me in conversation about what I was doing, and gave me three small oranges.

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I observed a couple of loaded touring bikes up on the interstate. They were going the opposite direction I had come, and thus were fighting a terrible headwind. I briefly talked to one of the riders, a friendly woman from Wisconsin. She seemed cheerful, despite the horrific headwind she was fighting. I'm sure I would have complained bitterly if I had been in that situation. (And I have, many times - believe me.)

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I turned onto US-30, an empty highway with very little traffic. I practically flew now with the incredible tailwind. I almost felt guilty. Almost.

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Mark BinghamWe fight enough headwinds. It’s only fair every once in a while.
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I reached the outskirts of Medicine Bow earlier than I'd expected when I left this morning. This was an easy century ride, the stress of riding on the interstate excepted.

I checked into an "historic" hotel, The Virginian. The room was old and not so clean. For the first time on this trip, I did some negotiating, like I used to do in the old days when I was first doing bike touring, and got the rate reduced. It was still too expensive, but I'm pretty sure the era of $50 per night lodging is now over.

I walked around Medicine Bow, population 244. I had a surprisingly good dinner at the C-Spear, a bar and grill, then retired to my room at The Virginian. As I write this, it's quiet, but I have my concerns about well I will sleep after I observed a group of motorcyclists check in. Hopefully they are not planning a rowdy Saturday night here.

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Today's ride: 100 miles (161 km)
Total: 1,396 miles (2,247 km)

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