Day 97: Colter Bay Campground - Between the Ends of America - CycleBlaze

July 18, 2011

Day 97: Colter Bay Campground

I'm the king of rest days. When I'm not biking I don't do anything remotely difficult. That's the way it should be.

I sleep until after 8:00, which seems ludicrously late after 96 days on the road. From the solitude of my tent I watch and listen to the hour of madness it takes to get nine riders and two group leaders organized and into a 15-passenger van for the 40-mile drive to Jackson where they'll go white water rafting seven hours later. I enjoy hanging out with the ACA crew, but they're a constant reminder of how great it is to travel all by myself, carrying everything I need and planning only for an army of one.

Still rolling strong and puncture-free after nearly 5,000 miles.
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The morning and afternoon float by in a mix of writing and eating and laying on my back on the air mattress in the tent, looking up through the scraggly branches of a few dozen pine trees and into a flawless blue sky as the wind makes them rustle and creak.

Modest personal transportation.
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The nearby Colter Bay Village has a cafe, a restaurant, a grocery store, showers, and a laundromat. It's packed at every hour of the day with people, dogs, cars, motorhomes, bikes, and even a few deer who are either horribly lost or have developed a taste for tourist-fed french fries. Today I join the commotion and sit around like a lump for hours, watching the tour buses slowly roll past, buying overpriced brownies and soda and beer, and enjoying every minute of it.

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Back in camp I'm spotted by Kurt, who I met on the ridiculous evening in Jeffrey City. He shares a site with Matt, who I met for half a minute on the dark and stormy night in Saratoga. Ro camps a few spots away. Soon the ACA group returns, following a wet and wild ride down Class IV rapids. I've met a lot of people throughout this trip who seem either amazed or concerned that I travel alone. If they could see me tonight, sleeping within a few hundred yards of 14 other westbound riders with whom I've shared campgrounds and meals and stories and good times, they'd understand how relative solo travel becomes on the TransAm. It almost takes special effort to end the night by myself, especially out West, where the route funnels all of us into the same towns for days on end.

Loading up the bikes for a 50-mile drive to the middle of Yellowstone National Park. Cheaters!
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Thirty notes in the mailbox will tell her that I'm coming home.
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In the evening, two buses each drop a full load of teenagers into the group campsite on either side of mine. Part of me is happy to see them coming, because it leads to a quintessential National Park experience: having the sounds of chirping birds, buzzing insects, and animals snuffling in the brush drowned out by a chorus of yelling, fighting, oh my gods, droning generators, idling engines, and the frustrated pleas of a chaperone who's in way over his head.

Today's ride: 8 miles (13 km)
Total: 4,919 miles (7,916 km)

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