Day 72, to Rawlins: A day of variety - Chris Cross America - CycleBlaze

July 3, 2022

Day 72, to Rawlins: A day of variety

Sunday stats

Start: Saratoga Lake Campground

End: Walmart in Rawlins

The Daily Progress: 41.6 miles

Cumulative climbing: 1453

Cumulative descending: 1371

Elevation at endpoint: 6834

Ice cream flavors: N/A

Lodging expenses: $0

Entertainment expenses: $24 (tour of the Wyoming State Penitentiary Museum)

Laundry expenses: $4

Food/sundries expenses: $8 +6+35+50+3= $102

Dani's notes

A great night of sleep, a stunning sunrise, and my earliest start yet: 6 am!

The first twenty miles of the day were divine. More down than up. Sunday-morning-holiday-weekend-in-Wyoming quiet. Mercifully overcast. Gentle tailwind. 

I marked my progress by choosing landmarks on the horizon and then spinning my legs until I passed them. At one point, I noted a rainbow glinting in the western clouds, and a moment later a pronghorn bounded alongside me for a few hundred yards. It was magical. (Though in fairness, the pronghorn did not accompany me in the spirit of a woodland creature befriending a Disney princess, as I fantasized. The poor thing was just looking for a gap in the cattle fence so it could run away from me.)

Sooner than I expected, the landmark on the horizon was I-80, evident at first as as snake of gray rectangles gliding across the land. A few minutes later, I pulled up at the Shell station at the interchange. The station was selling regular gasoline for $6.20 per gallon. I bought a 24-ounce bottle of Gatorade ($16.67 per gallon), and a 32-ounce bottle of water ($12 per gallon), ate some snacks, and waited for Chris. 

The next leg of the day was one that I had been dreading -- 12 miles on Interstate 80. My only other stint of interstate cycling was on my own cross-country bike ride, on Interstate 10 in New Mexico. I remember it as being awful. Loud, scary, debris all over the shoulder. And a headwind, though that isn't the fault of the interstate. Today's ride on the interstate wasn't bad at all. The shoulder was wide and clear and the traffic was not bad. I've ridden on many roads that were way worse. It was so quiet at times that Chris and I were even able to chat. 

We excited the interstate and passed by the hissing, snarling, malodorous Sinclair refinery and the adjoining town of Sinclair, a 1920s-era company town built to house the refinery workers. We had a brief chat with a town resident who greeted us in the street. He offered us donuts and invited us to church service in the park (we declined both). He said Sinclair was the real-life Mayberry. The place did have earnest old-school, blue-collar, small-town vibes.

So far on this tour, I feel we have had hard but beautiful days (climbing the continental divide), and easy and beautiful days (basically everything else). The last seven miles from Sinclair to Rawlins were the closest to what I'd call "typical" touring miles. Weather that's neither ideal nor adversarial (in this case, crosswind and blazing sunshine), topographic ups and downs, fair road surface, and an unremarkable landscape. 

We arrived in Rawlins, Wyoming in time for lunch, or so we thought, but our lunch pick (Jenny's Diner) was short-staffed and they asked us to wait an hour so they could clean up breakfast. Since there was shade and wifi, it was no problem to wait. We ate lunch and interneted some more.  

We then went to the Wyoming Frontier Prison Museum and took the tour. I learned that the cold was a dominant force in the prison. They never figured how to heat the oldest cell block above 50 degrees in the winter, and there was no hot water until 1978! The motive in almost every story we heard was warmth. Inmates tried to get kitchen duty because it was warm in the kitchen. Failing that, they would try to be placed in solitary confinement because those cells were marginally warmer than the main cell block. Eesh. To borrow the summary of a fellow TransAm cyclist we talked with as we were pulling up and he was pulling out: "that building has some dark energy."

Next stop -- the laundromat! It's been forever since I've used a laundromat. They are great for travelers! In addition to the laundry machines, there are bathrooms, water, electricity, and internet. It's like a home you can rent for $2.50 an hour! (I am grateful that I don't have to rely on a laundromat in my regular life.)

While biking down the main drag of town, Chris noticed a store called Geek-Ish Things and had to check it out. The shopkeeper was just closing up, but we had a great little conversation with him and as we left, he insisted on giving us the dice game Skunk for the road, which was heartwarming. 

Our final stop of the day was the town Walmart. After a few days in remote, rural America, a Walmart is a dazzling wonderland. We bought some food and toiletries and salads and fruit to eat for dinner. Then we pitched camp in the dirt lot next to the Walmart and watched drifting thunderheads flame in the light of the setting sun.

Today's ride: 42 miles (68 km)
Total: 2,601 miles (4,186 km)

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Comment on this entry Comment 1
Lucy MartinI appreciate the conversion of Gatorade and water into price per gallon. 👍🏼
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