Day 73, to Jeffrey City: Sweeping views during a windswept ride - Chris Cross America - CycleBlaze

July 4, 2022

Day 73, to Jeffrey City: Sweeping views during a windswept ride

I snapped this selfie with Dani after a break looking out at Split Rock and the vast green field in between. Dani is sporting her orange helmet, orange linen shirt and a green handkerchief around her neck. I've got my yellow helmet and MWABA jersey, as usual.
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Monday (Independence Day) stats

Start: The (wet, muddy) yard, if you can call it that, next to the Walmart parking lot in Rawlins, Wyo.

End: Cyclist hostel in Jeffrey City

The Daily Progress: 68.69 miles

Cumulative climb: 1,827 feet

Cumulative descent: 2,089

Elevation at endpoint: 6,390 feet

Ice cream flavors: N/A

Lodging expenses: $10 donation, plus about $10 in random little things at Walmart last night/this morning

Food expenses: ~$7 at gas station in Muddy Gap plus $23 at Split Rock Bar and Cafe

Dani's notes 

Last night... wasn't great. Remember those flaming thunderheads I referenced at the end of my previous post? They later manifested as two waves of severe thunderstorms, leading to a bleary late-night stroll through Walmart to avoid electrocution, an overwhelmed rainfly, a soaked sleeping bag (though luckily, just one), and a camp site turned to muck. In addition to the weather, we enjoy the constant rumble and perfume of idling diesel engines and the occasional thunder and screech of a passing freight train. If I were to do it again, I'd do two things differently: pitch our tent farther from the parking lot and on higher ground. 

Dani smiles as she zooms past Chris (who is behind the camera) after a thrilling descent from the mountains in the background.
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The first nine miles of the day's ride were a climb to the continental divide. The descent from there kicked off thirty-five incredible miles aided by a ripping tailwind. I saw a particularly handsome pronghorn. I got emotionally invested in the distance to the next passing zone thanks to frequent road signs keeping you updated: SIX MILES TO PASSING ZONE, TWO MILES TO PASSING ZONE, ONE MILE TO PASSING ZONE, 750 FEET TO PASSING ZONE). We crossed the continental divide (again).

We took our second break of the day at the service station at Muddy Gap. Passers-through had coated every imaginable surface inside the store with notes and drawings made with permanent marker. My favorite: "I came to Muddy Gap and all I got was not murdered." At the service station there was a historical marker noting our proximity to Independence Rock, where emigrants carved their names on their journey west. I liked the juxtaposition of the 18th and 21st century manifestations of the human impulse to leave your mark on the places you pass by. 

We turned west and our ripping tailwind became a gusty crosswind, but it was still a good ride. The road followed the route of the Oregon Trail. It was effortful enough to cross this land with a bike on a paved road with Gatorade from the service station at Muddy Gap, I can't imagine pulling a handcart over an unpaved trail. 

After twelve miles, we took a break in the scant shade of a roadside historical marker and savored the panorama. 

This was our view of Split Rock, which features a "notch" in the mountain to the right.
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Then the road turned even west-er and the gusty crosswind became a fierce headwind. The last twelve miles were hot and slow and brutal. 

But they ended eventually, at Jeffrey City, a ghost of a company town for a uranium operation. We ate dinner at the town bar and then pedaled to the town's church, which has been transformed into a cycle hostel. The church community hall is now a bike-parking cavern and the Sunday school rooms are now bedrooms. In addition to me and Chris, there are five other cyclists spending the night here. Signing your name to the wall is apparently customary here, too. This will be my first night sleeping with a roof! 

Here's what you see as you enter the church-turned-hostel. A big, open room (which echoes so much you can barely have a conversation) has a concrete floor and white walls with lots of signatures and drawings. A bike leans against the wall on the left, another on the right. Our tent is set up in the floor to the left even though we're not using it tonight, so that it can dry out after last night's thunderstorms. A ping-pong table sits in the center on the room. On the far wall, a hallway leads to bathrooms and rooms for guests to sleep in. Another hallway off the far wall leads to a kitchen.
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Today's ride: 69 miles (111 km)
Total: 2,670 miles (4,297 km)

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George HallBelieve it or not, the night I spent at the church in Jeffrey City in 2015 was a very scary night for me - absolutely frightening to be honest - see (not sure if this will work, for some reason I don't seem to be able to post a link while commenting).
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