Columbine, CO to Sage Creek, WY

June 19, 2010 – 70 miles

I woke up relieved to have slept through the night without incident (except having to pee at 03:00). I felt good and had an appetite – almost back to normal.

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We left out primitive campsite and continued descending on the same loose gravel roads from yesterday. The miles passed moderately easily. Occasionally there would be a short steep uphill that was challenging due to the gravel.

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At one point, I topped a rise and a mansion of a ranch came into. It was the famed Three Forks Ranch. It had acres of manicured lawns, a winding river with occasional man-made ponds, and a helicopter!

I rode closer to the compound and met up with Mathieu and Auke. They were talking with a fishing guide who works there. Supposedly, the ranch is owned by the guy who invented the non-CFC aerosol cans. The clients are mostly millionaires who are willing to pay $1,200 per night to be pampered and fly fish. After some pictures, we left.

Three Forks Ranch

I’m content carrying all the necessities on my bike.

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10 miles further we rejoined the main route on WY highway 70. We were now in Wyoming! It looked and felt like we were back in the deserts of New Mexico. We ate lunch on the side of the road before riding the 13 miles on the highway.

I left a few minutes before the others. I reached a cattle roadblock and passed through it alone. There were guardrails on both sides of the road, so until they ended I seemed to be a cowboy herding cattle.

Soon enough, Auke then Mathieu passed me. Mathieu mentioned I was doing well given the circumstances. I didn’t feel well, though.

Over the next few miles, I drank my remaining water. Luckily there was a small roadside stream where I could refill my containers. My water filter broke just after filling one bottle with a liter of water. Luckily, I have purification tablets with me.

I got back on my bike, once again feeling less confident in my gear. The miles until meeting the others were terrible for me. I frequently alternated between resting and riding.

When I arrived at a scenic overlook where Mathieu and Auke were waiting…they had there for a long time and looked frustrated. “What happened?”, Auke asked. I explained that I stopped to filter water. “That’s it?” He was very upset about waiting for me so long. I can understand, though. Waiting and not knowing if I’ll show in 5 minutes or 45. He was tired of waiting because it may interfere with his grand plans of spending multiple days in a few National Parks for photography. I’m here to enjoy and experience the surroundings. At this point, the gap between our goals became too wide. I’m tired of high mileage days.

We had already done 45 miles today. If Auke were alone, he would ride the remaining 55 miles to Rawlings, WY today. It was too much for me so we picked a dispersed campsite on the map 25 miles ahead. I could make it there, but no further. I guessed I’d arrive close to sundown.

What was happening to our group? Will our goals and riding styles eventually cause a split?

We started riding again – each alone. I rode through Aspen Alley and was not impressed. Maybe it was just my mood, though. I started thinking of how I wanted my trip to play out. Should I opt out of the group and take it slower? I passed a slow river and thought if I were solo, I’d take a break and jump in. Maybe call it a day and make camp here. Instead, I had another 20+ miles late into the evening.

For the rest of the ride, I though about whether it was worthwhile to say with Mathieu and Auke. It’s nothing personal, just that we have differing goals.

My thoughts were interrupted when I left the Medicine Bow National Forest. Suddenly there were no trees. Just vast stretches of barren plains. Somewhere 15 miles ahead was the Middlewood Hill Continental Divide crossing, followed by the dispersed campsite at Sage Creek.

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Leaving the National Forest, I stood at 8,000 ft. I descended 500 ft over the next few miles then climbed back to 8,000 ft again. Up 100, down 75 seemed the trend. After far more climbing than I expected, I reached the Divide!

The roads were very loose gravel and extremely dusty when traffic passed.

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5 miles downhill to a water source, a hot meal, and a warm sleeping bag. No problem. I zoomed down the backside of the crossing – probably faster than was safe, but that didn’t bother me. I was determined to get to camp as quickly as possible as it was 30 minutes until sundown.

I rounded a corner and saw the creek far below. One last fast decent and I was there.

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I picked up speed and kept my eyes on the ground just in front of me. Hitting a rut, gravel pile, or large rock would be disastrous at my speed. Then, suddenly, I heard a familiar sound from my rear wheel – the air quickly escaping from the tube. I applied the brakes as quickly as I could without losing traction. I laid the bike and pumped air into the tire. Maybe I could limp the last mile without replacing the tube. No go. The air immediately escaped through the puncture. 20 minutes later, I started descending again…but slower.

The bridge over Sage Creek was under construction and the campsite was nowhere to be found. I filled my water bags in the muddy creek and rode forward to where Mathieu was waiting.

This certainly isn’t the best campsite, being right next to the road. It has the same feel as our BLM campsite between Grants and Cuba.

Mathieu explained that Auke wasn’t here when he arrived, meaning he likely rode some of the remaining miles to Rawlins. We set up camp and cooked in silence just before dark. We were both thinking about the fallout experienced earlier.

Tomorrow could be an interesting day – it will probably be the day we decide whether we will continue to ride together or split.

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