Early morning, Yellowstone National Park (Day 149)

Early morning, Yellowstone National Park (Day 149)

Watching people watch Old Faithful Geyser, Yellowstone National Park (Day 149)

Watching people watch Old Faithful Geyser, Yellowstone National Park (Day 149)

Yesterday I wasn’t so impressed by Yellowstone, especially after seeing the other national parks that this country has to offer. This morning I changed my opinion. It was extremely foggy and all the hot springs and mud pots seemed to add to the ominous ambience. Two bison strode out of the mist on the other side of the road and I carefully rode past them. Also spotted a tan-coloured fox with a bung hind leg limping through the grass.

I got to Old Faithful Geyser only to find that it had just gone off and wouldn’t go off for about another seventy minutes. I killed time with a few phone calls and had a coffee. Watched the geyser erupt for a few moments and then limped back to bike. As I got to my bike, I hear someone behind me:

“Now here’s a man who knows how to travel right”.

I turn around and there’s an old man, about eighty years old, hobbling, as badly as I was, with his wife by his side. He took my photo with his new digital camera and offered to send it to my folks (though not by email – he hadn’t worked that one out yet).

He told me how he’d broken his hip twenty years ago. He’d been training for a supported bicycle tour from Missoula, Montana to Alaska via the Cassiar Highway. All of a sudden a dog runs out in front of his bike, colliding with his front tire and causing him to fall onto his side. When he tried to get up he found that he couldn’t move his hip or leg. After getting his hip replaced he decided to restart his training. His first ride was just a painful one mile ride down his street, the second ride was for two. Then he did a five mile ride, eventually after some time, a fifty mile trip; camping out overnight and then riding back the next day. “Sign me back up for that ride” he told them. And he did it. When he got to Alaska he thought he should keep exercising to keep his hip in shape. But after only five miles of riding he would be in agony. Turned out that he’d actually worn out his replacement hip. He’s got a second hip now, and he’s still going.

I took the riding very easy today, with the SPD pedals I was able to do most of the pedal turning with my right leg. When I occasionally had to rise from the saddle, I made my thigh and knee do all the work, rather than using the foot to do any work.

Grand Teton National Park (Day 149)

Grand Teton National Park (Day 149)


Stealth Camp 15 miles South of Smoot[MAP]

I got an early start this morning, it was beautiful to ride through the remainder of the park as the sun was coming up behind me. It was cold to begin with, slightly below zero, but by midday I had my rain clothes off.

After riding through Jackson Hole, slightly disappointed at not spotting any celebrities at the local Ace Hardware, I hit five miles of roadworks. They wouldn’t let me ride through it on my own, so the shaggy-looking, chain smoking pilot car driver asked me to throw my bike on the back of his pickup:

“You’ll have to put it on yourself though, liability and all that, you know…”

He did end up giving me a hand when he could see I was struggling with the weight of it. Turned out to be an interesting guy. He was fifty-eight years old and worked for five months of the year, then pissed off in the winter to the Bahamas or Mexico. Told me he owned twenty-eight condominiums around the country, an umbrella company to manage them, and was worth well over fifteen million dollars.

After another headspin-inducing apple, over-ripe banana and chocolate milk combo at Alpine, I gradually rode up to the uninhabited campground at about 7600 feet. There’s no services available here, so it looks like I’ll be shitting in the woods again tomorrow.

Early morning, Grand Teton National Park (Day 150)

Early morning, Grand Teton National Park (Day 150)


Stealth Camp (Hyrum State Campground)[MAP]

Kept waking up last night to the sounds of little creatures rushing around my tent and over my bicycle tarpaulin. I’d shine my headlamp but find nothing. I was sure that by morning I’d find a pannier chewed to bits or a holey tent but not so. Could have just been the imagination playing tricks on me again.

It was probably about minus two degrees Celsius when I rode out of the campground early this morning. According to my thermometer’s wind-chill chart, this equated to about minus ten degrees Celsius as I coasted down from the campground, not far from the 7600 feet summit.

When I went to change gears, nothing happened. “Shit!”, I thought, “the little buggers have chewed through my rear derailer cable” (Ok…in case you’re wondering, in my so-called “normal” life, I don’t think to myself in conversational speech such as this, but being on my own on this bike trip for so long, yes I do happen to slip into conversations with myself, quite often aloud). I stopped and checked over my bike, only to find that the cable was still intact. It had actually frozen solid under the bottom bracket. I swished some icy water around in my mouth to try and warm it up, and sprayed it over the bottom bracket to get rid of the ice. Within minutes of resuming the downhill ride, I had large chunks of ice in my goatee and my hands had gone numb. I had John’s neoprene booties on, but I could still feel the cold pedal clips on the bottom of my feet. My toes are still completely numb.

I crossed the border into Idaho and stopped at the first gas station for a coffee. I stayed on Highway 89 and passed through a number of small, historic, blink-and-you-miss-it towns. I eventually got to Bear Lake, crossed the border into Utah and began an 1800 foot climb. I was hoping to be rewarded with a relaxing downhill on the other side of the summit but was met with strong headwinds. It was hard going, but the view was amazing. The road wound down through steep canyons and stunning autumn colours. I only wish I could have stopped at one of the campgrounds on the way but unfortunately I was without a can of beans for dinner. After carrying up to three or four days worth of food for the past few weeks it’s been great lately, going through several towns each day, to carry virtually no extra food. But unfortunate now.

I got into and out of Logan as quickly as I could. It was like a small city and the noise and rush of traffic stressed me out. I made my way to Hyrum and found the local state park camping ground. There’s absolutely no-one else staying here and no-one at the reception so I didn’t bother paying my camping fee. Found the showers and treated myself to an overly long, but much needed and appreciated, hot shower.

Thankfully, it’s now starting to feel like I’m out of the cold weather during the days. I’m almost halfway through the States, pretty soon I imagine I’ll be complaining about the heat.


Salt Lake City (Hostel)[MAP]

It was the most beautiful clear day. By eight in the morning I was already down to shorts and a t-shirt and at one point I spotted a billboard displaying the 75F temperature. I had a 5000+ foot summit to do first thing in the morning, then it was a pleasant downhill into Ogdon. I had a Fritos scoops and salsa lunch washed down with the standard litre of choc milk. It’s been a while since it was warm enough to take off my rain gear. So it was a little embarrassing to once again walk around a supermarket in bike shorts. I got the standard “crotch watch”, mostly from middle aged mothers. I figure it must sort of be similar to what a woman feels when she spots a guy checking out her hooters.

I was riding through the suburbs just as all the kids were getting out of school. It involved a lot of dodging mums in their SUV tanks and stopping at every single pedestrian crossing. One girl asked if I was the postman when she spotted my US postal team shorts. I’d already had my expected flat tyre, as always seems to happen to me in any urban area I pass through. It was my first front tyre puncture of the entire trip.

Riding into suburbia after spending so much time on empty roads was difficult.

It’s like I’m preparing for battle. I get so worked up because of the visual and auditory over-stimulation. I should have had my overripe banana and choc milk and rode into town a bit buzzed. May have helped my sanity.

Got to downtown SLC, found a free tourist brochure and headed to the first hostel listed. It didn’t look like much from the outside, but when the owners showed up to let me in, they turned out to be really nice. Barb, Stephanie and Ardel have only owned the place since the summer but have been running bus tours through the national parks for the last four years. They made me feel at home and insisted I rest my injured leg as much as possible. For Ardel’s birthday celebrations we ate cake and watched the first few episodes of Northern Exposure which brought back many good memories.

For my first night in Salt Lake City I sought out the nearest Sizzler and made myself full/sick on a twelve ounce steak, potato and all-you-can-eat salad bar topped off with a dessert of the cheapest, runniest soft serve ice cream you can find. I walked home as fast as one can with clenched butt cheeks. I ended up painting the pan (I know, I know, too much information…).

I tried not to make so much of a pig of myself today and had an Afghanistan buffet for lunch. Incredibly good.

Ardel and Stephanie have offered me a ride down to Moab tomorrow.

Both of their parents are visiting and they have some room in their bus for a cyclist that can barely walk anymore. We’re being joined by two girls, Lindsey and Cat, who are following us down in their own car.

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