Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Now that's more like it

Day 16. Dubois to Riverton Wyoming. After yesterday, I was really looking forward to more favorable riding conditions today. We got it. While we didn't have a tailwind, the headwind we did have was mild and not much of a factor. Plus, after all the climbing the past two days (and two weeks – sea level to 9,658 feet), we finally had a bit of a descent into Riverton. After yesterday, I wasn't expecting more spectacular scenery.

But we got that today as well, and then some.

We woke up early, skipped the ABB breakfast because it required a 3 mile ride in the opposite direction to where we were heading (I don't go West anymore), hoovered down some granola bars and a banana, and headed out. It was crisp and brilliantly sunny at 7AM – temperature 3C. No problem. We dressed for the weather and continued our route to the East. What an unexpected surprise! The scenery was absolutely stunning. For the first 25 miles we rode through the Wind River Canyon, which is probably the best kept scenic secret in America. As usual, these pictures can't really show how magnificent this place was. In some ways, because we were "right on top of the scenery", this was even more dramatic than yesterday's vistas. When you ride a bike through this, as opposed to a car, you really get a chance to examine the rock structures and the plant and wildlife. Maybe there is something to the "slow down school of life" after all.

Once we left the valley at the 30 mile mark, the landscape transitioned into a classic Western visual motif. If we hadn't seen what we'd seen yesterday and today, I'm sure we would have been blown away by what we saw from the 30 mile mark in. The total ride today was just about 80 miles (130 kms) but it was a nice easy day. We stopped at the Riverton DQ for the ceremonial Blizzard and enjoyed every last bit of it.

This whole experience reminds me of something in my past, but I can't quite put my finger on it. I guess the closest thing would be my summer camp experiences as both a camper and a counselor. I spent 7 years at overnight summer camp, and aside from the fact that this trip and most summer-long overnight camps last exactly 52 days (from start to finish), there are more than a few similarities.

Of course, there's the camaraderie. There's the staff helping (and occasionally chiding) us campers for this or that. There's the funny inside jokes that nobody "on the outside" would get, like the photo today of Ann drafting Phillip into the second SAG (Ann is Speedy Gonzales and Phillip...let's just say Phillip, by his own admission, isn't). There are the little mini-dramas that play out everyday. There's the speedy bonding that has taken place. Is it possible we only started this trip two and a half weeks ago? I guess if you throw a bunch of people into a common place, where everybody shares an interest and a common goal, this dynamic occurs. I've seen it at my office, at my kids' summer camps, and at my kids' universities. It's cool to be a part of it, and as I record my thoughts on it, interesting just to try to get outside it and observe. It's hard to do that, I must admit. I wonder how real writers actually do that. However, the speed and intensity of this experience is surprising. I didn't expect that. It's kind of cool actually.

Now on to today's mail:

Hessie from Toronto writes: "I've been faithfully transposing your blog onto the Due North Posterous and enjoying reading your posts along the way. You are a brave man! As a tribute to your efforts I will attempt to take my bike to the foot of Pickering and back tonight... a grudging 30 minute ride uphill on the way back. Be safe". What's the saying, "every journey begins with a single step"? Well, you're going to prove that tonight. Just don't request a month long cycling sabbatical for next summer!

Here are my Garmin stats for the day:

This is Joe's blog:


  1. Hi Mark,
    I've been enjoying reading your blog. Absolute joy shines through in every post! However I had trouble sympathizing with your complaints in Tuesday's blog about the cold weather. It's over 40 degrees here and I would swap it for 8 degrees in a heartbeat! Put a sweater on if your cold :)
    Be safe.

  2. Keep pedaling, Mark!

    You inspired us to take the kids for a nice "hike" yesterday. We pumped our own legs up the Grouse Grind in Vancouver (4,000 ft). They call it "nature's stairmaster" with almost 3,000 steps up through the rugged terrain. We did it in an hour and 14 minutes (non-stop) - WITH the boys (who could have climbed another 1,000 feet, when we could not!).

    You're inspiring a nation!