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The Wheels Come Off

The arduous hike through the Grand Tetons had knocked the stuffing from my legs. I contemplated a rest-day but I knew that even if I could barely walk that I would be able to bike without any difficulty as biking and hiking muscles are different. My plan for the day was to pull-up at the bottom of Union Pass where a couple allow cyclists to camp on their property.

The inevitable chats with people at Jenny Lake campground delayed my departure. The photo-stops on the way out didn’t help either. Then, I learnt over lunch that baby Carla had finally decided to join us on planet earth. I had a new niece. Unfortunately there was nothing celebratory about the weather; the skies thickened with cloud as a lightening storm kicked in. There is nothing like a simultaneous bolt and clap over your head to make you jump in a flash from your bike. I waited the storm out glumly under a tree while watching the rain-water cascade down the road I was climbing. At the top of the pass I encountered construction works that I was unaware of and was forced to wait for twenty-five minutes before I could proceed. I stood patiently at the top of the pass watching daylight evaporate before my eyes. The most stressful thing about bike-touring is having to ride in the dark and inevitably cursing your propensity to delay. However, forced delays are more stressful if you have to watch the skies darken while your two feet are on the ground instead of the pedals where they belong.

Next thing I’m being run off the road by a pilot-car. After some argument he made me throw my bike in the back of his truck. This was the first time in over 12,000k of bike-touring that I had to take a ride. Accepting rides is par for the course in an emergency and often par for the course for some bike-tourers full-stop. Not for me, I resolutely refuse rides when offered them. Even if there is nothing wrong with accepting them, it just doesn’t feel right for me. I know that if I take one lift that I’ll end up taking a hundred and one. The dude would no longer seem bionic to me. Although my wheels only left the ground for 15k I was pretty annoyed at the interruption to my tour. While negotiating the descent would have been tricky I would have managed it if I had been allowed to. A lot of my trip has been on rough surfaces after all. Unfortunately I couldn’t argue with him as the reason for the road-works was to widen the road so that bike-tourers would be safer. This section of pavement lies on both the north-south Great Divide route and the east-west Trans-America route. Upset Bike-tourers are not given a choice but a highway-ticket if they refuse to comply with the works. There was nothing I could do. While sitting in the back of the truck with my arm around my bike I was left to contemplate whether this was symbolic of the beginning of the end for us.

Thankfully, I didn’t get a chance to finish the thought; the spectacular scenery was too distracting. I had no idea that there was so much more to Wyoming than simply Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons.

Over and out

The Dude


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