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September 7th 2015
Published: September 7th 2015
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WEST YELLOWSTONE to ASHTON Section 4 THE GREAT DIVIDE STAGE 44 Distance Kms 107.89 kms; Total Dist to Date 4687 kms; Road Condition: good. Weather: wet night, fine riding, strong headwind last 10kms Time in Saddle: 4.37 hrs Speed: av 23.3 kph Max speed 50.5 kph Av Cadence 79 rpm Elevation: 420 up; Total up to Date 43,480m, 800 m down; down to date 37,279m.

Heavy rain last night, so everything wet. Much darker every morning now, and head lamp is essential. On the road by 7.30.

At the 15km mark, crossed into Idaho. Also crossed the continental divide for the fourth time since starting the tour, at a height of 7072 feet. Much prefer Idaho highways, no rumble strip and wide shoulder. Scenery was pleasant, and when we climbed onto the high plain, farms stretched for miles. This did however allow the wind to develop and just after lunch, 11am, the head wind blew the rest of the day. Needed to ensure tent was pegged down, as otherwise i could have been sleeping in Wyoming a day earlier!

Saw plenty of potato farms and crop.. This is after all the home of the famed Idaho Potato.

ASHTON to HOBACK CANYON. Section 4 THE GREAT DIVIDE STAGE 45 Distance Kms 156.44 kms; Total Dist to Date 4845 kms; Road Condition: good. Weather: -1c at start, then a warm day, periodic strong headwind. Time in Saddle: 7.02 hrs Speed: av 21.2 kph Max speed 70 kph Av Cadence 76 rpm Elevation: 1635m up; Total up to Date 45,115m; 1250 m down; down to date 38,529m.

Got up early, temp felt fine, but by the time of getting on the bike it had sunk to -1c on the last day of summer!! Nothing like the GC.

The scenery was grazing and potato cultivation, looked very appealing. Then we crossed the Teton range. Beautiful mountains and a hell of a climb, 2,555m was the summit. 15kms at 10%!g(MISSING)radient. Whilst we have cycled similar, it wasn't after cycling 86kms of rolling hills beforehand. It was hard to say the least! Was rewarded by great views and a great 10km descent marred by roadwork and four large trucks ahead of me. Had to ride the brakes on the descent as couldn't overtake the trucks, as two motorcycles were in front of me. Could smell the brakes,were likely red-hot!

We crossed into Wyoming. Stopped at Jackson Hole, the town made famous by the G7 Bank meetings annually. A very prosperous looking township, with an exceptionally large and well stocked Albersons supermarket, only the best for the well heeled!! Similar in appearance to both Jasper and Banff. Some appealing looking timber dwellings dotted the surrounding hills.

A bush camp again with a cold stream. Had another dunk, good supposedly for tired muscles. That a few beers, a few panadol and Voltaren should do the job! The knee still throbs after these big days. But many others have similar issues. Won't need much rocking tonight!

HOBACK CANYON to FONTENELLE RESERVOIR. Section 4 THE GREAT DIVIDE STAGE 46 Distance Kms 165.07 kms; Total Dist to Date 5010 kms; Road Condition: good. Weather: BITTER COLD at start, then a warm day, 5hrs of strong headwind. Time in Saddle: 7.45 hrs Speed: av 21.2 kph Max speed 40 kph Av Cadence 72 rpm Elevation: 750m up; Total up to Date 45,865m; 680m down; down to date 39,209m.

Woke to Bitter Cold, -5.6c when started riding. Fingers were numb and felt solid. The rest of me was just frozen. Was off the bike slapping my hands together to regain some feeling, when one of the French Canadian women, Marie, stopped and offered me glove warming crystals. You crunch them and they give out miraculous warmth. Even though i only could put in one glove, my other hand and feet started to feel much warmer.

Last night i was camped alone at the furtherest camp site. Felt very remote in a bush camp. About 1.30 am, the wolves were just across the river from me on the hunt. They brought down a calf, to great squeals and howling, then all went quiet. An hour later I heard scratching outside my tent. I was somewhat alarmed until i discovered it was a squirrel. This was also bear country, and with its remoteness felt uneasy most of the night, despite placing all smelly items, toothpaste,etc, in the special bin. Awoke to back pain. Undoubtedly sleeping stiffly on and off the mat.

The scenery in Wyoming reminds me very much of Australia, a mix of landscapes west of Dalby, the Kimberleys and Kakadu. Great plains across which the wind howled and built up strength. For the most part it was a strong headwind. Made the ride even tougher. My longest day on the bike today. Do not want to repeat it if possible. However maintained my average daily speed. Remarkable!!!!

Today clocked over 5000 kms in 46 days. Not sure if i feel fit though. A lot of upper body wasting and to many snickers bars for energy at the occasional service station.

At dinner tonight,i was reminded of China, desert landscape, strong winds, dust and nailling down the tent.

FONTENELLE RESERVOIR to BUCKLAND CROSSING Section 4 THE GREAT DIVIDE STAGE 47. Distance Kms 147.21 kms; Total Dist to Date 5167 kms; Road Condition: good. Weather: 5.6c at start, then warmer day rising to 35c. Time in Saddle: 6.24 hrs Speed: av 22.9 kph Max speed 55.9 kph Av Cadence 75 rpm Elevation: 1060m up; Total up to Date 46,925m ; 1100m down; down to date 40,309m

After some rain showers last night, the sky cleared to a beautiful sky over the reservoir. This morning was not as cold, 5.6c on commencement, a veritable heat wave. The scenery was high plains and distant rolling hills, real cowboy country, think of Bonanza and High Chapparel.

Another big day with periodic headwinds and cross winds, but arrived at camp feeling much better than yesterday. Glad I rode, as yesterday afternoon I was contemplating a rest day today. My excitement this afternoon was that this camp ground had cold showers. After a hot day they were magic!! I am into simple pleasures! The campsite is attractive, similar to last night with views over a reservoir to surrounding hills. I must say that i like open views and wide landscapes. After weeks in the mountains, also very beautiful, to see the wide sky is refreshing.

BUCKLAND CROSSING to VERNALL Section 4 THE GREAT DIVIDE STAGE 48 Distance Kms 153.81 kms; Total Dist to Date 5311 kms; Road Condition: good. Weather: warmer day rising to 35c. BRUTAL AFTERNOON HEADWIND. Time in Saddle: 7.45 hrs Speed: av 19.8 kph Max speed 60.7 kph Av Cadence 65 rpm Elevation: 2120 up; Total up to Date 49,045m; 2275m down; down to date 42,536m.

The morning was much warmer, and packing up with working fingers made it much easier!
We crossed into UTAH early morning. The scenery was still high plains, but now there were canyons, in multi coloured tiers of colourful stone. Some scenery was dramatic. A long high climb to lunch, a constant 5-6%!f(MISSING)or 15 kms. Wasn't so bad as it was expected. The afternoon was supposedly just a short steep climb. How wrong that was, the climb was most of the afternoon, 8-10%!,(MISSING) brutal 35kph headwind all afternoon, which took at least 15kph off ride speed. It was very tiring. Had a great descent, however, at times needed to pedal furiously just to descend. To add to my misery i missed the campsite flagging tape. The road was exceptionally busy and I was looking on the opposite side, swapped my L,R instruction. Rode an extra 10 km. Felt very frustrated on arrival. Yannis cooked up a storm of steak and chips, and ice beer, which soothed everyones' exhaustion.

VERNAL to RANGELY. Section 4 THE GREAT DIVIDE STAGE 49 Distance Kms 86.38 kms; Total Dist to Date 5397 kms; Road Condition: good. Constant 1.5%!g(MISSING)rade. Weather: warmer day rising to 33c Time in Saddle: 4.02 hrs Speed: av 21.4 kph Max speed 50.8 kph Av Cadence 68 rpm Elevation: 600 up; Total up to Date 49,645m; 550m down; down to date 43,086m.

A noisy night as near the highway, and vehicles entering the park at irregular intervals. Despite earplugs and eye guard, still an average sleep.
Another warmer start. I could get used to these.
A shorter day, but felt flat and tired all day. Only learned at camp that it was a constant 1.5%!i(MISSING)ncline 3/4 of the day. Most others felt the same after yesterday.
The scenery was uninspiring so that didn't help. Crossed into Colorado, nothing like the scenery John Denver sang about!!
The shorter day and camp showers were enoyed by all.

RANGELY to FRUITA Section 4 THE GREAT DIVIDE STAGE 50 Distance Kms 124.63 kms; Total Dist to Date 5522 kms; Road Condition: mostly good, with some sections of snow damaged roadway. Constant 1.5%!g(MISSING)rade fo 30 kms, then 9-11%!f(MISSING)or 8kms, then a steep descent and more 2%!g(MISSING)rade. Weather: warmer day rising to 35c, but cold headwinds. Time in Saddle: 6.36 hrs Speed: av 18.8 kph. Max speed 48.1 kph Av Cadence 8-rpm Elevation: 1168 up; Total up to Date 50,825m, 1020m down; down to date 44,106m

Today we rode uphill and then steeper uphill, until a long descent on weather damaged road, before more uphill. All this was undertaken in ferocious headwind which howled and buffered the bike. The wind and road noise were at times overwhelming!

The scenery from the high ridges was impressive, although as I have now seen so much attractive scenery, i feel I am becoming quite blasé about it. Last year's ride had much greater cultural diversity and interest than this ride. I would rate the riding on par so far as difficulty and strenuousness, the camp food on this ride is far superior, indicative i believe of the better available produce. The scenery is comparable in its appeal. I think the cultural diversity wins my vote for the silk route. This ride is undoubtedly easier due to the lack of language barrier.

Culture in North American cowboy states is not extensive. Have seen no galleries on rest days, no ethnic food other than Mexican. There is the occasional Chinese and asian food cafe but the food promoted looks inedible. Fast food abounds. Petrol Stations are amazing in the variety of junk food and drink (with free drink refills) that is available. Unfortunately i have partaken, but the sugar hit only lasts beneficially for about 30 minutes, and then i feel more energy depleted.

Tomorrow ends 8 strenuous riding days and everyone is tired and looking forward to the two rest day break, not previously experienced!! Moab apparently is the centre of mountain biking. Not what i need, but there is supposedly some interesting sites nearby if we can organise a tour, by we I mean others, i might just tag along!!

FRUITA to MOAB Section 4 THE GREAT DIVIDE STAGE 51 Distance Kms 151 kms; Total Dist to Date 5843 kms; Road Condition: mostly good, with some sections of damaged roadway. Morning on the Interstate Hwy, then afternoon on minor Hwy, with rolling hills. Weather: warmer day rising to 38c . Time in Saddle: 6.15 hrs Speed: av 22.4 kph. Max speed 49.4 kph Av Cadence 74 rpm Elevation: 550 m up; Total up to Date 51,375m, 450m down; down to date 44,556m

Today was the final day of the 8 day road train. Another long day. In The morning we road the Interstate as no other road was available, great, wide, clean shoulders, light traffic and fast, averaged over 32kph for 20 kms.

Turned off onto quieter roads which wound through the red rock mountains. Spectacular canyons, rock formations and Colorado River scenes. Reminded me of Katherine Gorge in the NT, Geike Gorge in WA and Carnarvon Gorge in QLD. The road was undulating up, and there was a moderate headwind.

In the canyons the temperature soared to about 38c on one riders computer. Ran dry on water with 39 kms to ride so was a little concerned. Came upon an upmarket resort, so rode in seeking a refill. Reception sent me through to the bar where they refilled my bottle and gave me to 12oz cups of Pepsi, gratis. A very pleasant stop and would have checked in other than that it was booked out. A holiday weekend here in the US for labor day.

Road into town passing scores of river rafters, some on stand up paddle boards. Looked like fun, especially when they fell in!! The Colorado R is very swift flowing.

MOAB describes itself as the world mecca of mountain biking, off road vehicle climbing and the centre for the Hobi Indian reservation. It is full of bike shops, tourist tac, fast food and sold out hotels. This area is where John Wayne filmed most of his movies, so if you recall these movies you will have seen what I cycled through.
We have two rest days here. Not much to do as I dont feel like a tour to see more red rocks, as I will again be cycling through them in 3days hence. Feel that TDA poorly planned this section, as there were numerous camping spots past on route, which would have made the riding days shorter and more even, enabling only the one rest day in MOAB.

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8th September 2015

Hi Roger, Just caught up with your blogs after returning from a weeks walking holiday in Slovenia which was great. We went with New Experience Holidays who we have been with before and all up to its normal standard. The owner of this small company says he will not book clients into places he would not stay himself. It seems to me form the way you write that TDA do not exactly follow this philosophy . Your trip sounds great in terms of what you are seeing but the facilities and poor planning are not impressive. This after all should be what you have paid for. You have certainly put me off going with them. We came home from Slovenia via Venice and in our hotel we met a group of cyclists who had cycled over the Alps and Dolomites from Geneva with Magic Places - a Canadian company who specialise in other less arduous tours. They have one from Vancouver to LA which we are thinking of doing some time although probably not until 2017 as we are planning on a big trip to Japan next year ( not cycling ). Have you come across them or has anyone else in your group? They seemed pretty good to me. Anyway once again I can only repeat how impressed I am at how well you are doing both in terms of the cycling and with putting up with the conditions both in terms of camping and the weather extremes.. Look forward to further updates. Cheers. Peter
8th September 2015

Magic Places and beyond
Hi Peter, you both get around, clearly retirement agrees with you. Always gave wanted to go to Slovenia. Glad you had a good trip. I will check out the company you went with for future reference. Only two weeks remain on tour before I jet out from LA on 22.9. Still about 1200 kms remain for me i think. Have lost a lot of upper body mass and weight. The scenery has been interesting, but very little culture to add interest. If i were contemplating it again, i would ride from Jasper to Kalispell, perhaps the best scenery, then spend a few days around Moab as the red rick canyons here are interesting. Japan is a very interesting place. Will you be there for the Spring Blossoms.? Spring warmth varies throughout the length of the islands. Cheers for now Roger

Tot: 2.533s; Tpl: 0.063s; cc: 13; qc: 54; dbt: 0.0419s; 2; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.4mb