Tuesday, August 18, 2009

"cream of broccoli soup draws gnats"

You'll never guess the meaning of the blog post title, so all I ask is that you type the title phrase into the search box at
Moving on:
current location: Rawlins, Wyoming
# of miles ridden, total: 1,379 (over half-way!!)
average miles per day, not including "zero"/rest days: 33.6
# of days of riding: 41
# of "zero" days: 6
# of Continental Divide crossings: 14
# of horned toad sightings: 3
# of Wal-Mart sightings: 0
% of riding days that I've cried: 24%
most # of saddle sores at one time: 6 (currently I have "only" 5)
favorite trail foods lately: Cheetos, Oreos, Kit-Kats, and water.
estimated date of completion: 9/17/09
After getting creative with how to rig multiple water bottles onto one slender and simple unicycle frame (oh, how we love long water carries), we ventured into the seemingly neverending desert landscape beyond Pinedale, Wyoming. Banking on a rumor that we were out of grizzly country, and because I always seek to eliminate as much weight as possible from my pack, it was time to do what I had wanted to do since the beginning: empty the can of bear spray. Not to make anyone jealous (because of course you all want to know what it is like), but seriously, it was fantastic. I shot it into Wyoming's vast emptiness, downwind, and with eye and face protection, sticking to my life motto: "Safety First."

[Wyoming state bear spray testing grounds.]

[Heavy traffic.]

[Continental Divide crossing #"10" of the journey.]

Wyoming has been a lot of emptiness since passing its northwestern National Parks. But I am dearly fond of desert skies, which are ever changing with the constant wind, so I don't mind a bit.
[Where does this road go? I dunno - Mexico?]


Just after the above picture and below video were taken, a storm caught up to us on the Divide, whipping us with gusts of sand and blistering wind. Matt's map blew away, sand found its way into the video camera, and it was difficult to even walk. Although mostly a tailwind, it was strong enough that I could barely ride; and the times that it decided to add a crosswind component, I was leaned over as far as my torso could bend, backpack on, atop my wheel, just to stay balanced. Completely exposed to the desert elements, any exposed skin was brutally sandblasted.


Cool sights along the way also included two- or three-track ruts through the sagebrush from the various historical trails winding through the expanse: Oregon Trail, California Trail, Mormon Pioneer Trail, and the Pony Express. Dang!

[This is where the '49ers lost oxen fording the river, only to get run over by the Pony Express riders towing handcarts loaded with 19 children.]

["Riders on the Storm"... my favorite part of this sky is the series of cloud layers on the right.]

[Nobody likes a closed candy store.]

In Atlantic City, Wyoming (where still stands the now-closed former whorehouse of Calamity Jane), we stayed the night with a fellow unicyclist who had met us on the road a day before (many thanks, Craig!!). The next morning, we awoke to solid gray skies and windy rain. After procrastinating our ride for the day, we ventured out into the elements, only to be beaten down at the top of a hill with stinging, 35-degree rain, slippery roads, and sinking mud. My poor reaction to this otherwise-comical situation proved one devastating fact: I was desperately sleep-deprived. Many tears and verbalized frustrations later, we made the only sane decision to get hot chocolate and hole-up in Atlantic City for the night, hoping for better weather tomorrow. Verdict? Most excellent. After a 2.5-hour late-afternoon nap, I slept for a solid 9 hours that night. I guess 6 weeks of sleep deprivation can catch up with me, even at my zippy 6-mph pace.

[This is how they drink it in Belgium.]

We always feel bad for the bikers behind us, who hear statements like, "You think that's hard, there are a guy and a gal doing it on unicycles!" We hear from bikers along the way that they have heard about us for weeks, even months. How annoying that must be: we apologize... kinda (please, bikers, take comfort knowing you are in less pain). However, the joy of being unique on this route is that unicycle graffiti means special signs of love and encouragement - we know it was done just for us. Two signs at this junction boosted our spirits this particular day... I think I know who did it, but to tell would ruin all the fun.

[My affinity for donuts preceeds me, apparently. Yes, we found this written on the sign.]

[Overall, the road conditions from Pinedale to Rawlins were some of the best of the trip. More, please!]

[Just another day in the office.]

["13," on the divide between the east slope and the Great Divide Basin.]

[We are treated to such sunsets nearly every night. No joke.

However, desert + sun does not always equal warm. Several mornings we have awoken to ice lining our tents and sleeping bags; the temperature had dipped to well below freezing.]

[We saw more wild horses than people this particular day, not to mention the countless herds of pronghorns. A lively group of horses were "horsing around" chasing herds of cows. Go figure. We also pet a few horned toads scampering across the road, but I don't think they were as fond of us. The horses, unlike the pronghorns and horned toads, created gigantic "studpiles" sporadically along the road, marking their territory. When I say "gigantic," I mean dimensions of 2 ft. x 2 ft. x 1 ft stacks of poop. Who needs Brinks Home Security when you could just make piles of poop around your yard?]

[Screw this, we're going to Mexico today!!]

[This is what half-way feels like.
We have to do what we just did, all over again. Does anyone else find it ironic that the half-way point on this mountain bike route is paved?]

[Yet, I struggle to walk and chew gum. Yeah, that's sudoku.]

[Watching where I'm going.]

[Matt and his piece of flare.]

Southward, ho!
Yours truly,
Team Blazing Saddle Sores


Tom said...

Your posts remain truly inspiring; looking forward to the next half!

Shiloh and Samantha Sorbello said...

Good postage. Hey, my friend at work (John Vacek, the Alaskan) said he has a good friend who lives along your route in Colorado somewhere. He told this friend about your trip and this friend wants to take you guys out to dinner and give you a bed for a night. Call me before you hit Colorado and we'll facilitate the hook-up.

The Armstrong Brood said...

Hey, just logging on after a looooong hiatus. We had things to do like move. It is so fun to read. You had me laughing many a time, like at the "just another day at the office" comment, and the unicycle graffiti. So funny. And wow, we have such different lives. Wild horse poop vs. Zeke poop. Fun stuff.

auntierobin said...

Dear TBSS,
Congratulations on reaching the mid-way mark! Great pictures, lovely landscape, sweet unicycle signposts. The blog is like one long electronic postcard.

And loved the sudoku shot!

P.S. When I went to post this comment, I had to type in a randomly generated set of letters to verify that I am not a bot. The letters? b i k e e

Lloyd said...

Great adventure for sure. Looking forward to more. Be safe, and have fun!!

Anonymous said...

Keep up the excellent work

steveyo said...

Keep on rockin, you guys!
-steveyo (one of the previous EOB winners)

Simon said...

Hi guys, I just rode the route on two wheels and know exactly how tough that was - Can't imagine how hard it is on just one. Excellent work - keep it up! Simon

Anonymous said...

Hi Matt and Gracie,

I just finished reading your last 5 postings - what a fun read and visual delight. A big congrats on making it to the mid point. Be safe and keep pedaling.

All the best - Jerry from Durham