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Wednesday 8 June 2011

Day 30 - Guernsey Storms

Todays mileage: 54
Total Mileage: 1,460
End point: Fort Laramie, WY

Waking up I found some new campers next to me who must have arrived
fairly late. It turned out they were 'trolls'. A term used to describe
people from the lower part of Michigan (the michigan peninsula is
split in two). My old neighbour and dear friend Frank was from
Michigan so I know a few things about Michigan and enough to crack a
joke about the red wings failures this year in hockey. It turned out
they were students from michigan state university enroute to a geology
field trip in Utah this summer. We had a quick game of geo-golf.. this
involves throwing rock hammers at inanimate objects - I was expecting
their rock hammers to be something out of shawshank redemption, it
turns out they were more in the style of ice axes! Have a great summer
guys if you are reading!

My planned route was to follow the old highway which ran next to the
interstate, as I approached it was closed off however so I thought I
was in for a long interstate slog. Fortunately this was not the case
as they had created a new exit about a mile down the road. The old
highway was gorgeous, with a few little farms, gentle hills and quite
a few horses about.

After an hour or so of riding I saw another cyclist far in the
distance slowly approaching me. This would be the 3rd transam ride I
have met, although I was his first. Norbert was from Frankfurt-am-Main
(not to be confused with little Frankfurt-am-Oder on the border with
Poland). He had set off a day before me from New York. His setup was
crazy if not impressive. He was riding a mountain bike with tough 26
inch wheels and seemed to have the whole world strapped to his bike
and a little wooden coffin for his gps. The weight of this, the
thickness of his tyres combined with the fact he wasn't using SPDs*
must have made this an epic beast to move through the vastness of
america. And yet he was pounding out 80 mile days, day after day and
had been through what sounded like terrible weather. His target is to
be in San Francisco by the very start of July - I can only hold my hat
up in respect to him and wish him the best. Oh I meant to say he
hasn't had a flat yet, so his setup can't be too bad.

I eventually had to rejoin the interstate for a few miles to take the
road to Guernsey. The old highway turned into gravel and also met the
road to Guernsey, but with my current rear wheel situation I decided
it wasn't worth the extra mile or so saved. The insterstate exit to
Guernsey was particularly dangerous as the exit was a left hand lane
exit; Coventry Ring Road in the UK has the same system for about 6
exits and was ranked in the top 10 worst designed and dangerous roads
because of it; never good to have slow moving vehicles cutting into
the fast lane. Seeing this I took particular care.

There was little to note on the road to Guernsey, a few roadworks
going on, but the scenery wasn't as great as earlier, just rocky
outcrops and some distant hills for a total 15 miles. Rolling into
Guernsey over the Platte River i'd promised myself a snack break.
Stopping the restaurant / gas station I bumped into an army medic
called Jason who I got talking too. We chatted about a few things: his
aim to do a tour cycling around cambodia and the fact he had found a
pair of $400 ski boots in a dumpster in jackson hole ski resort which
he still uses to this day :)

Unfortunately I stayed talking a bit too long as the sky had turned a
dark grey. What I couldn't understand however was that the front had
come from my direction west to east, yet I was cycling into a head
wind. Is this possible? Any meterologists out there? About a mile out
of Guernsey I realised the error of my ways as the first flash of
lightening cracked the sky open. About 5 minutes later it started.
Driving, heavy, skin stinging rain without relent. It was the kind of
rain that drenched you in 2 minutes, yet I had to cycle in it for over
an hour - it was tough. I need swimming goggles for such situations as
I could barely see. Luckily the shoulder had widdened enough that I
was out of the way of traffic if not their spray. My mind turned to
Fort Laramie during this ride for I had planned to camp at the RV
ground there; would there be a motel instead? I knew not to get my
hopes up.

Rolling into town i passed the RV Campground and up the 3rd street I
saw a motel sign. I should point out Fort Laramie is tiny, a couple of
shops and cafes at most. Approaching the motel an old guy flagged me
down, it turned out the motel had shut. He wanted me to stay and talk
under the cover of his veranda, but it was still raining and I was
cold, so as politely as possible I peddled back to the RV park.

This park is tiny, but well run. Going into the office I jokingly
asked if she had any cabins, I couldn't see from the window there were
none. She replied:
'Well we don't have cabins, but I do have an old trailer the grandkids
stay in sometimes, you could have that for $25'
Needless to say I write this post from inside my cosy little trailer.
Its just as well I took this offer as its been hailing, and some of
the hailstones have been over 2cm!! I'm now dried off and tired but
ready for a nice long sleep...

*SPDs (shimano pedalling dynamics) are little metal cleats on the
bottom of your shoe which locks you into the pedals. This increases
efficiency of the pedalling cycle as you can pull up as well as puch
down - its about 30% more efficient. To unclip you twist your foot.
This takes a bit of getting used to and always fun to watch a beginner
trying to get out!


  1. The storm front behind you (moving west to east) was very likely a low (meaning low pressure); so the headwind you faced was caused by air rushing toward the low pressure. As the actual line of the front approaches, the wind will shift, at first perpendicular to the front line, and then from the direction that the front came. At that point, you were probably a lot more concerned with the driving rain and hail.

    Be safe.

  2. Ha, so I can comment post. John, thank you, that makes sense. You can tell I'm not an engineer. Hopefully my shoes are dry!