Well after 2 false starts I finally got my beefed up rear wheel and got going again on August 1st. This will be a much shorter bike trip than I had originally planned, only about 6 weeks but I did in fact get going and started on August 1st.
It’s been rough. I’m out of shape, I’m overweight, the bike seems a lot heavier than I anticipated and riding these fat knobby tires on gravel roads is very slow. I’m lucky to be going 5 to 6 miles an hour with frequent rests. It is also very hot so I have to get ice and plenty of water which adds more weight to the bike but it can’t be helped.
One of the most stressful parts of bike touring here is finding a place to camp for the night. It’s variously called wild camping, free camping or stealth camping which is basically jumping off the road and pitching your tent in a field or somewhere. The problem is every square inch is taken up with pasture or crops or something and it’s difficult to find a spot away from the road that is secluded and hidden. There are no trees hardly so even in the fields where you know there’s nothing growing you can see a long long way so in order to get hidden from the road I have to take the bike way off away which is a pain. The other option is to find some trees to hide behind or some hills that I can hide behind. I got chewed out twice in 2 days by ranchers who said I was on private property. they saw me riding my bike out of a 2 track road even though there’s no gates no sign nothing so how am I supposed to know private property anyway? Even if I wanted to ask permission which is fine I would ask the owner but who knows who owns the land? There are no houses or ranches around for miles so even if I wanted to ask I wouldn’t know who to ask.
One of the 1st nights I managed to camp out in a windmill farm. I snuck off the road into a little draw and was hidden by the road but next to these huge gigantic windmills.There were hundreds of these things. it’s a wind energy farm it’s called and they are incredibly big and noisy too when they’re going so it was interesting but not exactly the most pleasant place to camp.
So even though this bike is slow it is nice because I can get off the highways and paved roads and easily get on some back roads and gravel roads which is what I wanted. Even though it’s slower and it’ll be more difficult to ride it’s safer and more interesting because i don’t have big semis zooming past at 70 miles an hour. So that’s why I wanted to buy this gravel bike and it’s working out pretty well in that respect.
The other thing that’s different about this type of cycling is planning is a lot more important. Because I’m taking back roads gas stations and convenience stores are less frequent and so I have to plan ahead to figure out where I’m getting my next source of water. I can carry about 2 1/2 gallons of water which will last me 2 full days and a night but I have to make sure that every 2 days i pass by some sort of service station or restaurant where I can get some more water, so I do have to plan ahead especially because it’s so hot. I don’t want to be stuck out in the middle of nowhere and run out of water so that’s the other consideration that I’m facing right now.
As far as mileage I’m probably going about 30 to 40 miles a day riding 6 to 7 hours a day. I find after about 4 hours that i really start to get fatigued. I can go 5, 6 even 7 hours and get up to 40 miles a day but I’m pretty wiped out after that. But it’s the 1st week and i know I’m going slow. I think after a few weeks I’ll be able to bump it up to 40 to 50 miles a day and riding 8 or 9 hours a day.
I am camping more in order to reduce costs. I’ve had some nice camping sites like these.
In terms of the bike it’s performed well. I haven’t had any flat tires or broken spokes, no issues with the bike mechanically. But my laptop died again so that’s going to make posting my blog more difficult (in fact, I’m writing this on my phone) and I had some issues with my tent. I’ll probably have to get a new tent.
In terms of my route you can see below I’ll be heading up to Montana. I want to be back in Denver by September 15th.
then my plan is to rent a car and drive to El Paso Texas and then do another tour of Mexico for the next 4 months, October to January. But this time it will be very different from my previous trip which was with my skinny tires on paved roads and mostly around the coast. I was on very busy roads which was not fun. This time I will be in the mountains, in the cordilleras, going along the spine of Mexico on my gravel bike to the Yucatan. This is really exciting because I’ll go through some very small villages in the mountains which rarely if ever see tourists.
Meanwhile here are some random photos.
My favorite road sign.
My second favorite road sign because it means no fences!
But then i have to negotiate these cattle guards. Best to stop and walk over them to prevent broken spokes.
The ranchers are making hay for winter.
Redneck idiot hunters passed this way.
The desolate road.
Sunset at one campsite at a reservoir.
Yes it’s windy in Wyoming.
That’s it for now. Headed north.