Friday, May 24, 2013

Day 17

The rain went away last night and the day started clear. Nothing to clear out my head in the morning like a fast ride through the prairie. Nothing challenging, just a 160km/h cruise through the gently rolling green hills of Wyoming.

Once I hit the Bighorn Scenic Highway it all changed for the better - much better. First, a climb from 1,100m to 2,700m through a short but very beautiful canyon of a fast flowing river. Than a long-ish 2,500m plateau with long sveepers with road visibility far ahead. No need to tell you how fast I was going there, I wasn't looking at the speedometer much. The descent was as adrenaline inducing as the climb, with the added benefit of very grippy pavement resurfaced with some sharp brown coating that sticks to the tires like glue.

After that ball ended I hopped on I90 to shorten the ride to the Devil's Tower, my next stop. I was immediately greeted with the worst cross winds I ever experienced. It started as a very strong headwind, so strong that I couldn't get any faster than 130km/h. Then it started to pummel me with gusts from the South. Imagine a bike riding on a straight highway, leaned at 20-30 degrees and sliding from one lane to the other. I swear to you, I was close to pulling over, parking head into the wind and waiting for wind to subside or AAA to come with a flatbed. I've been battling some bad wind before, but never to the extent that my neck hurt from trying to keep my head upright and not twisted around :(. I'm only grateful that the day was sunny - an addition of rain would just kill me. All that fighting with the wind made me almost forget about gas. I passed the sign "No service next 66 miles" thinking that I'll make it, even taking into account the increased fuel consumption due to the wind and speed. Well, by the time I reached Gillette I was not only physically exhausted but also running on fumes. The wind was still so strong that it took all my remaining strength not to drop the bike at the intersection :(. The bike took 19L of gas, which is officially the most I ever poured in it. That means there was less than 1L left in the tank. In those 200+Km of windy nightmare it's average fuel consumption was 7.94L/100Km which is also the worst I ever recorded.

After hat experience I decided to run for the hills and stay off the highway as much as possible. That mostly worked, and the run to Devil's Tower was manageable, although not wind free. A 2km walk around this remarkable geological formation helped me loosen up a bit and break in the new boots in the process :(.

South then on 585. Still very windy because it's open country, but survivable. It finally stopped after I turned Norrth on 85, towards the famous Black Hills of South Dakota. I got into a very decent rhythm there, shielded from the wind by steep hills and high pines. Very nice.

Just about 10km South of Lead, a car coming towards me flashes his light frantically. I nod and think it's close to sunset - must be deer or some other wildlife. This is a twisty road with a lot of blind curves, so I slow down and cover the brake lever. Just a few turns after, there was a rock about 1.5m in diameter right in the middle of my lane. I thought this can't be left like that, it will soon be dark and someone is very likely to hit it. So I pulled over, left the lights on and went to see if I can move it. No way. Just as I was trying to figure out how to mark it a guy in a pickup truck canme along. I asked him to help me and together we managed to roll the boulder off the road. Case closed.

Arrived to Deadwood for the night, the place Wild Bill Hickok met his demise. Had a great Beef Stroganoff for dinner, a tasty end of a great day.