Spokane to Aspen


Fall 2018


Denis Kertz, ©2018


Day 12: Sat, Sep 15, 2018 - Boise, ID to Glenns Ferry, ID [83.6, 8:02, 10.4 mph, +1,852', -1,954']


It was a busy Saturday morning for everyone with 3 soccer games and a football game.I planned to leave around 8 and that was the right time to see Julia off and before Thomas left.As soon as I left my feet hit my panniers.I stopped and figured out I had switched the rear panniers and my feet were hitting the rear pocket with my water bottles.I quickly switched the panniers and was away.


It was a pretty easy route out of town.I headed west from 21st to 26th street and then south to the Greenbelt Path along the Boise River.I picked up Capitol Blvd which turned into Federal Way.Federal Way was a main road but it had a bike path that took me to I84.


As I was riding on the path, I saw an SUV ready to pull out from a side street and then it stopped.I was surprised because there was no traffic.Then when I was removing my jacket I saw a woman approaching me.She said they were members of the Warm Showers Group and she invited me to stay with them.It would have been really interesting if I had needed a place to stay because she and her husband had just returned from a 2-year bicycle tour through 42 countries.


I rode Federal Way on a previous pass through Boise and had stopped at a McDonaldís just before getting on I84.I wanted to stop at the same place again but I feared I had missed it this time and stopped at a Maverick where I had a French Toast sausage, egg, and cheese sandwich that was very good.A little later I passed the McDonaldís.


I couldnít avoid the Interstate unless I wanted to go some ways out of the way.But I only needed to ride 11 miles to Regina where I could get off.As usual the Interstate was noisy but tolerable for 11 miles.


At the Regina exit I had a sandwich at the Boise Stage Stop and then headed north.I thought I needed to turn on Desert Wind Road, a right turn almost immediately, but saw a sign that said Indian Creek Road.I rode a little further and then checked Maps.ME and verified I should have taken the first right.When I got back to the intersection I could see the sign was confusing because the roads werenít quite at right angles.


I rode Desert Wind for 9 miles and then it turned left and became W Till Rd.In 2.5 miles it dead ended and I turned right on Ditto Creek Road.This brought me back to the Interstate where it crossed over and became the Old Oregon Trail Highway which took me to Mountain Home.


This Desert Wind/Till/Ditto Creek diversion was a great route and only added a couple miles.In return it had almost no traffic, was quiet, and was a peaceful ride through sage brush with the foothills not too far in the distance.


In Mountain Home, I stopped at an Albertsons to pick up some cereal since I was almost out and got some jerky that was on sale.Jerky is a great food to carry but it is so expensive normally so it was nice to find some for a decent price.


Riding a little further through town I stopped at a food mart for a couple of slices of pizza which I always find is a good mid-day boost.Then I rode on but the next road sign didnít say anything about Glenns Ferry so I checked Maps.ME and saw I needed to take a turn on 3rd street, just a little ways back.


3rd Street became old US 30 but at an intersection with Old Oregon Trail I misread the sign and took the Old Oregon Trail.When it passed over a road and headed towards the Interstate I figured that was wrong and that I was passing over old US 30.Checking Maps.Me confirmed that and I retreated to the junction and got on old US 30.


Ever since exiting the Interstate at Regina the route was mostly a gradual downhill.Now there was also a good tail wind I was making great time.It was 3 pm when I left Mountain Home and another 25 miles to Glenns Ferry.Scenery wasnít much to look at until a few miles before Hammet where there was a steep descent to town.


In town there was a sign that the old US 30 bridge was out and there was a detour.I wondered if this was a case where a bicycle might be able to get through but I didnít know how far I would have to ride to find out.So I took the detour and was happy to see it involved a local road and not getting back on the Interstate.I wasnít so happy that the local road, while paved, had all kinds of mini pot holes and was a rough road.Then it changed to gravel at a point where I could see the bridge was torn down and being completely rebuilt.Then the road became loose gravel and I was afraid I was going to have to take the Interstate but the pavement came back and old US 30 was fine the rest of the way to Glenns Ferry.The last few miles were scenic as the road passed along the Snake River.


In town there were 2 motel options.The first looked fine but it was a little far from downtown so I rode to the next one and got a room for $54 which sounded great until I learned the WiFi basically didnít work.I had to step outside my room to get connected but it was still too weak to be usable in the room.


This motel also had a restaurant and I went back to complain, hoping another room would be closer with a stronger signal.Then I was told this was a basic problem and that a signal booster was on order which wasnít much help to me.I ended up having to eat at the restaurant where the signal was fine.


The good news for the day is that my right leg was okay.I felt a few twinges at times but I never had any problems.The next test will be tomorrow.


Day 13: Sun, Sep 16, 2018 - Glenns Ferry, ID to Buhl, ID [55.5, 6:18, 8.8 mph, +2,283', -1,075']


It was a slow morning since it was a Sunday and nobody was open for breakfast until 8 am. Since I was unhappy with the motelís WiFi I walked to the other restaurant, the Oregon Trail Cafe, for breakfast rather than spending more money on the motel.I got there a few minutes early and it was already open.I had 3 very large pancakes and ham.The woman in charge of the place appeared to be breaking in a new cook.One of my pancakes was a little burnt but otherwise breakfast was fine.Truth is I would have been happy with just 2 very large pancakes.


It was 9 by the time I left town.The road I was on crossed the Interstate and turned into Old US 30.It was a scenic road with irrigated fields everywhere as well as the rolling hills just off to the north.It also followed close to the railroad tracks and I got to see a couple of freight trains pass.


After a little over 10 miles I was surprised to reach the Interstate intersection where a sign said the road was a dead end ahead.I checked my Maps.Me and discovered I missed a turn about a mile back.When I started backtracking I found an Allen Rd that intersected with Old US 30 so I was able to avoid some backtracking.As yesterday Old US 30 was a great cycling road with almost no traffic and I had the road pretty much to myself.


When I reached the Interstate intersection, the road crossed over and became the real US30.Now there was more traffic but a good shoulder.A couple of miles later I stopped in Bliss and had my second breakfast with real milk at 12:30.I was surprised it was that late but there was some climbing along with the 22 miles and I stopped for quite a few photos.


About 10 miles later I stopped in Hagerman for a cold drink since it was going to be a while before I had another chance.Leaving Hagerman there was some unique geology along the way including some Basalt cliffs.Later there were springs spilling out of the cliffs along the Snake River in an area called Thousand Springs.


About 10 miles past Hagerman the road climbed steeply for a mile or so and then continued an upward gradient the rest of the way to Buhl.Along this part of the route I started really dragging.It was a mostly uphill route for the day and I still had 16 miles left when I stopped in Buhl at 4:30. A few miles after Buhl the road flattened but I wasnít going to make Twin Falls until 6 or 6:30.


I hadnít realized that Buhl was a reasonable size town at 4,122.I stopped for a drink at a store/restaurant and chugged a quart of chocolate milk that helped some.As I continued riding through town there were a couple of motels at the other end.At that point I made the decision to quit for the day.The cheapest motel didnít have anyone around so I went across the street to the Oregon Trail Motel and got a room for $69 with my AARP discount.Interestingly, most times I get the AARP discount just by asking for it but this time I had to show my membership, the first time I ever recall having to do that.


After yesterdayís disappointing experience with WiFi the first thing I did when I got in my room was verify that I had usable WiFi and it was fine.Then I cleaned up and walked next door to an Arctic Circle for a chicken sandwich and a milkshake.


For the second day in a row my right leg was okay again.These 2 days were pretty good tests, one a long day but not especially hard and the other a hard day but not especially long.


Day 14: Mon, Sep 17, 2018 - Buhl, ID to Burley, ID [61.7, 6:04, 0.4 mph, +1,276', -887']


I hopped over to the office in the morning at 7 am for the continental breakfast.I had a waffle square which I neglected to toast, a bagel, 2 bear claws, and coffee.It was a reasonable breakfast to get me started.


I was on the road by 8 am with temperature in the upper 40s but projected to reach 80 in the afternoon.I felt fine despite yesterdayís hard day.It took me about an hour and a half to ride the 15 miles to Twin Falls.This is faster than I would have predicted yesterday afternoon but now I was riding after a good nightís rest.


The riding for the last day or so has been through the so called Magic Valley, a term coined for the agricultural productivity of this area that seems at times to be one continuous stream of irrigated fields.It is not particularly scenic since it is mostly flat and predictable but the contrasts between green, irrigated fields and the yellow harvested wheat fields can be interesting.


I rolled into Twin Falls around 9:30 looking for breakfast.I thought I would find a place just by riding through town on US30 but that didnít look promising after a while so I veered off the main road into the downtown area.I asked a guy and he pointed me to the Yellow Brick Cafe.It was more of a specialty breakfast place than a regular breakfast place.I had Banana Oat Pancakes with coffee.The pancakes were tasty and different but not especially filling and somewhat expensive.


My waitress was interested in my trip.When I left she came out and asked if she could take a photo of my setup.She said her boyfriend rode the Pacific Coast from Portland to San Francisco each year and was trying to get her setup for touring too but she was a little worried about getting hit, a common fear.I told her I had yet to be hit after 45,000 touring miles but had been hit a couple times around home.


When I left Twin Falls I had 40 miles to Burley, my planned destination.This involved two gradual climbs of 400 and 300 feet and a couple of short descents.It was easier than I expected.


At one point I saw a biplane doing what looked like repeated figure 8s where he dipped below view.I thought he might just be practicing touch and go landings but when I got closer and could see on the other side of the hill I found he was spraying a field.I stopped to take a couple photos when a guy came out of a building and suggested it wasnít healthy to hang around with the pesticide in the air.That was true and I could smell the pesticide so I didnít hang around long.


Today was by far the busiest truck day of the trip.I suspect I saw more big trucks on this day than all the previous days combined.Most of the time this wasnít a problem since there wasnít concurrent traffic but a few times I got off the road since there was minimal shoulder.Otherwise, most of the truck gave me a wide berth, often moving completely over into the other lane while passing.I did have one trucker who honked his horn just after passing.I was riding just inside the white line and apparently he was offended that I wasnít riding as far right as possible even though he had the other lane completely to his use.But he was the one exception out of many for the day.


I stopped for a bite to eat in Murtaugh around 12:30 and then moved on.I made good time and pulled into Burley just before 3.Then I expected to just ride US30 through town and pick a motel.I stopped at a likely prospect where no one was there and called the contact number.I was told the motel had no vacancy (despite the vacancy sign) and the guy told me they owned 3 motels and they were all full.Thatís when I got concerned this day might not end well.


I had previously noted there were two RV Parks but it didnít appear either offered camping.So I gave up on US30 and headed north 2 miles through town where there were a couple motels at the Interstate junction.I thought I was going to get stuck with a $100+ Best Western when the attendant mentioned they also had a Budget Motel next door.Fortunately, they had a vacancy and I got a room for $71, about $30 cheaper than the Best Western.I would have preferred being at the south end of town but I was happy to end up with a reasonable room.


I ate at a Subway a few places away and then I began my planning for tomorrowís ride.The last few days were fairly straightforward routes with occasional surprising turns but tomorrow was very different.US30 headed back to the Interstate so I had a fairly involved route to avoid the Interstate.I found am Idaho recreational map that offered enough detail that I could visualize the route and then I used to google maps to fill in the names of the roads.That gave me much more confidence that I could follow the route without getting lost.


This was a much easier riding day than I had anticipated and a welcome change from the last two days.On the other hand, the motel situation was a real cause for concern until I stumbled on to the Budget Motel and then the day ended well.


Day 15: Tue, Sep 18, 2018 - Burley, ID to American Falls, ID [73.9, 7:26, 9.9 mph, +1,716', -1,401']


The continental breakfast at the motel wasnít great but I had a couple bowls of oatmeal and a pastry.I left at 8 and rode 2 miles south back to US30 in town.I headed east and then stopped at a Maverick for a bacon burrito to top off my breakfast.


At the next intersection, US30 headed northeast to rejoin the Interstate and I took ID81 southeast for about 20 miles.There was a little climbing at the end but only about 300 feet.ID81 started out with little shoulder so I had to watch traffic.There were still a lot of large trucks and I got off the road a couple of times.


After 22 miles I picked up Yale Road at the I84 intersection where I also had my second breakfast, along the side of the road since there was no good place to stop otherwise.Yale Road turned out to be a nice cycling road.It had a good shoulder and not much traffic.It took me past large fields and a huge dairy - Heglar Creek Dairy.They must have had a 1,000 Holstein Cows.Later when I researched the place I discovered they milk 2,000 Holstein cows.


Not long after passing the dairy I came to an intersection with Lanes Gulch Road.Originally I had planned to take it but then I learned that Yale Road took me back to I86 where I could catch a frontage road.The Lanes Gulch Road would have been more scenic but my elevation profile showed what looked like a very steep summit and I worried that might be too much.So I played it safe and stayed on Yale Road.


Not too far from the end of that rode around a corner with a hill on my right and suddenly two horses raced by, as if they were trying to see if they could keep up with me (they could).But this almost turned into a tragedy.Both horses were in a little fenced in lot but the gate was open.One horse raced through the open gate but the other horse got confused or something because he ended up trying to jump the fence and didnít quite make it.He tumbled and landed on his back but picked himself up after a few moments and appeared to be no worse for the wear.When he failed to clear the fence I had visions of him breaking a leg and having to be euthanized.


The frontage road was an okay road.It would have been great if I could have gotten to the I86 rest stop for a cold drink but a fence prevented that.Eventually the frontage road turned into the Osborn Loop which became the Register Road.The Register Road crossed to the north side of I86 and passed by the Register Rock Park.I stopped in the park hoping they would have water but they didnít.The park memorialized several large rocks where folks on the Oregon Trail and California Trail made camp and recorded their names on some of the rocks in the area.One particular rock was now a protected rock with a fence around it.


Shortly after I crossed to the other side of I86 again and spotted my turnoff - Deeg Road.This provided another decision.I could ride Deeg Road east until it intersected ID37 which would take me into American Falls, or I could get on I86 to get to American Falls.The I86 route was quicker and flatter but the Deeg Road route would be more scenic and longer since it rode the 2 sides of a right triangle rather than the I86 hypotenuse route.I decided on the scenic route but after about a hundred yards the pavement turned to gravel just at the start of a big climb.At that point I reversed my decision to avoid the gravel road.


It was only 9 pretty easy miles on I86 and I exited to get to American Falls and the fun began. I rode a couple of miles to the town and stopped at the first food mart for a cold drink.There was a motel across the road that didnít look the greatest so I passed on it.I rode to the other side of town where I learned the other motel was full.Then I checked the motel by the Interstate and learned it was full too.So I rode back through town to the first motel but no one was around and there was no contact number.So I assumed it was either out of business or full as well.


Fortunately, I knew there was a Willow Bay campground outside of town so I looked up directions.The directions would have been easy since the road through town I was on took me right there but the road was under construction.I got some directions from some guys along the road and had to push my bike through some areas where I managed to pick up some cockle burrs.I cleaned those up as best I could and finally got past the construction and into the Willow Bay Recreation Area with the campground.


The campground was almost full with RVs but I found a spot.I only saw one other tenter in the campground.But I set up and got a shower and then was surprised to find WiFi.So this was a pretty good deal for $19 and the only hassle was being blocked by the road under construction.


Everything was looking good when I got into town a little before 4 pm and then I wasted at least an hour only to find out the motels were unavailable.


Day 16: Wed, Sep 19, 2018 - American Falls, ID to Lava Hot Springs, ID [67.1, 6:30, 10.3 mph, +1,817', -1,159']


There was a railroad track not far from the campground and I heard about 6 trains passing through the night although they didnít both my sleeping that much.


It took longer to pack up in the morning than I expected so I didnít leave until 7:30 and stopped to pay in an envelope at the office ($20 vs the $19 required).I backtracked to the center of town, about 3 miles, and then found a place for breakfast by asking someone.I had a good breakfast of ham and cheese omelet with a pancake instead of toast.It was almost 9 am before I left town.


When I left town I crossed over I86 and picked up the frontage road that became Lakeview Rd although I never saw a lake.When the frontage road reached the next intersection I picked up a frontage road on the north side of the Interstate that became Sundance Rd.After a short distance the road turned to gravel but turned back to pavement after about 100 yards to my relief.That relief was short lived as the pavement/gravel kept alternating for a while.There didnít seem to be any rhyme or reason for this.The only thing I could think was that some of the pavement became so bad that it was torn up and replaced by gravel in the interests of cost.


At the next intersection I crossed over to the south side of the Interstate and picked up E County Rd which was good pavement and ended at US30 which I took south towards Pocatello.US30 here was a 4-lane road with a good shoulder except that it was sprinkled with some small gravel that made riding somewhat rough.


In town US30 ended with a veer to the east and then I picked up N 4th Ave which was one-way going south and N 5th Ave was one-way going north.When I came into town I started looking for a food mart.There was one right away but it was on the other side of the road and I elected to wait until I found one on my side of the road.As I was riding down N 4th Ave it started looking like I wouldnít find another food mart in Pocatello which seemed strange.Finally, I turned east to check N 5th Ave and finally found a food mart for my second breakfast.


Eventually N 4th Ave merged with N 5th Ave which I took south.When it crossed over I15 it became Old US 91 and the scenery improved dramatically with big hills on both sides of the road.At the top of a climb where I stopped for a photo, I met Adam, another touring cyclist, and then his friend Matt.Adam, interestingly, had started from Spokane the day before I did but took a different route east to Lolo Pass and down through Yellowstone National Park.Along the way he met up with Matt and they started riding together.


These guys were less than half my age and had half the weight on their bikes so they quickly passed out of sight.I stopped in Inkom for a cold drink and then rode south on Old US 91 to McCammon where Old US 91 ended.I stopped at a busy Flying J and then I picked up US30 going east.At this point US30 was a 4-lane road with a lot of traffic but a wide shoulder.The great scenery continued all the way to Lava Hot Springs, my destination.


Lava Hot Springs was just off the highway so I took the exit to the tourist town with a variety of accommodations and restaurants as well as the hot springs.I stopped at the Visitor Center and got a brochure of accommodations and restaurants.Just as I exited the Visitor Center Adam and Matt showed up.Since they were much faster than me they obviously took a break somewhere along the way that allowed me to get ahead of them.They said they had been pushing pretty hard and only rode a little over 20 miles for the day.


I suggested they check the Visitor Center and I went ahead looking for a place to stay.I had already decided it was time for me to take a rest day after 5 days of riding.There was a KOA in town but I was leery of having my camp setup along with my bike for a day.Fortunately, I found the Lava Spa Motel and RV Park where I got a room for two nights for $65 a night, a pretty good rate and probably due to the fact that it was off season.


Later I ate at the Chuck Wagon and had the top sirloin steak special, the first time I think I had steak in over a year.It was okay but nothing ďspecial.Ē


This was a fairly easy day with not much climbing.The hardest part of the riding was making sure I didnít get lost on the frontage roads and on OLD US 91.


Day 17: Thu, Sep 20, 2018 - Lava Hot Springs, ID


Lava Hot Springs turned out to be a great place for a rest day.Everything was within easy walking distance.For breakfast I walked a block to the Chuck Wagon restaurant for a relatively light breakfast of a single pancake, a scrambled egg, and 2 slices of bacon.


About 9:30 I walked less than a block to the public hot springs for a soak.I paid $5.50 for an all-day pass.There were 4 pools - 102-105, 105, 106-110, and 112 temperature pools.Never having soaked in a hot spring before I started with the coolest pool and progressed to the hottest pool.I spent at most an hour at the pools because just sitting in a pool wasnít the most exciting thing to do.


Around 11 I took a nap for about 2 hours which was very refreshing.Then I did another soak but only for about 30 minutes.Thatís all I could stand for just soaking and doing nothing.I also checked out the library which was open from 1-5 pm and read the latest papers.


For dinner I ate at a pizzeria that was good.I ordered a 14-inch pepperoni pizza which I knew would be too much but I boxed up 3 slices for dessert later.


I also solved one physical issue.I only have sandals for footwear and sandals work great.However, after a couple of weeks on tour my heels become chapped and dry and start cracking which can become painful.Yesterday I checked the store for something to treat this and I saw they had Bag Balm.That reminded me that I had packed some Bag Bam in a couple of old camera film canisters and I applied that.Between that and the soak something was working because my heels felt almost normal by the end of the day.


I also met a couple touring on a tandem and pulling a trailer.They had biked from Pocatello to here and were returning after eating breakfast.This was their first overnight trip and it looked like they were hooked on touring.I never saw the other 2 cyclists I met yesterday so I donít know if they stayed over for a rest day or moved on.I know they were headed to Salt Lake City so I suspect they decided to push on since they were pretty close to their destination.


Day 18: Fri, Sep 21, 2018 - Lava Hot Springs, ID to Montpelier, ID [55.9, 7:05, 7.9 mph, +2,361', -1,275']


It was rather nippy in the morning - 37F - so I didnít rush heading out.I ate breakfast again at the Chuck Wagon but ordered a regular breakfast - ham and cheese omelet with a pancake.It was a good breakfast


I waited until 8:30 to leave when the sun was over the mountains.It was probably about 40F at that point.This was actually fine because there was a 4-mile, 900-foot climb to warm me up to start the day off.It was cold enough that there was ice from the automatic sprinklers.


It was a scenic ride for most of the day and I spent a lot of time stopping to take a photo.When I reached the top there was a fair descent of 600 feet for a couple of miles.From the summit there were great views of the wide valley below.Then there was a 5-mile crossing of the valley with enormous wheat fields bounded by the mountains.On the other side of the valley I had views of the Alexander Reservoir and Soda Springs in the distance.I also had a view of an oncoming train but didnít see the train soon enough to get a photo.


I stopped in Soda Springs just after noon and had a small pizza for lunch and a cold drink.


Leaving Soda Springs I passed through the Bear River Valley with more wheat fields whose bright yellow contrasted nicely with the brown mountains.Then I climbed to the Georgetown Summit which was a pretty gradual climb.


For the day the shoulder was very good but for some reason after the summit the shoulder deteriorated pretty badly.There was maybe a foot of shoulder but the shoulder was often partially cracked leaving little if no shoulder to use.So I had to ride cautiously when big trucks were passing.


I had hoped Georgetown would offer a cold drink but I didnít find anything.Nothing except, strangely, there were a couple of vending machines along the road.I wondered if the neighbors saw an opportunity to make some extra cash.I wasnít really tempted because if a vending machine failed I wouldíve had no idea who to call.


After Georgetown the good shoulder returned for the rest of the way.As I continued riding I noticed a touring cyclist approaching from behind and noticed he was going fairly fast.As he passed I heard the putt-putt of an engine attached to his bicycle which was pulling a trailer.Later I met him at the KOA but didnít think to get a photo.


Just a couple of miles outside Montpelier I stopped at a truck stop and got a cold drink about 4:30. Then I continued into town and stopped at a Subway.I got a foot long and ate half and save the other half for later.


Montpelier didnít have any great motel options.There were three and the cheapest was $85 according to google maps.The prices shown by Google Maps are usually better than what you get by just dropping in.The $85 cheapest was a motel on the west side of town where I stayed when I passed through Montpelier on another tour.It wasnít a great motel and Iím sure it was somewhat less then.Maybe they upgraded the motel or maybe this was just price inflation.


There werenít any camping options in town but there was a KOA 2 miles east of town on US89 so I rode there.It was a bit uphill but not a big deal.I got a tent site for $28 which was okay if a bit expensive.My tent site backed up against an alfalfa field with a mountain behind it.It was a good view and there were some deer grazing in the field in the distance.The bad part of the tent site was it consisted mostly of wood chips.Fortunately, there was a fairly bare spot where I was able to pitch my tent.


This was a surprisingly long day.Part of that was there didnít seem to be hardly any downhill and the other part was I stopped to take a lot of photos.


Day 19: Sat, Sep 22, 2018 - Montpelier, ID to Cokeville, WY [37.7, 4:03, 9.3 mph, +1,056', -936']


I was packed up and ready to leave at 7:40 when I noticed my rear tire looked low.I checked and it was essentially flat.So I unpacked everything and removed the rear tire.Thatís when I discovered I didnít have any tire levers so I had to make do with a couple of screwdrivers I had in my arsenal.Fortunately, it wasnít a tight tire so I was able to get the tire off and remove the tube.Then I pumped up the tube but couldnít find a leak.So I moved to a basin the KOA had for cleaning fish and I plugged up the drain with toilet paper and added enough water to submerge the tube.At first I couldnít find anything and then I found a slow leak, a bubble every second or two.I patched that and put everything back together again and left about an hour after discovering the flat tire.There is never a good time to have a flat tire but this was about as good as it gets, a place where it was convenient to work and on a day with short mileage.


I rode the 2 miles back to town and then headed north about a half mile to the Timbers Steakhouse.I would not have guessed this place would have breakfast but the KOA proprietress told me the name was a misnomer and it was really a family dining place.I ordered the miners breakfast which was a big breakfast including 2 pretty large pancakes.They were the best pancakes of the trip so far and the breakfast was filling.


I left about 9:40 looking for a mailbox.When it looked like I wasnít going to find one by heading south through town I stopped at a food mart and asked a customer.He directed me to the post office which wasnít too far away west of where I was.When I dropped off my letter and got back on US30 I immediately spotted a mailbox next to the road in a grocery store parking lot.Had I been just a little more patient I would have seen it.


It was 32 miles to Cokeville and another 43 miles to Kemmerer.The route was gradually uphill with some climbing near Kemmerer.So I decided to make this an easy day by making Cokeville my destination rather than grind all the way to Kemmerer.This especially made sense once I lost an hour dealing with my flat tire.


The scenery continued to be outstanding as the route continued through the Bear River Valley and then headed east into the Thomas Fork Creek Valley.At the top of the climb out of the Bear River Valley there was a historical site that was much more interesting than normal.There was an exhibit describing the Oregon/California Trail that passed through this area.The most interesting part was the Big Hill on the other side of the valley.This was reputed to be the hardest climb/descent on the Trail.It was an all-day event to climb up from the other side and then descend.The descent was so steep that they locked the wagon wheels so the wagons skidded down the hill rather than rolled to provide some braking.


Then there was another fairly steep climb of about a mile to the Border Summit with a spectacular view of the Thomas Fork Creek Valley.On the other side there were mountains that abruptly rose from the valley floor and extended in both directions - left (north) and right (south).


Shortly after descending from the Border Summit I left Idaho and entered Wyoming just after 2 pm.It seemed like I had been in Idaho forever and thatís because, other than the initial 30 miles riding east from Spokane, I had been in Idaho.


US30 junctioned with WY89 and they both headed south to Cokeville.It was an easy 10 miles to Cokeville.I stopped at the Flying J at the edge of town for a cold drink and then rode a little further to The Hideout Motel where I got a room for a reasonable $53.There was another motel across the street that Google Maps had shown a couple miles north of town on US30.This motel looked a little decrepit so the Hideout was an easy choice.


After cleaning up I walked across the street to the Gold Buckle Grill for a hamburger which was good.This place also served breakfast but tomorrow was Sunday and it doesnít open until 10 am, probably due to the Mormon influence.So I would have to scrounge breakfast together at the Flying J in the morning.


Another great day of scenery and an easy mileage day only marred by the flat tire.


Day 20: Sun, Sep 23, 2018 - Cokeville, WY to Kemmerer, WY [46.4, 4:49, 9.6 mph, +1,298', -515']


The only option for breakfast on a Sunday was the Flying J so I walked there and got a couple of Canadian bacon egg sandwiches.It was a chilly 37F so I delayed leaving until 8:30 when it was a little warmer.


It was 43 miles to Kemmerer on an uphill route that gained almost 1,000 feet pretty gradually until close to Kemmerer.The route continued through Bear River Valley with grazing cattle.There was also a railroad running through the valley and I saw 3 trains in their entirety in the long valley.


After 19 miles I reached the junction of US30 and WY89 and I stopped along the road for my second breakfast.


At this point US30 did a left turn and headed due east, leaving the valley.The route wound through a scenic open canyon.Then it passed through a fossil lake where the mountains were laminates of sandstone, mudstone, and volcanic ash with scenic colors of white, tan, and rusty red.


During this time the wind picked up and was occasionally a gusty tailwind.As the road climbed to its peak of 7,142 feet the wind became stronger and more of a side wind that made riding somewhat tricky with the gusty wind.


Then the road descended a few miles into Kemmerer and I rode through town looking for a motel.Several motels were obviously shut down but others were schizophrenic claiming they were open in one sign and closed in another.I started having flashbacks of Burley were the motels were all filled but the Fossil Butte Motel was last and it had rooms and I got one for $65.


Last night I did a pressure feel of my rear tire and it seemed a little low.This morning it seemed a little lower so I pumped up the tire which was fine for the day.Once I got into my room I took my bike outside and removed the rear tube.As I suspected, it had the same slow leak coming through my tire patch.I was able to scrape this patch off and I applied another patch, hoping this one would do the trick.


After I cleaned up I walked back through town looking for a place to eat.Unfortunately, they were closed on a Sunday so I grabbed some things at a Maverik close to my motel.This is where I would also get breakfast in the morning since the only breakfast place in town didnít open until 8 am and I wanted to get a quick start tomorrow for the long 85 mile ride to Rock Springs.


Day 21: Mon, Sep 24, 2018 - Kemmerer, WY to Rock Springs, WY [87.8, 7:22, 11.9 mph, +2,500', -3,584']


I wanted to get an early start today since this promised to be a long day - 85 miles to Rock Springs.I walked the short distance to the Maverik and got 2 bacon and egg sandwiches and a cup of coffee.


I left at 7:30 when the temp was in the high 30s or low 40s.Kemmerer sits in a bowl so I had to climb a little over 100 feet over 2 miles to get back to US30.Just as I started riding on US30 I saw 3 pronghorns along the road and 2 crossed the road to the other side.This was in addition to the 2 I saw earlier that were in someoneís yard.Later I saw a herd of about 15 pronghorns next to the fence next to the road.They got a little skittish when I stopped to take a photo but didnít run too far.


For the rest of the morning I repeatedly climbed a little and then descended for a while.Overall, US30 dropped 500 feet in elevation to where it merged with I80.I spent more time descending than climbing and I pretty much could choose how hard to push the riding by either coasting or pedaling harder.It was a nice choice to have.


Once I reached I80 I had to ride 2 miles to get to the exit to Little America where I stopped for a sandwich and a drink at noon.I never dreamed I would be halfway by noon.


When I left, Little America was conveniently located by WY374 which I was able to take to avoid the Interstate.WY374 wasnít great pavement but it was good enough and much better than riding the Interstate.For the most part I had the road to myself for 20 miles until it ended in Green River.


At Green River the plan was to cross to the north side of the Interstate and pick up Old Lincoln Highway.From downtown I had to climb 200 steep feet to get to the town cemetery to pick up this highway.However, when I got there the highway was an old gravel road.I checked my location with Maps.Me and saw it had been a bad choice.On the other hand, there were some huge sandstone layered hills in the area and there was a great view from the cemetery.


After the obligatory photos I descended back to town and kept going the direction I was headed when I came into town and that put me on the Interstate.Deer seemed to think they owned the town.When I was climbing to the cemetery I saw a lone deer casually walking through a neighborhood.Then as I was leaving town there were 3 or 4 alongside the road.They watched warily as I stopped to take a photo but they were hemmed in by a fence and didnít have much choice.


The Interstate was almost continuous traffic but it was more level than Old Lincoln Highway would have been.In the end I had to ride 8 of the 11 miles to Rock Springs on the Interstate before I exited at the US191 exit where I took Sunset Dr the rest of the way into town.


This brought me into the part of town that had a bunch of motels and restaurants.I had previously eyed Motel 8 (not 6) as a place to stay and got a room for 2 days for $54 per day which was a good deal for a nice room.Probably the best value of the trip.


There was a BBQ place next door so I ate there.It was good food but short on quantity for me.


There was a Walmart almost next door and I checked it out.I was able to get tire levers there.I checked the rear tire pressure when I got up in the morning and at the end of the day and the tire appeared to be maintaining pressure.So hopefully the tire levers will just be extra weight in my pannier.


A surprisingly easy 85-mile day.Tomorrow is a planned rest day.I didnít really need a rest day yet but the next 3 days werenít good prospects for taking a rest day.


Day 22: Tue, Sep 25, 2018 - Rock Springs, WY to Rock Springs, WY [0.0, 0:00, 0.0 mph, +0', -0']


I slept very well and didnít get up until after 7.There were only two real breakfast options - IHOP and Village Inn - both within easy walking.I wasnít particularly excited by either option.Yesterday I stopped by IHOP and checked their menu and their pancake options were what I would call gimmicky so I opted for Village Inn. I had their 2-2-2 breakfast that cost $12 with small pancakes.It was the worst breakfast value of the trip.


After breakfast I walked to Walmart for some grocery shopping in preparation for the next 2 days where I would have no food access and would have to eat from whatever I carried with me.I was also going to camp at a BLM campsite that had no water so I had to carry extra water for 2 days.I had two 2-liter water bags that I expected would be sufficient, adding about 10 extra pounds of weight, but I had to figure out a way to carry the water.I could have laid them across my rear rack but I worried I could lose water if there was a leak and I could ill afford to lose any water.However, my 2 rear panniers have a side pocket where I carry a large water bottle.These pockets were just big enough to carry a 2-liter water bag and that solved that problem nicely.I stuck my 2 large water bottles inside the rear panniers.


Later, I ate at a Subway across the street.I had Subway coupons and I used one for a 6-inch sub meal.


Day 23: Wed, Sep 26, 2018 - Rock Springs, WY to Irish Canyon, CO [73.6, 8:25, 8.7 mph, +3,218', -2,643']


I walked to the Village Inn for breakfast.I wanted a big breakfast today and yesterday I noticed an all-you-can-eat pancake deal for $5 so I ordered that plus a side of ham.I got 5 small pancakes so when I finished those I ordered more pancakes.The deal said additional orders would be 2 pancakes which would have been about right but the second order came out with another 5 pancakes.I ate 3 and was full.


It was a little chilly in the morning so I didnít leave until 8.I followed Google Mapís bicycle route suggestion for getting to WY430 on the other side of town. It was relatively straightforward until I took Adler across town.It didnít go all the way through so I was supposed to do a little jog to get to the other side where Adler would have gone through.Something didnít work so I just rode east.I got on a road but I figured it was the loop road and I needed to get to WY430 which was below the overpass I was on.I started backtracking and looking for a way to finagle a bicycle through when I saw a left sign for WY430.So I took the next left and was on my way.Where I got on WY430 there was a warning sign that there were no services for the next 120 miles as I knew and was carrying an extra 4 liters of water in two 2-liter water bags.


There was a 500-foot climb to start off which gave a good view looking back.The road was great because there was little traffic and less as I continued south.The most scenic part of the morning was riding near the steep mountains on my left.This section continued for about 10 miles where I stopped for my second breakfast along the way.There really wasnít a good place to stop so I stopped at a guard rail where I could sit on the guard rail.


After this scenic section the vista was wide open for the rest of Wyoming.After 59 miles I entered Colorado around 3:30.The first noticeable thing about Colorado was the pavement was replaced by a hard packed gravel road.Next, it seemed like everything had a green tint as opposed to the desert look of Wyoming.This Colorado section was very up and down with an overall descent.However, the gravel road made the climbing harder and the descents slower because I couldnít let the bicycle go faster than 15 mph on the rougher road.


By this time, I had finished a large and regular water bottle and was too lazy to break out another water bottle in my rear pannier.Eventually my thirst overcame my laziness and I broke out another water bottle.


The Colorado scenery was very nice but I was disappointed.Last year when I drove this route I remembered an in-your-face dramatic scene.Just when I figured I must have misremembered I rounded a curve, and there it was.I was on a hill looking down into a valley with a backstop of mountains on the other side, just as I remembered it.


I descended into the valley and then the road led me through Irish Canyon with high rock walls on both sides.Shortly, I came to the Irish Canyon campsite just off the road.There were 6 sites and an outhouse with a couple in a camper occupying one of the sites.


I picked a site and set up my tent.I had enough water that I could afford to wipe myself with a rag to take care of most of the sweat.Then I ate from my food supply and settled in for the night.


A hard day but great scenery in the morning in Wyoming and then later in Colorado.I also saw a bunch of pronghorns along the way.My water supply worked out just about right.


Day 24: Thu, Sep 27, 2018 - Irish Canyon, CO to Maybell, CO [52.8, 6:29, 8.1 mph, +2,081', -2,668']


Usually I hydrate throughout the night whenever I wake up.I finished my normal 4 water bottle supply sometime in the night and I had to start using the extra water I was carrying.It was very windy during the night until sometime after midnight.That didnít help my sleeping but I didnít wake up until about 6:40. I left a little after 8 just when sunlight was finally starting to peek into the canyon.


It was a scenic 4 mile ride out of the canyon but the road was rougher than yesterday. It was a gradual 8-mile descent to CO318 and pavement but still very scenic.Once out of the canyon there were mountains ahead in the distance.


It was about a 900-foot descent to CO318 but shortly CO318 started a gradual 900-foot climb over 10 miles to reclaim all of that lost altitude.Then just as quickly gave most of that altitude back over another 10-mile stretch.CO318 wasnít particularly scenic with the road going down a fairly narrow valley with sagebrush and some evergreen brush and low hills paralleling the road.


I exhausted my first 2-liter water bag and by the time I reached the Little Snake River I started in on the other 2-liter water bag.Just before I started a steep climb out of the valley I saw flashing lights.When I passed by I saw a policeman investigating a car that was in the ditch on its side.I could only guess that someone got careless and ran off the road to achieve that state on a straight away stretch, or was seriously drunk.


About the time I started the steepest climb of the day I got to thinking about the small store in Maybell that Google Maps said closed at 3 pm.I thought I might have a chance to make that but this climb took longer than I expected and then after a descent the road roller coasted the rest of the way into Maybell which I reached about 3:20 pm.Nevertheless, I rode to the other end of town and found the store was open.In fact, it was scheduled to stay open until 8 pm and then open in the morning at 7 am. I grabbed a sandwich and a cold drink.


The Maybell Park offered camping - $15 for a non-electric site and $3 for showers.The sites werenít great with uneven ground for pitching a tent and next to US40.At least it had water.I set up, took a shower, and then walked to the store again for another sandwich.I didnít need a drink since I now had all the water I could drink.


An up and down day with some great early scenery.My water calculations were right on the mark - enough to get me by although one can never have too much water.


Day 25: Fri, Sep 28, 2018 - Maybell, CO to Meeker, CO [46.5, 5:42, 8.2 mph, +1,862', -1,525']


I was really tired last night so I started sleeping not long after 7 pm.I slept fairly well the rest of the night and only heard a few vehicles on US40.When I got up in the morning I started packing and then walked to the small store down the street just after 7 am when it opened.I got 2 ham and egg sandwiches and coffee.I heated the sandwiches up in the storeís microwave and then walked back to the parkís restroom to eat because it was heated and my tent wasnít and it was a little chilly.


Last night I thumb tested my rear tire and it obviously had lost some pressure.I figured it was still a slow leak that I could live with but pumped up the tire for the day.


I left just after 8 on a beautiful morning and rode east a couple of miles to pick up Co57 south to Meeker.It was 45 miles to Meeker.The first 19 miles climbed 1,100 feet, then descended 450 feet and climbed 450 feet in a saddle, and then descended 900 feet the rest of the way to Meeker.


The first half of the day was great scenery.The ride east of Maybell was along irrigated fields with mountains to the north.Co57 started on a heading toward mountains ahead that made you wonder how we were going to get through them.The road curled around the hills to find its way through the mountains.After 19 miles and 3 hours of riding I reached the crest and then the scene of the day was a valley with mountains lining the west side of the valley, a great vista that I remembered well driving through this area last year.


All morning I kept looking for a good place to stop along the road for a second breakfast but nothing showed up.Once I reached the crest I just stopped alongside the road and sat on the ground, taking the opportunity to eat and savor the view.A couple on a motorcycle rode past me uphill and then turned around and came back to make sure I was okay.


After my second breakfast I rode the 6-mile length of the valley - the saddle in my elevation profile - and reached the crest at the other end at 12:30.The rest of the way was fairly easy with a mostly a modest descent with okay views but nothing special.Somewhere near the end of this valley Co57 became Co7 and that reflected a county change.At that point the road became smoother than before.


After 41 miles, Co7 ended at US64 and I headed east towards Meeker.There was a food mart at the junction of CO64 and CO13 where I stopped for a cold drink, a couple of miles from Meeker.Shortly after I resumed riding I realized my rear tire was now flat.I donít know if the slow leak became a bigger leak or if I got another puncture at the food mart or after riding away.


In any event, only about a mile from Meeker, I was forced to stop and fix the problem.At first I hoped I could just pump up the tire and fix the problem when I was in a motel but that didnít work - the tire flatted right away.So I replaced the tube with another tube and rode on but something didnít feel right.It seemed the real wheel had a bump in it so I resolved to replace the tire with my spare when I got to my motel.


I had stayed in Meeker once before and the least inexpensive motel in town was the Rustic Lodge at the other end of town.Thatís where I went and I got a room for $54 but it was on the second floor and it might have been the only remaining room.I wasnít too surprised since this was a Friday and I wasnít sure how busy the motels would be around the start of hunting season.Later I checked Google Maps and it showed $79 as the least expensive of the motels showing a price.So I probably saved almost $30 at this basic motel.


First thing I did was replace the existing rear tire with my spare tire.I figure that was the safest thing to do at that point.


After cleaning up, and I really needed cleaning up after 2 tire removal/changes, was walk to the Outfitters Diner next door.I had a large burrito that had some real zip to it.This place is also open for breakfast so that is almost certainly where I will be in the morning.


A great day until the rear tire drama.When I looked at the old tube later kit looked like the patch was cracked so Iím guessing there was no new leak.After I fixed this leak with a new patch in Cokeville, everything seemed fine for several days.Then I had noticed at the Irish Canyon campsite that the tire seemed a little lower in pressure.This made we wonder if the roughness of the gravel road just aggravated the patch and it just deteriorated from there.


Day 26: Sat, Sep 29, 2018 - Meeker, CO to Aspen, CO [43.5, 5:04, 8.6 mph, +1,794', -2,572']


I ate at the diner next door because it was so convenient.I checked my rear tire and it was still rock hard after pumping it up last night.When I left town a sign said 8:10 and 41F.


It was 3 miles back to the intersection of CO64 and CO13 where I headed south on CO13 to Rifle.The road climbed 1200 feet over 11 miles then was fairly level for 10 miles and then descended 2,100 feet over 16 miles.It took me two and a half hours to climb the 1200 feet.There was a variable headwind that seemed to threaten to become difficult but it only managed that for a few minutes before it would return to mostly benign.


A little later there was a basic rest stop where I stop for my second breakfast.I used the outhouse as a wind break while I enjoyed my breakfast.Not too long after starting again I got that rear wobbly feeling and I discovered I was losing air pressure.I was sure it wasnít just a slow leak so I removed the tire and tried to find the leak in the tube but was unsuccessful so I replaced the tube with a brand new tube and moved on but I was now convinced something in the wheel was causing these flats.


When I reached the downhill section it was quick work to cover the 16 miles to Rifle without too much pedaling.I stopped at a Kum n Go just outside town and had 2 slices of pizza and a cold drink.Then when I checked the rear tire it was nearly flat after seemingly fine on the downhill.I pumped it up and headed into the main part of town on Railroad Ave.I barely made it before the tire was flat again.I asked around but there apparently was no bike shop in town so I was pretty well stuck.Unless I could find and fix the leaks in the 2 tubes I had I had no way of continuing.


At that point I called my nephewís wife, Sabrina, and she agreed to come by and pick me up.I had found the library and camped out there so Sabrina would know where to meet me.The library was just about to close at 5 pm where Sabrina showed up with Genevieve, her young daughter.We quickly loaded my bicycle on the rear bike rack and returned to Aspen.


It was a miserable end to the start of a good day but I was fortunate to have this problem where I did and not in some of the remote places I had been.It was just disappointing to be only a day away from completing my planned tour.


Day 27: Sun, Sep 30, 2018 - Aspen, CO


When I got up in the morning I took another look at my bicycle.I removed the rear tire and checked both flatted tubes.They had the flats in the same spot and both had a small rectangular shaped scrape in addition to the actual puncture, confirming that the same problem caused the flats.The position of the flat showed that it should have been caused by the tire but when I inspected the tire I couldnít see anything that would cause the flats.So I patched both tubes and then inflated them to see if they would hold air.


At mid-morning Sabrina dropped me off in downtown Aspen at Ink Coffee where I spent some time last year.There were a couple of bike shops nearby but none of them had a presta 700x37 size tube.So I had a burrito, muffin, and coffee at Ink Coffee which was good.An hour later Sabrina picked me up and we returned home.


Then we decided to take the gondola to the top of Aspen Mountain.At this time of the year the gondola only operates on the weekend.Sabrina had a pass as part of her ski pass and I purchased a pass for $35 that also included a $10 food credit and a Maroon Bells bus ticket.We took the gondola to the top of the mountain on a beautiful day with panoramic views of the surrounding area and hung around for several hours.Sometime after 3 pm we headed back down the mountain on the gondola.


Back home I took another look at my rear tire issue.Previously I had inspected the tire based on its position relative to the tube valve.I always align the brand identifier of the tire with the tube valve.Once a tube is patched you can then see where the patch is aligned with respect to the tire.This time, however, I examined the entire inside of the tire.Thatís when I finally spotted a defect inside the tire and it matched the rectangular imprint on the tube.The outside of the tire was cut and that obviously caused the defect inside the tire and this rubbing against the tubes caused the flats.


So it was a relief to finally identify the underlying cause.At that point I decided to revert back to the new tire that I started the trip with.After putting the tire back together I did a little test ride and I didnít detect any ride anomaly that previously caused me to decide to replace the new tire with the backup tire.


However, I also discovered a problem with the rim.Yesterday when I had the first flat something didnít feel right when braking after I fixed the flat (by replacing the tube).So I had released the rear brake and relied only on the front brake.Today I had a chance to look at the rim more closely and discovered a crack in the rim lip.I figured I could live with the rim crack since I only needed to ride the bike downhill from Aspen to Glenwood Springs to catch an Amtrak train home.But obviously I was going to have to replace the rim when I got home.


Day 28: Mon, Oct 01, 2018 - Aspen, CO


A goal this week was to visit Maroon Bells, maybe the top attraction in the Aspen area aside from skiing.Due to Tropical Storm Rosa in Mexico, rain is making its way into the Aspen area.Last night the forecast for today didnít look good - rain expected starting at 10 am - but this morning it looked like the rain would hold off until 1 pm.So I decided to check out Maroon Bells today because tomorrow is expected to be a bad weather day and that would only leave Wednesday.


I hitched a ride with Sabrina on her way to work and from there I caught a bus to Aspen Highlands where I had a ticket to the Maroon Bells.Maroon Bells is so popular that busses run every 15 minutes.It is possible to drive before 8am and after 5pm but there is limited parking and so the bus (or biking) is often the only reasonable way to get there.I caught the 8:25 bus with only 2 passengers and that got me to the Bells.


It was cloudy but there were good views of the Bells, so named because of the distinctive maroon coloring of the mountains.I hiked around Maroon Lake and then hiked up to Crater Lake which was a 1.4 mile uphill, rocky hike.However, the Aspen area has been in a drought so there was no lake, just a dry bed.Still it was a good view.


It was 12:30 by the time I got back to Maroon Lake.By that time the clouds were obscuring the mountain tops.It was obvious the rain was on its way.By the time I got in line for the return bus a few minutes later the mountains were totally obscured and it started raining as I got on the packed bus.


Back at Aspen Highlands I was starved so I had a spicy chicken wrap that was very good despite its $13 cost.Then I caught a bus into Aspen and from there I caught a bus to Aspen Village.Aspen has a great transit system.Busses in the Aspen area are free to ride (the Maroon Bells bus cost $8) but the bus to Aspen Village cost $2.


At the Aspen Village food mart I got another egg sandwich and then I crashed for about an hour of sleep.Then I ate again later when Sabrina and Genevieve came home from work and school.


Day 29: Tue, Oct 02, 2018 - Aspen, CO


I hitched a ride again with Sabrina to her work place where I caught a bus into Aspen.I had a banana nut muffin at ink Coffee and spent some time reading the paper and checking email.I also found an online map of the Rio Grande Trail that will take me to Glenwood Springs.I downloaded it to my Android 6 phone and then spent some time searching for the file manager to find the map in .pdf file form.This was important because when I used this trail last year I somehow missed a turn which would have crossed me over to the other side of CO82.Eventually I found a way to cross over and pick up the trail again but I wanted to avoid that issue this year.


Later, I found the library and spent some time reading the latest newspapers and some magazines.The library had an extensive collection of various magazines so I could have spent a lot of time there but I wanted to get something to eat.I decided to try Victoriaís Espresso which was next to ink Coffee.I had a nice sandwich but the WiFi was awful.When you connected to their WiFi you had to give an email address to get in.Then the WiFi was so slow it was almost useless.Then it was free only for an hour and then you had to pay.That convinced me to avoid Victoriaís in the future if I had any intention to use WiFi.


Around 2:30 I left to catch the bus back to Aspen Village.Yesterday I paid $2 but when I checked the RFTA website it claimed seniors rode for free.So today I asked what the senior rate was and after showing my driverís license I rode for free.


Later, when Sabrina came home we decided to head to Basalt for food so Sabrina wouldnít have to cook for a change.We ate at Smoke Modern Barbeque that was really good.I had smoked pulled pork that was good even without barbeque sauce and even better with it.


There was intermittent rain during the day but the weather was much better than the forecast which forecasted a possible thunderstorm and possible heavy rain.


Day 30: Wed, Oct 03, 2018 - Aspen, CO


Again, I hitched a ride with Sabrina and took the bus into town.It had rained overnight but it was partly cloudy on the ride into town.It was very scenic with the morning sun filtering through the clouds and illuminating the other side of the valley with a low hanging cloud.


I pretty much duplicated yesterdayís day.Unfortunately, ink Coffee didnít have their banana nut muffin so I settled for a cinnamon roll and coffee.I also wandered around checking out the stores.It was amazing how many art galleries there were.


After some more reading at the library I went back to ink Coffee and had an egg sandwich.I avoided Victoriaís so I could get decent WiFi at ink Coffee.Then I caught the bus back to Aspen village and spent a little time getting packed for leaving in the morning.


Nick and Johnnie got home from their hunting trip a little after 7 pm so we had a late dinner.In this case we took advantage of their trip and had antelope steaks which were good.


Day 31: Thu, Oct 04, 2018 - Aspen, CO to Amtrak, CO [35.1, 2:49, 12.4 mph, +1,208', -2,456']


I got up just after 6 am to get ready my ride to Glenwood Springs to catch an Amtrak back to Chicago.The train was scheduled to leave at 12:10 pm so I didnít have a lot of time if I wanted to give myself any leeway.It was 32 miles to Glenwood Springs on the paved Rio Grande Trail.This was an easy ride since it was a gradual downhill with the loss of 1500 feet.The big question was the weather. Yesterday rain was projected but this morning the forecast looked fairly good for the morning with mostly cloudy skies and some chance of rain.If the weather was really bad Nick could have given me a ride but it was time to get back on the bike.


I ate the last of my cereal along with some banana nut bread from Sabrina.Then I said my good-byes to Nick, Sabrina, and Johnnie and left at 7:15.


It was just a couple of short jogs to get on to the Rio Grande Trail to Glenwood Springs.However, I took it easy because I didnít want to subject my rear wheel to any unnecessary jolts and risk further damage to my cracked rim.


The weather was okay with temperature in the upper 40s but I could see what looked like rain in the distance.There was a glorious rainbow ahead that was a full 180 degrees and a second one also that wasnít as bright.Then I got hit with about 20 minutes of light rain that forced me to bring out my rain gear for the first time on the trip.


After that the weather cleared up and I pulled into Glenwood Springs just after 10 am.That gave me time to clean up and change into my non-cycling clothing.Then I got a baggage ticket for my bicycle.At that point I had plenty of time before departure so I rode the short distance to the Daily Bread where I had a second breakfast of ham and cheese omelet.


Everything was going so well that this couldnít continue.When I left the Daily Bread I discovered it was now raining.Then when I got back to the train depot I found out that the train was a couple of hours behind schedule.It was a long wait until the train finally arrived around 2:40.With my bicycle I was pretty well stuck at the train depot whereas others presumably wandered around town.


When the train arrived I took my bicycle to the baggage car at the front of the train and then walked back to board the train with my 5 pieces of luggage Ė 4 panniers and a duffel bag.I stowed my duffel bag and both rear panniers in the storage area and put one of my front panniers in the overhead storage and the other under the seat.


Day 32: Fri, Oct 05, 2018 - Amtrak, CO to Naperville, IL


I slept unevenly as I usually do on the train.When I woke up close to 5:30 am I realized it was really near 6:30 am since we were now in the central time zone. That meant the snack bar was soon to be open.So I grabbed my things and headed to the observation car where I would spend most of the rest of the train journey.I got a sausage and egg sandwich and coffee for breakfast.


Not too long after, a security guy came into the observation car pushing a roller suitcase without an identification tag. Iím not totally sure but I think they knew it belonged to the guy sitting next to me.They wanted to confirm that it was his suitcase and he confirmed that it was.What was interesting was this guy was from Lebanon and I think they knew that and they wanted to be sure this suitcase wasnít a bomb or something related.They asked the guy some questions about his travel and then asked if they could search the suitcase and the guy granted permission.He seemed unfazed by this so maybe he had been subjected to search before.In any event it was all very professional and the two security guys found no issue.


I spent much of the rest of the time reading my kindle and finally finished reading Tailspin: The People and Forces Behind Americaís Fifty-Year Fall--and Those Fighting to Reverse It (hint - itís not Donald Trump trying to reverse the fall) by Steven Brill which seemed I had been reading forever. The train fell further behind schedule and by noon it was about 3 hours late.


It looked like the train was going to make up some time and get in around 5 pm rather than the scheduled 2:50 pm.This was actually fine by me.I was somewhat uncaring about the arrival time.Thatís because I had to get my bicycle from downtown Chicago to Naperville.This Amtrak train actually stopped in Naperville but that stop had no baggage service so I had to take the train all the way to Chicago Union Station to get my bicycle out of baggage.Then I had to take the commuter (Metra) train back to Naperville.However, bicycles arenít allowed on the commuter train during rush hour.So even if Amtrak had arrived on schedule I would have had to wait until 8 or 9 pm before I could get on the commuter train back to Naperville with my bicycle.On the other hand, if Amtrak had been on schedule I would have had the option, before darkness set in, of riding my bicycle back to Naperville but with a cracked rim that wasnít an option this time.


So I was mostly unconcerned about the late arrival within limits.Then just as the train neared the metropolitan area we stopped and sat for quite a while and it wasnít clear why.Usually a stoppage is due to a freight train passing through that has priority over Amtrak but this was something else and the something else was never revealed.


In any event, the train finally arrived Chicago Union Station around 7:15 pm.This turned out to be ideal timing for me (but not some others who missed connections and had to spend the night).When I got off the train carrying my 4 panniers and duffel bag I walked to the baggage car which was just behind the two engines.However, the door was not open.Turned out the baggage was being unloaded on the other side.So I had to bang on the door a couple times before someone answered the call.I handed them my claim ticket and got my bicycle in return.


I put my panniers and duffel bag on my bicycle.When I walked through the station I saw there was a commuter train destined for Naperville in the boarding stage.I rolled my bicycle to the ticket line and got a one-way ticket to Naperville for $7.25 and the ticket agent confirmed I was allowed to put my bicycle on this 7:40 pm train.So I got my bicycle on the train with about 5 minutes to spare.


My bicycle was the only one on the train which is good because there is limited space for bicycles and my loaded bicycle takes the space of 2-3 unloaded bicycles.


It was an hour to Naperville since this train made every stop along the way but I was fine with that since I thought I might not get home until somewhat later.I got off in Naperville about 8:45 pm and it was raining.So I donned my rain gear and rode the 1.5 miles home.


Addendum Ė A couple weeks later I removed my rear wheel to ship it back east to Peter White who had originally built this wheel with a Rohloff hub.I checked the rim again and the crack had extended down both sides of the side of the rim with a small hairline crack.So it looked like the rim was close to a catastrophic failure.That means that it was probably a good thing I got a ride from Rifle to Aspen or that failure might have happened along that route.







Copyright Denis Kertz, 2018. All rights reserved.