21 July: Day 47 – Chanute to Pittsburg KS
67.9 miles (2,970T) with 1,191′ of climb. Very pleasant ride today. There were some trees, rolling hills, 15 miles of gravel, and it was quite pleasant. I think I like staying in hotels more than camping when it is 100F. Does that make me a wimp? Today was predicted for 105F but I think it only got to 100F. It didn’t feel that hot really…. maybe I am getting used to it? I ate lunch at the East Side Cafe in Girard and it was FABULOUS! Tonight I met a fellow rider, Paul, who was in the area repairing wind turbines. My next few days are planned any 80, 74, 61, 71… so it should be pretty calm. All planned to meet up with my College buddy and TEAMMATE, Mark Drajeske on July 27! For those of you wondering when I will finish in YORKTOWN VA…. I am predicting SATURDAY AUGUST 20. If you want to come and help me dip my wheels in the Chesapeake Bay… I would love to see you and celebrate together.
20 July: Day 46 – Toronto to Chanute KS
42.2 miles (2,902T) with 1,171’ of climb. A scheduled short day to get on track to meet my buddy near St. Louis on the 27th. Nice rolling terrain … Signs said “ROAD CLOSED” … Not for cyclists I thought to myself… I was able to make it… the photo is where the bridge is missing… I had to lower my bike and jump down and tug it out of there. ☮️
19 July: Day 45 – El Dorado to Toronto KS (Woodson Cove State Park Campground on Lake Toronto)
66.7 miles (2,860T) with 1818’ of climb. The rollers are starting to add up to something you at least notice. It was pretty hot today with a high of 102F. Stopped in Toronto for a Taco Tuesday dinner at”Getty’s Bar”. This is the only establishment and everyone in here is a regular except me. A really nice group of kind folks. My camp is just 5.1 miles (included in total) down the road and probably will be without service, so I am updating now. I have been really impressed with the kindness of Kansas folks, both drivers and in person.
18 July: Day 44 – Hutchinson to El Dorado KS
91.2 Miles (2,793T) Today was hot and dusty, but I think it topped out about 97F. There were similar Kansas sights today. Mostly flat with some rolling hills and mild crosswinds. This morning the front tire was flat again (faulty presta valve) so I changed the tube. All went well today with the front. The first 70 miles were typical. I stopped in a small town called Newton for lunch. Some of these towns, like Newton, are very homey and pretty with nice parks and well groomed simple residences. The last 20 miles was mostly gravel of various types and I got a rear tire flat. It wasn’t the gravel though, there was a small piece of glass that had worked its way through the casing from earlier. Of course this was in the dustiest, hottest spot when I was tired and wanting to be done. I got a Super8 motel in El Dorado because I want to sleep cool not sweaty. I miss the chilly nights camping out west. Im just making my way steadily across Kansas and there is plenty of time to contemplate things out here!
17 July: Day 43 – Great Bend to Hutchinson KS
72.6 Miles (2,702T) Similar to yesterday, but only 95F. Rolling hills with mild crosswinds. I got a late start due to the A/C and comfortable room. When I rolled out … my front tire was flat!! Turned out to be a valve issue that I corrected without using a tube or tire. I planned a hotel for tonight to beat the heat. I got a cheap one called “OYO“ for $44, which turned out to be the right price…. But AC and a nice bed … good enough, even if it smells a bit like smoke. Views today were like yesterday… see below:
16 July: Day 42 – Ness City KS to Great Bend KS
68.2 Miles (2,630T) Some rolling hills and crosswinds today kept things lively. I did get started at 7 am (not 6 like I planned). I quickly got a flat going on a gravel road from some thorns… I picked 5 thorns out of my tire, and it didn’t go flat again, so I hope I found them all. Only one had made its way to the inner tube. Luckily I got a new Lezyne frame mount pump in Colorado Springs because the two I brought with me are junk. After all my delays and a nice lunch in Rush Center KS, I made it into Great Bend at 2 pm. Just as the temp hit 100F. I got a room at the Days Inn to do laundry, rotate my tires, and sit in the A/C for awhile. It is hard to sleep in a tent while sweating. Kansas feels a lot like basic training, or football 2-a-days in August.
15 July: Day 41 – Leoti KS to Ness City KS
84.4 Miles (2,562T) 266′ of climb and 1300′ down so today was slightly downhill all day, reflected in my 16.1 mph average up until the last 15 when the wind came out of no where and made the last 15 difficult.. taking my daily average down to 15.7! It reached 110F! today. There is not a lot to report in Kansas. Hot, flat, and Boring. There was a Historical Marker with a tree and a small circle of shade… the only shade all day!! Ran into Brandon and a new (to me) young cycling couple at dinner. Maybe I will see them tomorrow we are all heading to Great Bend. I think I want to start tomorrow NLT 0600 and see if I can make it to Great Bend before it gets hot. This will finish map seven (7th of 12 ACA maps to make up the full TransAm), but I don’t think I need a full day off if I can get there early. I want to rotate my front and rear tires as the rear is pretty worn and the front looks almost new.
14 July: Day 40 – Eads CO to Leoti KS – I have taken 7 rest (or relative visit) days. So it has been 47 calendar days with 40 riding days.
85.6 miles (2,478T) 472′ of climb which means absolutely flat all day. There were 5-12 mph crosswinds and today was 102F! which is VERY HOT. The terrain was monotonous, which I expect I better get used to. Average speed is obviously pretty good. I didn’t check at the end, but I expect it was 14 mph. I think that is all I can expect on the flat with an 85 pound bike/rig and my lack of aerodynamics. Kansas State Route 96 was very safe because it is lightly traveled, good visibility, and a decent shoulder. Interestingly, this route, starting in Towner, CO will follow various roadways all the way to Yorktown, VA as USBR 76 – a designated Bike Route. Yesterday and last night, I spent some time with a new trail buddy, Brandon. He did the divide for one section starting in WA (where he lives) and now he is doing a section of the TransAm, and he will eventually end up in Maine. You meet a lot of cyclists on this adventure.
13 July: Day 39 – Pueblo CO to Eads CO
119.4 miles (2392T) 1135’ of climb. Flat ride with 5-12 mph cross/head wind . Temperature was 97-100F for 6 hours. Sunny, no shade. There were three TranAm personal bests today: most miles, most time in the saddle, and hottest day! Scenery was ”meh”.
12 July: Day 38 – Colorado Springs to Pueblo CO
49.2 Miles (2,273T) no climb to speak of… It was 75% gravel today with a 10-20 mph headwind. I got a late start because I had to drive to airport from Lizzy’s, get the bike & gear together, and I got a haircut and picked up supplies … When I got to Pueblo, I needed to eat and considered 20 more miles, but it started raining, so I’m staying here and I’ll get a jump tomorrow. Cheap Days Inn Hotel right near downtown River Walk. No need to set up camp 🏕 in a storm!!
11 July: Day Off – Elizabeth CO with Lizzy and Kristy
Legs got a happy day off that I spent relaxing at Lizzy & Kristy’s new home. I got to spend some quality time with Lizzy and catch up on work and email. Of course the laundry was a priority because next week should be days of 100 F as I head from Pueblo CO to Alexander KS. Lizzy also did some body repair on my shoulders, back, and neck! I can see why she is building a successful business. She is really knowledgeable and skilled… We are very proud of her! So far I have covered 2,224 of the 4,223 miles (52.6%) I’m sure I have done even more % of climbing at … drum roll … 120,743’ climb so far. This is nearly 20 miles of vertical!! Basically climbing the stairs of the Empire State Building about 100 times.
10 July: Day 37 – Green Mountain Falls CO to Colorado Springs Airport
Today was a 31.6 (2,224T) mile downhill and flat roll with no real climb to pickup a rental car so I can visit Lizzy and Kristy at their new home in Elizabeth CO. Tomorrow will be my day off with them. Today I also had the happy opportunity to meet up with Tom McAdam, one of my Purdue Phi Psi Fraternity brothers, for lunch in Colorado Springs where he lives with his family. Today and yesterday’s ride, as well as the first half of Tuesday’s are “off route” from the ACA TransAm official route… I used google maps bicycling mode and ride with GPS to map my way to the airport from Hartsel. Google maps included a section along Pike’s Peak Greenway and Fountain Creek Trail bike paths along Fountain Creek through downtown Colorado Springs. There were more than a hundred homeless along the trail. Some encampments looked to be years old. Many of the folks had bicycles for their transportation. I felt a sort of kinship on my bike with them. I also felt a strong feeling of privilege because of the differences in our lives as I passed through their area. Please consider making a donation today to a charity of your choice that helps the homeless and be thankful for your comfortable home. Here are two good ones.
9 July: Day 36 – Hartsel CO to Green Mountain Falls CO
54.2 miles (2192T) with 2103’ of climb. Overall, a pleasant shorter day. It’s funny that 2 or 3 mile climbs no longer feel like a big deal. I’m taking a slight TransAm deviation so that I can take my day off with my daughter, Lizzie, at her new home in Elizabeth CO. This entails pedaling to Colorado Springs A/P and renting a car to go to Lizzie’s. Then Tuesday am I will return it and pedal from Colorado Springs to Pueblo, which puts me back on TransAm track. I felt a little lonely today, like I was missing a friend. It was really the very first time I have felt lonely on this adventure. I did find a nice campground called Rocky Top motel and campground… the tent sites are nice with a pleasant view. Delicious dinner at the Mucky Duck… felt like a Bill and Babs kind of place… Chicken Marsala, wild rice, salad with balsamic. Really excellent.
8 July: Day 35 – Frisco CO to Hartsel CO
53.8 miles (2138T) Wirth 3232′ of climb. Today was a special day. Went over the Hoosier Pass at 11,593′ of elevation. This is the tallest point on the TransAm. (Beat our record, Bryan W! Mt. Mitchell was high but not this high and didn’t have to wear garbage bags on the way down)! This day makes me think of friends not here right now, and wishing they were with me. Slowly been adding elevation…. Hoosier Pass seemed kind of easy….. UNTIL THE LAST 7-8 MILES. Then it got pretty switchbacky and steep grades. I was thankful for dropping some weight (from gear and body)…. I think my bike/gear is probably 85lb vs 105lb now. Views were gorgeous. Camping at free private “camp” behind the Highland Cafe and Saloon in Hartsel. Excellent “Karma” situation; Good lifelong Friends, Connor and Sarah Van Carlowitz were heading to campground at Lake Buena Vista BLM campsite, and came right through Hartsel and visited for a bit with the puppies!!
7 July: Day 34 – Kremmling CO to Frisco CO
50.4 miles (2084T) with 3,927’ of climb. Today was a mix of moderate highways with wide shoulders, scenic alternates, tertiary highways without shoulders, and Colorado bike paths around Silverthorn and Frisco. No mountains… just steady elevation gain with a few “hills”. During the scenic alternate, 2 cowboys & 1 cowgirl & 4-5 cattle dogs were driving a herd of about 80-120 head of cattle complete with calves and bulls. I was lucky to get behind an SUV so I didn’t get stampeded. I planned to camp at Heaton Bay campground but it was 100% full. I was able to find a cheap motel… “Snowshoe Motel”… Looking forward to Hoosier pass tomorrow.
6 July: Day 33 – Warden CO to Kremmling CO
64.2 miles (2034T) with 2996′ of climb. Today was CRAZY. The planned route had a “ROAD CLOSED” sign, but I always ignore those…. So 10 miles in this creeper van started going beside me real slow, then this lady with several teeth said she was the mail carrier and I would get turned back before Granby in about 15 miles due to a mudslide, river on one side, mud on the other. 4′ deep, no getting through. She said some of the workers had to be extracted the day before, and no pedestrians, bikes, or anything would be allowed through. She gave me this crazy alternate route, but did I listen? NO. Google maps showed a route which turned out to be an off road dirt track through preserve land with multiple barbed wire fences the bike had to be hoisted over or wriggled under. In spots it took my tracking talent just to find the trail. Eventually I got to dirt and then main roads. Off and on rain and thunderstorms with lightning and nowhere for cover… once I thought if I stopped maybe I could get a photo of lightning, but the screen was too wet. Found a lovely boutique hotel – “The Hotel Eastin” – Ooh La La
5 July: Day 32 – Encampment WY to Warden CO
52.5 miles (1970T) with 3276′ of climb & a 12-20 mile headwind for most of the ride. Today’s ride included a really grueling stretch from mile 2 to mile 40…. Dark skies, super high headwind gusts, and pelting light ice cold rain. When I hit the Colorado line, things got brighter, warmer, and the headwinds went down to like 5-10 mph! Headwinds really make for a long day. Had a plan to maybe go 70, but it would have meant a remote camp that I heard might be closed. It will take 7 days to finish this map either way, so I decided to stay here where there was a nice free city park with showers at the local pool. Also a place to eat and get some WiFi to post this blog and read some emails. The new bike setup at 90 vs 105 lbs probably saves about .5 mph up steep hills. That doesn’t sound like much but on a 20 mile climb that could save 30-45 minutes. In the flats or against wind, I can’t tell much difference. The real reason to cut some weight was for Missouri and Appalachian grades which I hear are very steep.
4 July: Day 31 – Rawlins WY to Encampment/Riverside WY
62.4 miles (1917T) with 2212’ of climb & a 20 mile headwind for the final 42 miles! I didn’t have any big climbs so I couldn’t get a full read on my new setup (90 lbs +/- vs 105). Weather was beautiful… sunny with occasional clouds… high of 79. This area of Wyoming seems a bit more dried up. Ended up at a quiet private campground with great people and a great spot for my tent. Heading into Encampment to find dinner! Happy Independence Day everyone!!
3 July: Rest Day – Rawlins WY
Rawlings is an interesting place. Because of the 4th of July weekend, most local places were closed down for the weekend. Places I did visit included the city market grocery, a couple of local restaurants (Bucks in downtown old Rawlins and Penny’s 24 hour diner), and the Wyoming Frontier Prison (not in use, but a historic site with tours and a museum). The prison was super creepy kind of haunted and the energy in there made my stomach upset. It was still pretty cool though. Once again I did laundry, cleaned up emails, worked on video and my blog, and went through all my gear and cut back by probably about 20 lbs. I eliminated both front panniers and packed 2 small 10-12 lb boxes and sent the extra stuff home. What did I delete? Cooking stuff (including olive oil), bear sack, most food, some items of civilian clothing, one bike jersey, one of my spare tires, some tools I don’t really need, the go-pro, some bike mounting gear. So now my rig is two rear panniers (a bit more full) and a front handlebar bag. I only carry snacks and 2 camp meals that don’t need a stove. I would guess my rig weighs about 85 fully loaded now, but not sure. This should help me when I get to Missouri and the Appalachians, know to be very steep.
2 July: Day 30 – Jeffrey City to Rawlins WY
66.8 miles (1855T) with 2221′ of climb and a 10-20 mph headwind all day. The wind made today one of the more challenging days. Even when there were down sections the wind made it difficult to progress. It was kind of grueling. The scenery was more of the gruff granite formations. There was a large “sea” of white. I couldn’t determine what it was, and Mary Beth said “Salt Flats?”… she was on the right track. It was a dried up lake, leaving heavy mineral deposits. Rawlins is the end of map 5 (there are 12 Adventure Cycling maps to get you from Astoria to Yorktown). It took 6 days to ride this section with 442.7 miles and 20,144′ of climbing. I will take a rest day tomorrow and catch up on work things, do laundry, update my photos and videos, and poke around Rawlins and see what I can find. I got an EconoLodge room which is clean and cheap for my rest day. Oh yes, I also plan to go through all my gear and see if I can get the 105 pound fully loaded bike down to maybe 90.
1 July: Day 29 – Lander WY to Jeffrey City Bike Hostel WY
60.8 (1788T) miles with 3406′ of climb. This was harder than it looks. There was a 6 mile climb and a lot of up and downs. There was a rest stop at Sweetwater Station (about 20 miles from destination), and it was swarming with mosquitoes. There was a huge storm brewing from the west. I lit out of the rest stop and the wind literally blew me into Jeffrey City. My speed was 20-40 mph all the way (105 lb bike, remember?). It was a scene from The Wizard of Oz. I am staying at the bike hostel at Jeffrey Community Church. Wyoming was pretty much similar to yesterday. The Granite mountains and rock formations here are some of the oldest on the Earth.
30 June: Day 28 – Falls USFS Campground WY to Lander WY City Campground WY
100.4 miles (1727T) with 2881′ of climb. My first Century of the TranAm. It just worked out. When I was at Adventure Cycling HQ in Missoula, they weighed my bike, and with all the water and extra provisions, it was 105 lbs! When biking up these long passes, you just settle into an easy “granny gear” and crank 70-75 rpm, and make your way up. Sometimes this is 4 hours. Today, none were too long! I went through the Wind River Indian Reservation, home to the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes. It encompasses 2.2 million acres. Wyoming has a pretty rocky and more gruff landscape than Montana and Oregon. Top industries in Wyoming are Agriculture, Tourism, and Mining. Beautiful vistas, and big skies with lovely clouds.
29 June: Day 27 – Jenny Lake WY to Jackson WY to Falls USFS Campground WY
94.2 miles (1626T) with 5586′ of climb. Most climbing, most miles, and tallest peak so far. All in one day. This was a rigorous ride with varied content. Jackson is on a scenic spur and not “required” on the main TranAm. I decided to go there because a good friend , Henry, recommended it. Breakfast at Persephone was well worth the 40 miles. There is a lovely bike trail between Jenny Lake and Jackson, so it was a nice change. The remaining ride from Jenny to Falls was beautiful, and became more and more remote. There also was a 19 mile climb to get to the Continental Divide (3rd time) and Togwatee Pass at 9658′, the top elevation so far. Falls was a nice campground, but it was the old school kind. No cell or WiFi, no campstore, etc. Had a nice camp meal from REI and instant Cubano coffee with oatmeal for breakfast.
28 June: Day 26 – Grant’s Village Campground WY to Jenny Lake Campground WY ( Grand Tetons)
62.4 miles (1532T) with 2700’ of climb. This was a more difficult day than numbers indicate. I think there was some pretty steady headwind that made it more challenging. The views were again MAGNIFICENT! Jenny Lake is right at the base of the Tetons! They had a ranger talk at the campground at 7. It was on Bear safety and quite educational. Looking to turn in early. Peace friends.
27 June: Day 25 – West Yellowstone MT to Grant’s Village WY (inside Yellowstone)
58.1 miles (1470T) with 3350’ of climb. I cannot express the beauty and wonder of Yellowstone. It is a geology lesson and wildlife refuge. Witnessed a large herd of Bison with many calves, Elk, Midway Geyser/Crater, Old Faithful, and the natural beauty of the park. Camping at Grant’s Village included dinner at a nice lodge/restaurant (but no WiFi 🤷🏽♂️).