Things have been very busy, and I hope I can fit in a lot of the ride story into this post. As always, thank you to everyone who is/has been supportive of this trip, and of their local fire departments. I think it’s all great.
Out of Evanston I was able to visit some buffalo and elk at a local state park. That had been a goal of mine for Wyoming, so I was super pumped to get that done. Those buffalo are enormous, it’s incredible.
Riding into Rock Springs for Evanston I had about a 100 mile day. I had been in contact with a Captain on the Rock Springs Fire Department, and he mentioned that he would meet me at mile marker 83 to ride into town. At this point (and for most of WY) I have been sticking to riding along I-80. Around mile marker 70 a pickup truck whizzed past me, and I could see that someone up front was recording me with a camera. The truck pulled over, and when two guys hopped out, I thought they were going to try to mess with me. It actually was just the captain and another firefighter meeting me early! The captain’s name is Tony Colbert, and he has sure been one interesting character for the story of this trip.
I hope he doesn’t mind, but Tony kinda reminds me of a modern day cowboy. The guy is super tall, athletic and full of energy. He jumped out of the car wearing this white bandana under his helmet, and had these super bright white sunglasses on. I think his first words to me were “Dude! We caught up to you! Let’s go finish this ride!” So he grabbed his bike out of the pickup bed, and I doffed my rear panniers with the driver, who is the union president. We ran across the highway onto a frontage road, and then started pedaling to Rock Springs. It’s a good thing that Tony came with me, because he kept my pace up and told me stories about all of the landscape and terrain history. We tried to spot some wild horses in the distance that he had seen while driving up, but we had no luck. As we were riding Tony would pedal ahead of me and then to my left and right and I figured out that he had a GO PRO camera, and was filming some riding footage. He was really excited about the bike trip, and that helped re-energize me too.
When we pulled into Rock Springs E3 was there and ready to escort us into the fire station. Once at the station the union president returned, and they all told me that the Rock Springs Local 1499 would be making a donation to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation in support of the ride. They made an extremely generous donation, and I am so honored by that. It was Tony’s idea to write on a really large sized check to the Foundation and then pose for photos, so that was a pretty fun moment with all of the firefighters. It took us a few minutes to get the apparatus positioned just, exactly, right – but I think the photos turned out great.
Following that we had a giant meal of lasagna, and I began to work on updating some computer things. Every day is so jam packed with events that it is really becoming hard to stay on top of everything. I do apologize to anyone if I am unable to text or message you back right away. But Tony and I weren’t finished. I learned that he previously worked as a bike mechanic in SLC, and that he had brought his stand and toolbox to the fire station. How perfect. I had just finished about 1000 miles, so it was a perfect time for a tune-up and other maintenance. I really appreciated Tony’s willingness to help out, especially even late at night with the bike maintenance. He taught me a bunch of tips and tricks, and gave me some great advice for future maintenance on the road. He even had a new pair of cycling socks for me when I told him I had accidentally left mine in SLC.
Captain Colbert even rode out of Rock Springs with me for the first 15 miles, and set me up with route advice for the rest of the stretch. He treated me really well in Rock Springs, and has been keeping up with me about weather and road advice for the rest of Wyoming. Tony, thank you for everything. I appreciate it.
Out of Rock Springs I didn’t have my best day of riding. I got to experience Wyoming’s famous wind, and it was unfortunately a head wind. I kept pedaling at a pretty slow pace, and ha to be honest it kinda burned me at the end of the day. Some really cool things did come out of that day of riding though. At a rest stop I had set my bike aside, and on the outside of the panniers is a TMFD patch that my mother had sewed on. A man came up to me near the bike and asked if I was a firefighter, and I told him yes, and told him a little bit about what I was doing. The guy was wearing a Miami Fire Department tee shirt, so I asked if he was a firefighter too. He said yup, and then invited me to meet his wife by the RV, and have lunch with them. I told him of course! I learned that he was retired from the City of Miami, Florida fire department, and had worked there for 30 plus years. He was really excited and supportive of the bike trip, and that was really neat for me to see. He and his wife were so generous to me, and they made sure I had food and water for the rest of the day. It’s hard to believe that I would meet a retired Miami firefighter in Wyoming, but sometimes it works out this way and I like it. I’m constantly being encouraged by the generosity of people that I have been meeting while on the road. And it is only getting better. I don’t know if I’ll get to it in this post, but today a family out of Denver helped me immensely in the Snowy Range in Wyoming. Without their help I could not have made it to Laramie.
I mentioned earlier that the wind was pretty bad in Wyoming, and it didn’t really let up. I crossed the continental divide (twice, which was something I had to ask about to understand), and unfortunately did not make it to Rawlins until 9:30 pm. It was pitch black when I showed up at the firehouse, but there was a firefighter waiting for me, and he was a great help in getting me situated at the station. I don’t know if that day of riding was the hardest, but it certainly was the longest.
At the Rawlins Fire Department there is an arson dog named Sasha. She is a black lab, and the only arson dog in Wyoming. I thought it was so cool that she stays at the fire station! In the morning I met with a radio talk show reporter to talk about the trip, and the dog stayed with us in the room for the whole interview. Sasha was so quiet and calm. The rest of the day was a relatively short ride, and I made it to Saratoga, Wyoming pretty early, so I hung out with a few local people my age, and they told me all about the area. The night in Saratoga (last night) was pretty interesting because instead of staying at a firehouse I was meeting a firefighter from Cheyenne who had camping supplies with him. So, right around 7 pm I met up with Jon and his daughter Josie. Jon is a firefighter and engineer with the Cheyenne, Wyoming fire department, and he has been another terrific person to have on my side for this trip. He’s not only helping out with arrangements in Cheyenne, but he was willing to drive out to Saratoga (2 hours away) and meet me to campout. Talk about going all out to help another person out. When I had been emailing him earlier this year about route information, I initially told him I was riding to Rawlins to Laramie to Cheyenne. He gave me some great advice, and told me to instead take two days and head to Saratoga and the Snowy Range pass instead for some unbelievable scenery and nature. He was absolutely right, and I’m glad to have been able to meet up with him in Saratoga.
This post is getting long, and I do need to get to bed. I don’t think I can do justice to the stay in Saratoga or the adventure to Laramie tonight, so I will update the blog again soon.