Into the tempest

The weather report for this morning was enough to give me indigestion. Perhaps they're mistaken, I thought, as I opened the door to take a look for myself. No mistake. The sky outside was coated a seamless gray and a light rain fell. Temps in the mid-30's. I shut the door briefly and debated whether I was really going to go ride in this mess out there. But I had used up my rest days for this state and I just can't keep squandering costly days in a motel. That and the fact that the weather channel is telling me that these conditions will persist for the next couple of days anyway. In fact, as I was reluctantly preparing to leave I learned that it was snowing all over Wyoming. Great.

I left the motel headed west on route 26 and a couple hundred yards out the wind and cold were so insufferable that it took every ounce of effort to persuade myself to go on and not make a u-turn back to the motel. Within 10 minutes I was bitterly cold, particularly in my exposed fingers, but was thankful that the wind was a mix of half crosswind and half tailwind with a small positive net effect. I just had to make use of this small break and ride as far as I could. I'm gaining elevation now at a steady clip but the grades are so gentle that I can't tell I'm going uphill so that's another thing to be grateful for. In the end it took me a good couple of hours to make it into Wyoming and then another hour after that I was finally sitting down for lunch in a Burger King in Torrington. When I came in through the door about 20 pairs of eyes stared at me. I could not have attracted more attention had I walked in wearing a bikini and a ten gallon hat. "What? Never seen a moron riding a bike when it's freezing rain out?" I asked in a non-vocal telepathic counter-stare. After sitting down to eat my burger I allowed my fingers and toes to defrost while I shivered myself back into normal operating temperature.

Torrington would have been a good place to quit for the day and I thought of half a million good reasons why I had done enough but the lure of staying in someone's home for free spurred me on. So I got back on the bike and pedaled in misery. When I reached Ft. Laramie a state worker shouted "Hey, you're going the wrong way! It's snowing up ahead!" I acknowledged with a helpless smile and said I had no choice. But I was sopping wet and so cold that I had to take a break at a gas station to warm up or I thought, I really did think, that I was close to passing out from cold and exhaustion.

I was shaking so violently I could not speak and just sat in a chair while two people stared at me with a mixture of disbelief and pity. Within a couple of minutes I would be defusing their concern by laughing it off. I called my contact Shannon to coordinate and she demanded I stay put and that she would come get me. Wow! How cool!

By now I had moved to a bar across the street where there were a couple of locals who kept me entertained with weather horror stories while Shannon was on her way to rescue me. The bar owner was kind enough to let me stow my bike and trailer in a shed. Shannon drove me to her home by way of a neat road tour to cover some of the area's historical sights. We spent the rest of the evening conversing about history and education which I found very stimulating intellectually. I can't overstate how thankful I am that she has offered me her home to to stay the night. It's been a wonderful opportunity.

Day 50