After doing a little sightseeing, laundry and lunch Shannon drove me back to Ft. Laramie to get my bike and trailer out of the bar's shed where we had left it the day before then brought it back home where we spent the rest of the day. At night a great time was had when she started a little bonfire after which its glowing embers toasted up some delicious hot dogs. After another heady conversation I went to take my shower and go to that super-comfortable bed of hers to sleep like a baby.
Shannon dragged her bike out of her garage in the morning to accompany me on the first mile out of town after which we said our goodbyes. I could have gone from her home and started off to the west again but I knew that would have been cheating because her home was closer to Guernsey, the next town up, than from Ft. Laramie by several miles. Instead, I decided to backtrack all the way to Ft. Laramie and in so doing "make up" the gap that still bothered me from Oberlin, Kansas when I took a lift into town because it was so cold and windy. The day was improving quickly. It was cloudy and chilly when I started but the sun warmed the air and, wow, there was no wind! After a couple of hours of riding I was back in Ft. Laramie and ready to really "start" my day. I was still surprised there was no breeze at all. I thought it was borderline creepy. With the sun out and no wind I knew I had to make the best of this golden opportunity and with this directive I pedaled with motivation back towards Guernsey which I finally got to at about 1pm. I had a quick lunch and then got back to riding towards I-25, now only about 20 miles ahead. On leaving Guernsey it struck me that I had finally reached the west. The color green had predominated up until now but brown was taking over the show. Rocks were jutting out of the bare earth and little trees and shrubs dotted the landscape. Having now passed the plains I knew it was time to pay the piper bigtime with the mountainous terrain fast approaching. Within another hour of riding I reached the interstate and had cracked 5,000 feet per the altimeter, almost a mile up. Still, I had no complaints about the grades as the gains have been very gradual - and far, far more palatable than the Ozarks and Alabama.
What had been a great day so far turned crappy in an instant when my derailleur started acting up again and shifting created a bunch of unnerving, metallic noises. Now what?? I stopped the bike to examine what might be the problem this time to find one of the little derailleur wheels had snapped off and was just gone. This wheel picks up the slack in the chain and keeps it taut regardless of which gear you're in. Without it I can only ride the bike when the chain is around the two largest chainrings, awkwardly slow on the straightaways and difficult on the uphills. So what else other than keep going is my choice? Right. I keep going as is. But not without it having soured the rest of my riding day cursing all along the giant, unreliable pile of Japanese crap that I bought. Next time I'm buying an American or European bike. Um, what next time??
I hobbled into Glendo which (mercifully) had a motel-slash-gas station. Got me a cup of ice and a couple of juice bottles and asked for a room for the night. The man behind the counter eyes me pensively, turns around and reaches for a large, framed page which he sets down on the counter for me to read. At first glance I thought he had pulled out the Ten Commandments since I had obviously broken some taboo. I was about to apologize when on closer inspection it's more like the Ten Disclaimers:
No TV's in the room
No loud noises
And so on, I didn't really bother to read the whole motel manifesto but since I was imprudent enough to not do so he spells it out for me:
"You know, we don't have TVs or phones in the rooms"
"That's okay", I say
"There's a lot of trains that come through"
"Ok, no problem"
He stares at me as if I don't get it, then repeats a little slower "A LOT of trains"
I give a nervous smile and say, "Gee, I get the feeling you don't want to rent me a room."
"No, no... just trying to be honest with ya". "Ok, well, I'll take my chances as the next town up from here is 30 miles out and it's too late in the day for me."
Nervous for what I had signed up for, I walk towards my room resigned to expect a hellhole infested with vermin. I was not too far off the mark when I opened the door but it'll do, I guess. There's a lighting fixture with four bulbs only one of which is functional. There's a TV but, sure enough, all the channels are static. When I took my shoes and socks off my feet got sticky to the carpet, yuck, so I put them back on. I could have heard a fly buzz in the next room for the thinness of its walls but that would have been much more pleasant compared to the racket of two people cussing an endless session of angry profanity at each other which is, unfortunately, what I did get. The bathroom... oh heck, I'll just spare you those details. I was just happy to get somewhere where I could rest a little and gather my thoughts. I'll be reasonably satisfied if I wake up without ticks or leeches on me.