Part 14: Bicycling the Continental Divide—Mexico to Canada—accident and pain
By Frosty Wooldridge
“What is adventure? If a lone wolf lifts his plaintive call into the moonlight near your campsite, you might call that adventure. While you’re sweating like a horse on a climb over a 12,000 foot pass, that could be adventure. When howling headwinds press your lips against your teeth, you face a mighty struggle. When your pack grows heavy on your shoulders as you climb a 14,000 foot peak, you feel the adventure. When you suffer freezing temperatures and 20 inches of fresh powder on a hut to hut trip in the Rockies, that could be called adventure. But that’s not what makes an adventure. It’s your willingness to conquer it, and to present yourself at the doorstep of nature. That creates the experience. No more greater joy can come from life than to live inside a moment of adventure. It is the uncommon wilderness experience that gives your life expectation.” FHW, Golden, Colorado
As I snoozed at day break, Gerry charged out of his sleeping bag, grabbed his guitar and walked over to my tent with a song on his lips. He sang, “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are gray…”, but my sleep-filled brain could hardly comprehend his words. Nonetheless, he sang and I woke up to his happy singing for the new day. Gerry’s singing to me in the morning must be a first for my bicycle travels around the world. He proves to be a bright light in the world and a fresh spirit born to make people laugh and sing.
(Gerry singing, “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are gray….”)
Additionally, yesterday, we passed through Lamont, Wyoming where L.B. Brantner hosts a “Free Bicycle Camping” resort. I stayed at her place two years ago. She offers cyclists two teepees, an 18 wheeler freight box trailer with bed, picnic tables, roof-blown-off outhouse and a fire pit for campfires. Also, for every cyclist who stops, she features a refrigerator filled with ice cream bars, energy bars, tuna, cans of peaches and other goodies. She likes the company. While her place could use some tidying-up, you will always remember your time at Ms. Brantner’s cycle resort. I think she even put in a shower enclosure area this year, but you must bring your own shower bag and water. You can water-up at the restaurant 100 yards down the road from her resort on Route 287. (She’s about 100 yards or so north of the only building in town on Route 287 and take a left and you’ll see her yellow banner for her resort on the right.)
(L.B.Brantner’s Free Bicycle Camping Resort in Lamont,Wyoming. Unique bicycle stop with an outhouse with the roof blown off.)
(Outhouse with no roof at the Free Bicycle Camping Resort.)
We pedaled into her resort around mid-day to find a lot of wind damage and things blown all over the place. I gave her a big hug and signed a copy of my adventure book. She’s a great lady and should have her “Bike in bloom” growing flowers before summer’s end.
At breakfast at the bar in Jeffrey City, the chef lady, Vicki, bragged, “I specialize in pancakes that take a cyclist one and a half hours to eat three of them. I’m famous for my pancakes.” Later, fully stuffed, the four of us struck out northbound on Route 287. We pedaled for an hour before meeting a 4’10” dude, Hawaiian and so skinny he had to jump around in a shower to get wet. He bragged about his 50 year old Fuji bicycle with his handmade golf buggy pulled behind and all his gear in a golf bag. Only 10 gears, rotten seat, rusted frame. He shouldn’t ride across the country on that bike. Darnedest set-up I have ever seen.
“I’m 65 years old and running out of time so I figured I better ride my bicycle across America before I couldn’t physically do it,” he said. “Nice to meet you fellow cyclists on the road.”
(At 65, Lyle rode his 50 year old, 10 speed, Fuji bike across America with two wheeled golf cart and bag. Amazing!)
He talked and laughed. He showed us how his two-wheeled golf cart detached from the seat stem. He bragged about his 50 year old bike that he had ridden as a kid. Suddenly, another 65 year old cyclist stopped and told us about his 20th cycle crossing of the USA and that he planned to ride with RAGBRI across Iowa in a week or two. He rode a broken down old bike, too, with front panniers and no rear panniers, but he wore an orange vest for safety and carried a bottle of ammonia for dogs on his head tube. He looked about as prepared to ride across America on a bicycle as a mosquito trying to fly to the moon.
Another young guy stopped to let us know about his ride from Bellingham, Washington to Virginia Beach. Within seconds, he jumped on his bike and pedaled toward the horizon. We rode on the Trans American Bicycle Route, which gave us a bevy of riders on their own journeys.
Later in the day, still on flat land, we passed an old Mormon fort where the Mormon Trail pushed westward in the 1800s. Within 10 miles, the plains dropped for six miles into a vast and empty bowl with miles of endless rock and brush. Down that pass we flew like eagles soaring from the mountain tops. We felt like a flight of fancy from Never-Never Land. On such a long descent, I feel spiritual energy well-up inside of me. My spirit soars. I am filled with glee.
At the bottom, as we crossed over a bridge with a raging river below us, Wayne accidently overran Dave’s wheel and flipped himself hard onto the pavement. I crammed on my brakes, but still ran into Gerry’s rear left pannier, ripping it off its hinges. In one instant, we changed from bliss and smiles—to helping Wayne sit up, checked for broken bones and picked up his bike. A motorist offered to take him to Lander about 10 miles away.
For certain, he damaged his shoulder and felt the pain. He called his wife, Kit where they lived in Landis about 1 hour away, to come get him at the hospital. The motorist took Wayne to the hospital. I locked up his bicycle in an abandoned house. Gerry, Dave and I pedaled toward Lander. An hour later, they found a motel and I found Wayne in the Emergency Room with bandaged shoulder, sling and Kit sitting with him.
“That puts and end to my ride with you,” said Wayne. “I’m glad I didn’t injure any of you guys. Are Gerry and Dave all right?”
“They’re fine,” I said. “How’s your shoulder?”
“Ah, I cracked my shoulder blade, but not enough for any operation,” said Wayne. “It’ll be as good as new in a month.”
Kit and I took Wayne to the car and drove back to retrieve the bike. After our goodbyes, I pedaled from the hospital to a city park with free camping on a beautiful river and restrooms with a shower.
Wayne’s accident proved once again to me: live every second of every day fully, completely, with zest, with gusto and appreciation for your good fortune, your health and well being. Life can turn into a nasty ordeal within seconds for any of us. I cooked up dinner, munched on some bagels and afterwards—fell quickly to sleep.
(Our gas station along the route.)
Frosty Wooldridge has bicycled across six continents - from the Arctic to the South Pole - as well as eight times across the USA, coast to coast and border to border. In 2005, he bicycled from the Arctic Circle, Norway to Athens, Greece. In 2012, he bicycled coast to coast across America. In 2013, he bicycled 2,500 miles from Mexico to Canada on the Continental Divide, 150,000 vertical feet of climbing and 19 crossing of passes. He presents “The Coming Population Crisis facing America: what to do about it.” www.frostywooldridge.com . His latest book is: How to Live a Life of Adventure: The Art of Exploring the World by Frosty Wooldridge, copies at 1 888 280 7715/ Motivational program: How to Live a Life of Adventure: The Art of Exploring the World by Frosty Wooldridge, click: www.HowToLiveALifeOfAdventure.com
Live well, laugh often, celebrate daily and enjoy the ride,
6 Continent world bicycle traveler
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