I woke up to a nice morning in the Lander city park where I found myself to be among the few of the overnight campers to be awake. A group of 3-4 cyclists had arrived pretty late last night and after speaking with a young German guy about my age, I learned that they had a 9 hour ride to get 130 km against the strong wind yesterday.
I stopped at a supermarket at to get some breakfast and to stock up on some food for the coming 200 km stretch with minimal services. I also picked up a wi-fi signal and got to upload the last entry to the blog. I felt a little tired this morning but I headed out of the city I had come to like very much, thinking I would shake it off during the day.
The scenery was beautiful with arid prairies stretching far and wide and after a roadside rest stop after about 50 km, I figured I would not want to be caught under this unforgiving sun for an extended period of time. As the road started to ascend into an underestimated climb up to a ridge, I hit the low point of the day. The bike felt as if it weighed twice as much as before and it was very slow going. I was sure something was holding me back and I stopped to check the tire pressure and to see if the breaks were rubbing. The breaks and the tire pressure are allways the first ones to get blamed if the going gets rough, but of course there was nothing wrong. After several more stops to find out what the hell was wrong with my bike, I got passed by Bob and Ray, to guys riding across the country I had passed earlier. I watched how slowly they were creeping up the hill and decided to accept the fact that it is what it is. I got talking with Ray and he told me they were experiencing the same thing and told me it was because of the tar that had been used to seal up cracks in the road and was now sticking to the tires due to the heat. Being out of water started to get me worried as I could not see the rest area marked on the map anywhere, but I pounded down some fruit hoping that the water contained within would do me some good. Finally I arrived at Sweetwater Station which was basically a rest area that had running water. Here I met Rick, another older guy going across and I spent enough time there to let Bob and Ray pass me and after calming down and eating a little I started the pursuit of the three retirees.
The road ahead consisted of long straight stretches where you could see the road ahead of you only so far, before the image got torn up by the mirage. After plowing through the laste 35 km I arrived in Jeffrey City at about 4:30 pm, a town that was basically just a café and a church. I met up with the other cyclists and we sat down at the Split Rock Café and I ordered something to eat. Jeffrey City started out as a uranium mining town in the late 50s that supplied the demand of uranium during the peak era; the cold war. Looking at it today, it is hard to believe this place had once been a thriving community with schools, library and medical clinics. When the uranium market collapsed in the 80s, jobs were hard to find outside the mining business and the place became a ghost town.
I knew there was a cyclists-only camping in town so I asked the nice lady at the bar for directions who instead offered me a spot to put my tent up right behind the café, free of charge! I put up my tent in the shade from the building and fell into an uneasy sleep.