Adventures of the Heart
Mary Zalmanek
Great Divide - Little Sandy Creek, Sweetwater River, WY

From: Mary
Sent: Thursday, 8/14/03
To: Friends and Family
Subject: Boulder to Sweetwater River Crossing


August 13 - Boulder to Little Sandy Creek Campsite (38 miles, 2120 feet)

Jim and I met up with Evan this morning after spending our break day separated.  I rode with Evan while Jim moved the motorhome and met us midwayWind River Mountains through our ride.  We got another dose of those notorious Wyoming headwinds, which can almost take the fun out of riding. 

The Wind River Mountains are in the background of this picture, and lots of empty space in the foreground.  This is typical of the scenery we had for several days in southwestern Wyoming.

Our campsite was a quiet spot by the Little Sandy Creek.  As we relaxed in the shade after our ride, Evan repeated his theories on nutrition, exercise and weight loss.  Most of what he said didn't matter much to me until he said, "If you ride faster, you'll lose more weight."  I didn't necessarily believe that, but based on results, he might be right.  Since my appetite has increased tremendously on this trip, I bought a scale to check my weight yesterday in Pinedale.  I was disappointed to find my weight has been holding steady to my starting weight, while Jim and Evan have both lost weight.  That just proves to me life isn't fair!  Even though I've been eating more than I usually do, I've been eating what I consider to be a reasonably healthy diet, while Jim and Evan pack away cookies and pies in addition to what I cook.  They are also faster riders than me.

August 14 - Little Sandy Creek to Sweetwater River Crossing (37 miles, 2860 feet)

Whether it was Evan's weight loss theory or my own dormant competitive nature, I have succumbed to Evan's racing mentality.  Evan rolled out of camp a few feet ahead of me and I pushed by him with an obnoxious, "Get out of my way, I'm coming through!"  I rode as hard as I could and was soon a fair distance ahead of him.  I got immense pleasure from looking back over my shoulder and seeing him fall further behind.  I was ahead for 5.5 miles until he zoomed by me.  The race was on!  For the next several miles, it was too close to call.  When he passed me it was a ho-hum everyday experience for him, but when I passed him it was YEEHAW!  We rode along the Continental Divide, crossing it 3 times, and enjoyed lots of hills and valleys in between.  At one point, Evan pointed out we were going 23 mph at the top of a small, steep hill.  Before today, it never occurred to me to check the miles per hour at the TOP of a hill.  He was biding his time to see how long I could hold up at this pace.  At around 10 miles, I was worn out.  From that point forward, he remained a speck on the distant horizon.

We hit a 5-mile stretch of highway with steep hills and a brutal headwind. I was Mary in headwindready to trade my Titus Racer-X for a rusted-out Ford Fairlane on blocks if it would provide shelter from this miserable wind.

It was during this stretch of Wyoming where it’s 135 miles between trees that I endured my most embarrassing moment.  I was on a paved road with no restrooms or trees in sight.  The need to answer nature’s call was becoming very urgent.  I pulled over at a historical marker.  When I could only see one truck in the distance, I squatted behind the signpost.  Either this guy was going faster than I realized or I had more liquid to expel than I anticipated, but he passed me when I was just midstream.  I had two choices: stop and pull up my pants, which would further expose what I was trying to hide, or finish what I’d started.  With ostrich-like modesty, I covered my face with my hands, peeking out between my fingers, and watched this guy nearly drive off the road as he turned to watch me. I finished up about the time he got the truck back on the left side of the white line.

Jim met us before we got to the historic town of South Pass City, which was down in a valley and protected from the wind.  The temperature climbed to 95 degrees.  From the small selection of cold drinks in the general store, I selected a cream soda to go with my lunch.  We walked through the preserved buildings in the small town.  When it was time to go, we were all hot and dehydrated.  On top of that, I had throbbing pain in my fingers.  Surely that was the result of the sugar in the cream soda.  The headwind must have blown away a few of my brain cells for me to select a sugary soda for a beverage!

I struggled on the ride to Atlantic City where Jim had parked the motorhome.  I didn't have an ounce of energy left to make the last 10 miles to the campsite, so Jim loaded my bike on the motorhome along with his. Ironman Evan did the entire ride.  He won.

BOB Boy Ray Hanson met us at our camping site and had dinner with us.  He lives in nearby Lander and works for the BLM.  Part of his job as the Outdoor Recreation Planner was to help Adventure Cycling map the route for the Great Divide Trail through Wyoming.  We were delighted to have Ray join us again, but disappointed that we didn't get to meet his wife, Mary.  After dinner, Ray drove us to Willie's Handcart Disaster Site, where 77 Mormon pioneers died during a fierce October snowstorm in 1856.  He searched for and found an obscure tombstone from one of the many graves along what has been referred to as "the longest graveyard in America" along the Oregon Trail.  After he dropped us at our campsite, he returned 10 minutes later to haul out our forgotten trash for us -- just an example to prove this man is one of the nicest, most helpful men I've ever met.

Some corrections:

Evan read my journal entries and told me I had two inaccuracies.  I feel like a newspaper, but here are the corrections.  I said Evan competes in triathlons and wins.  He's never won a triathlon.  He's finished first in centuries (100 miles in one day).  Somehow, that doesn't make me feel any less intimidated.

I said Kurt Wilson was an expert class, category 2 mountain biker.  Expert class is a mountain biking classification.  That's when he was ranked 18th in the nation.  Category 2 is a road biking classification.   That's when he was three-time Wyoming state time trials champion.  I'm even more impressed by Kurt, not that it matters much to Kurt.  He said his kids aren't that impressed anymore, so he's not resting on his laurels (or something like that -- it was funnier out of his mouth than mine).

Happy trails,

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