Day 10, July 27th

Start: Cody, WY

Finish: Sheridan, WY

Miles: 150

Elevation Gain: 7300'


Trails End Motel

Business US 14 & 87

Sheridan, WY 82081


Click on an image to see a larger view

We rolled out of bed very early this morning to allow plenty of time to do today's challenging ride. Breakfast was at 5:30 for a 6:00AM ride start. Everyone was more chipper at breakfast than I thought they would have been considering the hour. Susan added scrambled eggs to the usual spread of hot oatmeal, cold cereals, toasted bagels and fruit.

I was a little anxious about today's ride since I don't think I've ever done a ride that combined this many miles with this much climbing, but at the end of the day, I was still feeling great and we pulled into the motel at the end earlier than I expected.

Me at the top of THE CLIMB

I rolled out of the motel at 6:05AM with several other riders, but pulled out in front once we got onto the main road. Over the first 40 miles, we lost a little over 1000 feet in elevation which resulted in a barely noticeable downhill. The air was very calm and the temperature in the lower 60's and I was feeling great. I couldn't believe how fast I was going when I pulled

A small part of THE CLIMB

into the first rest stop at mile 31 at 7:20AM - average speed almost 25mph including a couple photo stops.

Unfortunately, the next 27 miles to rest stop number two was not as fast. The first part went ok, but the winds soon picked up and the last 12-13 miles were quite a challenge. A ran into my first unhappy dogs as I came into Byron. Fortunately, my speed was still fairly high so a bit of a sprint got me past their territory before they could take a bite out of my foot. Since they looked like Australian sheep dogs, I'm sure they could have outrun me if they really wanted to but I made it through unscathed.

I caught up to Doug and Roberta (both on our able crew) a short while later and after a couple miles of pulling, hung on the back for the rest of the ride to rest stop two. The winds were coming diagonally from the side, so we tried to form an echelon paceline (staggered paceline) to block the wind for the riders behind.

After rest stop two came THE CLIMB. This is the climb that everyone had been talking about since the beginning of the trip. Starting at the valley floor at just over 3000 feet, we'd climb up the Bighorn mountains to eventually reach a peak of 9430 feet. The lunch stop was actually just a little below 8000 feet, at the top of the steepest part of the climb.

There was a competition of sorts for who could reach the lunch stop in the shortest time from rest stop two. Those that were interested in competing officially got their start time marked on their arm to see the elapsed time at the top. I knew I had no chance of coming close to the fastest time, so I didn't bother, but I did note the time anyway.

I was the fourth one to get to the lunch stop 18 miles and 5000 feet later, but I think had only the 8th fastest time at 1 hour 50 minutes. Since I made such good time early in the morning, I was one of the first to start up the climb. I think I could have shaved a few minutes off this if I hadn't stopped several times for photos, but I didn't come close to the fastest time anyway. Marc from Belgium set a new PAC Tour record of one hour 17 minutes - a pretty phenomenal performance.

After lunch, we headed up the rest of the climb, reaching the summit of 9430 feet. I was surprised I could still breath, let alone ride a bike up a hill. The views were pretty dramatic, but hard to capture with the camera.

After a gradual descent to 8000 feet, we reach the last rest stop at mile 102, then started yet another climb. On any other day, this 1100 foot climb would have been considered significant, but it was so small compared to THE CLIMB that it wasn't even mentioned on the route sheet. There were ominous thunderclouds in the area and we even rode through some areas that had clearly been soaked moments earlier, but I don't think anyone in the group actually got rained on.

After reaching the summit of this final climb, we began a 16 mile 4500 foot descent that was pretty spectacular. I'm still not terribly confident on these kinds of relatively steep descents with lots of switchbacks, so I rode the brakes a bit more than others and got passed by several riders. Once we reached Dayton at mile 126, I caught up with the others (Lon, Karl and Phil) and we rode together until we reached our final adventure of the day.

Our plan had been to ride the last seven miles into Sheridan on the Rt 90 shoulder. Unfortunately, most of this stretch is under construction and there is no shoulder. When we got to this point, Lon found someone in charge at the construction crew and we spent about a half hour waiting as he negotiated with the crew foreman to figure out the safest way to get 45 cyclists down this stretch of road.

We ended up following one of the construction supervisors (who was driving a pickup) down a dirt road as we skirted the construction equipment. When we got past the part that was under active construction, we rode down a several mile stretch of "asphalt" that had been stripped of its top layer and was covered sporadically with mounds of gravel and sand and had the occasional crack and pothole. I found the whole thing kind of fun, but some of the folks that came through later (and were a little more tired than I was) were frustrated and annoyed by the experience.

We finally rolled into the motel around 4:45PM, even with our little cyclocross adventure. When I arrived, the aerobars my wife shipped were waiting for me and I installed them on my bike. Hopefully, this will help the problems I've been having with hand cramps.

We're all looking forward to a slightly easier ride tomorrow, although I have to say that I really enjoyed the ride today.


The scenery along the road near the top of the climb Marc from Belgium wearing his King of THE CLIMB crown The view a little ways up the road from lunch - you can see the lunch truck and tent at the top of the ride

A warning sign to truckers View along the descent road Lon negotiating with the construction supervisor

Sunrise light on the local terrain View from THE CLIMB - that road down there is what we rode up Another view from the rode during THE CLIMB

And one more view during THE CLIMB The wildflowers growing all over the area added a beautiful touch of color We rode along the summit plateau for quite a while - there are relatively few trees this high