Pinedale, Wy – Somewhere in the Basin ; 223km distance, 1,750m climbing, 10hrs 30mins moving time.
I did not sleep well. We forgot to turn on the air conditioning and we both woke coking in the heat and stench of the mid 30 something degree room. It was a prelude to what was to come today. We sat outside the gas station at Pineadle sweltering in the early morning heat. 7am and it’s already mid 30s. Fuck. It’s going to be a severely hot day. I chew down some food and chug some coffee. Bags repacked and time to go. Let’s start this. Great Basin day today.
We roll out of Pinedale together with a cross tail wind coming from the right side. A quick GPS check and we realise in 10miles we’re going to get a tailwind. A tailwind in the Basin. Looks like we’ve rolled a double six today. I roll away from Bailey just after Boulder as my gears carry me faster than his single one. I know I’ll see him again at some stage. I’d not noticed, but we’d passed another rider at the gas station there. An hour or so later who should roll up but Justin. Smiles and greetings all round. Stoked to have caught us he’s been doing some big mile days and his body has been crisped to compensate for it. We start to cruise with the tailwind pushing us along. It’s getting warmer.
The Basin is like no other place. Featureless, but beautiful. Huge, yet feels like a macro moonscape. Big skies, bigger distances under tyre. It’s brutally amazing in how vast it is, how little shade there is, and how much it drains you. It’s pushing into the 40s as we naturally split after a pee break. I start to slow a little as I realise I need to conserve some water. I’ve got enough to get me through, but I’d not expected it to be this warm. I meet a man in a pickup who tops me up, I suggest if he spots any other riders to offer it to them too – I find out later he topped up 4 other riders ahead of me.
A short break on the road as I meet the Trans Am. route climbing up to South Pass City – I stop in a ditch to take a crap, my body ejecting all weight in the heat. I feel better, dizzy, but better. Back to dirt and the trail goes through really old mining land before climbing and descending into Atlantic City (not a city). I cruise to the mercantile to find the guys eating – a huge burger after a salad for both. I order the same and a load of fluid. Time to cool down. Bailey tells me his GPS is showing it as 109F – around 43C.
Bottles filled I start to roll out again. No extra food on board as there was none in the shop. The mercantile closes at 7pm – it’s not open for the next 4 days. I pity the riders behind me. It’s going to be a long push with no food, let alone water. I push on back into the heat. It’s not gotten any colder.
Up and out we go, totally off the ACA route now, off to the new backcountry route to avoid Rawlins. Gravel turns to double track, to single track, to no track. The riding is tough, brutal at this time of the night and it’s not getting easier. I pass Billys Bonnet on the diversion and start to laugh to myself, if I crash out here I am in big trouble. I just get on with it until I can’t take it any more. 10pm, an early finish and my body is toast. I’d wanted more, but it wasn’t going to happen.
I bed down in the sage and spend time looking at the stars and the rising moon. There is no noise. No sound. No light pollution. Nothing. Utter solace. Finally.