It’s true, y’all: solo bike adventure is often the most life-affirming, serendipitous thing in the world. I’m thinking about the fact that I’m holed up (heh) in Jackson Hole right now, waiting out the weather, but even with the rain, it’s too perfect.
Monday night, while I was still in Yellowstone National Park, at 7000 ft or so of elevation, it started to rain. Rain rain rain, cold rain, with more rain in the forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday, 100% chance of rain, afternoon thunderstorms, and snow on Thursday. A fairly abysmal forecast, especially because my plan was to continue biking south through the Grand Tetons, majestic mountains that I would not be able to see in the least behind the more ephemeral but persistent mountains of clouds.
It’s in cases like this that the adventure part of bike adventure comes in: I have a plan, but it’s being foiled by outside circumstances. I can’t control the weather, so I can either persist as I’d imagined, or I can adapt.
In this case, I thought maybe it would make more sense to hightail it down to Jackson, WY, which is south of the Grand Tetons, and wait out the weather. I had a few logistical things I needed to take care of anyway — the most important of which was that my back tire was held together with duct tape so I was fairly keen to replace it — and it seemed like maybe a nice thing to find a city while the weather was at its shittiest. (Plus, I was pretty darn excited for real food.) Then, if the weather cleared, I could make a break back northward to the Tetons.
The problem is that Jackson’s 112 miles from where I was if I took the direct, highway route, and 112 miles of wet wet cold cold biking on a busy highway with a tire duct-taped together did not sound super appealing. As I slogged through the rain, ever southward, my brain went around and around about what I should do.
Enter serendipity. I stopped at Old Faithful in Yellowstone to wring out my gloves and stamp some warmth back into my feet, and a woman came up to me.
“We kept passing you on the road,” she said, “and wondered what you’re up to with that bike.” This is fairly normal, especially in touristy areas, the “tell me about your adventure” sort of overture. It’s fun, because it gives my normally-shy self a chance to talk to people while I’m out and about on my own.
I asked her what her car looked like, since when people pass me over and over I do tend to notice them. It was a white van with two bikes on the back, she told me — and I had noticed it, because if there’s something more than cars that pass me several times that I notice, it’s cars with bikes on them.
We got to chatting, and I told her about where I’ve come from, what I’ve done so far, how as we spoke I was still rethinking my plans to see the Grand Tetons, wondering if I might make a break for Jackson to regroup.
“Hey! We’re going to Jackson right now!” she said. “And we have room on our rack for your bike if you want. Would you like a ride?”
Heck. Yes. Normally I’m not about driving over distances that I want to bike, but this was too perfect: without even asking, the chance to get to Jackson dropped right into my lap, from people who I’d already sussed out as not sketchy, and it was happening right now. As her husband strapped my bike to their rack, I put my dripping bags in the back of their van and squeezed myself in between their adventure gear, all packed up for a few weeks of mountain biking in Utah.
So here I am at the public library in Jackson. Mark and Leslie, the couple who gave me a ride yesterday, fed me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch (with jam she’d made herself from blueberries she’d picked herself from their home in Anchorage, AK), stopped at the visitor info center so I could look into inexpensive hotels, and then dropped me off at a bike shop where I was able to replace my tire. I ate an amazing vegan hippy dinner at the Lotus Cafe which totally fulfilled my desire for vegetables and fresh things, got a chance to call my family (cell reception has been quite limited), and slept cozy in a warm room.
Today, I’m headed north to a cheaper hostel, closer to the Tetons, where I’ll wait out the weather till Friday. If it hasn’t cleared by then, well, I’m bumping up against how long it’s going to take me to get my ass back up to Whitefish, way the heck at the north of Montana, so I’ll just have to save the Tetons for another day. But I’m hoping I can at least make some fun day excursions in the next few days, even in the shitty weather, knowing I have someplace warm and dry to come back to.
I’m digging the adventure:)