After a chilly night we awoke to a hot breakfast of eggs and flour tortillas and coffee all fixed by my lovely riding companion. It’s so nice to wake up to a familiar face in an unfamiliar place (and to curl up with a familiar form when sleeping in an unfamiliar place!). I once again set upon the bikes while Re began striking camp. The chains were a little loose, but I opted not to adjust them but instead to just give them a squirt of lube. The tire pressures were still good, but our oil levels were both nearing the bottom of the acceptable fill level. We rode out in the still surprisingly chilly morning air and headed south on 191. The route across Wyoming was perhaps the least direct of all the states. Not being able to ride on I-80 really forced us into an odd route. The day’s trip zigzagged us south on 191 from Hoback Junction to 28 in Farson, north to nearly Lander and then south on 287 to Muddy Gap where we would finally head east on 220 to Alcova, our destination for the night.
Western Wyoming is a truly beautiful piece of the world. We have traveled all over the US (and the world) and we both agreed that western Wyoming is one of the prettiest places we have been. It’s what we always imagined the west to look like before we moved there. The high mountains, prairies full of wildflowers, and beautiful blue sky made today’s ride one of the most scenic of our trip so far. The roads were also nice and smooth, with very little traffic - truly and enjoyable day’s ride. The central portion of Wyoming is more stark than the west but was still enjoyable.
The bikes, however, were not enjoying the altitude. We struggled up and over a few 8000+ foot passes and cruised through several prairies that were at over 7000 feet. The bikes ran OK at full throttle but completely lacked any midrange, and no amount of adjustments to the A/F screw seemed to help. We are going to have to figure out a better solution before we get to India and Nepal! On the plus side, the lack of midrange and looong climbs up the many hills did allow us to hone our drafting skills. If our speed fell below 45 mph, it was a quick trip to 35 mph and third gear. Re scoffed at the idea, but when I came by at about 5 mph faster than she could maintain, she quickly adopted the full TZ250 tuck as well. We spent much of the rest of the day swapping the lead and sniffing for the draft. These higher speeds and more time at WFO may have also contributed to our big problem for the afternoon.
Throughout the trip so far, we refueled whenever our main tanks would get low if fuel was available. If it wasn’t, we would share one of our gas cans and begin to look for fuel in earnest - keeping the second can for real problems. Toward the middle of the day, we stopped in Farson, Wyoming for gas and a Clif Bar. I figured we would be able to get fuel in Lander, about 80 miles up the road. When we arrived at the crossroads for 287 (the road we would take east) we found that it was about 10 miles short of Lander, so we pressed on without getting more fuel. We dipped into our first gas can shortly after we turned onto 287 and began to look for fuel. Now, we realized that Wyoming only has about 564,000 people, but what we didn’t know is that apparently only about 5 of them live on Hwy 287. After emptying our second gas can into our thirsty little piggies, we started to get a little more than a little concerned. Miles of nothing rolled by, and we lowered our average speed in an attempt to conserve what fuel we could, eyes straining to see around the next corner or over the next hill. When our fuel lights started flashing to warn us we could only ride about 15 miles before we’d need to start hoofing it, we stopped and pulled out the GPS to try and locate the nearest town and (hopefully) fuel. The GPS showed that Muddy Gap was a mere 3 miles farther down the road and that there was a gas station there, too. Yay! We hot-footed it down the road and whooped in our helmets as we pulled into the station. As I rode up to the pumps, my excitement quickly turned to dread when the meaning of the hand-lettered signs on every pump that either said “Out of Order” or “Empty” sank into my brain. I went inside and asked the cashier if they really had no fuel and he replied that “Maybe tomorrow we will get some more”. I then asked where the nearest other station was, and he said either Rawlins or Alcova, both about 45 miles away. I slowly walked back to the bikes and broke the good news to Re. While we sat there contemplating draining all the fuel into one bike and going for it, the cashier came outside and suggested that we might try the fire department across the highway. I spied the large fuel tanks behind their building, so we rode over prepared to do many kinds of things in exchange for some fuel. We, however, found that it was a volunteer fire department and no one was there. While our thoughts started turning to larceny, a pick-up truck pulled in carrying our new favorite people, Jim and Donna Sheridan. They asked what we were looking for and we explained our plight. They then invited us to their house up the road a mile or so, and Jim was gracious enough to give us each about a gallon of liquid love (it was actually 85 octane unleaded) and refused to take anything for it. We thanked them and quickly headed up 220 towards Alcova as BIG thunderstorms moved in our direction from the south. They finally caught up with us as we arrived at the outskirts of Alcova and drenched us for 10 minutes or so. We arrived at the only gas station in Alcova at 7:30pm only to find that they closed at 6! Unable to easily find camping, and wet from the rain, we spent the night at the Riverview Motel (where you pay the bartender at the bar/restaurant out front for your room). It was a very nice mom-and-pop type motel and we ate at the bar before heading to bed for a great night’s sleep.
334 miles in about 11 hours, bikes had altitude related problems but otherwise ran fine.