Friday, August 5, 2011

Jeffrey City WY

I jumped on the TransAm (the ACA Trans America route) at Muddy Gap Junction and turned west on HWY287.   22 miles west, pedaling thru some rolling hills brings you to the town of Jeffrey City (elev 6324, pop. about 50).  Jeff City as it's affectionately called is a once booming mining town town that went bust in the early 1980's.  There are only two businesses in town; The Split Rock Cafe and Bar, and a pottery shop.  The Monk King Bird Pottery is operated by the slightly eccentric Byron Seely whose beautiful and unusual mixed clay pottery is sold online and in the gallery in town.

The Monk King Bird Pottery is across the street from the Split Rock Cafe.  Byron is the owner and potter and encourages traveling bicyclists to camp in the back yard of the pottery (or in the old camper RV during inclement weather.  

The Lions Club Pavillion is also available for overnight camping (free), and if a call is made ahead of time to the Baptist Church, you can overnight in the basement of the church in town. 

The Split Rock Cafe and Bar  in Jeffrey City was a major headache to touring bicyclists.   The previous owner of the one and only place in town for food and water was almost universally hated by bicyclists passing thru town.   Most of the blogs and journals covering this section of the TransAm are filled with venom for the previous owner.  Many bike tourists would plan an ultra-long day to be able to pass thru this town without having to stop to resupply or camp.   

ALL that has changed. Vikki, the new owner took over the Split Rock a couple of months ago and truly understand the needs of ACA TransAm touring bicyclists and hikers on the CDT (Continental Divide Trail) which passes 5 miles south of Jeffrey City.  "We serve BIG food" she told me, and the pancake I ordered arrived to the table on the front end of a bulldozer.   Measuring 20 inches across, the single cake weighed 22 pounds and required a gallon and a half of syrup, at least it seemed to.  Vikki's approach to bike tourers is perfect.  Good food, resonable prices, huge quantity, and free wifi. If you're traveling on the ACA TransAm be sure to follow Split Rock Cafe on twitter for specials and events  

The town of Jeffrey City was originally named "Home on the Range WY" but the named was changed to memorialize Dr C. W. Jeffrey who financed the early uranium mines which brought wealth to the small town and it grew to have a huge high school, stores and shops, hotels, and a small hospital.   When the mine closed down, 95% of the residents of the town moved on, leaving just a handful of residents.

If there were a place to shower here, Jeffrey City would be one of the best small towns for a cross-country cyclist.  One day The Monk King Pottery Shop may build a proper Bicycle Hostel complete with campground, showers, and shelters.  

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