Sunday, June 22, 2008

Roaming Wyoming

Back in Chicago, as I thought about this ride, it seemed like a monumental undertaking. Many people considered it slightly, if not entirely, crazy. Of course, the ride seems far less "crazy" on the Trail because so many others are doing the same thing. There are also a number of people out here who are on adventures that fall on a completely different scale. One Brit, who I have heard much about but missed meeting when I was off-route in Missouri, has been riding a Penny Farthing around the world for over two years. He uses a riding crop for animal control. And yesterday, as I rested at Muddy Pass, I met a German woman on a motorcycle, who told me about her two-year bicycling adventure from Alaska to Mexico City and many places in between.

My trip over the past two days has taken me over the Continental Divide again and into Wyoming. Yesterday's climb to Muddy Pass was gentle, confirming the Rockies' reputation as less strenuous than the Appalachians. The scenery continued to impress. Colorado provided the most striking setting thus far in both its beauty and diversity. From the dry, hot, and brown plains to the snowy, cool, and green mountains.

But just so I provide a complete and honest picture -- Colorado wasn't perfect. It seems the state may be in need of civil engineers with experience in road building because many roads are plagued by long cracks every fifteen feet. This results in a very annoying bump every five seconds. And so my friends in Missouri don't think that I only pick on Missouri drivers, Colorado drivers rate as the second worst of the trip so far. I think drivers ed in this state skips the lesson on the brake, since few seem to understand its purpose.

I spent my last night in Colorado in the Walden town park. Menno, Wayne, and Diane were also camped out there. We had pizzas delivered to the park's gazebo for dinner. The town was blocking off Main Street and holding a dance from 8 pm to midnight, but I wasn't sure how my Chicago-style moves would go over, so I didn't attend.

This morning began with a twenty-two mile ride to the Wyoming border. At the border, some dissatisfied visitor had shot a bullet through the head of the cowboy on the Wyoming welcome sign. Looked like he also put a few bullets in the cowboy's horse.

The terrain today was rolling. One of the larger hills that had a fairly straight descent allowed me to reach 44 mph. Mountains still rise on the horizon, though most are smaller in scale than those in Colorado.

Rock croppings, like those pictured at the top of the post, dot the landscape. Wyoming is as notorious as Kansas for tough winds, but today the winds were light and for a short time were at my back. I passed several pronghorn antelope running by the side of he road.

I planned on a long day to Rawlins, WY, but the waitress at my lunch stop changed my mind. "Rawlins is the armpit of the West," she told me. She said that I should stop at Saratoga, the next town, eighteen miles down the road. The free, hot, sulphur springs in town convinced me.

Once again, Menno, Wayne, Dianne, and I ended up in the same town, so we decided to split a two-room suite at a local motel two blocks from the springs, where we all headed after unpacking. At 114 degrees, the water straddled the line between pain and pleasure.


Sarah P said...

In Colorado's slight defense, their winter was very rough (record snow in many places), so their roads are in very bad shape. I was out there a few weeks ago, and I've never seen the roads as bad as they were in my many years of visiting Colorado.

I can't believe you're nearing the finish line already! I feel like you just started.

Anonymous said...

I am looking forward to the book.
Going across the Country without a
drop of gas will do wonders for
bike sales. I am selecting my shop
location as I write. With you as my notorious partner, giving free
autographs, we should make a million. Keep safe. Love, D

J. Root said...

Is the hot springs water the only thing that straddles the line between pleasure and pain?

Stay saddle strong!