Come to Wyoming, We Got Headwind (USA Day 63)
So it’s goodbye to Colorado, our bumpy, colourful friend. It performed a dramatic final act this morning as we cycled north from Walden: a carpet of honey-scented wildflowers for ten full miles. With the snows being later and thicker than normal, word around the gas stations is that this summer boasts a greater-than-usual concentration of two crucial things: flowers and mosquitos. We’ve experienced the full impact of both.
As we crested the hills of the enormous and largely empty ‘State Line Ranch’, and emerged upon a high, flat prairie that stretched for miles, two strange things happened at once:
1. We entered Wyoming.
2. We were hit by a sudden headwind.
Moreso even than Kansas, Wyoming is known for its incessant wind. It’s as if Colorado, coming to the top of this particular hill, found it a bit blowy and drew the marker right there. Poor Wyoming, getting all the windy bits.
For the remaining forty miles, headwind was the main order of the day. It wasn’t so bad that we couldn’t ride, just strong enough for flats to feel like uphills and for downhills to require pedalling. Wyoming revealed itself to be quite beautiful: sweeping, grassy valleys bordered by rocky hills, less jagged than the Colorado ones and altogether more cuddly. The air here is warm and very, very dry. Within miles our throats had desiccated by the headwind, our voices only croaky splutters when we stopped for cake. Rather than needing water to replace our sweat, though doubtless we’re doing enough of that, now we need it to lubricate our poor mouths, which are currently an excellent place to store baking ingredients.
In Riverside, our first Wyoming town, we sat on the swing-seat outside a shop we had no intention of patronising, wondering who’d stolen our energy. Just thirty miles of headwind had knocked us both out. However, a lovely encounter with two great women hiking the Continental Divide, and then with a Westbounder, Sasa, and her pannier-mounted bonsai plant named Bonnie, set us back on track. The last twenty miles were windy as ever, but we caught up with Sasa and rode into Saratoga together, sharing the wind most fairly while marvelling at the assembled roadside pronghorns who pronked away if you stared too hard. After checking in with our host Karim, we headed back out for a date in Saratoga (whaaa?) with our second friend-from-home in a week. This time, my beloved godfather Jim Jobby, whose family had joined him on holiday in Wyoming for rock climbing, sightseeing and bumping into godsons. We ate our most luxurious meal since arriving in the states, in, let me remind you, Saratoga Wyoming. Our Americanised Italian food (what Miriam described as ‘Red-Sauce Cuisine’) was accompanied by the most rehearsed waitress in history.
“Our specials for you this evening will be the Hawaiian Red Snapper, which Chef will prepare this evening with fresh sautéed kale and a lovely red wine reduction this evening for you.”
We ate so well. We drunk red wine. We momentarily forgot we were on a cycling trip. On the way home we dropped into the Dollar General to stock up on honey buns and cans of iced coffee.