Red Rock 'n' Rollin' (USA Day 66)
Jeffrey City and its cavernous, echoing cyclist basement proved a strange yet bewitching place to stay. We woke before dawn and cooked all our remaining porridge (don’t want any of that hanging around in bear country – I read in a book that bears love it), then dragged our bikes back along the sandy path to the road and began today’s miles quietly, so as not to wake the headwind.
It worked. We ploughed west without anybody blowing us back, halting only to photograph bouncy pronghorn or prancing wild mustangs along the barren, treeless plains. With the sun at our backs we rode with real vigour, knowing that any moment the wind would kick up and the remaining miles would double in difficulty. The only one of us struggling was poor Bonnie the Bonsai Tree, who hadn’t much enjoyed the dry air and who’d never really recovered from our offroad foray a couple of days ago. To be honest, she may be no more than a stick in a week or two.
We lost altitude fast today, which we’ll pay for in the upcoming days as we climb back up to Grand Teton. After a tiny hill, the landscape opened up and we dropped for almost twenty straight miles, the road slinking downwards around broad bends, winding gradually down into valleys, then valleys within the valleys, through new strata of rock, no longer hard granite but red and dusty. We passed beside herds of happy cattle sitting on the dried sand beds of long lost lakes, beneath eagles circling in search for a squeak of tasty chipmunk, back towards busier roads and finally into the arty town of Lander. We’d made it, uneventfully, only being bothered by the wind in the last ten-or-so miles. What a relief after yesterday’s hairdryer of a day.
After claiming our free ice cream bars from the excellent bike shop in town, we bid goodbye to Sasa and Bonnie after four fantastic days as a quartet, knowing that she wanted to push on to Grand Teton before having a break, but we’d booked one in tomorrow. We’ve no doubt we’ll see her again; after all, we are travelling in the same direction, on the same roads, for the next month. Having a riding companion for a day or more changes the way you see the road ahead. I can’t wait to find out who we fall in step with next.
And now it’s time to rest. We’re talking about catching a movie. Visiting a local bakery. A snoop around the art shops. After six days of wild wind and big skies, I can’t even wait.