Sunday, July 12, 2009

Time Off to Mountain Home, ID: Uncertainty, Fighting Hail and Winds and Other Stories

Miles Per Day: Time off to rent a cabin and explore Colorado via car; Day 54=62.37; Day 55=50.15; Day 56=60.00; Day 57= REST; Day 58=REST; Day 59=45.03; Day 60=44.99; Day 61=68.21; Day 62=REST; Day 63=REST; Day 64=53.10; Day 65=49.96; Day 66=59.21; Day 67=84.21; Day 68=61.56; Day 69=65.90.

Total So Far: 3,106.51

Inspiration: Pink Floyd; Eminem; Paul Simon; Beethoven's 6th (Karajan); Coltrane; Madonna; Johnny Cash [by far my favorite music on this trip]; The Wire [without question, one of the best dramas ever filmed].

Spirits: drained; strong; homesick; fearful; indomitable

Things Seen On the Road/During Time Off: desert hills of southern Wyoming; northern Colorado Rocky Mountain range; mama duck and little chicks crossing the road; a hawk picking up a field mouse right off the road; antelope and gophers galore.

Favorite Quotes: (1) gold prospector in southwestern Wyoming in response to a question about what it was like to grown up in Detroit: “I loved it, even with all the niggers around;” (2) gold prospector after I mentioned that I was hungry and needed to get some food [paraphrasing]: “Here, have this sandwich. I'm not going to have time to eat it...have to get home to feed my rabbits.”

The past couple of weeks have unleashed a roller coaster of emotions, most of them centered on whether I would even be capable of finishing this trip. It's really all my fault. As you might recall, I took 10 days off from cycling to rent a cabin and explore Colorado by car. And while it was a respite full of beautiful scenery, good food and welcome rest, it was also an excuse to avoid any physical exertion of any kind. I should have realized that 10 days away from riding would weaken my muscles and that I would require a bit of training to get back to par. Three days of 50+ miles later the pain in both of my knees was unbearable. I could barely get to my destination that third day and practically waddled my bike the last 3 miles to a motel. An absolute depression descended on me that day. For the first time in a long time I was uncertain about so many things. And not just about finishing this trip.

But not to worry. Two days rest, slow but deliberate exercises + yoga did the trick. Two weeks later I feel great. Better than great. I have never felt this strong and have never had this level of conditioning in my entire life.

It's been a while since my last trip update. It would be impossible to cover every significant story on this leg of this trip, but here are a couple of highlights:

*Country/Western Tunes: Somewhere near Rock Springs, Wyoming, I stopped at a late night bar for a bite to eat. Little did I know that a pretty good country/western band would play that night. Favorite tune of the night, the hilarious “You Would Never Catch Me at Brokeback Mountain.”

*Rain Simplicity: It has been amazing to watch storms on this leg of the trip. Heading west, I have seen gangs of storm clouds develop on the horizon. The more and more I pedal the more defined they become until I can actually see the outer edges of the storm above me. Even more impressive are the rain bands spraying jets of water every which way, like fingers stroking the ground below.

*Southern Wyoming Desert Terrain: The terrain of southern Wyoming is rather impressive. It is definitely high desert, with a twinge of the Grand Canyon to boot. There are hills that tower above you filled with a deep red hue and crevices that betray thousands of years or erosion.

*Fighting Hail and Winds: Heading past Green River, Wyoming, I spot a band of rainclouds off to the southwest. Heading west, with strong headwinds I pray that the storm passes south of where I am heading. Up ahead, the road starts forking southwest. I gulp. Within five minutes I am stopped dead in my tracks by the fiercest wind I have ever experienced on this trip. As I get my rain jacket on the hail starts falling loudly. Quickly, I unfurl my blue tarp (the same one you have seen in videos of previous storms) and without any place to tie it to I place it over my head and over the side of my bike. I push hard against the wind without much success, listening to the sounds of hundreds of projectiles hitting firmly and loudly. Suddenly, the wind gets underneath me and captures the tarp in its clutches. In a split second, one side of the tarp slaps me hard in the face before the entire thing just slips into the air and flies out of view. I have no choice but to huddle in a fetal position next to my bike for next 20 minutes until the hail stops and the wind subsides.


Country/Western Band: Anyone a fan of O Brother Where Art Thou?

Some Wildlife For Your Viewing Pleasure:

Rain Band Just Miles Away:

4th of July at Kemmerer, Wyoming:


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