Wyoming is one windy state. Since we crossed the state line, we haven’t had a day without head and cross winds. As I may have mentioned before, bicycles are intensely effected by wind–cyclists are easily turned into sails and sent all over the road as gusts change. I often find wind to be an interesting challenge. It can be exciting to guess the wind’s next move and brace my body against the change in pressure. Cross winds are fun because at times I can press nearly my entire body weight into this insane invisible force, and still stay on my bike–feeling only the side walls of my tires on the road! Head winds are usually just a crazy challenge–I am constantly wondering if my will power and strength will be enough to combat this natural force that never tires.
One of our first days in Wyoming we literally went up and over enormous hills that housed a fleet of windmills. I chose to ride alone that morning, and I found myself climbing by myself into the most intense winds I have ever experienced. While climbing, I just kept thinking, “who does this? Who willingly bicycles into a field of windmills? And why?” I didn’t have any answers then, and don’t now. After each person asks why we are cycling into the windy direction of the country, I have to ask myself the same question. We are pretty darn silly!
But Wyoming has more to offer than just wind. Once I stop fighting the inevitable and embrace the wind’s terrible greatness, I can look around at this state I have never truly seen. The Eastern part of this state gave us a burnt desert–filled with sand, livestock, dead grass, prickly sage bush, and the most wide open blue sky I have ever seen. It feels like this scenery couldn’t possibly be real–the hues are too perfect, clouds too fluffy, and space too spacious. But blinking doesn’t change it, and day after day I awake and am amazed again.
The desert fell away when we reached the hillier parts of the state, on the Western side. We wound our way around Windy River, and the beautiful hippy towns this part of Wyoming has to offer. We have seen a sunset from the most beautiful resevoir I have ever experienced, the insane and lonely Crowheart Butte (where a Native American chief is said to have stopped war by defeating his rival and displaying his heart), the wind carved Hell’s Half Acre, and ridden over and around hill after breath taking hill. This cowboy state has completely stollen my heart.
I am leaving this post short because we are preparing tonight for two hard days–the days we have all been waiting for this entire trip. We are heading into Teton Park. We are climbing Teton Pass. We will be gaining a lot of elevation. Many of us are reeling from the 6,000 feet we already have clawed our way on top of thus far, and Teton Pass is a climb that (as a native Wyoming cyclist put it) “only real cyclist climb.” I guess we are finally passing as real cyclist. I can only hope that my stubornness and my body hold up the next two days.
And I will leave you now with a few of my favorite images from the last few days in what might just have become my favorite state. I’m not sure I want to leave.