Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Day 10 Into the Great Wide Open Lava Hot Springs, ID – Kemmerer, WY 127 miles

Today was special day, for I pulled off a big ride when it seemed quite impossible.

In the middle of the night I awoke to a strong desert wind coming out of the east. Sure, enough, the first 5 miles out of the campground was a battle against serious headwind and Fish Creek Mountain. The hill ended before the wind. Every which way I turned, the wind was there to greet me. By 3 PM I had completed only 50 miles at 10 miles per hour. I left the saddle with each of hundreds of trucks passing me, so I could catch just a little of their airstream. My expectations of the day dwindled with time. The wind had me burying my head into the handlebars as I pedaled.

So it was time for a mind reset in Montpelier, a little outpost on the Idaho / Wyoming border. In the morning I told myself, ‘just keep on pedaling.’ And I did. After that break, things began to turn. How important is a tailwind for a biker? – about as important as going downhill for a skier. The wind on a long trip reigns supreme. I sensed that the wind started to fall out and then shifted into my favor. Heading east on U.S. 30 at the state border, 20 miles past Montpelier, one glimpses down from the top of Border Hill into one of the most beautiful valleys I have ever seen. With the wind now strongly at my back and the road super smooth, I felt the day had turned.

The last 50 miles today was pure bicycling. ‘Pure bicycling’ to me is when the mind, body, and bike all work as one. Tailwind, a good road with gentle hills, it all seemed to come together as I pedaled a big gear. A trucker passed me and gave me a toot of the horn. I spotted antelope feeding in a field just off the road. A flock of sandhill cranes in another field. Then more antelope. Buteos were everywhere. A small lake even had white pelicans and ibis-looking birds. The sun set before I made Kemmerer, so I got to see the fading light reflecting off rocky mesas here in western Wyoming. When I got into town, no less than ten mule deer bucks stood grazing by the side of the road.. I felt very thankful for the fair winds, and for the opportunity to pedal across this great land of ours.

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