Sumo wrestling

July 8, 2010

July 2

Wind sculpted rock formations

Wind is a multi-dimensional force in this region. It is artistic, physical, and mentally manipulative. As I headed south I began to see the beauty the wind wrought upon the environment. On the hillsides the wind has stripped away plants and earth to reveal multi-colored bands of strata, providing insights to earth’s history. The wind also shaped those hills into turrets and other shapes, providing visual interest for my eyes and brain.

The wide open spaces of Wyoming. There is nothing to stop the wind.

Evidence of the strength of Wyoming winds

Crowheart. Inside this normal looking building lay a grocery, sporting goods, hardware store, saddle shop, post office and community meeting place

The wind is probably best known for being (invisibly) physical. It can push you in any direction. As a cyclist, that physicality is what is mentally manipulative. With a tailwind, you believe you can cycle almost endlessly. With a headwind, you might believe that the end will never come.

I likened today’s encounters with the wind to sumo wrestling. Two forces jostling each other for the best position. Of course it really wasn’t a fair fight–the wind was a heavyweight, while I was a lightweight. Still, during the times when the crosswinds attempted to push me aside, I leaned back into them, reluctant to give ground. When the road positioned me so that the wind was behind me, I felt I had regained the upper hand. The wind was aiming for a knockout; I was holding out for a decision.

There was not much in the way of services between Dubois and Lander. A couple of small towns and a rest area. I took advantage of all three. My first stop, Crowheart, was memorable. This community had a population of 170. The Exxon station I stopped at was more than just a gas station. It was the community hub and shopping center. Local people were conversing as I walked in. I got the wary eye as a stranger piercing this local bubble of friends. Relatively speaking, the store did as much as a Cub or Rainbow does, all within the size of their deli departments. Here, you could purchase food, fishing supplies, hardware and saddles, plus mail your letters, since it was also the local post office.

I reached Lander in the 5:00 hour. It was a bigger and livelier town than I had been expecting. A banner stretched across the road announced a parade and rodeo tomorrow and the next day.

I slowly cruised up Main Street, looking for the RV park/campground listed on my map. I didn’t find it by the time I reached the far side of town. I pedaled back to survey my remaining options. Hoping to continue to post blogs, I chose a chain motel. A recumbent bike was leaning next to the front office. As I walked in, the clerk greeted me with, “I hope you have a reservation.” Of course I didn’t. “The town is booked for the weekend,” she informed me. “This man just got the last room.” “I’m a cyclist, would you like to share my room?” he offered. Both surprised and relieved I quickly said yes.

Much like with the Tignors’ in Montana, this serendipity resulted in an enjoyable evening. He was a professor at Colorado University in Boulder on a week and a half trip up to Yellowstone and back. Our conversations throughout the evening ranged from preparing youth for higher education, why people do or do not find satisfaction in their lives, to the history of indexed gear shifting. The next morning we traded maps and information about upcoming routes in our respective directions. I once again thanked him for generously sharing his room. His paraphrased response, I now realize, may be the traveler’s creed–”You may have the opportunity to do the same for someone else down the road.”

This photo has nothing to do with the story, but the scene gave me a laugh. My caption for this photo would be: "I don't have the garage door opener, do you?"

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