15 – 19 July 2006
headwinds would be a constant theme of this section! this shouldn’t be read as complaining – but it is rather hard just to ignore them. From gould through riverside, walden (as in thoreau), rawlins and up into the ’empty quarter’ a huge section of vast wyoming plain with very few human-inhabited stops on the way. Silver-grey sage-brush scattered across pale sandy soil for hundreds and hundreds of miles. Hot head winds and many highspots. Grandma’s café, unexpected and open at lamont. Line of trucks outside, all men inside, like ‘old dog’ café in annie proulx’s that old ace in the hole. An unlikely to be fulfilled fantasy about ice-cream as I approached muddy gap and a gas station with a super friendly ex air-force man, ice-cream? We have home-made gelatto!! He studied local history, and told me of the mormon parties that were stranded here one winter having set out from the east too late. Split rock, a little further down the road, used as a navigational aide by the pioneers crossing these plains in covered wagons, the mormons fleeing persecution with handcarts, the fur-traders and the pony express, amongst others. The information sign included a photo of an old advert for pony express riders “wanted, wiry young men, not older than 18, must be expert horseman and prepared to face death daily. orphans preferred.” I rode off looking back at split rock and across the huge plain, the sweetwater river winding in the distance. Incredibly powerful place and incredibly moving to think of people crossing it in covered wagons, let alone pushing handcarts.
At lander I managed to watch a section of the tour de france -bliss! – especially as it was being shown in another microbrewery, this one called, for reasons I never discovered, fishcow. Alp d’huez, where I watched Armstrong overtake basso the year that alp d’huez ( a ten mile steep climb) was a time-trial. Awesome stuff and makes me feel like my trip is a breezy holiday.
Met many cyclists on this section, which is part of the trans-america route. One told me he’d met a cyclist in Colorado pulling a sea-kayak, heading for Alaska! “It’s just the way I get around”. another, fred from Michigan, said he was doing the 4,300 mile route for the third time. Inspiring stuff. On the other hand, there is the traffic. Not so heavy across the empty quarter but at times, especially on interstate sections, you really realize how much freight is shipped about in this country in huge trucks. And how many people ship themselves about in vast RV’s, often towing smaller trucks (which would look large in Europe) behind them. This trip is making me more radical. After aspen I think I reached the view that we simply shouldn’t be allowed to use resources and expend energy as much as we like, for any purpose we like, limited only by our own wealth. More and more I’m coming to the view that (relevant) resource consumption should be rationed and that part of the problem is the way we prioritize our freedom of choice in these, lifestyle/energy expending areas, over the protection of the earth.