July 24, 2015 – Sunny, 80 degrees
Miles Today: 87
Miles to Date: 4,492
States to Date: 18
Monty Python could have made a great sketch out of my Super 8 breakfast this morning. I mangled my coffee filter, so got brackish brew; my batter stuck hard to the waffle flip; my oatmeal exploded in the microwave; and I couldn’t stop the orange juice dispenser once it flowed. Still, I managed to consume enough calories to head off for a long day with no services.
I rolled west in a landscape that grew grander and more prehistoric with every mile. My thoughts might have dwelled among our mighty cousins the dinosaurs, whose remains are so much in evidence here. Alas, I was preoccupied by two more mundane realties: road kill and wind.
On the first ridge our of Craig I had to navigate around a beautiful deer cut down in its prime only a few moments before I arrived; her blood was still fresh ( No visuals, this is a family-friendly blog). From there, I encountered more road kill than I’d ever seen in a single day: rabbits; crows; possums; voles; more deer; prairie dogs; the shoulder was an obstacle course. Despite these tragedies, I also saw many live animals dart across the pavement. I wondered what possesses a prairie dog to set off across the road. Surely, the blacktop cannot feel good under his feet, and it’s a sizable distance to an animal less than a foot long. Still, they do it all the time, and many don’t make it.
Then there was the wind. I decided today that the wind is the single most significant factor in the ease/enjoyment of road cycling. Rain is never desired, but is not really a problem unless accompanied by wind. Heat I don’t much mind. Cold is okay, except for my hands. Even terrain is less exhausting than wind. Yesterday I did only 44 miles, but when I dismounted I was wobbly from the eternal headwind. Today the wind was variable; sometimes a gentle whisper, sometimes a full-on blast. I realized my energy and stamina were directly related to its character. At one point I was pedaling, hard, downhill, going seven mph. The wind was practically pinning me in place.
Wind notwithstanding; it was a lovely day to pedal through country whose scale dwarfs a mere bicycle. I saw my first cacti of the trip. I was pleasantly surprised to find a town not even on my Google map, Maybell, which had a general store where I got a Gatorade and ice cream sandwich. Considering how many so-called towns are little more than 300 square foot US Post Office shacks, Maybell deserves an upgrade. My other rest stops were specs of shade under cottonwood trees where US 40 dips to a stream.
I took in the Dinosaur National Monument Visitor Center and then pedaled to the town of Dinosaur, which isn’t much, though the Terrace Motel is very nice. I was famished, it wasn’t quite five, and the only grocery is the gas station. So I pedaled over, got milk and cereal for the morning and Gatorade for tomorrow’s ride. A 1.5-liter of ice cream caught my eye. When I got back to my room I realized that my mini-fridge had no freezer compartment. Shucks, had to eat the whole thing in one sitting. Was I sad? Not one bit.
The only honest way to cap an indulgence like that on a Friday night was to follow up with a beer at the Highway Bar & Grill. It advertises $2.50 beers as ‘cheap therapy’ and $2 Jell-O shots. The place was authentic Dinosaur, which left me feeling very far from Cambridge.