Part 15: Bicycling the Continental Divide—Mexico to Canada—bucking jackalopes
By Frosty Wooldridge
“On an adventure: the day quits, the road ends, the light fades, your body wearies and the movement of life slows. When you walk the bikes down to the shoreline, this idyllic spot beckons your heart. A moored fishing dory, a quiet fjord and an enormous mountain urged you to linger here -- a place where time hovers and beauty overwhelms. Four bikes stacked against a fishing dory on a fjord in Norway equals a day well spent. As an intrepid traveler, you pull the packs, pitch your tent, crack out the food and build a campfire. A flickering flame appears with a wisp of smoke curling into the night air. From a nearby tree, a cuckoo bird repeats his plaintive cry, "Cuckoo, cuckoo, cuckoo..." Hot food simmers and steams upon the coals while you talk about the amazing events of the day. Nature offers a healing refrain of food, companionship, quietude and the simple pleasures of breathing life into your being. Above, the sky turns pink with a special alpen-glow across the snowfields beyond. You lean back on a rock: perfection attained.” FHW Golden, CO
(Bikes staked up against a fishing dory at the end of a beautiful day of riding.)
Thankfully, I slept like a baby in the park after that great shower last night. Quickly, I packed my bike and pedaled over to Gerry and Dave’s motel. They greeted me with their usual aplomb. They had called Kit about Wayne’s condition. They felt relieved to know that he felt fine and couldn’t wait until next October when he planned to ride with me in Utah. No way does a little accident deter a 70 year old committed touring cyclist from getting back onto the saddle and riding again.
We hit a restaurant where we ate them out of kitchen and pantry. I can’t help but wake up with a raging appetite in the morning. My body screams for calories. As can be imagined, all cyclists enjoy every mouthful of food.
(Road from Lander to Dubois filled with much beauty. Red rock cliffs and Wind River entertained our eyes and emotions all day. Gerry and Dave, used to tiny Ireland, gazed upon the enormous landscape with endless wonder.)
An apple tastes like a gourmet meal. A pear becomes juicy sugar feast more exciting than a Dairy Queen chocolate sundae. A bowl of oatmeal causes my taste buds to spring into summersaults on my tongue. Food becomes fun and glorious as to taste, texture and enjoyment. When you see cyclists eating breakfast at a restaurant, you cannot imagine their sheer delight in the joy of every bite, the pleasure of every taste sensation from food and the enormous satisfaction of the experience. Whereas most folks eat breakfast, lunch and dinner in indolent duplication, cyclists rapaciously enjoy every bite.
After breakfast, we bought a few items at the local grocery store. I stacked a bunch of bananas, apples, pears and oranges into my front panniers. I added a dozen energy bars. All loaded up, we headed north on Route 287 toward Dubois.
(Lots of historical markers gave us a compelling history of the area.)
The first 35 miles offered rolling highway and sublime pastures loaded with horses that galloped alongside us as we covered the miles. Unfortunately, they ran into a pasture fence, which stopped their freedom. We pedaled onward unencumbered without limits.
One of the nice aspects of traveling in the West, we enjoyed roadside signs that shared the history of the region. One talked about an Indian war party that fought the good fight against the invading settlers, but, of course, could not compete with rifles. In the end, within a generation, the Red Man gave up his land, freedom and way of life. Sad on many levels when you see it firsthand.
(Pedaling along the Wind River offered endless beauty, serenity and visual pleasure. Such days in the saddle, the pedaling becomes incidental.)
The next 35 miles proved brutal and beautiful as we followed the Wind River to Dubois. Headwinds pummeled us relentlessly. Finally, as we pedaled through fantastic sandstone red cliff rock, we started up a long climb to Dubois. The long shadows of the sun played on the rock formations on mesas to the north of us. I took a lot of pictures while Dave and Gerry pedaled ahead. They reached town an hour before me to grab a motel.
(Frosty reading a road map while the shadows on the distant rock formations created a touching mosaic to the end of the day as we headed into Dubois, Wyoming.)
At 8:30 p.m., I pulled into Dubois to enjoy dinner with Dave and Gerry at the local Steak and Breakfast Café. Dubois proved to be a lovely western town with wondrous statues depicting western motifs. They also featured the biggest “Jackalope” in the USA. It’s saddled and ready to buck you off at any time. Of course, we all tried our hand at riding the bucking Jackalope. For those who don’t know what a Jackalope means, it’s a cross between an antelope and a jackrabbit. Ornery, mean, nasty, spits a lot and likes to trample bicyclists who get in its way. The darned animal stands over seven feet tall. Never mess with one if you hope to live.
(Frosty riding a bucking Jackalope. This half antelope, half jack rabbit runs around the west terrorizing women, children and unsuspecting cyclists. Once rounded up, cyclist try to tame it by slapping a saddle on it, jumping on and holding on for dear life. Jackalopes spit, howl and raise all sorts of hell when anyone gets in their way. Life out west can be dangerous with these critters.)
Amazingly, as we sat at our table, a lady named Jody, her husband Gregg and kids Olivia and Warren, who knew John Rathbone, my friend and bike shop owner in Genesee Park Center, back in Golden, struck up a conversation. Jody and John’s wife Tina had been best friends for years.
I said, “John’s taken care of my bikes for the past five years. He’s the best of the best.”
(Frosty running from a giant black bear in Dubois, Wyoming.)
After dinner, we pedaled back to the motel where Dave and Gerry graciously offered a shower and the floor for sleeping.
Have you ever taken a shower after you haven’t taken one for a day or two? How about a shower after a 100 mile day of grit, dust and sweat? I can’t begin to tell you how wondrous my skin felt with shower drops that carried every bit of dirt and sweat away from my skin and sent it down the drain. Soothing, joyous, wonderful and marvelous. Thank you Mr. Shower for inventing the shower. Sleep arrived quickly as I zeroed in on the pillow on the floor in the corner of the motel room. After a long day in the saddle: perfection felt and attained!
Frosty Wooldridge has bicycled across six continents - from the Arctic to the South Pole - as well as eight times across the USA, coast to coast and border to border. In 2005, he bicycled from the Arctic Circle, Norway to Athens, Greece. In 2012, he bicycled coast to coast across America. In 2013, he bicycled 2,500 miles from Mexico to Canada on the Continental Divide, 150,000 vertical feet of climbing and 19 crossing of passes. He presents “The Coming Population Crisis facing America: what to do about it.” www.frostywooldridge.com . His latest book is: How to Live a Life of Adventure: The Art of Exploring the World by Frosty Wooldridge, copies at 1 888 280 7715/ Motivational program: How to Live a Life of Adventure: The Art of Exploring the World by Frosty Wooldridge, click: www.HowToLiveALifeOfAdventure.com
Live well, laugh often, celebrate daily and enjoy the ride,
6 Continent world bicycle traveler
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