Wyoming

Manhattan Angel Two days later, as I headed east from the Grand Tetons, the clouds lowered and let loose a fine drizzle. The trail turned off the busy park roads and headed up Buffalo Valley, still comparatively lush for Wyoming, with tall grasses and brush in the valley bottom and trees on the hillsides. The slope steepened and as I put my weight into the pedals, a 1940s vintage red pick-up in mint condition passed me. I would see it again. Ranches in the west universally have a high post and lintel gate at the entrance to their roads. Often they are no more than three barked spruce logs: two vertical with one laying horizontal across their tops. Others have swinging cantilevered gates, rock posts or fancy iron scroll work on the top. Ranches are named and branded. As I climbed up Buffalo Valley, the road narrowed and, after a couple of miles, I passed the entrance to a well kept ranch. Jogging up the drive in a very pink fleece pullover and black tights, leading a toy poodle on a leash, was a slim woman. I passed in a flash and didn’t have time to wave, but reflexively I thought: That was not Wyoming, it was Manhattan. A couple hundred yards further up the road, my left pedal began to wobble. I leaned the bike up against a fence post—noting that the barbed wire was tight, each row precisely parallel and the post milled lodge pole pine. Whoever worked this ranch did it right. It wasn’t the pedal, but the crank that was loose. The nut securing it...

Colorado

Slideshow: Colorado Knot of Muscle The wind piled into us as soon as we got out of Rawlins and up onto the high treeless plain south of the town. Suzanne hadn’t been able to find a front rack to hang her panniers on, so all her own clothes and camping gear were stuffed in her rear panniers leaving me weighed down with all the fancy food I’d bought. With all that weight and against the wind, it was like pedaling into concrete just beginning to set up. Suzanne rode in front trying to break the wind, but it did little good and eventually she took off, cycling into the horizon. The next morning she repacked our gear. Suzanne is astoundingly generous and takes on far more than her share. When she’d finished packing she had everything. We were suddenly like those couples you see in African countries where the husband strides masterfully down the road, erect and unencumbered by anything but his dignity, while, twenty feet behind him, bent double comes the wife with the family’s possessions on her back. It was only because I’m bigger that I was able to wrest from her the chocolate bars and alfalfa sprouts so that I was carrying something. Stuffed with all our gear, her tall red panniers looking like missiles pointing at the sky. She, nevertheless, still spun effortlessly up the hills, leaving me far behind huffing and puffing in my lowest gear. When the roads improved or became asphalt her entire body leaned into each pedal stroke, her shoulders pushing hard, for mile after mile. Unlike me, who sat daintily...

New Mexico

Slideshow: New Mexico Walking Out October 3rd should have been my last day in Colorado, and when I crossed the border into New Mexico, it was momentous moment—my last state, the trip was nearing its end. I had before me almost a hundred miles of isolated roads thru the Carson National Forest which included a bumpy but beautiful climb to 11,000 feet. I was meeting Annie Thayer, a friend from the archetypical Colorado hippie town of Nederland (the only Colorado town of more than 20 that voted in November NOT to tighten its medical marijuana ordinances) in Abiquiu, NM and we were going to bike for four or five days over the most difficult pass on the entire Trail and down into a little town called Cuba, where she would head back north. I had more time than I needed in order to make our rendezvous and an old high school buddy who now lived in Albuquerque was going to pick Succotash and me up in Abiquiu and take us back to Albuquerque for a couple of days before Annie arrived. So, I had much to look forward to and I remounted Succotash after taking her picture on the border and heading into New Mexico. The dirt road climbed steeply, but I was getting used to that, but when it forked, I took the road more traveled by without checking my map and two miles later, I came to a locked gate blocking the road and hung with no trespassing signs and dire warnings to those considering ignoring them. I stared at the map—I was definitely on the right...