The Big West by Bicycle

Well she's chuggin down the track, chuggaluggin down the track. -Jalan Crossland

I went on the fourteenth anniversary ride of the Tour De Wyoming last week. They've never covered the same area twice on this tour, meaning that 13 areas were more appealing than our route. We covered southwest Wyoming, southeast Idaho, and northeast Utah. We rode 350 strong into towns as big as Kemmerer (home of the first JC Penney, the locals won't hesitate to tell you) with 2600 people and as small as Garden City, 400, and Cokeville, 500, to stay the night. They sell Pepsi products in Cokeville, incidentally.

Bike tours, as far as I know, create an interesting social atmosphere not unlike church camp for adults. Some people sleep in tents and some in the gyms of the schools we camp at. The average age was about 50. I couldn't tell most people apart. They were primarily skinny, gray-haired, and wearing helmets, sunglasses, and brightly-colored spandex. At one rest stop I fumbled my Gatorade all over some lady, and I'm not sure if I saw her again or not.

One day we had such a bad crosswind that my mom complained about snot coming out of her left nostril and hitting her right eye.

Muscularily the 370 miles were taxing, but the worst part about riding that far was the "saddle sores" a.k.a. how much that damn bike seat hurt your crotch. (I also had troubles getting my leg over the top of my bike frame. I grabbed my foot in order to help it over for a couple of days.)

One of my compatriots (to be remained annonymous in order to restore some of her privacy) had such bad saddle sores that she could only ride the first three days. The last three she rode the sag wagon. To sag: v. to ride in a car, to be compared to an old woman's breasts. In our small bike community, news like this gets around. It's difficult to find things to talk about in the dinner line. Some staples were the Tour de France, the ride just completed, the ride coming up tomorrow, and saddle sores. These lovely well-meaning strangers would ask my compatriot how her crotch was doing. One man gave her some balm for chaffing and some other balm for bruising. "Is it like an open wound?" He asked her, "because if it is you probably shouldn't use the bruise balm."

She told us later that it was probably the only time that when a stranger broatched the subject of her nether regions, he would not only not get slapped, but would be thanked profusely. She's an introvert, and I think the whole experience was a bit much.

And I actually found myself sad on that last day. No more waking up at 5 a.m. in the dark to pack up the tent and stand in breakfasts lines (these towns had no notion of the meaning of haste) to ride 50 or 60 or 70 or 80 miles in the middle of nowhere. No more looking at road kill, skunks mostly, or cruising down empty hills. No more looking up (ouch, my neck!) to see the bobbing silhouettes of my fellow cyclists somewhere down the road. No more being caked with aspalht dust or burned by the sun.

And I dream of a trailer in Bolser, Wyoming with tires on the roof, dear. And you by my side. And we can pitch horse shoes and stray cats on Sunday. Yeah, we can have hot wings and bourbon for breakfast. Ah, we can watch Flinstones and draw unemployment. Yes, I dream of Bosler when I close my eyes.

1 comment:

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