On the agenda for last Sunday was a ride to Torrington, Wyoming, and back – a round-trip distance of about 72 miles. Good prep work for our ride in August!
As we headed out 20th Street to Highway 92 towards Wyoming, I noticed wildflowers alongside the road, the fading blue flax joined by pale lavender shell-leaf penstemon and scarlet globemallow.
I like heading out on Highway 92. The terrain provides a good workout, with the hill just east of the South Morrill Road topping out my route profile at 4,289 feet.
We stopped at the park in Lyman for a bathroom break (the women’s toilet was freshly painted and had toilet paper, but the door would not close). We encountered another biker from Scottsbluff who had stopped to refill his water bottles. He was also headed to Torrington that day, had ridden there before, and was able to assure us that our planned route was about like we thought it was from our research with Google street view: decent, but shoulderless and very rural. (The one town along the route between Lyman, NE, population 342, and Torrington, WY, population 6,690, is Huntley, WY, which claims a population of 30.)
We discussed the fact that drivers are generally so courteous and give cyclists plenty of room. The problem spots seem to be elderly drivers who can no longer judge the width of their cars and distracted drivers. In fact, the cyclist we met was still in therapy from an accident he suffered last year – his only accident in 30+ years of riding. A woman got distracted by her cell phone cord as she was driving on Highway 71, drifted out of her lane, and hit the cyclist, breaking his pelvis, arm, and I forget what else.
So put down those cell phones when behind the wheel, people!
Ok, where was I?
Oh, yes – Wyoming:
Not too far past the state line, I rubbernecked at a sign:
This was, indeed, the sign for Table Mountain Winery, which I have been wanting to investigate for some time. Maybe on another trip …
Once we left Lyman, it was 17 miles before the next town (as I hinted before, Huntley doesn’t really count, as I don’t think there are any services). That’s a lot of lonely distance. We had packed plenty of water and snacks for the trip.
Actually, the road wasn’t TOO lonely. We were passed by several vehicles. And there were plenty of cows. And birds. And a few prairie dogs. Even a couple of horses.
After some uphill climb, we could see down into the North Platte River Valley, with Torrington in view.
On entering the city, we got a strange caution.
I had neglected to look up city parks in Torrington before we left for our journey, so we kept our eyes peeled for picnic tables – and found one! The “Npyco Botanic Garden” (I have no idea what “Npyco” means) just across the street from the Great Western sugar factory silos on the south end of town. The park is adjacent to a fireworks shop and two churches, in the parking lot of one of which we “howdy-ed” a cowboy-hatted man with the most fabulous non-ironic mustache I think I have ever seen in person.
The park had no restroom or water that we could see, and there were bottle rocket sticks everywhere (an unfortunate side effect of its proximity to the fireworks shop), but it had very nice single-table shelter and a gorgeous landscape bridge.
Pretty soon we were back in Nebraska again (I’m mentally singing this to “Back in the Saddle Again.”)
Those last miles were difficult. We stopped in every town and several times along the roadside to rest and rehydrate. I didn’t take too many pictures, as I was often looking at the ground, head drooping with the effort of continued pedaling. (We were out on the road for about 7 hours, breaks included.)
But I did take one more horse picture just east of Henry.
Copyright 2013 by Katie Bradshaw