Posted by: bikedave | July 19, 2010

July 17, Saratoga, WY to Cowdrey, CO

Today’s ride generally follows the valley of the North Platte River upstream.
There was a change in the weather over night.  Friday had been clear, hot and very dry.  This morning the air was moist and the sky was mostly overcast.
I left first today.  Leaving Saratoga, WY, I rode south on Highway 130 along the North Platte River.  The lowland, near the river, was covered in lush green grasses.  Higher up there was less grass and more sage.

The line of trees is where the North Platte River flows.

There was a light headwind for the first 2 hours.  The terrain was slightly uphill so my speed was not high enough to be bothered by the wind.  It was actually somewhat pleasant, cooling but not too cold.  I noticed a thunderstorm forming in the valley south of me.  I couldn’t tell which way it was moving, and it caused me some concern.

Threatening weather

By the time I arrived in the town of Riverside, I could see that the storm was no longer a threat.  In fact it was getting pretty hot.  I stopped at a gas station and bought one of those Arizona Iced Teas in a tall can.  I drained it in two pulls, and I was feeling quite refreshed as I rode out of town.
About 12 miles from Riverside, WY I stopped to photograph this group of horses and cows.

Beating the heat!

About 10 miles from the Colorado border, I ran into some road construction.  The flagger instructed me to ride on the shoulder where they had recently sprayed the oil they use for chip seal.  He said it was dry enough to ride on without any problem.  He was wrong.  It was still quite tacky and began to build up on my tires.  I moved over onto the new gravel and only rode on the oil to get off the road when the pilot car came through.

Looking back in the construction zone

They were running the pilot car for only about the first 3 miles of the work zone.  Vicki passed me about half way through the construction and was able to pull over into a large ranch’s driveway.  We had lunch while I rested for about 45 minutes.
I mentioned to Vicki that I had not seen any antelope today.  She said that I must have not been looking very hard, because she had seen lots.
While we were parked, they moved the pilot car zone up the road, so that we had to go through it again when we left.  I had the same flagger again.  I showed him the buildup on my tires and told him how I was riding on the chips now.  He was OK with that.  Before I could reach the end of the work zone at the Colorado border, the crew finished their work for the day.  When I got to the border they were all gathered there.  One of them asked me to take a group photo of them.  I photographed them and one of the workers photographed me.

Entering Colorado

Crossing into Colorado, it was like everything suddenly changed.  The clouds thickened and the temperature dropped.  The road ran downhill instead of up.  The grass which had been getting rather sparse was lush and green again.
I mostly coasted downhill for about 6 miles until I crossed the North Platte River.

The North Platte from the CO Hwy 125 bridge

After the river there was about a mile of steep uphill.  Part way up the hill, I began to smell a wonderful floral fragrance on the wind.  It was coming from these purple flowers that were thick on the side of the road.

Wild flowers

At the junction with Hwy 127, I could see the town of Cowdrey, where Vicki waited, 4 miles in the distance.  There were some breaks in the overcast to the west with the sun shining through.

Looking west near Cowdrey, Co

I rode into Cowdrey, met Vicki, loaded up the bike, and drove to a nice parking spot for the night.

Miles today: 57 Total miles: 1,614

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