THE WEIRD AND THE WONDERFUL
My 2000 mile USA cycle came to fruition in a mere 5 days, from the initial idea to hitting the road and getting a pedal on. And thus I did not have a moment to even think about researching any of the interesting and unusual sites I would be passing through. It was a case of, ‘Ok, what is the warmest yet most direct route I can take from St Louis to San Francisco?’. It was all about the roads; do they have a wide hard shoulder, is there a bike trail, are they direct enough, what is the milage etc. But strangely this tunnel visioned and mathematical approach to the journey has been a blessing in disguise. One of the brilliant things about my cycle has been learning to expect the unexpected. Like the Oklahoma winds, the Texas cowboys (that do in fact exist, not just in movies), high elevation cycling in the mountains, the ghost towns, Meteor Crater, and the bizarre life sized dinosaurs of Arizona, to name a few. The element of surprise has been everything from gleeful to baffling.
This last week I entered Arizona. I’d decided one morning to get an early start and clock in some decent miles that day. It was pre dawn, with just enough light to see, as I set off into a light blanket of mist, headphones in and staring at the tarmac sliding past meter by meter, mile upon mile. It was still grey about me when I looked up and promptly skidded to a juddering halt, staggered. My eyes bulged at what I saw in the distance. The distinct outline of T-rex bearing down on me. I stared at him and he stared back at me, little claw-like chicken hands protruding from his bulk of muscle which made him all the more terrifying. I checked myself – yes, I am indeed awake, and there is indeed the looming shadow of an enormous dinosaur straight ahead. And boy did he look fleshy and real. Being the dork I am, I stood there for a good two or three minutes, trying to make sense of this scene, before cycling closer. Yep, paper-mache and some astounding artistic paint work. Well that’ll wake you up better than any triple espresso! They are scattered all across Arizona, from the vast open plains to the centre of bustling towns. I am yet to understand the reason behind them. Let me know if you have that answer!
This was one I found in the vibrant Route 66 town of Holbrook, Arizona
Then there was Meteor Crater. Having changed my route plan at the halfway point I continued blindly into Texas and Arizona. Little did I know that I would see something that would revert me back to my eight year old self, excited beyond words and jumping around like a loon. I would be cycling right by a one kilometre wide, 50,000 year old hole in the ground created by the immense impact of an object from out of space. Surreal. I felt entirely dwarfed standing on the edges of this beast gawping at it’s sheer magnitude. This giant crater was made by something the size of a house. Fascinating. Part of my ridiculous excitement I suppose was that I’d figured this was the closest feeling an earthbound earthling like myself would get to feeling like you’re walking on the moon. I cycled on, giggling and all chuffed with myself, ready to experience more of this incredible land. Next up? A high elevation semi-desert with ice capped mountains for a backdrop. Heck, this cycle just gets better and better by the day!
The mighty Meteor Crater, Arizona
Sun setting over Meteor Crater in the distance