Pagosa Springs to Bayfield - The woman who sat on the toilet too long (and other odd American tales) - CycleBlaze

June 23, 2014

Pagosa Springs to Bayfield

LOTS OF DOWNHILL, they promised as we drank coffee before setting off. And "they" were right. More than that, we had the wind behind us once it had picked up. And other than an inconvenient grovel up an inconveniently long hill around half distance, life was good.

We whistled past green hills and emerald meadows that blew in the breeze, waiting to be cropped for hay. We hummed through valleys between flat-topped hills and past timber gates to distant ranches and down roads lined with rocky outcrops.

There was that hill, of course, and it went on for what felt like an hour. But that was nothing compared to the simple pleasures of hearing the air whistle past our ears.

We were taking one gentle slope when two young and lean figures came towards us on lightweight bikes with haphazard luggage. I'd say they were in their 20s, one tall, dark and lean and the other shorter and rounder of face and with a vacant expression that half-smiled and left you wanting to look away but keeps you captivated. They spoke slowly with twanging accents not unfamiliar to cotton fields and the blue bayou and men who go out in boats a-huntin' 'gators.

"Waya... rahd'n... ta... ahther... sahda... Colorudda," the tall one said. "Then... waya... gonna... be... peeked... up."

The shorter one kept staring with that embarrassing but irresistible gaze. I thought any moment he'd say: "Way... dohn... see... mayny... folks... dahn... ahn... the... farm." But he didn't. Instead, he grinned foolishly. The taller one asked how far we rode each day and we answered and they said they were doing the same, and then the conversation faltered. We made our escape politely.

"Mennonite or Amish," Karen suggested. "You see the way they were dressed, kinda formally, not in cycling clothes?" And, come to think of it, I'd noticed that gaze-holding way when crossing Amish communities earlier in this ride and some years ago in Pennsylvania.

We had the choice this afternoon of riding to just short of Durango or setting up camp in Bayfield, perhaps 20km earlier. We needed to get ourselves in the right place to ride to Dolores the following day, when we'll meet Dave and Belinda Miltz, who stayed with us in France three years ago. It was the library that did it. American libraries are some of the most pleasant places on earth and the one at Bayfield was named the best small-town library in America. They're proud of that and some cars have number plates referring to it.

We went in to find out about campgrounds, loved being there and in the end, without difficulty, decided the place on the town's edge would do us fine. And a wonderful place it was, too, with thick green grass and a flower-lined stream and a smiling staff keen to please. Don't hesitate to stay there.

A happy day of gentle countryside and appealing fences
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A bicycle falls over because it is two-tyred
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Kaz heading west, towards Chimney Rock
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Chimney Rock, on the edge of the reservation
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My favourite mail box so far
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Tonight's campground, the best I've stayed at in America
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Today's ride: 74 km (46 miles)
Total: 4,128 km (2,563 miles)

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