May 1985, Wyoming Highway 191
The pronghorn was running beside me.
I glanced over at him, saw the thin brown mane of his neck, the black
patch on his cheek. In the large brown eyes I expected to see panic, but what
I saw was determination instead, and muscles churning beneath the tan and
white skin. We raced beneath an overcast sky, on a road that ran through
rust-colored hills covered with yucca and sage. Side by side we moved, and I
could hear the hum of my tires rolling over the pavement shoulder, the rush
of the antelope's hooves on the sandy soil at the edge of the road, my CatEye
cyclometer showing a speed of nearly thirty-five miles per hour as we moved
together, miles of highway stretching out ahead and not a car in sight.
I had fi rst seen the antelope moments before, standing by the side of the
road. It's hard to imagine what he must have thought when he looked up
and saw me, just yards away, pedaling silently on my bicycle, but he lifted
his head, stiffened and watched, just long enough to determine that whatever
was the vehicle, there was a human attached. And then he jumped into
forward position and was off. There was a barbed wire fence to the right of
the road, and at first he had moved toward it, but in the frantic stride of his
sprint, didn't jump and moved back toward the shoulder. He was galloping
now as I rode beside him, and I could hear him, clods of the Wyoming dirt
rising around his feet.
I'd been riding three hours since leaving Rock Springs early that morning,
without encountering another living being, save for the occasional pickup or
RV, and I pedaled furiously, determined to keep up, and it seems now, as I
remember it, that we rode and ran together throughout the morning, but in
reality it must have been just seconds. Finally, unable to maintain the sprint,
I slowed to a stop, and breathing heavily where I stood straddling the bike.
I watched as the antelope veered right, slipped beneath the fence, and disappeared
over a distant rise. Then, reemerging on a farther hill, he stopped, and
I saw him standing, watching.
Reprinted with permission
from Bicycling Beyond the Divide
Copyright © 2007
by Daryl Farmer
U of Nebraska P