Nebraska Center for Writers

by Daryl Farmer

                                                                                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

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