I got off to a late start today, after eating breakfast it was almost 10:30. I got some proper rest and was feeling sharp as I set out of town. My legs felt stronger than ever and I was wondering if I had forgotten some important stuff because the bike felt so light.
Riding out of town I had to get on the interstate freeway because there were no other options, but after 30 km the route turned off the freeway and continued into wide open ranges towards Saratoga. Today was a kind of day with not much happening but I very much enjoyed it from start to end. The pure simplicity of bike touring - bike, eat, sleep, repeat - is just so mentally relaxing.
The road to Saratoga consisted of long straight stretches and although I was gaining altitude, it didn't feel like it at all. In Saratoga I met Bob and Ray from day 19 who because of some minor mechanical issues, had to get back to Lander after riding all the way to Jeffrey City. They were just about to press on to Riverside when I arrived but I wanted to stop and eat in Saratoga. I sat down on the ground outside a supermarket and ate and read the field notes on the area ahead, on the backside of the map.
After about an hour and a half in the shelter of the sun, I was accompanied by a young westbounder called Zack. I did some digging for information on the riding conditions in the midwest and through some of the eastern states every time I met a westbound cyclist. Zack confirmed what I had heard a lot about and asked the guide of the ACA self-supported tour group I met a couple of days ago - the loose dogs in Kentucky. The ACA guide told stories of how he had peppersprayed a handful of attacking dogs and told me I would want to keep the bear spray handy.
The ride to Riverside was pleasant and went by very quickly and I arrived just as the crosswind picked up. Riverside was I nice little town with a campground, bar and a grocery store, at least as I could see. The campground was very nice and I got a sweet spot just beside Bob and Ray to put up my tent. After a while, I met a nice Australian lady called Joanna who was also headed east and she was riding across the country to celebrate and raise awareness of the work of Martin Luther King Jr.
I got to the campground late in the afternoon so I had time to take a shower and look over my bike and tighten some spokes. Bob and Ray challenged me to a game of Crocket and later offered to buy me dinner at the nice bar right across the street. After a very relaxing day, and a most pleasant evening in good company I headed off to a comfortable sleep inside the tent I had come to like so much over the past weeks.