The trail was uncharacteristically smooth, a thin dirt ribbon that gave my lungs and legs a welcome respite after the granite gauntlet I’d just run. But the next challenge lay ahead. Poking up through the ponderosas was a stone labyrinth that promised to bite at my wheels and test my grit.
The assurance of technical mountain biking is precisely what drew me to Wyoming’s Curt Gowdy State Park. Here, between Laramie and Cheyenne, the mountains and plains collide in a scenic mash-up of stone formations and rolling grassland, like a vast sculpture garden showcasing compositions of artfully chiseled granite. Some were tall towers of stacked boulders; others featured massive slabs that shot straight out of the earth.
One such rocky incline confronted me around the next corner, soaring skyward for an intimidating distance before narrowing into a twisty turnstile of stone. But my legs got me to the top, my tire rubber squeaked through the narrows, and I emerged onto the plains beneath a Wyoming sky so huge it seemed like I could ride forever.