Mileage: 120 miles
Weather: Upper 40s to start. 80s to end. Sunny. Winds out of the east to start (not good but not too strong). Winds out of the west to end (very good and strong).
Highlights of the day:
Today was the longest ride of the trip, and the last of a nine-day leg, so everyone was a bit apprehensive. All of the riders were on the road by 6:45. This was another challenging cue sheet day: Turn right out of the motel, ride 116 miles, and turn onto a bike path that leads right to the next motel. The reason for the 120-mile day is that there is nothing between Riverton and Casper but some cattle, lots of antelope, a few oil wells, and a couple of tiny towns, complete with defunct stores. The road stretches out over the plains to the horizon.
Hell’s Half Acre provided a strikingly different vista for those who made the quick stop. It’s a misnomer as it actually encompasses over 300 acres. It got its name from some lost cowboy who thought he was in Hell’s Half Acre, an alkali and bog area southwest of Casper. Confusing this place, that is northwest of Casper and a depression in the earth filled with sharp craggy rocks, with a bog? Not sure why. Perhaps a saloon or two were involved. Or perhaps the story was completely made up?? We did read the sign that indicated this site was used by Native Americas for hunting buffalo. That, I can say with a little more confidence, was not made up.
Wind was once again a topic of discussion. The morning started with not much to report but as we rode, it gradually built out of the east. Unfortunately, this was right in our faces. Fortunately, it did not build all that much. Towards the second SAG, we all began to sense hints that the wind was changing. We chatted about it on the road but those conversations were quieted quickly as it is never good to question or tempt Mother Nature (yes, I know it’s “fool Mother Nature” but work with me here…). After the second SAG, the winds had unquestionably turned. We were headed SE. Winds were out of the west and getting stronger. Riders flew into Casper with more personal bests. No, it’s not getting boring to experience these tailwinds on the bike and it’s not getting boring to write about them.
SAG stops were primarily in dirt lots with, um, primitive facilities. The ladies in the group found privacy where they could with the help of other riders. The men in the group? They are guys, no special requirements necessary. :) Our second SAG was in the tiny town of Hiland, right next to its one store. It is a town with a posted population of 10. We increased the population by over fourfold. I think it was one of the busiest days of the year for that little store.
After the third SAG stop, it was 30 miles into the hotel. Time for the riders to spend a day off the bike and prepping for our next leg. We said goodbye to 1 of our riders tonight. We tried to convince him to call in well to work and just stay on the tour. Didn’t work.