As I was riding the route I said many times, "If I never see this stretch of road, hwy 26, Riverton to Casper, Wyoming, again, that would be too soon!” What a Day! Breakfast was served at 5 AM so we could get a head start on the heat and wind. I pedaled on out of town by 5:30 and it was already in the mid 60's. Wind wasn't a problem for the first 20 miles. As I passed through the small town of Shoshoni, I made a pit stop and bought a chocolate candy bar - for later. It's a good boost of caffeine when needed. Then it all began. The wind, the heat. Our first SAG stop was at mile 34.7 on a dirt pull off. Everyone there when I stopped was pretty low key and quiet. Looked like it was gearing up to be a repeat of the second half of yesterday's ride, and we were trying to get ourselves mentally psyched up for the loooong ride to Casper.
It was so barren, absolutely no change, mile after mile, in the scenery. Low grasses, low sagebrush, and gently undulating terrain to the left and right of the road. The road stretch on endlessly. The road surface at this point was pretty good. Ten foot wide berms. That seems so strange to have this low traffic, big wide road and wide berms. And back in the mountains the berms are sometimes 8 inches on one side only. (Straight up the mountain on the opposite side)
When I get home you'll see the photo I took - I'll post it - of the sign on the road entering the town on Moneta. Population: 10 Welcome to small town USA. This was at 42 miles into the ride and I wasn't doing much but staying as low as possible, down in the lower handlebars, all tucked in, and head down, just looking at the road up to five feet in front of me I was in a low gear spinning as easy as I could to try and get through the 40 + mph winds. It was so difficult I was trying anything to re-invent my ride. I put in one ear piece to my little radio and was listening to a Casper radio station. I hated it when they would get to the weather report: 101 degrees by the afternoon. They were playing all kinds of patriotic music. I liked the marching band music and would think back to my high school days in the band, playing my black licorice stick (a.k.a. clarinet), and marching downtown Wahpeton in the 4th of July parades. It did put a little, tiny little, bit of pep in my pedaling. But then at 10 AM a repeat show of Rush Limbach came on, and I couldn't bear to listen to that for three hours. It was the only station I could get in out there in the middle of NO WHERE!! I rode around a dead rattle snake. Hey, hadn't seen one of those in a couple of days. . . I was drinking water every couple of minutes, hoping it would last until the SAG at mile 62.2.
The wind just got stronger and stronger, I was near tears. I kept telling myself that this wind was NOT going to overpower me, but it did. I stopped and just cried out, "I can not go one more mile. This is too hard." Others would pass by, hardly looking up, just the usual greeting, "Hi, Sara, how ya doing?" We were all in the same boat, struggling and trying to remain focused.
I stopped and thought I really hope someone is praying for me RIGHT NOW! I had my cell phone in my bike bag, and the only number I have programmed in this new phone is my home phone number. I press "1" and it rang home. I thought if Paul was home I would ask him to Pleeeeeese say a prayer. It went something like this: "Whaaaaaaaaaaaa, I can't do this, I can't move through this wind, there is nothing to see, I'm all alone out here!" He said he would say a prayer, and I got back on my bike and made it the next four miles into the SAG. Fourteen other people had dropped, like flies.
When I got to this place, Hilland, WY population 10, I was really hurting. There was a cafe/bar, mom and pop owned, that was serving sandwiches. I went in and ordered a hamburger thinking some lunch would help revive me and I could better make a decision what I was going to do about continuing. The owner called out to his wife to make a hamburg. She went in the back to which was their private living quarters to make this burger. I think she had to first go out on the back 30,000 acre ranch and kill the steer first, because it took a very long time to get this sandwich.
It did give me a chance to look around the place while I sat in the only two booths in the place. Right next to the booth was a glass display case full of rattlesnakes! All of them preserved by taxidermy, coiled up and their fangs showing. I could have bought just the rattler tail for ten bucks. The sign read, "Hat Pins $10.00" I thought maybe I could stick it on my helmet as a souvenir of the wild, wild west. No, thanks.
I finished my sandwich and a cool orange Popsicle and it was a tough decision, but I was going to try it from the 91 mile spot on into Casper the last 30 miles. I filled my three water bottles, putting one in my bike bag, and filled my waist pack hydration bag. I poured water on my head kerchief and put it on my head under my helmet and wet another kerchief and put it around my neck. I set out.
Lo and behold the wind calmed down and the going went a lot better. Fr. Jim came up along side me and said, "I can't believe it, it is like the Red Sea has been parted for us." Meaning this reprieve from the wind was a Godsend. Hotter than hell.
Oh, I stopped at place that was called, Wyoming's Hell's Half Acre. It was a strange sight out there in the middle of nothing to see this geological formation. It was a very deep gully with steep ragged rock that rose up to a plateau. At one time the Indians rounded up buffalo down there. I didn't linger long because stopping in the heat was almost unbearable.
At least when the bike is moving along I get some air moving around me. I plastered more sunscreen on me. But it was pretty bad at this time because my legs and face were full of grit, and rubbing the lotion around in the grit was yucky.
As I was pedaling along I came up along side of 3 black steer grazing on the grasses. I looked over at them and to entertain my self a little I shouted out to them, "Mooooo, moooooo." They all looked up and if they were probably thinking, what is that insane thing out there riding that blue steel camel? But just then a little animal came running up to the fence and it was a baby antelope. It was so cute and it ran along the fence making a lamb/cat noise. It was brown with big ears, and it had white spots. I stopped to take a picture, but then it quickly turned and ran away. Sure was a cute little animal, and didn't seem afraid when it ran along the fence trying to keep up with me.
Slowly the miles were behind me and Casper was closer. As I climbed one last long gradual hill, when I crested it the scenery changed dramatically. I could see Casper Mountain and a long range of mountains. This is a ski area that people use in the winter. And big white fluffy clouds were forming in the sky up ahead over the town. It was forecast to rain in the evening. When I got about five miles out of town it was like I entered a spot of sweet relief. I had come under the cloud covering, and what a cooling reprieve it was over my body.
I rolled into the Holiday Inn that sits right along side of the Platte River. It was about 4:30 PM. I could hardly get to the room fast enough to shower and go to the whirlpool. I was so hungry after that very long hot, hot ride.
Many people just didn't make it all the way today and used common sense and rode all or some of the way in today. One fella is in the hospital getting an IV as he didn't drink or eat enough. A day off tomorrow. Very needed rest.
I saw a postcard back in Riverton. It had a scenic picture of Wyoming and it said on the bottom, "Wyoming - Not for whimps!"
We bikers are not whimps! The hotel clerk said this morning it was 101 degrees yesterday afternoon. I felt every degree on my body! Really, it is quite amazing how we just recover right away. A shower, and we are ready all set and nary a complaint and we are ready to go for another adventure the next day.
I will go to the library and send my journal to Paul.