Day 18 - Riverton to Casper WY
Mileage: 120 miles
Weather: Low 60s to start. Low 90s to end. Sunny.
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, 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.
The forecast indicated a hot day with unfavorable winds. The forecast wasn’t very accurate. It definitely got hot towards the end of the day around 5:00 but most of the riders were in by 3:00 and the last rider arrived at 4:00. Off the road and out of the sun, we watched the temps climb into the upper 90s. We can live with that. As for the winds, we had tail winds most of the way into the 3rd SAG stop of the day. It turned on us towards the end of the route but not with the strength we usually experience in this part of Wyoming. We can live with that too. At the end of the day, riders were pleasantly surprised at the relative ease at which they finished the ride. Thank you Mother Nature for proving the forecast wrong.
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.
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. Other than the upcoming eclipse in August, this was probably 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 6 of our riders tonight. We tried to convince them to call in well to work and just stay on the tour. Didn’t work. They said it was something about family, friends and other adult responsibilities. Geesh! :-) We did introduce 2 alumni who are joining us from Casper to Sioux Falls.