Day 18 - Riverton to Casper WY
Mileage: 120 miles
Weather: Low 60s to start. Low 90s to end. Sunny. Winds out of the west.
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.
Before I continue, I would like to apologize to the 2018 alumni who experienced quite the opposite from what I’m about to describe. The long day was made a whole lot easier thanks to Mother Nature. It started as a very gentle breeze out of the west. By the 2nd SAG, it built into quite the tailwind. Riders flew into Hell’s Half Acre (see more below), into the 3rd SAG and then into the hotel. Vans would water a group, move up 15 miles and that same group would be waiting for more. If it weren’t for the occasional flat tire, it seemed like the vans barely kept up with the riders. Many riders not only had their longest ride ever on a bike, they had their fastest longest ride ever. There were lots of smiles when we got to the hotel. The staff did a little celebration, too, as we were all into the hotel by 3:30. Woot woot!! 🎉 🎉 🎉
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 and motel. It is a town with a posted population of 10. We increased the population by over fourfold. This was probably one of the busiest days of the year for that little store. Our third SAG was in a paved lot. Hey, that’s a significant upgrade from SAG 1. What made it even better? An alumnus stopped by to say hello and brought homemade cookies! It’s always great to reconnect with our growing family of riders. For future reference to any of you alumni out there, we will never say no to homemade treats. 😀
Halfway between SAG 2 & SAG 3, 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 bison. That, I can say with a little more confidence, was not made up.
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 4 of our riders tonight. We tried to convince them to call in well to work or explain to their family that they needed only a couple more weeks to just stay on the tour. Didn’t work. We wish them all safe journeys home and hope to see them back again, soon.