Day 38: Into the Wind — Sheridan, WY to Gillette, WY. June 15.

Daily miles – 104. Total miles 2186.

If we were to write a book about this trip, I’m starting to feel like we should call it “Into The Wind”.

Our rest day was hot and windy with Northwesterlies blowing through Sheridan. There were also tornado warnings for the Bighorns – Earl let us slip through once again! But … We knew we would not find much for services along this 100+ mile section and it was likely to be very hot. As it happened, it was nice and cool, but we carried a few extra liters of water and a mellon for refreshment. Combined with the groceries from the rest day and a couple excellent care packages (thanks Ross and Colleen!!) we left town about as heavily laden as we have been on the entire journey. This included such items as a smoked salmon, about a pound of Miette’s pastries, a fresh pound of coffee, two, not one, but two full peanut butter jars, lots of oats….you get the idea. The Northwesterlies would be favorable for all but a short section of the day. But….the day started out with about a 10 mph headwind which managed tp shift about keeping us slow the entire day. We got a push for a few miles, but that’s about it. We also realized that this section was much more rolling than originally anticipated. And, one day of rest may not have been enough for what we just put ourselves through in the mountains.

The reward for all this, however, was a day of desolation. The terrain was moderately wetter than the Bighorn Basin between Red Lodge and the Bighorns, but still pretty dry. The only people we saw were a few hunters (it seems like the entire state of Minnesota is in Wyoming – so many MN license plates) and oil field workers. I’m pretty sure there were more antelope than people.

After about 70 miles we reached the “town” of Spotted Horse, population 2, Elevation 3890.. It’s really just a bar. We ate the mellon we were carrying and got some water from the bar. As we were about to leave, the bar owner said “Y’all know about the road contruction ahead right?”. I said, “Yeah – we saw the signs. We’ll be fine”. When we pulled up to the flag person, we saw the road as far as the horizon was totally ripped up and there were scrapers and huge machinery everywhere! In addition to imagining endless flat tires on such terrain, we weren’t even sure we could keep the bike upright with such soft sand and gravel. Luckily, we didn’t ponder this too much before two highway workers in a pickup told us we were not allowed to ride and would have to take a lift from them in their truck. So…this is not cheating – we are merely humble law-abiding citizens following direct orders. So don’t even think that our rear ends had anything to do with the enthusiasm with which we loaded Talula and all the gear into this truck for a bumpy 6 mile sojourn over the barely-a-road in the middle of nowhere, Wyoming.

They dropped us off where the pavement begins (a sequel Shel Silverstein title?) and we rode out the final miles into Gillette, arriving around 8:30 at an overpriced, overcrowded, only-game-in-town RV Park called Crazy Woman. It’s cool though – picnic table, flat spot, and I don’t think we will have any trouble sleeping…

Today was a quiet day for us. Not much conversation, not much singing, just both kind of business-oriented fighting through a monotonous road, the ever present headwind, and more hills than anticipated. It was a good day, but different than most. It was almost 10 hours in the saddle with already tender parts. We’ll see how this phase continues . . . .

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