My ride is over, but the memories will last forever.

A life long dream fulfilled ... a great cause ... new friends ... amazing support

Thanks to everyone who helped make a difference!

I have maxed out the picture space on this blog. To see my postings for Day 42 (August 1st) onward click the link below:

GOTO Mark's Trek - NEW Daily BLOG (August 1st Onward)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Day 18 -- July 8th -- Riverton, WY to Casper, WY

Miles Ridden: 120.5
Avg Speed: 15.5 mph
Avg Heart Rate: 119 bpm
Climbing: 2,440 ft
Calories Burned: 5,183

Long day and ride ... mostly barren landscape ... Hell's half acre ... first Wall Drug sign ... antelope ... no effects from yesterday

After almost 12 hours of sleep and some more benedryl, advil, and lots of water, I awoke feeling pretty good (thankfully).  A lot of folks were up and out very early given the long 120 mile day.  I loaded at 5:45 and had breakfast at the hotel as opposed to heading to the sit down place down the road.  I wanted to make sure I had a good filling in the AM unlike yesterday.  Waffles, eggs, oatmeal, and some muffins gave me a good start.  The Geldings were eager to get going and I knew they would be quick today, so I sent them on and finished my breakfast.  My plan was to see how I felt and join them later if I was strong enough.  I guess I took my time eating.  When I left the hotel, I was the last person to head out (some folks had gone to the breakfast spot, but a lot were already on the road for as much as 45 minutes).

Riding alone is not a bad thing and I do a lot of it at home.  The 35 miles to the first SAG stop gave me a great chance to ride my ride and set my own pace.  I felt pretty good and established a solid rhythm.  There was not much to see.  I passed a few small towns with a store or two, but it was pretty barren.  About half way to the SAG, I came upon Boysen State Park.  It was a nice diversion from the lack luster scenery.  The reservoir sits in front of some nice rock formations.  I passed several folks including Katie, who was back on her bike after a few days resting a bad Achilles.  I made it to SAG in about two hours, which was really strong considering it was slight uphill grade.

Boysen Reservoir

Nice View From the Bridge

The View Looking East

Brighter When Gerard Rode By and Snapped This One
Most of the faster riders were at the SAG when I arrived.  I rejoined the Geldings and worked with them in a pace line rotation for about 20 miles.  Their pace was just a little too fast for me and after taking one good pull I dropped back to meet up with them at the second SAG in Hiland.  The road continued to climb slowly up, but the winds were not too bad ... a little headwind,  Hiland is quite the metropolis ... check out the sign.  The SAG had a couple of neat billboards too ... dinosaurs and Lou Taubert Ranch Outfitters.

ABB Riders Swell the Population Five Fold

Would Have Gotten Closer, But I Am Now Shy Of Fields

An Institution in These Here Parts

A Typical SAG Stop
I headed out alone to the third SAG and again found a nice solo pace.  The road began a gentle downward slope that would last all the way to Casper.  I saw a lot of nothing.  No houses, no farms, no mountains, no stores, no gas stations, no nothing.  Well, I take that back.  I saw my first Wall Drug sign.  Wall Drug is somewhat similar to South of the Border on the east coast.  Lots of signs hype the place up, but when you get there it really isn't that much.  Look for more on Wall next week.  Just past the 75 mile mark, a notable site appeared.  I had forgotten about Hells Half Acre.  Leah had actually studied it during her Oregon Trail unit in school.  It was a another nice diversion and cool to see.  It is actually over 300 acres and the gorge drops 150 feet.  Indians would force buffalo to jump off the cliff into the gorge.  I also found out that the movie Starship Troopers was filmed there back in the late 90's.  For such a cool place, it had nothing more than a small sign ... it used to have a hotel and restaurant, but they were long gone.

The First of Many Wall Drug Signs To Come

Hells Half Acre - Buffalo Jump

The Hells Half Acre Gorge

A Lot More Than A 1/2 Acre

Starship Troopers Used This As One Of Their Sets

Daniel and Bruno from Switzerland arrived to Hells Half Acre shortly after I did.  We headed out to the final SAG together.  Those boys can fly.  It was a nice downhill run for about 10 miles and I enjoyed the draft they provided.  We hit a moderate hill and well ... they can climb too.  I tried to reconnect a few times, but I just could not reach them until the SAG in Narrona.  I opted to finish the final 30 miles the way I started ... alone with my pace and thoughts.  The mountains of Casper started to appear as did more cattle farms.  I saw some antelope as well.  I was definitely in between groups today ... the fastest folks were in front of me, while the rest of the group was behind me.  I passed no one and no one passed me the last 30 miles.  Solitude makes for interesting thoughts.  I sang out loud a few times.  I cried a few times thinking about my Dad and his health.  I laughed and smiled a few times thinking about my girls and the fun they are having this summer.  I pondered what lay in store for Mike when he graduates later this year and the road he is on now that his relationship with Erin has changed (hang in there my boy).  All these thoughts helped make the final miles go by a lot faster.

Click To See The Cattle Get Bigger

A Lonely Little Antelope

A Bigger Herd of Antelope

After riding the local highways (not quite interstates) of Casper I finally hit the local bike path along the river and found my way to the hotel.  I didn't quite follow the cue sheet or ABB road markings, but made it there with a little help from some locals.  Nice bike path and the town looks pretty nice.  I will explore on my rest day!!  Almost 8 hours in the saddle.  I arrived a little before 3PM and had a nice cold beer with Dave before unloading the luggage. 

River Into Casper Has Some Fast Currents

And a Pelican?
Neat Sculpture In Downtown (I Took The Scenic Route)
I relaxed  before dinner (at the hotel) and got the chance to meet the Duchess (aka Susan, Mark's wife) and a few other spouses/significant others who had come to join us.  We said goodbye to Bob and hello to Janice and Fred.  After a massive DQ run, I passed on the Karaoke night at the hotel lounge and headed back to the room for some down time.  Rest day tomorrow!

Good night moon ... good night longest ride of my life (beat my previous record by 1/2 mile) ... good night second of five legs (and hello rest day number 2) ... good night friends and family (I miss you ... you are in my thoughts)