Oops, I Did It Again (Two Things, Actually)
Gillette, WY to Sheridan, WY
After my not-entirely successful (yet somewhat gluttonous) work day yesterday, I was back on the road today. Destination: Clearmont, WY. A somewhat reasonable 120 km away. It was pretty much a destination out of necessity as it would be a pretty remote ride to Clearmont and the next town, Sheridan, was close to 180 km away.
I certainly didn’t get off to my earliest start today but was on the road shortly after 8:30 AM which was reminiscent of my starts at the beginning of this tour. Knowing there wasn’t much in the way of services between Gillette and Clearmont, I stocked up on a few extra pieces of fruit from the continental breakfast. It was a good decision – if for no other reason than to help cleanse my system from yesterday’s high (and not-entirely healthy) caloric intake.
The ride got off to a good start and, as expected, there weren’t any stops along the way – at least, not any stops right along the highway. There was one town that I felt a bit drawn to but I resisted and stayed on course. As such, my first stop didn’t come until the 60 km mark and that was at Spotted Horse. Despite being deemed worthy of inclusion on road signs, Spotted Horse seemed to be a roadside bar in the middle of nowhere. A roadside bar that was WILLING to fill up my water bottles but recommended against it since they don’t actually drink the water themselves. That was reason enough for me to keep the lids on my bottles.Despite the lack of potable water, they were kind enough to let me make use of one of their patio picnic tables so that I could make some lunch. I was very appreciative. It was during the making of said lunch that I realized that I had done it again. Nothing TRULY tragic but certainly unfortunate. I had once again bought creamy peanut butter instead of crunchy. How sad. Fortunately, it’s another small jar and I tend to go through it rather quickly.
With lunch consumed, I packed up my things and was back on the road. “Back on the road” meant a mere 40 km remained between me and Clearmont. Certainly manageable considering it was only noon. Plus it meant I would have a plethora of time to figure where I would be spending the night. Ah, the joys of making things up as you go along.
The biggest highlight from the next 40 km was probably the number of grasshoppers I encountered. There were a LOT. All over the road. And shoulder. And occasional some even hopped onto my panniers to enjoy the ride. I did my best to NOT run them over but I have no doubt that more than a few met their demise by bicycle tire. That said, a whole lot more met their demise from other vehicular tires. I could only save so many.Perhaps the least anticipated sight of the day was mountains. Real mountains. Not just big hills but actual mountains. This brought a smile to my face since, well … I’ve always been a fan of the mountains. Of course, the mountains in question are also very much between me and my future destinations. It didn’t take long to realize that big climbs were clearly in my future but for that moment I just enjoyed the mountain views.
I made pretty good time after lunch and arrived in Clearmont around 2:30 PM. Much like the other towns in Wyoming, this one was pretty small. And I still wasn’t sure where I might set up camp for the night. Then I decided I wouldn’t. Instead, I had a couple of pieces of fruit and set a new goal of Sheridan. It would mean a much longer day than originally planned – or desired – but it just seemed like the right thing to do.
I was about 165 km into the final leg of the day’s ride when fatigue really started to hit me. My legs were starting to be less enthusiastic about their task at hand. And mentally, I was just getting tired. On the upside, I only had about 12 km to go. On the downside, I still had 12 km to go.
Late day fatigue notwithstanding, I rolled into Sheridan around 5:00 PM where I was able to track down a reasonably priced motel room for the night. Yes, I had just done close to 180 km and yet in some ways my day was just beginning.To say that it was a hectic evening would be a bit of an understatement. By 6:00 PM I had settled into my cheapish motel room and was once again staring at a computer screen. I took a brief break for dinner around 9:00 PM before getting back to work. And by shortly after midnight I was done. Both mentally and physically. Everything from about 4:00 PM on was pretty much a blur. I didn’t even have any time to appreciate that I had just done my second-longest ride ever. Instead I was both exhausted and restless. Fortunately, exhaustion won out and I was rewarded with peaceful slumber. Yes, my alarm would wake me in about five short hours but what a wonderful five hours they would be.
Oh, unrelated side note: As I drifted off to sleep, I happened to remember that my first Miata was won 25 years ago today. Crazy.
Distance: 178.74 km
Ride time: 7:17:42
Average speed: 24.50 km/h
Maximum speed: 50.58 km/h