7/5/12 Casper to Douglas, WY – 52 miles
I woke to overcast skies and steady rain. Not a good sign. Plus, the forecast is for drizzle and thunderstorms later in the day. To add insult to injury, the forecast also calls for fairly strong headwinds of the 15-20 mph variety. Before I came on this trip, I always said that I found riding in wind more difficult than rain or hills. That has certainly been borne out.
We donned rain gear and headed to the post office so I could mail some items home. The fellow at the post office was really nice and we talked a minute about the trip. He told me that we might want to don face masks because of the smoke from fires in the southeast part of the state. How ironic – I avoid Colorado because of fires, in part, and get smoke in Wyoming.
After the post office, we swung by a bike shop so I could pick up a couple of new bike tubes (you can never have enough of those on hand, you know), then headed out into the rain towards Douglas. I asked God to reconsider his planned forecast for the day – particularly re the headwinds. Meanwhile, Randy shook his fist.
Miraculously, about 2-3 miles into the ride, the rain stopped, and it was fairly calm. The road was relatively flat through more of those rolling brown grasslands. Traffic was okay. Randy noted the frequent presence of Halliburton related companies and trucks along the way. I was feeling pretty strong. I think the 1 1/2 day rest in Casper did its trick, but Randy indicated that he still felt a little tired.
About halfway to Douglas, we stopped at a convenience store. A man coming out started asking the usual questions prompted by seeing the touring bikes with all the gear. When we told him of our plan to take a designated bike trail most of the remainder of the day, he warned us that much of it was gravel. About that time, Randy got an e-mail from Frank that we might want to consider the alternative to the gravel road. I told Randy I was already near-paranoid over the tire issue, and would not be riding on the gravel road. He agreed, and we headed instead for a more established and traveled route. I am attaching a picture of when we reached the alternate road.
The road was essentially mile after mile along vast rolling brown grasslands (again), with quite a few long, long steady inclines. However, the inclines were at least doable, and I felt pretty strong. For the most part, I was able to maintain close to 10 mph. That all changed approx 10 miles from Douglas, when the headwinds kicked up. I thought, “oh no – here we go again.” I slogged along and fortunately, the headwinds more or less came and went the rest of the way. Just before I got to Douglas, there was this sign over the highway that warned of 35+ mph wind gusts. I can say that those were not 35 mph winds or even close. Just good steady 15-20 mph winds.
I exited into Douglas and found Frank and Roger at McDonald’s. By this time I had pretty much lost Randy and didn’t know where he was. I had seen the trashmaniacs on the feeder road leading to the KOA campground. Because the forecast was for thunderstorms, I thought I would try to find another one of those “reasonable” local motels. Camping in a thunderstorm with 15-20 mph winds did not sound appealing. Meanwhile, I learned that Frank had slipped and fallen on a wet floor at McDonald’s and was had a painful golf ball size knot on his hip. Also, his neck was bothering him. Frank has had some back issues and such in the past, and was concerned enough about making sure the injury wasn’t worse than he suspected that he decided to go to the hospital to have it checked out. Roger went with him, and I went off to find my motel for the night. Randy called and said he was at the KOA.
I found a terrific little motel called the Historic Plains Motel and Trading Post that has been around forever. Really rustic with a restaurant open 24 hours that had an attached old fashioned ice cream parlor. The room was really cheap – ah – reasonable with all the needed amenities and a ton of character. I checked in, then rode to the hospital to check on Frank. He was fine and relieved. Returned to the Plains and had a wonderful dinner of chicken and rice soup and a delicious salad bar, topped off by apple pie a la mode. Delicious. Plus, the characters that went in and out of that restaurant were just like something out of a western movie – very entertaining. A good day all in all.