Day 8: , 20 miles to Casper, WY – 20 miles to Crawford , NE,189 miles, climbing – 5160 feet
On the morning of day 8 Barry was130 miles ahead of me and Mike another 70 ahead oh him.
My first stop this morning was truck stop on the outskirts of Casper, WY after having perfect night of riding. US 26E was a main road with great pavement and I was flying, covering about 120 miles in about 8h that night. Some big rigs were present here but traffic was light at night . The flats are my specialty so I decided to move everything from the handlebar bag to my seat bag in order to be more aerodynamic and gain some speed. I pushed further east towards Glenrock and Rolling Hills after packing my bags with food and drinks.
Glenrock had nice bike trail that unfortunately ended with construction zone and I was forced to re route for few miles. It was 4th of July and the parks were covered in American flags.
By 10 am I was already slowing down as the heat was taking a toll on me. By now I was acclimated but it was still challenging to make good progress during the day while consuming liquids at much higher rate. Finding resupply stops was still the common problem.
Seeing oil rigs also became a norm in this part of the country. It was interesting to see the really small ones next to a random house in the middle of nowhere. Wyoming was very proud with their oil and very much against alternative energy.
As I entered a small store for supplies, the owner started lengthy conversation with me about it. I don’t want to go political but everyone around here was all in on Trump since petrol was their pride and very vocal against the current administration. I even noticed signs such as:
” Our tax money is coming from oil”.
The store had small guest book and all travelers were asked to sign it, kind of cool. We exchanged stories until a gentleman walked in and the owner was telling me hilariously:
” Here is my boyfriend they say” .
Apparently, it was one of the “outsiders” from California who moved into town. The lady was telling me about all these people fleeing during the pandemic from the democratic ran states that were on lockdown. She didn’t have too many good things to say about them.
The pavement was not bad around here except the nasty gaps across the road like every 30 feet. That was bad news for my undercarriage. And by gaps I mean they were huge and my hands were hurting from hitting them every 5 seconds.
I turn to the right and see this white leather thingy that looked like a belt but ended up being a dead snake. I happen to see those very often in Wyoming.
I was approaching Rolling Hills, WY in heavy motorcycle traffic. The name of the town did not disappoint as I faced few minor hills here. Combined with the heat, it made for a miserable and slow afternoon.
That day I realized few things about heat and sun – If the sun is at the wrong angle and there is zero wind, you will suffer badly. If the sun was behind me and not in front or on the side, it was much tolerable. However, I experienced the worst combination with the sun being on my right and the wind 0 Mph. Very strange actually while being at Rolling Hills Wind Farm next to 66 large wind turbines that were not even spinning.
After the final descent out of town I arrived in Douglas, WY in the early afternoon.
My first McDonalds restaurant during the race was nearby. Normally I don’t do junk food but who can refuse some cheap calories and free refills? I stocked my pockets with some extra food and loaded up on liquids.
There was a ton of fun happening here while going against the miles long Northern Pacific Train. It appeared to be loaded with coal and we were chasing each other for some time 🙂 On the flat and downhill , he was moving slightly faster but I was catching up on the way up. We were leapfrogging for about 30 minutes and every time I made it to the front, the train driver was blasting the siren and cheering me up. Hilarious but these were the little things that made my day.
I was becoming sleepy again but wasn’t sure where I could sleep for the night. My goal was hotel in Lusk, WY about 65 miles away but the afternoon was hot and I was depleting my liquid supply faster than expected. On my notes I marked 3 Sisters Truck Stop in Manville, WY that was just 10 miles before Lusk.
With good pace and time management I arrived in Manville around 8:30pm right before the store was supposed to close. Mind you, it was 4th of July and apparently they decided to shut down earlier. The owner was there with her boyfriend and both were as drunk as they can be. They weren’t going to sell me anything and rather invited me to their big fireworks show while bragging how much they spend on it. The lady exact words were:
” Why are you rushing ? You are staying with us for the fireworks. I spend $5000 on them. Its going to be huge”
She proceeded by saying:
” Look, just go down this road, make a right on Main street, then go east for 3 blocks. We have big barbeque there and plenty of roadkill to eat ” 🙂
Luckily, a truck pulled up beside us and they started talking. I used this opportunity to move on and disappear into the darkness. Wyoming was rugged and I saw longhorns for the first time in my life here . They didn’t look as happy to see me . . .
Surprisingly, I was able to locate this beautiful rest stop before Lusk. The sky was already illuminated with fireworks and they were some of the most spectacular I’ve ever seen. Standing at higher ground , one could see them coming out from few different towns at the same.
In the meantime, according to the live trackers, Barry was holed in for the night in Lusk. He was to spend there another 11h. I was slowly making up ground and still hoping that the top two will run into trouble by pushing harder pace. Although Barry was taking longer breaks, his moving average speed was better than mine. My style was the opposite – lower intensity and shorter breaks.
At first, the rest stop looked to me like a nice campground. It was already dark and all I could see was some covered picnic tables. I pulled up immediately and tried to nap there but sleeping outside was still hard. I walked towards the big building nearby and realized that this was full service rest stop. The bathrooms were open and there was water spigot by the entrance to fill up my water bottles. I was chewing slowly on my last energy bar and some almonds. This was perfect, I could clean up here, take quick nap and charge all devices.
It was 4th of July and most people should be drinking and watching fireworks right? Apparently not so much. I was laying down comfortably on my mattress in the hallway next to the bathrooms. About one hour later, some people started showing up and woke me up. On and off I ended up wasting over 4 hours here and didn’t sleep more than 3 hours combined. Next thing I know is that around 1 in the morning a cleaning person shows up. He started telling me how he didn’t think I was allowed to sleep here. I though I can rest in a rest stop but hey, I wasn’t going to argue with him. It was time to continue pushing forward while it was still cooler anyways. The only problem was that my food supply was running low.
I was only able to find drinks from vending machine in town and crossed into Nebraska.
Few hours later it was apparent that my sleep at the rest stop was not nearly enough. I lucked out again that morning by finding really nice Campground called Sioux RV Park & Campground near Harrsion, Nebraska. The town was apparently at 4,876 feet , the highest elevation of any town in Nebraska and they call it Nebraska’s Top Town. 3 hours later I was feeling fresh and ready to continue. My 8th day ended up right outside of Crawford, NE.