TL;DR: Wind, heat and more Oregon Trail. And wind.
Once again, we woke early and by 7am were grabbing drinks at the Shoshoni gas station and heading east to our 98 mile goal of Casper, WY. The first 60 miles today would be a slow climb, followed by a slow descent into Casper. Before we left, I let Jonathan know that the wind was supposed to build from our bags as the day and heat went on.
The climb was so subtle that we were making good time and barely felt the climb in our legs. The land grew so flat that we could see for mile and miles before a hill would interrupt our vision. Many elk grazed along the road as we rode by, and they scattered over the plains when they took note of us. 20 miles in, we stopped at the first "town" of the day. Monetta had two mailboxes, two dogs, two buildings, barbed wire and a Confederate flag. Despite the weird feelings we got from this place, it worked as a place to eat our improvised breakfasts.
As we ate, the Confederate flag flapped in the breeze, indicating that our much desired tailwind was beginning to fill in. As we left, our climbing became faster with the wind pushing us along. The scenery became rather routine and our music playlists were essential to get us through the morning monotony. Quickly we reached the 40 mile mark of our ride, and with it, Hiland, WY. Boasting a population of 10 and a 3-in-1 motel, gas station, and bar/restaurant called Bright Spot, the town of Hiland was a highlight of our trip to Casper. Entering the "restaurant" we ordered breakfast and sat down to drink expired Gatorade. We didn't know that Gatorade could expire, but I guess if you have as few customers as Bright Spot then anything is possible.
By the time we finished eating, the wind had intensified greatly. We screamed out of the parking lot, quickly accelerating with our bodies and panniers acting as sails. We reached speeds between 25-30mph on flat straightaways and over 35mph on almost every single downhill. Even climbs were typically close to 20mph. A few miles were even spent without needing any pedaling at all.
Shortly after mile 60 we reached Hell's Half Acre. This multicolored canyon shared a name with the lava fields we saw in Idaho, but not much else. This canyon was beyond my ability to describe and I'll defer to a picture that I'm sure Jonathan took. Interestingly, Native Americans used to drive buffalo into the canyon for slaughter, and more recently (a few decades ago) the canyon was home to dirt bike racing. At Hell's Half Acre we saw another group of touring cyclists hitching a ride westward to avoid fighting the headwind.
The remaining miles to Casper flew by with the winds howling stronger than ever at our backs. We slowed down by a flat tire for both Jonathan and myself. Constant tire changes is not something I've been missing from Idaho.
At Taco John's we decided to push on to Glenrock (about 25 miles more) for the night. We had met Mark and Kathy at McDonald's in Thermopolis. Mark has toured previously and offered for us to camp in their yard if we ended up in Glenrock. I contacted Kathy and they enthusiastically offered for us to head over. The route there was mostly flat with the exception of County Line Hill. But with the tailwind still blowing strong, we made great time. Arriving at Mark and Kathy's home we were very appreciative to be given their guest room and use of their shower. Kathy even offered to do some laundry for us! The generosity of the people we meet on this trip definitely keeps us going strong.
On the ride to Glenrock, Jonathan completed his first biking century! Very impressive considering we did 124 miles with full gear.
Photos by Jonathan Kobles