76 miles (122 km) – Total so far: 2,554 miles (4,110 km)
About 20 miles in we enjoyed the unique cycling experience of legally riding a bike on an interstate. There are no other ways to get around this section of Wyoming, so cyclists are allowed. I’m not sure if this exemption is local or statewide. I can say I never want to do it again. A wide shoulder mediated the effect of cars and trucks whizzing by. With a tail wind and a slight down hill, I clocked my fastest hour of the trip so far. But there was a major incident. At mile 15, we opted to continue another 4 miles to the next exit. This allowed us to skip riding downwind of the Sinclair refinery. All well and good until road construction dropped the shoulder and squeezed us down to one lane. I timed the passage between trucks about half a miles apart. Sprinting for all my legs were worth, I accelerated to 30MPH almost instantly. My mouth worked hard too, spewing expletives that I hadn’t realized I knew. Everything turned out OK, and I got to the next exit to find Chuck smiling like an insane clown. That dude is crazy.
A few miles down the road, we met up with Michelle, a friend of mine from back Chicago-way, who now hangs her hat in The Colorado. Michelle did Chuck and me the great favor of driving up to Wyoming and giving him a ride back to Denver to fly home after his week of adventure. I also got to meet Lexi, her lapdog. Lexi got on swell with Persephone while Michelle and I caught up.
A completely disastrous no-soup then cold-soup two hours of Pizza Hut put the whole group behind schedule, but we decided to push on some serious miles to get to the “town” of Lamont. Back over the Continental divide… again… sigh… and suddenly we’re transitioned from lush to desert. The map shows towns every 30 miles, but two out of three shops on the map have shut down, so it can be 90 miles between services. On the bright side, the sheer variety of beautiful rock structures continues to impress me. In addition to the beautiful landscapes, the road down the mountain was straight and newly paved. Woohoo!
The final 15 miles of today’s long ride was pretty challenging. Not-yet-newly-paved sections of road were little better than mountain bike single track. The town of Lamont was exactly 0 buildings. Nothing here at all. We went off road for a little while and finally found a ramshackle little collection of buildings, farm animals, discarded trucks, and an out house. This turned out to be the cyclists camping we were looking for. Our hostess, JD, was as kind as could be. She built us a fire while we scrambled to get tents up and dinner ate. In the morning she sent us off with coffee. I learned again not to judge a place or a person by their appearance. I hope the lesson sticks with me a little longer this time.