Day 27 - Buffalo to Gillette - C2C - from Westport, Washington to Sandy Hook, New Jersey - CycleBlaze

June 29, 2016

Day 27 - Buffalo to Gillette

On the road again.
Ya gotta love Willie Nelson - always in trouble.
Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter have been trying for years to straighten him out.
But they never give up.

That also may just apply to Juanny, too.

It was hard leaving. Rayma wanted me to stay one more day - and I kinda wanted to - but it was time to get a move on. Not to mention that the weather did not appear to be too hot for the next week in the High Plains. A good thing when you are riding in early July.

Got on the road at 7:00 and had an overcast morning riding along Clear Creek through the Red Hills. I used to take my Mom - she had late Alzheimer’s - out on rides to Ucross. She loved the red hills and the green meadows and would comment, “Look how blue the sky is!” And really, aren’t those the important things?It’s been more than 10 years, but it is hard simply to look at the color of the sky.

Red Hills on a Cloudy Morning
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I stopped at the Ucross Foundation - the Big Red - an old ranch and barn which is now an artists’ colony. I ran into a friend and former student, Leslie - who now works out there. She is always so nice to me. We chatted and caught up in the cool of the giant cottonwoods. It is a lovely oasis.

Ranch House at Ucross
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Then it was off to Clearmont and the last reliable water for miles.Not only are the distances great and the sun relentless in the High Plains - but the water is either alkali or sulfur. Yeckckck! Clear Creek slows down as it hits the lower country - winding between bluffs. You can look back and see the Bighorns for 40 miles. (A great thing for riders heading west)

Reflections of Clouds on Clear Creek
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Onve you leave the Clear Creek Valley, you have one ridge after another. I rode this route back in the early 1990s. It was tough then - it still is tough. Not to mention a persistent angled headwind. Fortunately, there was practically zero traffic and you could let your mind wander to all those bizarre things that occupy the minds of touring cyclists.

Red Hills Getting Redder as the Sun Comes Out
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Mercy! I got to Spotted Horse in the nick of time. I was bushed. Wasted. I walked in like a drunk man. Pretty pathetic when you stagger INTO a bar. Spotted Horse - population 2 - is a funky, old bar, miles from anywhere. There is one precious tree out front for shade. An older couple ruin the place and took good care of me. I had a bottle of water and Coke for starters. Then I lurched over to a table and ordered a cheeseburger and iced tea. I laughed with the waitress/cook/bartender that her food made a lame man walk. I think I spend about two hours there, but we shared stories about growing up - making $2 an hour and thinking we had hit the jackpot.

The Famous Spotted Horse Bar
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Then it was back on the road - and I was expecting a tailwind since the road turned south. Well, I got a tailwind for a good part of the stretch to Gillette - except that there were roller coasters every two miles or so which made the tailwind less useful. Then the storm hit and I hid out under a bridge. By now it was a sidewind and 50 mph - and I only had about 8 more miles into town.

Wide Open Spaces
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Thunderhead after the Storm
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The road had puddles - so cars going by at 70 mph gave me a nice spray. I gave them the universal salute of greeting in return. Which is never a smart thing - I know. Finally got into town and had a giant soda and camped at the Greentrees Campground. Pricey, but right when and where I needed it. Kaboom! Down for the count in no time.

Rawhide Surface Coal Mine just North of Gillette
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Today's ride: 98 miles (158 km)
Total: 1,237 miles (1,991 km)

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