Thursday, July 5, 2012

Hardin, Sheridan, Gillette & Newcastle

Wow, I am so tired right now.  We just got into Newcastle, after a particularly hard day, with near 30 mph winds blowing in our faces all day.   What a change from the first ride of this week.


The Team left Billings early on Monday morning and did a short climb out.  We had some nice tailwinds, and a 56 mile course, and by 9:15 in the morning, I was taking a picture of a cup of coffee and a big fat pastry that I was eating in Hardin.   We stayed at a KOA campground, that was located next to a pretty busy county road.  ( But no trains ).

On the way over, we took a couple of pictures at the Custers Last Stand Reenactment Site ( pretty much a really big field ), but it was a good place to stop.

Sarah getting some shots

We got in early enough that we could enjoy the pool, made a lunch trip by bike to a DQ, and got recharged for the next day.  Late in the day, smoke from wildfires started blowing in as the wind picked up.   For a while it was very noticeable, reminding me of the smoggy days we would see when Susan and I and Paul lived in the San Fernando valley in LA.


With an early start we set out for Sheridan.   About 3 miles up the road, we crossed the 1000 mile mark for the ride so far, and then it was off to see the Little Bighorn Battlefield.  We got to the park before it opened and hung around for a few minutes....

Rob waiting for the Park to open


Indian Memorial

Fallen 7th Cav Markers


Memorial Centerpiece

It Was Their Home... Important That We Not Forget This Fact

Wonder how it looked in 1876.....

Have to figure out what this bird is.... really pretty little fellow

The Little Bighorn Park is another one of those things in American history when we find out that there is much more to the story than what we were told in our history books.  I found the markers for some of the Cheyenne warriors who fell to be particularly moving.  It was their land, defending it against foreign invaders.  

Right down the hill from the Custer memorial is an active military cemetery where veterans from our more recent wars are buried ( and are still being buried ).  The wars never stop.

When we left the Custer site, I rode with Heather, who is the new team member, who joined us in Billings.   We rode the rest of the way to Sheridan and got to cross the Wyoming State Line together.   The road was exceptionally pretty, but it got really hot out there, as the temperature got to about 101 and we had a little bit of headwind.

The markings on these grain elevators seem to be the same in lots of places
 We stopped once and put our feet into a small creek, which felt really good, then got to the state line.

Heather & Gene racing to the Wyoming State Line

Heather's Happy !
After the state line, we stopped at a small bar, got a couple of iced teas and some water, and I set out with "The Good, The Bad & The Ugly" playing on my ipod.   Felt like the right music to have going.   We finished up the day, tired and pretty beat up, but we "got er done"

Gene drove us into town to a Chinese place and I think I had about 6 or 7 glasses of Mountain Dew, trying to rehydrate myself.


We knew the ride to Gillette would be hard.  It's 112 miles, by far the longest ride we have done on our Big Ride.  In several respects, the ride wasn't that hard, and I think I got in around 2:30 or so at the high school that we were going to stay at in Gillette.

On the ride over, it started out quite clear, and then as we got near the Powder River, the sky became very smokey.   Right after I crossed the Powder River bridge, I got chased by two pretty mean-assed dogs who I really think wanted a piece of me.   I flagged down Charleton a few minutes later and let him know about them, so he could let the rest of the Team know.   Believe that when most of them came by, the dogs were playing in the river and were not a problem.

Power River
The picture below pretty much sums up the whole thing.   The road just goes, and goes, and goes, and goes, up and down, up and down, up and down.

Lots of Road
A little cafe along the road.  I got a Coke in there, would have made a nice ad for Coke as I swilled it down outside along the road.   It just hit the spot.

Spotted Horse Cafe
 Gillette is a big coal mining town and there is a sizeable mine outside of town, with some signs along the road that close the road when they do some blasting for the mines.   We also saw several gas pumping stations along the way.


Today we got to Newcastle.   We left Sheridan pretty early in the morning as I rode with Sharon, and Sarah.   We passed a good size train yard, where coal trains were being setup.  The wind was right in our face all day, we tried to hold some decent riding speeds but it was not to be.   We were passed by one coal train headed east, and the coal dust was flying off the train at us, and Sharon got some in her eye.

Yes, the Newcastle runway goes uphill !
Sharon getting a climb at about 28 miles into today

Sharon riding into the wind
Well, today was tough.   The wind out there was just relentless.   It was windy when I stuck my head outside the high school hallway that we were all sleeping in, and it did not stop or let up all day long.    Everyone is a bit tired from todays wind, and we're hoping that the forecast for tomorrow ( more wind ) isn't true.

Tomorrow is Rapid City, South Dakota.   A new state, a rest day, and we get to reconnect with Molly who is on her way after her hand operation.   Go Molly !

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