Sheridan, WY – It’s the unexpected little mistakes that can set someone back 17 miles when you thought you were paying attention.
It is now 12 hours after my road to Clearmont, WY turned to gravel and I can barely move.
The day began perfectly, good weather, early start, only one snake… and after 17 miles on a desolate country road a sign pops up that reads “pavement ending.”
I laughed because I thought the sign company was kidding. A couple more miles down a gravel road a friendly mom of 3 in a huge pickup says, “Oh no, there’s about 50 more miles of this. You’re taking the back way… with some big hills ahead.”
The “pavement ending” sign just got real.
Her name was Betsy. She was on her way to Sheridan for a doctor’s appointment. Small, but strong, she helped me heft my ride into her rig to haul me back into town so I could start over.
Now, 11:30 a.m. and back at ground zero… I set off again. After a brutal 5 hours I’m in Clearmont, WY and going no further.
I can barely move. While sunny, there was a headwind and some famous Wyoming hills. At times I wished for an engine.
The best part of the day came packaged as a tiny woman with a big cowboy hat. Fran was eager to have a visitor at the Clearmont Historical Center.
“Can you please sign our guest book,” she asked. By the looks of it they averaged a person a day for the 3 days a week they were open.
Fran was sweet. 87 years old and lived in seven states, including Alaska.
“We should have stayed there,” she said.
An avid hunter and rancher Fran easily relayed stories about her family, travel, and hunting.
“We got out of the car because a herd of caribou was passing by. I had a permit and so did my husband do I got my gun and took out a nice bull and then passed him the gun and he got one too. We were there until dark cutting them up.”
Fran was delicate at 5 foot 5 but she struck me as the person who could eat nails, walk away the victor in a WWF arm wrestling contest and then serve you up a hot slice of homemade apple pie.
Fran took me to the back room of the Clearmont Historical Center to show me some intricate leather artworks and carvings. “We also have a lot of quilters in town,” she said pointing to a board with an array of colorful handmade pieces.
When she started talking about the importance of the beet harvest I felt like I was the perfect person to be her guest and focus of attention that day.
Fran was sharp and in wonderful shape. She clomped across the wood floor in black cowboy boots relaying local history.
“Our cemetery in town is named Sunnybrook. That’s also the name of a whiskey. Matter of fact the first guy buried there was drunk on Sunnybrook whisky. He got loud and sassed some people and one of them shot him dead. So the cemetery is named Sunnybrook.”
Fran was nonchalant in her story telling.
“We have an old jail out back,” she said. “One time a couple school girls climbed the water tower and the sheriff put them in jail for a couple hours to teach them a lesson.”
Fran asked if we could step outside so she could take a photo with my bike. She was so adorable with her silver belt buckle and cowboy print shirt and blue jeans
“You know,” she giggled. “I never once learned to ride a bike.Give me a horse any day.”
Today I was ready to opt for a horse as well… and one with a sense of direction.
On a side note:
-Fran hooked me up with Shirley at Community Church. A large church for a small town but they were smart to put a couch in the youth room and it was a comfortable place to stay in a community that tops out at 116.
-I poured myself onto the couch and was instantly overcome by a an all-out exhaustion nap. Very slow progress since leaving Cody on Wednesday.
-Distance O-meter Cody to Shell 68 mi, Shell to Sheridan 56, Sheridan to Clearmont 48 and onto Gillett with winds predicted at 30 mph. I’m praying for a tailwind.
-It’s been good biking weather; sunny and in the 80s during the day. It’s around 50 in the early mornings so throughout the day I shed my layers.
-It’s very dry. Not dusty – tumbleweed dry, but chapped-lips dry where your teeth kinda hurt and your tongue doesn’t help because it’s like sandpaper no matter how many water breaks I take.
-Having fun. It’s a good test of my mettle at 59 and a half years old. I’m not gonna lie .. I can feel my 2-year-old hip barking at me sometimes. I use it as an indicator to stop for a water break and stretch more.
“Have I not commanded you? … Be strong and courageous. … Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
The 2023 Amazing Ride for Alzheimer’s is raises money every year for music programming for seniors at Cedar Community, a 501c3, so all donations are tax-deductible.
Donate via the secure website through Cedar Community. Donations should be marked “Amazing Ride 2023.” Click HERE to make a secure online donation.
Checks may be made payable to “Cedar Community Foundation” with “Judy Bike Ride” in the memo line and mailed to 113 Cedar Ridge Dr., West Bend, WI 53095
Be sure to include the Federal Tax ID Number for the Foundation: 39-1249432
You may also find a downloadable donation form HERE.