Follow US Route 16 (US 20 | SR 789) for 101 miles to US Route 26… that’s what the directions said. I had no reason to doubt the directions because I was the one who spent an untold number of hours creating the directions for the 2016 Hoka Hey Challenge. Not to get too far ahead of the story I will tell you upfront the directions should have said something else.
So I turn left off of US Route 14 onto US Route 16/20 in Greybull, Wyoming and start my 101 mile stretch of this 10,000 mile endurance ride. About 37 miles into that stretch I came to Worland, Wyoming where US Route 16 headed east while US Route 20 continued southwest. Since US Route 16 was the key identifier on the directions I turned left and continued on US Route 16. Hindsight is 20/20 so, while creating the directions, I should have used Wyoming Route 789 as the key identifier because it was the common denominator for a number of specific route segments throughout this entire stretch of Wyoming.
Anyway, I follow US 16 the remaining 65 some odd miles and started to look for the next stretch of the route which was US Route 26 (SR 789 | W 2nd St). The 65 mile marks comes and goes as does the 70 and 80. It’s not uncommon for the miles to be off but to be off more than 10% should cause concern; which it did. At about the 90 mile mark (almost to Buffalo, Wyoming) I stop for gas and pull out the map.
Strange how clear things become when you pull out a map. I’m looking for US 26 somewhere in the Buffalo, Wyoming area and it is not there; no big surprise I guess. After a rather simple search I find it… about 155 miles from my current location; the other way.
This is the Hoka Hey Challenge which is distance and time… actually a great distance in a short amount of time. So any unnecessary deviation just adds miles to an already abundant number and adds time you cannot spare. I got back on the bike and backtracked the 90 miles to Worland, Wyoming and got back on track. I had just wasted roughly 200 miles and 5 hours of riding because of a mistake in the route; a mistake I made when I created the route.
This had the potential to make a person quite angry and doubly so for me since this was my mistake from the very beginning and all I could think about were all the other riders who made the same mistake. However, and this is where the story takes a twist, I was not angry at all (at least for my 200 miles and 5 hours; can’t really speak for the other 74 riders); I did not see the 200 miles as wasted at all. I had just ridden through the southern part of Bighorn National Forest and while doing so saw the most spectacular scenery available in that area. In fact, I got to see it twice; from both directions.
We all make mistakes and often they are self-inflicted. In this instance my mistake affected me and virtually every rider participating in the 2016 Hoka Hey Challenge. Many riders made the same mistake at that intersection and each one had me to blame for the extra miles, extra hours, wasted gas and added misery of freezing temperatures at the top of that mountain pass. But, and this is the part I really want to convey to you, not a single rider I spoke with who made that mistake was angry at me; even though they knew it was my mistake. Each one I spoke with enjoyed the ride and felt the same way I did about seeing a part of the country they would have missed had they not made the mistake. I doubt they would have felt the same way had my mistake taken them an extra 200 mile off course in Death Valley; that’s just an assumption on my part. I can’t speak for those I did not talk to as I am sure there may be some lying in wait to rain pain upon my body at the first opportunity and, in truth, it would be justified; so long as the injury had no long term affects. And I also doubt those who made the mistake at night appreciated the opportunity provided by the extra 200 miles.
Not sure how this story should end. Suffice it to say the Hoka Hey rider is a rare type and not prone to hold a grudge or bicker over something as trivial as 200 miles, 5 hours, wasted gas and the added misery of freezing temperatures. I guess that’s fortunate for me as this was not the only error in the directions. One such error resulted in the demise of hundreds of rabbits… but that’s another story.