Day 18 was about a 65-mile ride from Duchesne, Utah to Vernal, UT. I was excited for this ride because it was the first year that our route stopped in Vernal! Going with what appears to be a theme of the trip, we were blessed with great weather for riding. My paceline left at about 6:30 a.m. and consisted of myself, Sam Blythe (CU-Boulder), Adam Brown (North Georgia), and Everett Fuller (Samford). I was excited for this ride because I have been trying to ride with everyone on the team, and it was the first-time riding with Sam! The ride itself started with a difficult hill with a grade of around 10%, but our paceline was able to conquer the challenge together! The middle of the ride went very smoothly, we had great riding conditions and were able to maintain a fast pace of roughly 25 miles for a significant portion of the ride. The team as a whole was actually making such great time that the crew members decided to move lunch back to our lodging in Vernal instead of on the road! Another really funny part of the ride was at one of the crew strops, a tiny kitten came out of the woods and hung out with us for a few minutes before running away! The ride concluded with some rolling hills into Vernal that were challenging, but made the arrival into lodging around noon all the better.
Lodging that day was sponsored by Barbera Piner and the team got to stay in two adjacent hotels, the Sprinhill Suites and TownePlace Suites which were very nice! The team arrived, ate lunch provided by the crew chief, and received their rooming assignments. Because the team made such fast time, a lot of the cyclists decided to spend time doing various bike maintenance. The cyclists met up at 2:00 in the afternoon to clean and wash our crew vans at a local car wash. After the car wash, the team was allotted with money for a "per diem" dinner which was sponsored by Jennifer Wright, and left the team with a plethora of options! A solid portion of the team decided to go to a local buffet, where, ironically, the team had a solid portion of food! The food was great, and prepared us well for the upcoming ride we had the next day. The team returned to lodging after dinner and enjoyed some free time. Some members hung out by the pool and hot tub in the hotel, and some took the time to complete errands. One by one, we all went back to our rooms to enjoy a good night’s rest to prepare for the long ride we had the next day.
Overall, it was great being in Vernal!