Friday, April 28, 2006

Day 8 – Superior, MT to Clinton, MT

. Friday, April 28, 2006

Temperature: 70°F
Conditions: Mostly Cloudy
Wind: ESE 18 mph gusts to 28 mph

Ride Info
Altimeter Trip: 2,890 ft
Altimeter Odometer: 20,340 ft
Maximum Speed: 36.0 mph
Average Speed: 18.0 mph
Distance Trip: 115.1 miles
Distance Odometer: 574.0 miles
Elapsed Time: 6 hr 15 min 09 sec

WOW! My ass was hurting after today’s ride and after more than 6 hours in the saddle. Today’s ride was supposed to be “only” 85 miles but Chip, Jim, and I ended up going 115. More on how that happened later.

Being that it was going to be a long day riding to Clinton, it was back to getting up at 6:00. Chip, Jim, and I would typically take it pretty easy during the first hour of a ride. A lot of times we would ride with other members of the trip. There were a fair number of people that were good riders but simply couldn’t hammer like the three of us could. Chip, Jim, and I were like a well-oiled machine when we started doing our paceline.

There were plenty of good climbs on today’s ride. It was neat to see the names of the mountain passes and their elevations above sea level. Got to Missoula around lunchtime and grabbed some lunch there. We also made a stop at BikeCentennial, which is a cyclist activist organization. Jim needed to make a stop at a bike shop to pick up something, so we dawdled around downtown a bit looking for a shop.

All of the miles and climbs must have been catching up with me because my legs were starting to feel like rubber. We knew that today’s ride was supposed to be about 85 miles, and the three of us got concerned when we had traveled 90 miles and there was no campground in site. The wind had picked up and was blowing directly in our face. All three of us were tired and dragging and struggling to maintain 15 mph (typically we’d be at around 20 mph). We were getting worried that we were lost.

Now some additional information is in order. Wandering Wheels has a sag wagon that would alternate between driving out ahead and trailing the last person. While out ahead of the group, the driver would spray paint (on the pavement) a “W” with a circle around it and an arrow pointing right or left. They would do this at most intersections where we had to make a turn. After an hour and traveling about 15 miles out of our way (unbeknownst to us at the time), the WW van passed us and stopped. The driver was apologizing and laughing at the same time. He had spray painted the WRONG DIRECTION on the ground. We made the turn just like the “W” sign told us too. Turns out he spray painted the sign at the wrong road.

We saw a convenience store about a ¼ mile further up the road, so the three of us continued riding to the store to get something to eat and drink and to rest. It was kind of neat that we did because we ended up meeting a lone cyclist who was also riding his bike cross country. He was from Lake Placid, NY and was riding cross country from east to west. He had all his camping gear, sleeping bag, and supplies packed on his bike. It was just an amazing coincidence that our paths would meet.

After a good rest, we backtracked to the road we were supposed to be on. Suddenly it became obvious why the three of us were struggling to maintain any speed. We were going up what I call a “ghost hill”. We had been going up a slight incline the whole time, but just wasn’t apparent for some reason. Kind of like an optical illusion. So now we were heading downhill with a tailwind, and we suddenly felt strong again. But once we got back on the correct road, we were heading right back into that nasty headwind again. Chip and Jim wanted to take it easy heading the rest of the way in (old farts) but I didn’t want to take it THAT easy. So I battled against the headwind the remaining dozen or so miles into camp.

I was totally wasted when we got into camp. Fortunately, the campground we were staying at had shower facilities. This campground had these really neat, super-huge teepees that you could rent, so a number of us chipped in some money and rented a teepee for the night. We had a campfire going inside the chimney and everything.

Coach informed us that there was a chance of rain tomorrow. Everyone (including myself) was starting to freak out about the prospect of rain tomorrow. I had brought rain gear with so that wasn’t so much a concern for me. My concern was that the temperatures in the morning would only be in the 40s amd we'd be climbing over a major mountain pass. For everyone else who slept in the 2-man tents, they had to put a rain cover over the top and lay plastic on the ground. Little did I know how fortunate our group was for staying in the teepee.