Sunday, August 06, 2006

Tue June 27 – Day 38 – just past Priest Pass, MT

Today started out great, with a big breakfast, sending back about 10 pounds of gear, and still rolling by 9. (The great sending back of gear was inspired by Lee. I went through everything and sent back everything I didn’t absolutely need – flip flops, my book, my shock pump, and a bunch of odds and ends. None of it weighed anything by itself, but all together it was something like 12 pounds. Amazing how that adds up.)

Anyway, things turned a bit ugly pretty quick. The top of the climb out of Basin was nothing but a bunch of rutted out ATV tracks, with lots of route-finding challenges. It was fun to be doing technical stuff again, but this really was a bit much for my setup. It’s one thing to be jumping off boulders when you’re just out riding. With with all that gear on the bike changing how it moves (and lowering your braking power) it can be a bit nerve-racking. The second climb was a more typical gravel one, but by the time I got there it was the heat of the day and so it was tougher than it should have been.

So, I didn’t roll into Helena until 4:30 – only 40 miles down, with errands to run, food to eat, and so on. (Plus I ended up stopping at the library, so that was another half hour or so. But I couldn’t just ride right by it.) I didn’t roll out of Helena until after 6. But, I still managed to get up the big climb out of Helena (Priest Pass) and do a few miles on the other side.

Ordinarily, this short miles day wouldn’t be a big deal, but back in Basin I decided that I was going to take the train back on July 4, which requires an average of about 70 miles a day. And I bought the Amtrak ticket. So I have that to think about. But, I think I managed to do all right today all things considered.

Also – ran into two guys racing on fixies today. I wrote more about them in my online update, but all I can say is that it’s crazy to ride on a fixie. All cyclists are somewhat masochistic, but these guys take it to a new level. It’s like the ordinary pain that comes with riding 100 miles a day on this stuff is just an appetizer for them. They want more – if the trip doesn’t involve saddle sores (preferably infected ones), crushed sit bones, and insomnia, they don’t want it.

(Update: both of those guys eventually dropped out of the race after enduring more pain than most people even can think about. This is mean, but I wonder if that was the subliminal goal all along – not finishing, but causing themselves so much pain that they had to quit.)

Day 38 stats:

60 miles
6500 feet up

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