Just a few quick notes first...
1. Somehow I miscounted on days and it is actually day 17. I guess I missed an entry on a rest day and forgot to add a day.
2. Cliff, our oldest rider, has changed his mind and decided to ride with us.
3. My flickr account is full. So until I find another way to add photos it might be a while before I get more online.
Any who, today was BY FAR the hardest day of the ride. Technically there were downhills, but the whole day was uphill. Usually when we reach a town there is a downhill into civilization...not this time. Literally all uphill.
The day actually started off really nice. Probably just because everyone still had a good amount of energy in them. Me and a few of my "strong" riding buddies, ed, austin, and tony, set off with a strong pace line averaging around 28mph. We were able to keep that up for a really long time...probably about 40 or so miles. Then all of the sudden everybody started dropping like flies. Ed and Austin took off leaving me and Tony behind. A few minutes later I took off on a uphill leaving tony behind. This is when things started to get really tough.
The downside to Wyoming and Montana is that there is no shade on any of the roads. So if you get tired and need to stop and rest for a while, your pretty much shit out of luck. On top of that, there are services at minimum of every 40 miles. So once you are the road you better hope that you have enough food and water to make it to the next rest or sag stop. Lucky for us there was a rest stop at 75 miles. Right when I thought I couldnt ride anymore, couldnt possibly go up another hill, I saw a sign for the mile 75 diner off in the distance. Now I know what real speed is; the second I saw that sign I booked it as hard as I could. I was pulling a solid 28mph uphill just to get there.
When I arrived at this diner, I knew what the journey to Meca felt like. I have never been so happy to see some little shit-hole greaser bar in my entire life. I walked up to the bar and looked in the window. There was a sign that said, "city of spotted horse, population 2." "Oh my god...where the fuck am I." Thats about all I couldnt think about for the next hour. I stepped in and met the 2 citizens of spotted horse, who happened to be the proprietors of the diner. Unfortunately they werent very nice. The man seemed to have severe social issues, as he didnt make eye contact with me the entire time I placed my order. The woman wasnt much better. Very bad mood and very rash; one of the locals was kind enough to inform me that she had menopause.
When I got up to leave the diner it hit me that I still had another 42 miles to go. The thought of that almost set me over the edge, but I had to motor on. Me and Austin set off into the headwind for the last long stretch. Fortunately the sky went to overcast and we were able to get some "shade" for the rest of the day.
The last 10 miles were the hardest part of the day, but luckily I had my pal Jim to pull me into the city. Jim is 56 and probably could kick everybodys ass...bike style. Sometimes he will backtrack the route just to ride with other people; the guy has probably already rode 3,300 miles. Anyways we hit the last 10 miles and finally say the city. We began to go down the hill only to find that it wasnt actually the city, it was just a little patch of civilization leading into the actual city of Gilette. "Whoever designed this town must have had one sick sense of humor," I thought to myself. That was the biggest let down of the day. We went another 5 miles only to hit another monster hill leading into camp. Jim couldnt keep up with me on the hill as I biked toward camp. At this point the only thing keeping me going was knowing that there was a gas station ahead where I could buy a candy bar, coffee and beef jerky.
The second I made it back to camp I was welcomed by my comrades, ice cold coca cola, and gummy bears...the snack of champions. I downed as much as I could before I fell asleep and took a 2 hour nap.
As hard as the ride was, it was by far the most rewarding ride I have ever done. Thats all for now.