I missed the morning meeting at Café Jax as I was making final preparations, trying to work out when the new tyre was going to arrive, and posting some gear off. Apparently I didn’t miss much, rules of the race from a guy that took no responsibility for the race (more on that later). I joined in with a group that rode quickly up the start. After milling around for a while, everyone lined up- quite a few more than everyone was expecting (I had the impression that there were 10 guys interested in racing?).
When we set off, the pace seemed to be quite high. Though I was concerned about making it to Whitefish in time to get some dinner (100 miles @10miles per hour= 10pm), my strategy was to ride conservatively until the last 500 miles, as I had no real idea of what was achievable. And so, after about a mile, I was second last, riding with Nathan Bay on a singlespeed. He left me as I stopped into the motel one last time to check if the tyre had arrived. No luck with the tyre, but within 10 miles I had caught up to Nathan, and Steve Wilkinson and Josh Ficke had caught up with me. I let Steve go (but he seemed to be a little sick, at least working harder than I was) on the way up the Whitefish Divide but in an interesting pattern emerged. At the top of the divide, and again 35miles later at the top of the Red Meadow lake climb, I would catch the three Englishmen and their alcoholic friend, stop for a minute to chat, leave them behind, then be passed by them later. The 35miles from the Whitefish Divide were quite enjoyable, with lots of downhills, fantastic views of Glacier National Park, and having Nathan Bay to chat with. It was a welcome change to the previous week of talking to myself, and interesting to get some local insight.
I took off on the 30 miles downhill into Whitefish by myself (Retro- the best downhill of the race), in an effort to get some hot dinner by 10pm. Luckily I spotted some GDR bikes at a bar, walked in (had to show ID), and demolished a burger, some beers, some hot potatoes, and some of Scott Hodge’s chips. I was feeling fantastic, but I cannot say the same for Kevin Montgomery. He hadn’t touched his food, and wasn’t looking that well. I don’t know what his situation was, but he seemed disappointed that he had only made it to Whitefish (he had wanted to get to Ovando, 170 miles away, by the second night).
I was surprised by Whitefish. The road in had a fantastic view of the lake, and it quickly became apparent that this was a summer holiday resort. Nice, big houses, boats, expensive cars and restaurants, also meant that the bar had a good atmosphere and some good looking people. I was getting a bit of attention, but I like to think it wasn’t because I covered head to toe in tight black cycling gear. I was extremely tempted to stay and drink on. I asked Andy Buchanan and SHodge wether I would be breaking the race rules if I picked up, and found a real bed somewhere. So long as I rode my bike there was the consensus. Kevin overheard this and it cheared him up for a second, and with Hodge we ended up getting to sleep in the hallway of the bikeshop, whose owner we met outside the bar.
I was surprised by peoples goals. Even though the first day was only really half a day, I got the impression that people wanted to achieve more than they would be able to in a normal half day. 100 miles the first day equalled a 200 mile day from the way I was looking at it. To average 120 miles, I would only have to ride 20 miles from midnight after the 20th day to hit 21 days.