The sleep was pretty shitty- very hot and stuffy. I slept in an hour till 5 in an effort to get Kevin and Hodge to come with me, but ended up leaving Hodge as I took half as long to get ready, and he needed to go find some coffee? (Retro- this early start and riding consistently through the rain pushed me out ahead of the big group of guys behind, that included the Englishmen).
Hodge caught up and passed me on the way to Columbia falls, but when he stopped at a café to get breakfast with Black Surly Dude (Retro- Matt McFee), I continued on. After meeting up at the bar the previous night, Nathan and Andy had continued on to Columbia Falls and slept next to a bridge, but had slept in (which they told me defeated the point of riding on into the night. This was one thing that I discussed with myself the whole race- wether it is better to sleep early, and wake early, or to sleep late, and ride late. I was coming from a different time zone, so I had the luxury of chosing the first option. I thought that waking early would give me more buffer time if something happened during the day- or more time during the day in general- in order to get to a hot dinner in time. It also allowed, on the last day, the ability to get 30 more miles in).
I left them and soon later I had my first real mishap. I punctured the rear, bent my rear quick release, then after putting the tyre back on, I had to fix a second puncture in the rear that I hadn’t seen originally. I was passed by Hodge and McFee, and became pretty despondent at losing 45 minutes.
I caught up with Hodge, and rode with him for an hour or two, but he stopped to find shelter when the rain that was bearable for the previous several hours intensified. He didn’t have any rain pants. Saw a baby fawn that couldn’t have been more than a few days old, try to run away from us with difficulty (Retro- JP may have seen the same one).
Even though the rain stopped, I wasn’t feeling that great. I was pretty bored, and looking forward to a hot meal at the cafe at Swan River. But, guess what? The café was closed for that day- fantastic. After an attempt to do a shit failed, I got some food from a servo and continued on.
I contemplated going to Bigfork, but I decicded that a hot meal was not worth the couple of miles extra that I would have to ride to get there. I didn’t even bother to stop in Ferndale, and slowly made my way up the un-named climb. I felt a bit better on the descent when the sun came out, downed a cold can of Stagg Chilli, and set out on some of the most boring riding I have ever done. The highlight was getting lost somewhere on Cold Creek Road, but I managed to find some some construction going on near an obelisk on the side of the road. A guy came up to ask if I needed help and I swear to God it was Emelio Estevez (“…and I tipped my hat. Like so.”). I didn’t make it known that I knew who he was. He said he had 640 acres in the area and was always helping people who got lost on “his”? roads. I asked where to go in order to follow the trail, but he said he didn’t even know where most of the roads went, so he recommended the highway. I thanked him and found the trail again on my own, passing where he told me Charlie Sheens house is (Road 903/Cold Creek Rd, if anyone is interested).
After a few more hours on the trail, I was getting hungry, and realised that I wouldn’t be making Seely Lake in time for dinner. I turned north onto the highway, prepared to ride the 5 miles to Condon. Luckily, there was a steakhouse much nearer than that, and I got dinner from well meaning folk that was only palatable with copious amounts of beer (must not have been that hungry). Watched the young local girls playing around with a rope, that took me some time to realise was an instrument used to practice the tying of the cows hooves in a rodeo contest.
I took off and daydreamed about having a normal holiday at the quite picturesque Holland Lake. The initial climb up Richmond Peak was much easier going after I stopped halfway up t go to the toilet. I didn’t stop for long as I was near an area marked on the map as ‘Grizzly Basin’. The sun had set and I was still making my way up to Richmond Peak. I cant remember what was driving me, but with some hindsight I should have stopped- I tend to get into a rhythm and switch off the brain until the slow, boring work is finished. Clothes and lights went on when I thought I was near the top, but it was another hour of bush-bashing through baby conifers, and riding along a foot wide trail with a steep rocky drop on my left. The descent was tiring. I had done some riding at night in preparation in order to test lighting systems, but after the climb and probably due to the fact that it was 2am (19hrs riding so far), trying to concentrate on a bumpy road in minimal light was giving me a headache. I stopped at the bottom of the descent, got my sleeping gear out, didn’t really eat anything, and went to sleep.