I woke two hours late after the alarm didnt go off, but still feeling pretty good after covering 135miles last night. Setting off just before dawn, my legs were better than in previous days. The massage was helping, and I worked out that if I didn’t ride standing up, and stayed in the small or middle rings, then my quads had an easier time.
After a stop at the Lakeview ranger station for water and a toilet, the climb up Red Rock Pass and into Idaho was very easy.
The descent to the 20 Interstate took longer than expected- and then I got lost. The maps directions were hard to follow, and I lost the tracks of previous riders. I only rode a few extra miles, but I was pissed off.
I was surprised to find a Subway amongst the 4-wheeler hire places at the Interstate, but stopped in at a deserted restaurant for lunch. After a mountain of food, a few beers, and several litres of Sprite (unlimited refills is a fantastic concept), I was content. But as with most of the times I stopped for food, it was slow to get going again. I didn’t sit around, but adding up: waiting and eating time, then stopping at the grocery store, and putting suncream on, I used up a lot of time.
The old rail bed was easy to find, but I got dispirited pretty quickly. The first couple of miles are really, really hard- deep, soft, volcanic soil, meant that I was traveling at less than two miles an hour, struggling to keep the bike upright. I almost lost it, but continued on and it became better but mentally tiring. The trail is flat, narrow and straight, and washboarded the whole way. There is no edge to ride on to avoid the ruts, but the center of the trail is definitely the worst.
After eating a lot of quadbike (“Texan Armchairs”) dust, I dropped down into Warm River Campground. It was warm and I would have loved to go for a swim, but I continued up the hill. It was steep and I continued up even though the directions didn’t exactly match the roads I was seeing (there had been times previously where I had made the right turns unknowningly). I was feeling good and switched off after finding a great rhythm. I got a little worried after about 10 miles uphill, when there were not any sharp turnoffs like there should be. Out came the compass and I forced myself to realize that I had just come up the wrong way- I had turned left over a bridge at Warm River and not continued straight on. It’s a hard realization to make, and there is also the danger that I could ride back down then realize that I did indeed go the right way in the first place and have to ride up again. I belted it downhill, angry at myself and everything else I could think of. I screamed out most of the way, trying to cry. But, I wasn’t that upset, just tired.
My morale took a further hit when I stopped in to a supposed restaurant at Timberline Golf Course. Deep fried frozen chicken breasts were for dinner as the only cooking facilities they had were for bar food. I sat and talked with the bartender/cook and two Vietnam vets, and again the drinks were free and flowing fast- the bartender used me to “sample” some new shots he had created. It was pretty interesting conversation, I gained some respect when I told them about the race and when I demonstrated I had knowledge about their war. One of the guys was a clone of Walter Sobchak (John Goodman) in The Big Lebowski, and the other guy was pretty sharp. They both chain smoked and seemed to be half retired/half flying small planes in an out of Canada (if you know what I mean). They all offered me places to stay for the night, but there was still some light left, and I was behind so I set off laughing at a joke I came up with: “Riding through Idaho has been great. Lots of nice people and no Ida’hoes’ “ (at least I thought it was funny, and though I constantly reminded myself to mention in when I called in, I didn’t. Retro-this was a trend, I would work out the exact lines I wanted to say and then end up mincing them all up).
I didn’t go much further, I was still pretty pissed off and wasn’t motivated to keep riding. I pulled into the Squirrel Creek Guest Ranch, which not surprisingly, was closed. After sitting around for a while and working out the drinks machine didn’t work, after I put money in it, a guy came out of a trailer and I got a cheap room and some ice cream. The guy told me I was two days behind Matt Lee and for the first time I questioned what was pushing me to keep riding in front of a bunch of guys I had only just me and probably would never see again.
(Retro- Josh Ficke, Steve Wilkinson et al seemed to be in Lima this morning, only 30????? Miles behind.)