Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Day 5- Butte to Elkhorn Hot Springs 85 miles

It was about 0100 by the time I got to bed. I had eaten as much junk form the servo as I could stomach, and spent some time trying to get my legs comfortable in bed. Sleep was restless, and I slept in. Hobbling down the hotel corridor I got some free breakfast and set off at about nine. My knees had sharp pains when I pushed, below my kneecaps, and ache over most of my quads. I just couldn’t get going, the flat 10 miles from Butte I slowly turned the legs over, hoping that they would get better. I had no other alternatives, as I knew that only long periods of rest and care would allow me to ride at normal pace again, and there was no way I would prolong this race any more.

After turning off the highway I got off, sat down and got something to eat. I knew that yesterdays push to get to Butte, and that I rode aggressively to get there was the cause of the trouble, but whilst massaging my quads and the connective tissue around my kneecaps, I did notice some flexibility come back. Whilst this improved them, it still took me three hours to climb the ten miles up to Continental Divide Crossing Number 5. I felt better after a long break, massage at the summit and consumption of a third of my food stocks that I had carted all the way from Helena. I just spun along the flat top of the mountain, but didn’t enjoy the steep descent to the I-15.

Having warmed up my knees over the morning, the climb up Mount Fleecer was quite enjoyable, and for the first time that day, I was able to stand out of the saddle without massive amounts of pain. The descent was a different story, and finding it took a little bit of compass work. I walked up the last steep section, but didn’t want to continue up further than I had to- I thought I identified the “solitary fence” and took a little bit of a risk losing valuable altitude riding down to it. However, I soon identified the steep rocky section that I had read about. Running horizontal dropouts, a 185mm rear disc, a rear quick release mounted rack, and having no tuggnut (Why did I leave it at home?), my rear wheel didn’t take long to slip in the dropouts and lockup. 10 minutes of straightening the thing out inspired me to walk the rest of the way.

Fleecer Ridge. Its steeper than it looks.

I rode under sunny skies to Warm River, stopping at the servo/grocery store, then a bar that was deserted, and finally a café/bar where there was cold beer and hot hamburgers cooked by a very nice woman.

The 2200ft gradual climb over 30 paved miles of course meant a headwind and really annoying 

pavement cracks, that seemed to resonate perfectly with the ‘Get Pissed Off’ section of my brain. As the climb steepened, I felt better and better, increasing my climbing pace (Retro- to the fastest I would climb all race) until I was flying. Fantastic feelings were enhanced by some fantasy dreaming and awesome views of the Pioneer Mountains. I came flying down a wide, brand new road, almost hitting 60 mph on my way to dinner. 

I started carrying the camera on my chest, allowing for 'action' photos.

I had planned to stop at Elkhorn Hot Springs or the Grasshopper Inn, and asked a workman in a Ford which one was better. I cant remember the whole two minute conversation, but I ended with a joke and a big smile. He smiled in a way that showed we were both on the same wavelength, and he offered me a tow. I politely declined (it was all downhill- Ha!), and I managed to drop him on the twisty descent anyway.

It was only 2000, and the sign above the Grasshopper Inn said the restaurant closed at 2030, so I was a little disappointed when they said the kitchen was closed. But, I got a big reheated pastie, and several beers bought for me by the workmen I had met just previously, so everything was okay. I chatted with the owners, some locals and workmen for another 30 minutes (whilst the head honcho went off and shot a badger that was digging holes, then brought it back-still twitching- to show to all the kids), then got a room. On the way out of the restaurant, one of the young local mothers, with baby, came up with a look of amazement in her eyes, and said how amazing what I was doing was and wishing me luck. This stuck me as unusual, I had at no time really considered what I did to be that impressive. But, that moment there on the steps of the restaurant, really opened my eyes that people are amazingly different. I imagine her struggling to keep up in high school gym class- I guess its all relative. I spent almost two hours watching “The Deadliest Catch” on the Discovery channel, massaging both my legs as much as I could. I also put some Betadine on the first saddle sores I had every got.

2007-06-19 14:38:31 GMT

It's Alex Field, on uh, must be Tuesday morning. And I'm in Butte, I got here last night. Yeah, it would be good to know where more people are so I could see if I could try and ride with someone. Apart from that ... (call terminates)

Audio: GDR Episode 5 11.10-11.40

I was pretty bored and wanted to know if there were people around me to ride with.

2007-06-20 10:51:01 GMT

Yeah, it's Alex Field. It's Tuesday night, Polaris... (garbled--call ends).

Another very poor phone connection, but Alex did leave a very short message (I heard him hang up perhaps four garbled words after the word "Polaris"). He sounded very tired.

Audio: GDR Episode 6 2.34-2.42

Still not that tired!

1 comment:

Micheline said...

People should read this.