Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Day 6- Elkhorn Hot Springs to East of Lima Reservoir 136 miles.

I got up early and set off while it was still dark. Again I payed for the previous days riding- I slowly rode through Polaris but had to stop 10 miles later. This morning, there wasn’t much pain, just the feeling that my legs were exhausted. Its disconcerting when you feel fine and reasonably fresh, but your legs can barely turn over. After 15 minutes sitting by the side of the road, some food and a massage put me back on the bike.

I began to feel better as the sun came up and I started conversations with the cows that I passed. Sneaking up behind the calves always brought a laugh as they ran away, I tried to take some photos from the bike and almost crashed into them.

I think by this stage, breakfast had become my favourite meal of the day. Hot fatty food, no matter what the temperature, always slid down well, so I was looking forward to getting into Grant. But, another ghost town- the hotel, restaurant and bar were all closed. I rode out of the town despondent, but then a little sign lifted my spirits slightly: “Food” and an arrow led me to a house. I knocked on the door , and was invited in by a big ex-marine called Michael. He and his wife Barbara explained to me the towns situation (the only income comes in the winter from hunters and snowmobilers), and said they offered food to people that came through. I think I ate their whole breakfast, but the $10 I gave her covered it. I chatted for a while, Mike showed me a mule deer? that was out the back, then offered me a quick tour of the area. After their hospitality, I couldn’t refuse, so I jumped in his truck and we drove down the road. Mike pointed out wildlife that I couldn’t previously see on the way down to Clark Canyon Reservoir. On the way back to Grant we stopped at an elk farm and I snapped a pic of a pretty big elk. We drove back to Grant and I got back on the bike, I had lost an hour or so but I got to meet some interesting people so it was worth it.

Towards Medicine Lodge- Sheep Creek Divide

The climb upto Medicine Lodge- Sheep Creek Divide was long, hot and dry. The grade was not that taxing, but its 25 mile length got a little tedious. It was the middle of the day and I was running out of water- all the little creeks running alongside and perpendicular to the trail didn’t have too much water in them. I came across an empty cabin, climbed its fence and luckily found a tap around the back. I purified the water just in case whilst watching a bull trying to mount another younger bull. The grade steepened over the last few miles to the summit but what was worse was the small climbs on the first downhill miles. It’s a terrible feeling when you summit thinking you have achieved something only to have a view of smaller climbs in front of you. I rode down hoping out loud that the climbs I saw were from a different road that I wouldn’t have to ride, but, of course, I had to ride them.

  A really viscous headwind picked up (or I rode into it) after I crested the last small hill. Even through the trail was now downhill 25 miles to the highway, I had to work hard to slice through the wind. Riding through a large bowl at the top the wind was definitely worse, but after I turned into a rocky canyon it became a little more bearable.

I had lost time in the morning, taking time to warm up then going on a tour, but I was still making good progress for the day, but my spirits were about to take a shock as I turned onto the 7 miles of frontage road into Lima. There were dark clouds over Dell to the west that looked to be coming my way and so it confused me that I was now riding into the most severe headwind of the trail so far (Tom Cruise taught me that wind moves away from a storm?). It seems that Nature was against me because my speed was seriously checked- coming into Lima I  was going about 6 mph when normal paved road speed was double that.

I pulled into the red board diner, glad that it was open in the early afternoon. My normal meal of burgers, chips, Sprite and beer was demolished, as well as some pie. I left with some takeaway, and called in (but was cut off straight away- after TPurvis had communicated that we should be leaving brief messages I had been leaving short ones with information principally about my location, and so I assumed that his answering machine had been filled with messages from others).

Lima Reservoir

It was overcast as I rolled out, but luckily it didn’t rain and the wind had died down. I wasn’t really in a mood for riding through the late afternoon and early evening, but somehow, I managed to do another 35 miles before dark. The first 15 were pretty boring, but after that, riding into dusk was fantastic. I had planned to stop a little earlier, but when I reached the destination, I just kept on riding. I swapped the prospect of being trampled by cows for being eaten by mosquitoes when I jumped a barb wire fence and camped out of sight behind an old shack. This day was a good day. I felt like I had adapted, my heart rate was down, and I was waking easier. 20 miles could be added per day, except for the lack of knowledge of what was to come. Talking to Michael by phone in Lincoln, there are apparently 8-10 guys still in front, but now only tracks for 6.

Towards Idaho

2007-06-20 23:51:23 GMT
This is Alex Field, I'm in Lima... (call ends)

This message was extremely poor in quality. It was 5 seconds long and I had to hook up external speakers and max the volume to hear it at all. But he clearly said "I'm in Lima"

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