Now that the trip is coming to a close, I think we can start thinking about our experiences along the way. For the most part, even with the hardships, the tough miles, the rain, the hunger, etc., we've had an amazing time. BUT, as eluded, not all has been fun and games along the trail. So, I thought I'd mention the day, or the event, or a mix of many things that broke, at least temporarily, each one of us. I'm going to list them alphabetically, not in an order of importance, FYI.
This was among our longest day at the time. We clocked in at 66 miles. We were going to ride the most desolate stretch of road in the entire trip. But, at some point, we were going to meet our friends coming from Steamboat. They were going to be loaded with food and drinks. However, we'd had to get through a hot, desolate, and arid section of Wyoming. All of a sudden, Anna can't bike anymore. She tells me she can't go another mile. I know that we have to keep biking to bridge the distance between the two moving points. (Remember that train question in math class?)
But Anna can't go any more. She's at the point of tears. I keep looking around to see what I can do to make the last 15 miles possible. Those same 15 miles that still had about another 1000 feet of climbing. I see and point out wild horses, and that seems to ease the pain for just a little bit, but it returns. I finally tell her that we have to keep going, we have no choice. And I reassure her that once we get to the 7500 ft. mark, we will have a downhill. And Anna did bust through her braking point and did help us climb that pass. And we did have a great downhill. And towards the bottom, we met our friends who ushered us to a great campground near where we met them. And the rest of the evening, it was like that braking point had never happened.
Mine came fast. It was the very first day. To be clear, we did some training prior to this trip, but we didn't do enough. Some of us did more than others, as schedules allowed. This became clear in the 64 miles we had to ride right out of the gate. I had scheduled that particular ride to avoid a busy road heading up the Columbia river. And indeed the road I chose was very quiet, but it was also hilly. We climbed about 3000 feet according to my Garmin. And the road had only one gas station, unfortunately, it came soon after Astoria, and we didn't know it would be the only one.
So we rode up and over some hilly terrain, the heat was definitely on, and we surely had to get to our destination as we did not have any food to cook for the night. At about mile 50 I rally the team and I'm feeling pretty good, but that quickly changed 10 miles up the road. All of a sudden I hit a wall and it becoming more and more difficult to rotate the pedals. Then we get to a last 1/4 mile climb before our end spot. And my body was screaming to stop. So much so that I can still remember my brain telling my legs not to stop. It wasn't just my legs, my entire body wanted to sease all movement. But it was overridden. But the braking point was at the very end. When we got to our hotel, I could not get off the bike. I cramped up and needed assistance from my entire family.
Isabel and Sarah
Their's came on the same day. And it was a brutal day for sure. I wrote about part of this day before in the blog post about the wind. We started the day with a mild headwind that quickly grew in strength. But the heat was also rising. We left early and made our way to second breakfast but after leaving the restaurant, the heat had jumped to about 96 and the wind was well in the 20 to 30 MPH against us.
We were not making any headway and we were out of water. Sarah walked up to the only home we had seen in miles to see if they could refill our bottles. No one was home, so we helped ourselves to their spigot. But that water went fast, unlike our miles. We were out of water again in about a mile, which took us about 30 minutes as it was uphill and into the stiff headwind. At this point the temps were over 100 degrees. Isabel was hurting and Sarah started to feel ill. So we stopped to rest at the top of the climb, but we know the downhill is still going to be work.
I didn't even hear the truck coming as the wind was deafening. But as it passed me, I see Sarah and Isabel waiving it down. Luckily it stopped as we hadn't seen any vehicle heading in the same direction in a while. And just like that, our luck changed. The almost insurmountable 15 miles we still had to go were all of a sudden done in about as many minutes with our bikes in the back of a pickup. The 100 degrees heat could not compete with the AC inside the truck. But more importantly, we were no longer in danger of having at least one of us get sick from the heat.
We have seven more riding days before we reach the beach in Boston. And we are now stronger than ever. We did gain strength and we did get lucky with the weather and avoided any more days over 100. Hopefully on the remaining days we will not have a worse days that the ones in the post. But there are no guarantees