Wake up in the morning feel like Pee Diddy. I wake up a little sad and disheartened by the amount of food I have been eating over the last couple of days. I am still smiling. The worst day on an adventure is better than the best day sitting in an office chair.
I have been on feast or famine mode. I really need to lock things down for nutrition and get my poop in a group. I eat the other quarter of a sandwich, finish my pistachios and half of the chocolates. I am camping next to some super awesome gentle dudes. Josh hears me grumbling about having too little food and he offers me some Kind Bars. This really makes my heart happy. I might actually live. My body is a little tired and sore but I get moving. The climbing is steep. Then it gets gangster. I am riding in gears 1-3 out of 30. What in the world? Really. Before I left for the race I remember thinking that there was no way on any terrain that I would ever drop below 10 miles per hour. Here I am, spinning my heart out and climbing at a whooping rate of 3.5 mph. Then it gets better.
The trail turns into mud stairs with a nice stream rolling down. I shoulder my bike and climb. I don’t care. Nothing will stop me. My motto is “relentless forward motion”. It doesn’t matter how fast you move. If you are moving, you are making progress. It literally all cannot be up hill. At some point it will go down. Back on the bike. Back to pedaling about the same pace I can walk. Food is gone. Oh well. I run into a crazy guy from Austrailia on a single speed bike. A GUY ON A SINGLE SPEED WAS IN FRONT OF ME! He is standing on the pedals, riding side to side on the road to make it easier. I ask him how it is going and we chat for a while. The chatter makes it go faster but, I am still hungry. I find out what a front bum is (Take your pick- NSFW). Then we get to the glory! Hit the top of the pass. The descent is just as steep as the climb and just as rocky. I am ripping. I try to relax and take in the good graces of gravity. From the ridge line I swear I can see the border crossing.
I can smell and taste the food. I hit pavement, take a left and head to the good old US and A. It is an easy transition for me. There are a few other riders from other countries that have to go inside and fill out paperwork. The gate agent looks at me, gives a smile and a wink and says “sweet ride” and then starts chanting “U.S.A….U.S.A….U.S.A…”. This really didn’t happen. I show them my passport. They look at me with a little concern for my safety and I ride on.
There is a duty free station about a half mile up the paved road. I go in, turn on my phone and order a bacon cheeseburger, a gallon of soda and a gallon of water. The first person I call is my girlfriend, Alex. I can’t wait to hear her sweet voice and find out how much I am crushing the race. She does the polite thing and asks how I am doing and says she is glad that I am ok. I am almost in tears as I get my food. I am so hungry. I take my first bite of french fries and Alex says “You are way behind the cut off. You are pacing 27-28 days. You need to hurry up.” I really love Alex with all of my heart. That did not stop me from thinking horrible profanities about her. We stop talking and I start devouring my food. It is tasty. That unbelievable rush of emotion you get the first time you have sex – my stomach had that feeling.
I pack my phone, jump on my bike and head the five miles to town to get resupplied. When I get to the store I try to figure out how to pack any more food in my backpack. No matter what I tuck in there, it isn’t enough food. I buy mountains of food. I will figure it out. When I get outside I see a racer with a dry bag filled with food, rolled and clipped shut over his aero bars. Thats it! I go back in and buy more food to fill my dry bag. My tank is now full, my bike is loaded to the brim with food and I am ready to rock and roll. I head back out on the course and I am making some great time. My speed picks up and I have a tailwind. I am taking a break now and again to look at the map and cue sheet. I see one of the sections tells you to enjoy the view of the lodge pole pines that line the road. When I get to this point, is is magical. I am too overwhelmed and forget even to take a picture. It is the type of place that makes adventuring seep down into your soul and fill your spirit.
I ride until sunset and see an RV parked by a lake with someone in their bivy sack, already sleeping. When I pull up the gentleman comes out, offers me food and beer and says I can set up anywhere I want. I pitch my tent and ask about the bear situation. He says it is cool, they have a fire and a big dog that barks whenever they are close. I really couldn’t care. If I see a Griz, I will start my camera, whoop his ass, then go back to sleep. Night night.
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