2 More Days And 3 More Thank Yous.

This would have been sent yesterday but for a computer glitch that was repaired today by using a fix suggested by Maria. Thank you, Maria (and that isn’t even 1 of the 3 suggested in the title).

July 22, Saturday. Kadoka to Chamberlain (scheduled).

Because I really don’t want to do the scheduled 115 miles from Kadoka to Chamberlain, the past couple of days I rode more than scheduled. The result was that today I only had to ride 50 miles to Chamberlain. However, because I felt ok and wanted to reduce the daily miles Sunday and Monday to get to Sioux Falls (our next rest day, hallelujah), I rode an additional 21 miles past Chamberlain. That sets up tomorrow and Monday for rides of less than 70 miles each, which sounds great.

Today started with a powerful tailwind and I was excited. That quickly disappeared because the road surface more than compensated- negatively – for that boost. The road was both rough and had seams every 15 to 25 feet or so that caused bumps that weren’t helping either my hands or my back.

A few miles into that I saw Ale far off to my left on a frontage road that, from where I was, looked better than the shoulder I was riding on. It took a few miles to get to an exit – remember, this is basically out in the middle of nowhere – that I used to get over to the other side of the fence where it is always greener. I asked a local and was told that the road lasted until Reliance, a town about 15 miles from Chamberlain, where I could reconnect with Interstate 90. So I headed off on that road.

In fact, the surface was better than what I had been riding on. (When I later mentioned that road’s surface to Ale, she said it was horrible but it was still better than the shoulder had been.) But, guess what? Naturally, the wind changed direction- something I had been told it is apt to do – and now what had been a tailwind was a headwind. Plus, the frontage road had far more ups and downs than did the highway which tends to level things out a bit more. Then, of course, the road surface deteriorated. So much for the grass being greener on the frontage road.

I got back to 90 and continued into Chamberlain. By that time the shoulder had even improved some. I stopped and had a large Icee and restocked my bottles with ice and water and set off to eat up some more miles. And then the gods smiled on me. The headwinds abated and the shoulder had a narrow strip of good pavement that even I could ride on. And once again riding was fun. And fast. And relatively effortless. Well no, not effortless, but much easier and smooth. I felt like a metronome with my legs churning out at least 20 mph on flats and staying above 17 even on slight climbs. I know, we do that regularly on our group rides but this was me riding by myself with no one to draft on. Ever. And on the 6th straight day of riding.

I felt good enough that I waited until I had ridden about 13 miles past Chamberlain to call Ale and I covered another 8 to a C-Store that I pulled into at the very minute Ale appeared. She continues to amaze me that way.

At the stop a man who obviously did physical labor asked me if I was who he had passed on the highway. When I said that I was, he said that I had been really moving along and that he was surprised that I wasn’t breathing hard when I showed up and got off my bike. I was, however, flushed from the heat and drenched because again the temperatures were high 90’s to low 100’s, not debilitating but definitely draining.
After we talked a bit, he asked if I was being sponsored and I of course told him about Laura’s Ride North and that I was raising funds to fight breast cancer. He, Paul, who is from Florida but was working on a job in South Dakota, immediately reached for his wallet and made a contribution. THANK YOU, PAUL! (Thank you #1) It is that type of generosity that helps make this worthwhile. When I asked if I could take his picture for this blog, he asked if it could be of both of us. So, that is Paul with me in that photo.

As I have mentioned, there are some who read this who are interested in our meals. Well, I have said before that this has been an excuse to eat junk foods that I normally don’t touch, including non-diet cokes, root beer and Mountain Dew – yea for caffeine that I normally avoid – and crumb doughnuts. And though it isn’t exactly junk food, I have twice finished off a quart of chocolate milk at the end of a ride. Out of curiosity, today I looked to see how many calories there are in a quart of 2% chocolate milk. Any guesses? Try 720. In one drink. Oh, well, served over ice it tastes great. And in my defense, more than 1 bike magazine has mentioned chocolate milk as a good recovery drink. Beer, too. Which is my excuse for now frequently having a beer – as cold as possible- with dinner. Habits I better break when this is over or I will soon be as large as many of the people we have seen on this trip.

One last mention of food tonight. While eating dinner, I struck up a conversation with 3 men who were sitting near us. They had been fishing today – Chamberlain is on the Missouri River at a large reservoir that is apparently a popular fishing destination- and had successfully caught a number of Walleye. They had had the restaurant prepare some for their dinner and generously offered a fillet to us to try. I had liked my fried chicken dinner just fine but their fish was definitely better. Thank you to Kelly, Rod and I sincerely apologize for forgetting the 3rd name. I thought I had written the names, but I couldn’t find them. Thank you for the great fish and for the experience. (Thank you #2.) Meeting people like them makes this trip interesting. One meal photo is of one of their Walleye dinners.

Well, after having reduced the miles to Sioux Falls, I am not dreading the next 2 days of riding. In fact, having rides of less than 70 miles could qualify as semi-rest days. Unless, of course, the wind or roads or weather say otherwise.

July 23, Sunday. Chamberlain to Mitchel (Scheduled)
Because I rode extra miles yesterday we started east of Chamberlain this morning at the same service station I finished at yesterday. It was an auspicious start. Not because of the weather, the road or anything else having to do directly with the ride. But because while I was getting ready to start, Sarah from Wyoming, who had apparently been reading the Laura’s Ride North signs on our truck, walked up and handed me a contribution. That was the same station at which Paul had made a donation yesterday. Also totally unsolicited. THANK YOU, SARAH! (Thank you #3.)

While riding today, I was thinking of the contributions we have received while on this trip. (Yes , sometimes I think of things other than the wind, rough roads, high temperatures and how long it will be before I am done, either with the day or with the entire trip.) I thought of how there are a number of benefits to the contributions. The most obvious is that they help breast cancer victims. Something else I have alluded to is that they do help motivate me to keep pedaling. While no big deal in the scheme of things, that is important to me. I think that another benefit is how making the contributions must make the donors feel. How can they not feel good about making a spontaneous donation to help a clearly worthy cause? And it probably doesn’t hurt that they are handing the money to some old guy who is doing something so preposterous as riding a bike across the country. While they might not be able to do that for any number of reasons, they now know that they have helped.

Now for the ride. What can I say. More grade C or C- road surfaces. More headwinds. Not gale force, but enough to make what could have been a great ride less than great. Perfectly acceptable, but not great. The fact that my hands were more of an issue than my legs didn’t help. The result: lots and lots of position changes to relieve the pressure on various parts of my hands. I’m tempted to get some foam rubber or something to see if that will help. Maybe the rest day after we get to Sioux City tomorrow will help. I’ll see.

More landscape basically devoid of much of anything of interest. Some cattle. Occasionally some trees. But mostly just fields. Lots and lots of fields. And of course countless trucks and cars whizzing by. Seemingly endless stretches of various types of pavement, none great today and none horrible. But the temperatures were a lot more comfortable, mostly in the middle to high 80’s.

Some other random thoughts I had:

During the ride I have seen a lot of dead animals, ranging from small birds and rodents to larger birds, skunks, possums,raccoons, porcupines, other medium sized mammals I can’t identify and deer. And all of them have been on the shoulder where I have been riding. I have wondered, as someone who does all of his riding on the shoulders, should I be concerned?

I have seen signs referring to prehistoric Indian sites. That made me wonder, when did prehistoric times end and historic times start?

When riding back west with Ale I have seen various “Wall Drug” bill boards. Now I know that Wall is well more than 100 miles away. And I know that there are numerous Wall Drug signs west of Wall. Are there equal numbers north and south of Wall? How much do those billboards cost, and how much income does Wall Drug generate that it can afford all those signs?

Why can’t I remember all of the things I think of while riding that I want to include in my postings?

Isn’t there something of more substance that I could be thinking about over all of those hours on the road?

Tonight ended well. Though I am reluctant to order sea food when not on the coast, I had salmon sashimi and it was great. Ale even took a photo of my plate after dinner because it may have been the only time I have finished my entire meal. We also had ice cream tempura which was my first time.

Well, because of riding extra miles over the past few days, we now have less than 55 miles to Sioux Falls. And that is after having finished today at 2:30. What a luxury to have the extra free time!

Until next time,
Rick

P.S. If you look closely, 1 photo is of a snake Ale saw.

Still Alive, Still Riding And 1/2 Way Done!

July 18, Tuesday: Lusk, Wyoming to Hot Springs, South Dakota was quite an experience.
At the 1/2 way point, which was headed north, I was averaging well over 17 mph. The road had been good and there was no troublesome wind. The countryside hadn’t been exciting, but what else is new? (A sample photo.) At least there were some cattle along the way and it is always interesting/fun to watch them watch me as I go by, their heads rotating as they track my progress. They obviously recognize me as being something different than a car because they don’t track them. Or maybe it’s just because I am slow enough for them to watch whereas the motorized vehicles are pretty much whizzing by.

The 1/2 way point to Hot Springs was a rest stop and that is where Ale found me. My spirits were high because, as I said, the ride up until then was great.

So I left her, taking a different highway than I had been on because now I was going east. Based on the ride up until then, I was expecting to see her within a reasonable time. Little did I know.

Heading east, and getting a bit later in the day, changed things dramatically. Now instead of averaging 17+ mph, I couldn’t approach 17 mph as a maximum speed even when going downhill (there were, and have been, a lot of rollers, some fairly long) because of the wind blowing from South Dakota into Wyoming. The wind was strong enough that I was convinced that there is someone in South Dakota who doesn’t want anyone entering the state from the west, at least anyone on a bike.

That feeling was confirmed when I actually entered South Dakota because the highway suddenly and dramatically changed. Well, actually not the highway itself, just the portion that a bike would usually use. The shoulder – everything to the right of the rumble strip – became soft tar that was impossible to ride on (photo). That meant sharing the lane with vehicles going 70 mph or so and that was sufficiently uncomfortable for me that I stopped and considered my options. The obvious thought was to call Ale and ask for a ride. But was I just going to skip riding through South Dakota? Although that was pretty appealing, that didn’t fit with what I set out to do. So I got back on my bike, fought the wind and hoped that the cars going by would give me enough room. That I am writing this from my motel room and not from the hospital shows that they did.

So I just kept pedaling. And harboring very violent thoughts about whoever approved the design of the road. At the least, I thought that he or she should be made to ride a bicycle along the highway to see what she/he created. Somehow I doubt that will happen.

After the tar shoulder kept going and going, I was sure that was just the way South Dakota highways are designed. Let me tell you, my thoughts of South Dakota were pretty negative at that point. It goes to show how one’s perspective can dictate our thoughts and feelings because had I been in a car, I wouldn’t have even known that the shoulder was totally inhospitable to bicyclists. But I wasn’t in a car and South Dakota was at the bottom of my list of states I want to ride in (even lower than states that were over 110 degrees last year).

But, thankfully, first impressions can be wrong. Although the wind continued – I couldn’t blame that on anyone – the highway changed and I actually had a decent shoulder to ride on. What a relief!

I arrived in Hot springs some 97 miles from the start so I think I can fairly claim 4 centuries in 5 days. Definitely a first for me. Of course after fighting winds for the last 45+ miles I was pretty much used up by the time I finished.

Things weren’t helped any when, as I mentioned in my last post, we had to wait an hour or so to finally get served dinner at the 1891. The food was very good – Walleye for Ale, flank steak for me – when we finally got it but I wasn’t happy to have lost an hour of valuable time. The owner, who is very new to the restaurant business, was very apologetic and asked what she could do to make things right. I told her that in my work I have concluded that everyone can make a mistake but what matters is how one deals with it. I gave her a Laura’s Ride North card and told her she could contribute. After telling us that she had herself just gone through cancer treatment, she assured me that she will. I wish her the very best in beating that disease. I also look forward to her promised donation.

July 19, Wednesday. Hot Springs to Rapid City. I had been somewhat dreading this day because of the 5,000′ of projected climbing over 74 miles. I don’t know who was measuring that, but I wasn’t at all disappointed that there was about 1/2 that much climb and a few less miles. On the other hand, maybe whoever listed the 5,000 feet overstated the climb to compensate for the constant, unrelenting and draining wind. Spiced with 100+ temperatures. At least the road surfaces were decent. It appears that the introduction to South Dakota’s highways was an aberration. Thank you!!

We broke the ride up into 2 segments. But not because of the anticipated climb, or because of the wind. Ale met me at the turnoff to Mt. Rushmore. We put my bike on the rack – next to my spare – and drove the 19 miles to the park. While I wouldn’t make a trip from California specifically to see it, it was well worth the 38 mile excursion. By truck, not by bike!

While getting some ice cream at the park – never have I consumed so much junk food – we met Wade Smith (photo), a Boy Scout troop leader who, together with 2 other adults, was on a trip from Kansas with 9 scouts. In addition to being active with the scouts, Wade teaches art to young students. His wife is also a teacher in what he says is a very rural school. I applaud their service to our youth. As an aside, he said that they live in a part of Kansas that has hills and trees so that the stereotype of being nothing but flat fields of corn or wheat isn’t true of the entire state.

The negative about Wade was that he asked if Ale is my daughter. Way to destroy any illusion I might have had that there was at least a remote possibility that someone might think I am just lucky. And to make matters worse, he was not the first to ask me that. Just to be contrary, I thought of fabricating a much more interesting relationship but I didn’t want Ale to clobber me.

As another aside, Ale said that she is interested in having her daughter be a scout. When I mentioned the Girl Scouts, she said that in Mexico the boys and girls are together. As far as I know, that still isn’t the case here.

Ale took me back to where she picked me up and I finished the ride to Rapid City. I was feeling so good that we went to a movie. Because 2 theaters had virtually the same name, we didn’t see what I had intended and instead saw the Planet of The Apes movie. I think Ale liked it more than I did. In any event, it was long enough that I didn’t have time to post.

July 20, Thursday. Rapid City to Wall. Although scheduled for only 60 miles, I wanted to eat into the 115 miles scheduled for Saturday so I actually rode past Wall and had Ale come get me. I added around 20 miles and aimed at something similar the next day to get the 115 down into the 80’s.

My memory of the ride is WIND. Hitting me in the face, of course. The photo of the flag isn’t to demonstrate my patriotism, but to show that the flag was totally horizontal and that wasn’t even the strongest of the headwinds. I know, I am sounding like a broken record. But the winds about do me in. I was so sleepy last night that I went to sleep right after dinner, about 9:00. Hence no post then.

For miles, and I mean many miles starting well before South Dakota, we had been seeing bill boards advertising Wall Drug. There had been so many that I thought Wall Drug was a chain, like CVS or something. Wrong. It is a place in Wall. I would call it a store, but that wouldn’t do it justice. It is a complex of shops, a couple of restaurants and more that has not only a western theme, with lots of stuffed wild life, but a large animated dinosaur and other totally unrelated “attractions.” Very bizarre. It was on a street with other tourist businesses that I would guess are built around it. It was pretty surprising, at least to us, to see so much tourist activity in such a small town that is so far from anything. Though the Badlands national park is within 20 miles so perhaps there is some symbiosis there.

July 21, Friday. Wall to Kadoka (planned). Well, I am not complaining about the wind today. Because there was virtually none. What a relief. I felt like I can actually ride after all. And that I can enjoy it, though lower temperatures would be appreciated (could we stay out of the 90’s for a while?). To further reduce tomorrow’s ride, I rode well past Kadoka. So far past that it took us an hour to drive from where Ale picked me up back to our motel in Kadoka. Clearly, if I had planned better we would have stayed farther east because now we will have to drive an hour just to get to tomorrow’s starting point. Plus we lose an hour because I rode into the Central Time Zone today. (Photo.) On the other hand, what had been scheduled as 115 miles will now be closer to 60. That sounds very good to me! “Only” 60 miles.

Did I mention that I averaged 18.2 mph today? And it wasn’t because it was all downhill, because it wasn’t. But, as I said, there were no headwinds and the riding surface was good, often great.

May I say the same tomorrow.

No, the “½ Way Done”doesn’t refer to a given day’s ride. It means that we are now past ½ of the mileage of our trip. HOORAY!! I have to admit that there were times when I wondered. Much less so now, though, with that milestone in back of us.

Until next time,
Rick

 

4 Days And 3 Centuries With Another (Almost) Tomorrow

This would have been posted yesterday but for an internet glitch where we were staying. Tthe post for today is being delayed because we had to wait more than an hour to be served dinner and it is too late to write something tonight. However, when the proprietor of the restaurant asked what she could do to make things right, I gave her a Laura’s Ride North card and said that she could make a donation which would also be going to a worthy cause. She said that she will. We’ll see.

Days 1 & 2: Dubois through Riverton to Casper, 200 miles. Done (Friday and Saturday).
Day 3: Rest
Day 4: Casper to Lusk, 105 miles. Done (today, Monday).
Day 5: Lusk to Hot Springs, SD, 93 miles (tomorrow , Tuesday).
Well, almost another century.

After having been wiped out from Saturday’s ride, I was apprehensive about today’s 105 miles. However, with the combination of few head winds, good road surfaces and yesterday’s rest, the apprehension was misplaced. Thankfully.

In fact, today was fun, something that I have seldom been able to say on this ride. And it wasn’t due to descending because the 3,500′ of climbing was only 500′ less than the descent. Mostly it was due to the lack of much of a headwind and good surfaces. I read about the rough surfaces in yesterday’s Tour De France and know how spoiled I am. But the fact is that smooth surfaces are fun to ride on, rough ones not so much.

I was hot and tired at 54 miles, not having had any stops, my cold liquid having turned hot and there was no shade in sight. Hence the selfie of me using a sign post along Highway 25 as a back rest. A Cliff goo with caffeine washed down with water and the short rest helped. Though shade and cold water would have been better.

10 miles later I came to a store where I met a brother and sister who are riding to San Francisco (actually Redwood City, their parents’ new home). He will be a sophomore in the fall at Syracuse and she was a month out of the Peace Corp when they started their ride. When I mentioned how I got a ride over Teton Pass because of the hail storm she said that they had been riding on a gravel road in the heat when someone offered to put their bikes in the back of his truck so he could give them a ride and they accepted. So I am not the only cross-country rider to get some motorized help. Unfortunately, I blew it by neither taking their picture nor getting their names. I did, however, wish them a good journey.

I did get lunch, a cheese burger and 4 or 5 very large cups of Mountain Dew, which tasted great (the cold liquid, that is). I paid for it later, though, spending the next couple of hours spitting it up. Red Mountain Dew is messy.

More very remote country. Perhaps exemplified by the “town” of Lost Springs, population of 4. That’s right, 4. As per the sign. What is interesting is that there were signs for other “towns” that didn’t even mention a population, only an elevation. Probably because they were smaller than 4 as evidenced by the total lack of so much as a visible building in the vicinity. So apparently 4 makes for a significant city in this part of the country.

Just as I entered Lusk, I pulled over into some shade that was already being used by 4 Harley riders to check the directions to our motel. They were from Henderson, Nevada and were on a pretty long road trip themselves. We spent some time talking while they were waiting for 2 other riders. (Yes, again I forgot to get either names or photos.) Only 1 of the other 2 showed up because the other blew a tire. You think having a flat on a bike is inconvenient? Try it with a motorcycle. I can repair a flat on the road and if the tire is totally shot, I can get one from the SAG and replace it. You can’t repair a motorcycle flat on the road. Their cycles weigh about 1,000 pounds loaded for travel, plus it takes special tools to even get the tire off the wheel. And with a ruined tire, you not only have to have the cycle carted to someplace that can remove the wheel and tire, you have to find someplace that carries the necessary tire, no small task in an unpopulated area. They were going to have to have the cycle transported 100+ miles and then weren’t sure that another tire would be available.

Well, I finished the ride at 16.6 mph, slower than Friday by a bit but considerably better than Sunday. The thing is that the faster time is good not only because it finishes the ride sooner but because it is more fun. Both because of the sensation of speed and because it typically means that the pedaling was easier.

I arrived at our motel and after a shower Ale and I went to 1 of the 2 places in town that were serving food, the other being a hamburger stand. We had steaks that not only took an inordinate amount of time to prepare but were so tough that neither of us finished ours. I guess their price was a mitigating factor, each steak dinner – hers a rib eye, mine a T-Bone – costing all of $12.95. Ale did enjoy her strawberry rhubarb pie. She said that ordering a pie is special because they aren’t available where she lives. Ale also took the photo of the Christmas tree that is still up in the restaurant in the middle of July. I guess they will be quicker to have a tree for next Christmas than they were to serve our dinner.

The massage Ale gave me was better than dinner – by a lot – but I was then reluctant to get up and I still hadn’t plugged in the various devices I need to stay connected on tomorrow’s ride, namely my Garmin, iPhone and 2 battery packs because the charges on the Garmin and phone frequently run out before I have finished my ride. I guess riding faster might help with that. But there is a frequently recurring sign in these parts: “Leave sooner. Drive slower. Live longer.” While that isn’t intended for bicyclists, I have tried to comply with at least the last 2 parts.
I am feeling good – not exhausted – except for the small matter of feeling almost motion sick with my head feeling like it is floating around. Hopefully a night’s sleep will remedy that.

Here is to smooth surfaces and no headwinds tomorrow (I could wish for tailwinds but would be perfectly content to just avoid the headwinds.)
I hope to check in tomorrow after completing my 4th century – well, almost – in 5 days. I know, compared to the double centuries Anson, Kat and Nick have done (meaning 200 miles in a day), that isn’t a big deal but it is more than I have done before.

Good night,

Rick

Dubois To Riverton To Casper

FRIDAY (July 14):
Today I turned a planned 78 mile ride into an even 100 miles.

No, Google Maps didn’t sabotage me and I didn’t get lost. Instead I wanted to take some of Saturday’s 121 mile ride and spread it over 2 days.
Friday started with breakfast in Dubois. We met Doug and Donna, 2 self supported riders on a cross country trek heading east to west. Their photo is included. We wish them the best of luck on their adventure.

I then started out on what was probably the best stretch of this entire ride. Over the first hour I averaged 22 mph. And no, it wasn’t all downhill. There was some elevation loss but there were also uphills. The surface was great and I guess there was some tail wind. Mostly, though, I was just feeling good. I caught another long distance rider who was at 17 mph over the same distance. Of course he may have been the only rider I have met who is older than I.

At my first rest I met Taylor who is also riding east to west. She is a college grad who is now studying to be a nurse. Turns out she had met Donna and Doug a couple thousand miles earlier and is staying in contact with them via text. The ever ubiquitous smart phone.

My conversation with Taylor touched on something that many have asked me, namely what do I think about during the hours on the bike. Interestingly, Taylor’s answer was similar to mine. Though we do think about various things, including some of at least a little consequence, most is focused on the ride. Setting interim goals to break the ride up into manageable parts, measuring the percentage of the day’s ride we have completed – for me often starting at 5%, to 10%, to 25%, to a third and then to 1/2 – and then counting down the miles to go. When I get to around 25 miles I tell myself that that is our typical Thursday ride. When I get down to 10 miles I tell myself that that is the distance from Danville to the finish so I am almost home. Then at 5 miles I tell myself that that is equivalent to being in Alamo and home is just around the corner.

I continued to push on, still feeling good but not flying as I had at the start. Partially because conditions weren’t quite as ideal and partially because I just can’t maintain that pace.

Because of this year’s and last year’s rides I realize how much of our country is comprised of desert. Some low as in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. And some of it high desert as in Oregon, Idaho and Wyoming. All of it desolate and, to my eyes, bleak. On this ride, though, there have not been the stretches of road that appear to extend into infinity as was the case last year.

When I got to Riverton i was feeling good so knew I would push on after a short rest in the shade on a sidewalk In town. It turns out that the next town, Shoshone, was 21 miles away which would leave about 100 miles for the next day so that was the obvious goal.

This was a ride where when I got down to 4 miles I did not feel like I was almost home. The heat – high 90’s – together with a pesky headwind, plus the previous 96 miles, had taken their toll and I was definitely looking forward to the end. However, with only 4 miles to go I had no doubt I would make Shoshone despite how I felt. As, of course, I did.

Ale got there not long after I did and we drove back to Riverton. We finished the day with an ok Italian dinner and I was too tired to post.

SATURDAY (July 15):
I knew today would be more difficult because at least the start of Friday was too perfect to be duplicated. Also, there was going to be a bit more climbing (1,952 feet yesterday, 2,550 today).

What I didn’t count on were the unrelenting and often quite brisk headwinds.

The ride started in Shoshone where I finished yesterday.

When I started Ale visited a hot spring a photo of which is included.

At 30 miles – through yet more desert – I was wiped. Not just legs, but more just total fatigue. I pulled over and laid down just off the highway and took a shot nap. Knowing that I had to get up sometime, I finally did. I had a caffeine laced gel, some water and pushed on.

10 miles later I reached the only store in the nearly 100 miles between Shoshone and Casper, the day’s goal. Just as I pulled up, Ale arrived. We went in for the air conditioning and to get something other than the cold water and ice that Ale had.

My fuel? An ice cream bar, a root beer, a coke and a coke to go that I drank in the truck before I took off.

I don’t know if it was the rests, all of the caffeine, the combination, or what, but I felt totally rejuvenated. Thank goodness because given how I felt before, it would have been a total suffer fest otherwise.

I felt good but the headwinds – those unforgiving headwinds – were a constant drain. I still felt good but the going was slow.

At around 54miles I saw a Hell’s Half Acre turnout. It is an impressive pit – small canyon? – into which Indians used to chase buffalo over the cliffs to their death. Large feasts no doubt followed.

I met Jim and Bill who, together with a third, were driving their classic Skyline Chevrolets from a rally. Bill told me about the annual week long ride across Iowa ride that he has participated in for 7 or so years. He said they get 15,000 riders and is the country’s largest bike riding event and towns along the route bid for the honor and all of the business it generates. I had heard of it but don’t remember its name (typical me). This year’s is the last week of July.

I set off again with the goal of meeting Alejandra at about 68 miles (actually we said 68.5 miles which was 1/2 way to the end) the rendezvous we set.

More desert. More heat. And more wind. With a road surface that wasn’t as good as yesterday and more rollers. But mostly more wind.

As I was approaching 68 miles I was looking forward to seeing my hero because my ice had melted, my water was warm, my mouth was dry and the wind and less than ideal road – a “C” – were taking their toll. I didn’t see the truck parked waiting for me and thought maybe it would be 70 miles. Then I saw what I thought was Ale approaching – the Suburban with its “coffin” on top (the name coined by Nick last year) – is fairly distinctive. I was right, it was. And I swear that she passed me to turn around just as my computer showed 68.5 miles. Amazing. But in many ways, Alejandra has been consistently amazing. The fact that she had not only cold water and ice but a cold water melon only confirmed that assessment.

The rest and refreshments were welcome and leaving wasn’t easy. But then I only had 29 miles to go. Barely more than a Thursday ride at home. Of course on Thursdays I haven’t ridden nearly 70 miles before starting the ride. Nor do we have winds like this at home. But I tried not to remind myself of any of this so I could focus on finishing.

I have done a number of centuries in the past, all with more climbing. But only once do I recall being quite as tired at the end. And I believe that one also included fighting winds. But that I had ridden 100 miles yesterday was also no doubt a factor.

I remember a lot of pedaling, some up hills and some down. Although down was easier, even down took effort because of the wind. There would be occasions when it would let up and I would accelerate only to have another gust hit me in the face and make me slow down and down shift. Yes, the ride included lots of slowing down and down shifts.

Well, Casper appeared. Finally. I turned off of 26 where I have been living lately into what was the steepest climb of the day on a road under construction with a restricted shoulder. I stopped to wait for a break in the traffic to get around a broken part of the road and made it to the top. And the climb was actually ok.

Here I have to thank Matt and Dee of Sharp Bicycle. Matt had mentioned an 11-32 cassette which offers a significantly lower gearing than my 11-28. However it is not available on DuraAce, which is what I have. On a subsequent visit Dee told me that an 11-30 is available on DuraAce and I ordered that. Though I haven’t needed that range at home even with steeper climbs, the cost was worth it because I have used it often on this trip. When going up any kind of a climb I shift lower than necessary to save my legs, not only for that climb but for the rest of the day and for the days to follow.

Well, finally the end came. I was actually feeling pretty good even if I was very glad to get out of the wind.

Or so I thought. After I carried my bike up 1 flight of stairs, I felt light headed and totally spent. And I have to tell you it wasn’t because my bike is heavy because it decidedly is not.

Well now I am into my rest day and I am enjoying it.

Until the next time. Hopefully our donation total will have increased some by then.
Rick

Jackson, Yellowstone And On To Dubois (A Day Late)

This is posted a day late because of internet problems yesterday. References to yesterday, today, etc. are as though this was posted July 13.
Yesterday was our second rest day in Jackson and I much appreciated it. Both for the rest and because it gave us the opportunity to do some exploring.

Tuesday we drove to Yellowstone which is, as your know, magnificent. Mountains, forests, lakes and rivers. And, of course, geysers. We naturally had to see old faithful and were rewarded with an eruption after a bit of a wait. The lone disappointment was that we didn’t see any wildlife, other than a few bison at a distance.

On the way back to Jackson we stopped for a dinner show at the Bar J, a working cattle ranch that hosts dinners 7 nights a week from Memorial Day into September. While I thought the food was mediocre, the show was great. It was a group of 5 cowboys – we were assured that they all work on the ranch – who sing western songs. The patriarch, a Country and Western Hall ofFame member, who is semi-retired and wasn’t 1 of the 5, told us in introductory comments the difference between country and western music. In country, the songs are about who is kissing your wife. In western, they are about who is kissing your horse. He also encouraged all of the women to be sure to go back for seconds at dinner because a study has shown that women who are larger live longer than men who comment about the women’s size.

Aside from that, the singer/musicians are great and they have a good comedy routine to their act. They did a medley that included a number of popular songs and showed that they don’t need to be limited to western music. Especially given the very reasonable price ($35 was the most expensive item on the menu – a ribeye that we saw barbecued and wished we had ordered – and that was inclusive of tax, tip and the show), I say that it is a don’t miss activity if you are in the area.

Wednesday we spent wandering around Jackson, a town replete with restaurants, art galleries and general retail. By the way, “Jackson” is the name of the town while “Jackson Hole” is the name of the entire valley because Cowboys used to call valleys “holes.”
Today I started out with relatively rested legs. I say relatively because at this stage it is going to take more than 2 days before they are really rested.

In any event, my legs – in fact, all of me- were rewarded by about 10 miles of a bicycle path that had a surface I would rate an “A”. Yes, I have taken to grading surfaces because as those of you who have read my blogs know, the road surface has a huge role in determining the quality, ease and speed of my rides. I was fortunate that the surface mostly stayed at a “B” or better even when I had to ride on the shoulder.
The only “mishap” was that the cable I brought to connect my phone to the battery packs that are necessary when using a map app didn’t work. My phone ended up dying. Fortunately, the ride into Dubois was a straight shot so Ale had no problem finding me and making me very happy with ice and water. We used a different cable, added some charge from the truck and I was able to complete the recharge while riding.

Actually, I was fortunate I had a working phone at all because when I got caught in the rain and hail on Monday apparently my phone got wet and stopped working, at first in increments and then totally. No phone would be a disaster. Fortunately, a couple of days of drying out restored the phone so that it does what it has to. Sort of like me; some things don’t work as they should but I manage to get along.

The ride had some climb to it – a bit over 4,000′ to go with the 85 miles of distance – but with the climbing came an awesome ride over the last approximately 30 miles. I know that many of those I ride with at home would have hit or exceeded 50 mph. Suffice it to say that I didn’t.
I had to stop at the Continental Divide sign that was near the summit. 9,584′. Although I didn’t climb that in a day, I did start at sea level. And there have been a LOT of ups and downs between the start and that sign. I was fortunate that someone else was there so I had my picture taken (I’m not much for selfies.) Thank you Quinn who was there with his mother from Panama City, Florida for being my photographer. His photo is included.

The sign reminded me that Nick and I also stopped at a Continental Divide sign last summer. I don’t remember the altitude there but it was a number of thousands of feet lower. And probably MUCH hotter even though I did climb in 90+ temperatures today.

I am including a photo of Monte, a piano playing artist – he carves antlers and horns – with a store in Dubois, today’s destination. He is a life long resident of the area and has a lot to say about his disagreement with how the forests are being managed. He makes a convincing case that they are deteriorating with tragic results to the environment, to wildlife and to the lives of people in the area.

I refer to Monte as a piano player because he has an upright in front of his shop that he plays, often just because. Real honky tonk music. Ale loved it. (Yes, I liked it too.)

Well, now there is tomorrow’s ride to look forward to. 78 miles doesn’t sound too daunting. However, Saturday’s 120 miles do. I may split that into 2 days. We’ll see.

I hope the “rested” legs last another couple of days.

There are photos from Jackson, Quinn and me at the Continental Divide, the red cliffs as we approached Dubois and of Monte and one of his sculptures.

Thank you to those who are following along with us. And a special thanks to those who have kept the fund raising effort alive. Also, remember that your comments- and donations- help keep me going.

Hasta luego,
Rick

Thank You Kirby, Thank You Laura (A Different Laura)

First, I am posting some photos from a couple of days ago as promised. Included are some of Saturday’s dinner at the Sandpiper in Pocatello and everything but my risotto – way too much horse radish – was excellent; the bread with olive oil and Parmesan cheese, the clams in a broth that had me get more bread, my lamb chops’s and Alejandra’s chicken Oscar
Sunday’s dinner in a Mexican restaurant populated by Mexicans was mediocre and Ale’s choice of the Blue Lion in Jackson was excellent. As Ale said, that should be expected given the price, but her rack of lamb was even better than mine of 2 days ago and my elk was excellent. We were tempted by the tiramisu but we were both full.
I didn’t post yesterday because we went to see Spider-Man and it was bed time when we got back. Despite all the movies I see, there is no way I could be a film critic. I will say that it was a different twist on the character and we both enjoyed it. But there is no was the actor looked 15.
Yesterday I rode past Idaho Falls to reduce some of today’s miles. I ended up at 75 miles. The countryside mostly improved and the roads were decent. I wasn’t fond of the headwinds, but what can you do? The movie was because I felt fresh at the end of the ride.
This morning started by me meeting Mats and Kirby (in the yellow) at our motel. Mat was in the midst of a long distance motorcycle ride with who I believe is his significant other (not pictured). Thank you Kirby for making an unsolicited donation to our cause!
Today’s ride featured heat – up to 100 – constant headwinds, climbing and inclement weather.
While stopped for a far too large ice cream cone, I met Eli from Austin. He was nearing the end – relatively speaking- of his Portland, Maine to the coast of Oregon ride.
From there I set off through some fairly remote countryside on Hwy. 31 – I had been on 26 – and rode up over some hills into Teton county, Idaho. I stopped for lunch and then set off for what Eli said was probably the toughest climb he had faced on his ride.
I stopped to take a photo of the Welcome to Wyoming sign, our 3rd state, but the sign wasn’t legible in my pictures.
15 miles from the end, and just before the 10% grade started is where the inclement weather appeared. First thunder and a few drops. Then a bit heavier rain. Then I noticed that it was no longer rain, but small hail stones. Given that the temperature was still in the 70’s.  I kept climbing at 5 to 7%. But then I heard that the hail was making very loud bangs when it hit my helmet – loud and hard enough that I was thankful for the helmet – and then it started hurting when it hit my body and arms.
I pulled into a turnoff to decide what to do though my options were limited because there was no shelter. A car was already stopped there and as I approached, the passenger side window lowered and I was asked if I wanted a ride. There was an option I hadn’t thought of but it was too good to resist. Given how fast the hail had increased in intensity, it seemed that getting out of it made a lot of sense.
THANK YOU, LAURA!!! No, not the namesake of this ride, but the Laura originally from Michigan who is visiting a friend in Jackson who gave me a ride out of the hail and into Jackson. Laura, if you are reading this, I forgot to take your photo to include it here and would love it if you would send me a picture at rickperez@perezmiller.com so I can post it.
Yes, I missed the toughest climb. But I am not planning on using a treasured rest day to have Ale drive me to where I was “rescued” to make up the climb.
Tomorrow we plan on driving to Yellowstone. But i also need to deal with a malfunctioning iPhone. Ale thinks it got too wet, which could be from the rain or my sweat since I had it between my jersey and my body so I could hear directions.
I was going to post photos but a slow internet, my malfunctioning phone and the late hour are delaying that yet again.
They will be posted, eventually.
Rick

Back To The Highways.

Some of you may remember that last year Nick and I frequently rode on highways, or freeways. Well, I am doing that again when I can.
I left Burley today following the no highway auto route. It didn’t lead me to gravel roads, but I did go through some desolate areas with rough surfaces and nothing of interest but the occasional cattle. They are primarily of interest because if they are near the road they invariably follow my progress with their large heads rotating as I go past. They actually look intelligent, a trait they aren’t exactly known for. In fact, that lack of being overly bright shows up when they are near the road with no fence separating them from me. Despite the fact that they are probably 10 times my weight, they are typically afraid of me. That isn’t what defines their IQ. It is that there is no telling in which direction they will run to get away from me, including going directly in front of me. So, to say the least, I get very cautious when passing them.
In contrast to the 1,500 cows who are afraid of me and run to get away was the 20 pound dog who made a mad dash at me from nowhere and caught up with me for a short distance. I don’t think he/she was trying to bite me but it did result in the closest thing to a sprint that I have done on this trip.
Yes, back to the highways topic. When my route paralleled a highway whose shoulder’s surface looked significantly better than what I was riding on AND I figured that I would save a few miles, I took the next on ramp and was immediately rewarded by increased speed of about 2 mph with no additional effort.
This was after Ale caught me resting under the shade of a tree – yes, temperatures were again up to 104 – in front of Kate’s house. Kate came out to say hi – I will post her picture tomorrow when I post photos from today – and to warn me to be careful. She said that her brother-in-law had been hit by a car in Florida while biking and now has permanent brain damage. She was very friendly and tried to be helpful by saying that I should take the frontage road rather than the highway. The problem was that the road surface was horrible. Ale wondered why she had made that suggestion. Who knows?
Our excitement today was when we managed to lock the truck with the engine running with neither of us inside. We still don’t know how we did that. Triple A to the rescue, albeit a slow one. I took off on my bike while Ale waited for help. After about 1/2 hour, I texted to see what was up. The service still hadn’t arrived but Ale said she was fine and that someone had stopped and given her bottles of water and Gatorade. I pointed out the advantage of being a pretty woman because of all the times I have been sitting by the side of the road next to my bike, only once has someone stopped to see if I was ok.
After taking to the Interstate, the rest of the ride was better than most of the past few days. It was still hot, but the road was better. Riding was actually fun again despite the pretty constant headwinds.
It’s late and adding photos is time consuming so I am going to say good night and let the photos wait until next time.
Rick

We Saw Great River And Water Fall Views

Yes, despite the constant heat – up to 104 and regularly 99+ – I am still alive. Though at the end of yesterday’s ride I wasn’t positive.

I know, we put up with higher temperatures last year but I think my resistance has declined. And I am definitely not willing to push through it as much which means when I get hot I stop the first chance I get. That can make for lots of stops, though the number is less than it might be because finding shade can be very difficult.

So, yesterday’s ride from Mountain Home to Twin Falls. You may recall that I had ridden to Glens Ferry Wednesday in order to reduce yesterday’s ride to 67 miles. That was a great plan except that I ended up adding 18 to 20 miles (I am not sure because my computer died) because the road I was on turned to deep gravel that I could not ride on. I was out in the middle of nowhere but there was a single house next to an agricultural building at the end of the paved road. Thank goodness. I rode to it and met Terry Parish – his photo is attached – who told me that the gravel lasts for about 10 miles and that it was worse than usual because it had been recently graded. Well, that was impossible so I had no choice but to turn around and backtrack about 9 miles. That didn’t make for a happy camper because I had expected to ride less than 70 miles. Plus I added about 800 feet of climbing.

Terry mentioned that his daughter is a long haul driver and that once she called him from Louisiana and said she was on a 10 mile bridge.  He commented about what a jam she would be in if the truck broke down. I told him that we may have crossed that same bridge last year and with the virtually nonexistent shoulder I had been very nervous about getting a flat. There was no room to do a repair and that would have been a horrible walk, especially with bike cleats on.

The rest of the ride was uneventful, as was the scenery until I got to Twin Falls. The heat and just general discomfort are most of what I remember thinking about while riding.

As well as a conversation I had on one of my breaks. The topic of abusive men, especially in other cultures came up and the woman I was talking to said that there is a theory that woman are much to blame. Not that they deserve the abuse but because men are to a large extent raised by their mothers and the mothers often so favor their sons over their daughters that the boys grow up with an extreme sense of entitlement. For instance, women who complain about domineering, demanding men may have had their daughters doing housework while their sons were playing.

So, sometimes I do think of something other than wanting the ride to end.

I took 1 of the photos while laying on some grass under some valuable shade that I got to by sliding under a fence that is the bar in the photo. This was after a 20 minute nap. That helped.

I said that the scenery was uneventful until Twin Falls. Some of the photos show how barren – desolate – Idaho can be. But on entering Twin Falls I rode over a bridge that crosses the Snake River. That is spectacular. After I finished my ride, Ale drove us back to the river and wee took some photos there.

One photo is of me arriving at the end of the ride. Ale specifically wanted to take a photo because I was more bedraggled than usual.

Another photo is of my lunch at a C-store, a slushee, cinnamon doughnuts and, not in the photo because I drank it before checkout, chocolate milk. 

When I rode up to our hotel, I noticed that its large wing said “America By Bicycle.” No, it wasn’t greeting me. Turns out that a group doing a cross country ride had been guests a couple of weeks before. But I bet they didn’t guest a massage at the end of their ride.

And yes, dinner. Lasagne for me and a chicken dish for Ale. We both enjoyed our meal.

Totals: 83 miles and 3,025′ of climbing. I am too embarrassed to mention my average speed. (Today and in the future.)

Today was to be a short 38 miles. Because of the heat and a less than ideal surface, it was harder than it should have been. (I avoided taking any responsibility with those excuses, didn’t I?)

After my ride we drove back toward Twin Falls to visit a state park at Shoshone Falls, also on the Snake River. Very impressive. More than our photos show.. We also saw some bison grazing at a ranch.  

Driving back to Burley, where we are staying, we went an extra few miles because of a miscommunication between Ale and me. But as I told her, the mistake in the truck was no big deal. Such mistakes on the bike are much more of a pain.

Dinner was at a Chinese restaurant. It was highly rated which makes me very dubious about the other restaurants in town.

It is nice finishing early – 1:30 today compared with 7:30 yesterday.

Oh, I wanted to mention how critical the power packs I got from SPI Consulting (a Laura’s Ride Sponsor both years) are. Using the phone fore directions runs it down in no time and without a charge I would be out of touch with Ale, I would often be cut off from any civilization and I don’t know what I would do. Thank you Sal and Kat!

Boy do I miss the road surfaces we typically ride on at home. Aside from the unpacked roads, they haven’t been horrible but the rough surfaces cost 1.5 to 2 mph. The headwinds didn’t help either. Also not horrible but a difference maker.

Totals: 42 miles (don’t even ask about the extra 5 miles) and 1,289′ of climbing.

Thank you for your comments. I apologize for not having had the energy to respond. But they are appreciated.

Until next time,
Rick

 

I Actually Enjoyed Today (We are really in Mountain Home, not Mountain View; my mistake)

Well, after all of my complaining – whining? – I have something different today. Things actually felt good.

Which isn’t to say that there were no mishaps.

Today was scheduled for 53 miles and tomorrow for 97. So the plan was to ride past today’s destination- which was Mountain Home, Idaho (not Mountain View as I had mistakenly posted) – and have Ale pick me up and drive us back to Mountain Home. I figured I might go about 10 extra miles that would then be subtracted from tomorrow’s ride because I will start it from where I ended today’s ride. I thought that I might cut another 10 or so off tomorrow by stopping short of the destination – Twin Falls – and add them to Friday’s ride which is set for 38 miles. All a good plan.

The problem was that around 20 miles into the ride Google Maps went crazy. It kept trying to make me turn into a field when there was no road there. And then it would tell me to turn right in 600 yards, followed by an instruction to turn right in 1,000 yards and immediately followed by another contradictory instruction, none of which were accurate. I shut it off and reset it but got the same result. I then shut it down again and reprogrammed the route for a car rather than a bike. That seemed to work but the whole fiasco added about 12 miles to the ride.

When the new route led me to a freeway I reprogrammed for a bike route and followed that. That continued into even more deserted country than I was in before. (By the way, most of the Idaho I have seen is high desert that is almost as barren as much of what we rode through last year. Ale asked why someone- anyone – would want to live there, a question prompted by the fact that there were a few homes around. I have no idea.) This route was in fact aimed at Mounting Home but included 7 miles of gravel road. Despite that, I was feeling pretty good.

I stopped a few miles before Mountain Home and got a call from Ale because the clerk at the Best Western at which we had a reservation through Expedia wouldn’t let us check in unless Ryan Perez showed up. It happens that my Expedia account has my son’s name on it and though that has never been a problem, this time it was. When the clerk refused to even talk to me on the phone, I told Ale to find another motel and I would deal with Expedia.

While serviceable, the 2nd motel is definitely the lowest quality we have been in. But it is walking distance from the Mexican restaurant at which we had a good dinner. However, me dealing with Expedia cost me about an hour.

At any rate, I left the motel and headed for Twin Falls to shorten tomorrow’s ride. The route was an old highway through some very remote countryside with only a number of windmills other than the road itself to show that humans had been there.  There was NO traffic and decent but not great surfaces. At times there was a bit of a tailwind and no headwinds to speak of, unlike yesterday and earlier today. And the temperature got to as much as 104.

But it was a great ride. Mostly flat with some rollers. And, more importantly, maybe for the first time on this trip I felt good. Good enough to average a bit over 20 mph for the last 31.8 miles (in looking at my Garmin I see that over that distance I descended more than I climbed, 1,004 to 489.) And at the end my legs still felt good. Hurray for yesterday’s rest day. And, of course, that there were no mountains to climb today.

Well, in trying to avoid tomorrow’s 97 mile ride, today I rode 96.5 miles with 2,588 feet of climbing and 2.900 feet of descending. All at a good pace and while feeling good. And tomorrow’s ride is now under 70 miles so I expect to finish in Twin Falls and not add any miles to Friday’s ride.

My fingers are crossed that this feeling lasts a few days because there will be more climbing to get to Jackson, Wyoming.

Thank you for the additional contributions that have come in. They truly do make the riding better. But, more importantly, they go to a very good cause.

Good night,

Rick