June 22, 2010 – 58 miles
Shortly after leaving our campsite, Mathieu saw across a pack of wild horses.
Other than that, the riding was more or less monotonous. Every time we reached the top of a hill, we saw our road span for many miles, going through valleys and over small hills.
Halfway through the day, I heard a strange noise coming from my bike. My rear rack was missing one of the bolts that secured it to the bike. I planned for this and pulled out my bag of spare nuts/bolts. Fixed in two minutes!
I started getting tired and my pace slowed. Dozens of gnats swarmed my face. They especially liked going into my ears. It was extremely frustrating to have to swat at these bugs while maintaining control of the bike. Even riding faster was futile. The bugs would fly in my wake and catch me when I inevitably slowed. The only relief from the bugs were the fast/short descents when I could lose them completely…until my odors attracted more on the subsequent climb.
I also met more TD racers.
Mathieu and I met at mile 30. We would meet at the Sweetwater river 15 miles ahead. It was noon already and I had not eaten lunch, but I decided I could wait until the river. Those miles were heavily washboarded. I rode through a thunderstorm that dropped just enough rain to make me put a rain jacket on…then it stopped.
It was past 14:00 when I got to the river. The last section was uphill with a strong crosswind. I met with Mathieu and Auke briefly before they rode ahead to Atlantic City. I stayed to eat lunch. As I did so, the wind picked up and it began to rain/hail! In the Great Divide Basin!
I was happy to eat a large lunch under the bridge, out of the wind, hail, and cold. I knew somewhere ahead my partners were battling the elements.
When I finished my meal, I put on a lot of clothes – warm gloves, a hat, rain jacket, and rain pants. My fingers still went numb. Of course the sun came back out soon and I had to stop to shed the layers. The wind persisted as a head/cross wind.
It was a boring grind into town that seemed to last forever. I played games in my mind to help pass the time. Back in Dayton, OH where I am at college there is a bike path that I ride very often. I played a game in which I mentally rode it, thinking of as many details about it as possible.
Just before getting into Atlantic City, there was a final hill to climb. It was short and steep and, in retrospect, was not tough. But at the time, I was extremely exhausted. My legs did not want to push the pedals any more. I had a “Matrix moment” and convinced myself that it wasn’t my legs pushing the pedals. It was my mind pushing my legs. That thought helped me up the final hill.
At the top, I could see down into Atlantic City.
I arrived two hours behind Auke!
A burger, coffee, and milkshake made everything better. And there seemed to be a congregation of TD racers to talk to! We chatted and ate. When the racers left (they were heading into the basin at 19:00!), we went to our A-frame cabin and settled in for the night.
It’s cold out there tonight…good night to be inside!