June 05, 2010
We woke early today to beat the heat. This area is expecting record high temperatures. While packing, I noticed that I had a flat tire again. I replaced the tube while eating leftover stuffing and a batch of Macaroni and Cheese. We were off to a later-than-usual start to the day…
The first 10 miles out of town were on pavement, but at a steady incline. I passed a group of geology students while climbing up a mountain. The leader of the group took my picture and told me the other two were only a minute ahead. I was feeling good – much better than yesterday.
The slow and steady 4 mph ascent was made bearable by a game I played in my head. I went through the alphabet thinking of a person w/ a first name starting with each letter. I repeated for last names (very difficult) and did another round for foods. This got me through the climb without walking and only minimal stops.
At the top of the road, we turned onto gravel. The temperature, trees, and shade were perfect. We rode through beautiful forest, up and down on rolling hills, passing what I’ve decided to call forest cities. They are campsites filled with campers, RV’s, and hotel sized tents.
We rode onward until we found a shady area by a stream to eat lunch.
Shortly after lunch while riding a steep downhill, my rear tire blew out. Usually, my flats are the result of a slow leak. This time, I had a very large puncture and tear in my tire. The guys were too far ahead to hear me call for them so I walked into the shade, flipped my bike, and patched the tube. Now 4 of my 5 tubes are patched.
Right before getting the tire back on the rim, Mathieu came back to make sure I was alright. We rode together during the next stretch, just in case my patch failed. It held, even as we climbed to over 9,000 feet.
Right as we turned onto FR 144 (a road known for being steep, rocky, and rutted), we found an open space suitable for spending the night.
We cooked our meals, set up camp, and went to bed before 20:00 – a mountain to the west made for an early sunset. I fell asleep to the sound of elk grunting in the distance.