Monday, July 26, 2010

One Mile Marathon

Wednesday, July 2nd. We definitely slept in today. Yesterday was a long day though, so I say we earned it. When we awoke the Schwede's children were outside our camper playing. They asked a million questions and it was funny how interested they were in us. It was refreshing in a way. We could see the Rocky Mountains in the distance and knew we had a hellish day in store. It was best to get started. We said goodbye to Mrs. Schwede and got on our way.

I tried not to think about how horrible today was going to be. You all know how much I hate hills, let alone mountains. I had looked at all the routes and considered all my options. There was no way around it I was going over the Rocky Mountains. today The only consolation I had was the rumor the Rockies weren't steep, just high. God I was hoping that's true!

First things first though, we had to get to the mountains and they were 30 miles away. The ride was really pretty. There were all these red hills off in the distance. The photos (like most) do them little justice. It was fairly flat and a real nice day and we were making great time.

Oh, and Josh upgraded his head piece. He's now rocking the "Arabian Prince" look.

We arrived at the foot of the mountain to find a cute town called Ten Sleep. I had been seeing the name on my maps for days and it piqued my interest. We were both real curious where the name came from but there were more pressing matters. Were starving and it was time for lunch. The mountain slope was right here and I need to fuel up! We had a yummy meal and stopped at a convenience store to get some supplies.

We started chatting with the locals and they asked what we were doing. We told them we were biking over the Big Horns to which they replied.. "Really? I have a hard time driving over them! I can't even imagine biking it!" Cause that's what you want to hear. before doing this. We asked how far it is from the base of the mountain to the top. Turns out its TWENTY SIX straight uphill miles to the top, totaling a MILE increase in elevation. A mile high marathon indeed. Simply sounds horrendous. Seeing as there was no camp until the other side of the mountain we loaded up on food and water. As we biked out of Ten Sleep we came across a sign that satisfied my curiosity. I think we should describe everything in "sleeps!"

The hills really weren't so bad at first. A "pleasant" slope. Perhaps the rumors about the Rockies being gradual was true? For about 8 miles we continued up the slopes without too much trouble. I mean, I was still going slow and Josh was clearly making easier work of this than myself but I wasn't stopping. At mile 9 it all changed. The slopes began increasing, becoming more and more brutal. It was pretty though, have a look-see.

We kept moving, although very slow. We were averaging 3-4 mph. When moving that slow you just can't help but feel a bit disheartened. I mean you've been biking for HOURS and you're barely moving. You can't help thinking with each pedal...

"What if I hadn't brought these items? How much lighter would my gear be?"

"Okay, I've gone X miles. I'm going approximately 3.5mph. That means I just have Y more hours to the top."

And let me tell you, when Y is 5+ hours you just can't help but think shit this sucks. The grade of the mountain had to be as steep as Steven's Pass if not steeper. My body was obviously in better shape to handle the mountains but still- I was struggling. At the beginning of the mountain I'd go 3/4 miles or more without a break, but toward the end of the day I was dying. I'd go a quarter mile or so if I was lucky without needing a breather. I'm just not cut out for these hills!

The day was growing late and I was getting tired. In an interesting turn of events Josh was very adamant on stopping before myself. It was about 8:30 and we were about 8 miles from the summit. We approximated our elevation to be about 8000 feet and it was starting to get fairly cool. Being a fan of cold weather I thought we should trek on and just make it to the summit while it was colder out. I figured Josh owed me after dragging me out of Yellowstone at midnight. But he was pretty serious- he really was worried he'd be too cold during the night at the summit and I really didn't want to bike any further.

We found a nice clearing about 50 feet off the road and made camp. I gotta say Josh was pretty nice about things today. Not that it's easy for him to handle these hills but if I wasn't there slowing him down he definitely would had made it to the summit if not further. He was a real sport though, he complimented me on my ability to "keep up" with him today, which I appreciated. We just laid there in the tent for hours and talked. We discussed everything from God to how our bikes were handling. We discussed how we shifted and what we found most efficient and how we powered through the tough parts. We sounded like old cycling masters at this point in the trip. It was a really nice talk I must admit. About 11 o'clock we decided it was time to sleep.

As I laid there I couldn't help but think of those girls from the night before. There was no sight of the family at all today. Had the 9 year old girl made it over the Rocky Mountains in one day where I could not? Man, I'm such a pussy.

Trip Summary
Day's mileage- 51.76
Total mileage- 1186.8

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