Thursday, July 29, 2010

Biking Uphill, Both Ways!

Thursday, July 3rd. It had rained during the night. We could hear the thunder a bit off in the distance but I slept well. We awoke to dozens of mosquitoes trying to make it through the mesh of my tank but thankfully we were safe inside. We got up and ate breakfast and broke camp. I likely have about 60 dead mosquitoes in my tent fly but what can you do?

It was a beautiful day and it was early enough to be cool (although I didn't expect much heat at these altitudes). I was on the side of the road stretching when Josh realized he had misplaced his biking gloves. We went back and checked camp two or three times but simply couldn't find them. Josh was pretty pissed. Not that they were the best pair of gloves ever but I wouldn't be very comfortable biking without them. Josh was more pissed about the financial loss. Funny how the two of us see things differently. On top of that Josh's head was really starting to hurt. He thought his bald scalp was starting to get a bit burnt causing a headache and we didn't have anything to remedy it. Poor Josh is having a tough morning! On a separate note- check out my awesome tan lines!

We continued uphill. I was impressed how non-stop this mountain was. Most hills have some breaks, ya know some briefs flats or downhills in them. Not the Big Horns. Literally one long uphill. We made it another 5ish miles before the grade decreased which was absolutely wonderful! As we approached the peak you could see large piles of snow. Pretty damn cool seeing snow in July.

Only a few hours after beginning our day we reached the summit with what I'll call "pessimistic joy." I was obviously thrilled to be at the top but pretty pissed I had to go up the thing in the first place.

There were a fair number of people at the top. They had a little information station informing you the elevation was 9,666 feet. We had started at 4200 feet down at Ten Sleep. So we had gone approximately 5400 feet in about a day. Let me put that in layman's terms for you. Go out side for a moment. See that cloud up there? That cloud is probably 10,000 feet in elevation. Now go get on a bike and pedal your ass up there. Look like fun to you?

That's the equivalent of 4.3 Empire state buildings!

... or 16,000 apples.

So finally 16000 apples later we were there. We stayed a bit, ate, drank, took in the sights. There was a large pile of rocks at the summit as well, and I was kind of in the mood to go climb on them. No real reason. I just felt like monkeying around. Josh was a bit worried about time but when I put it in the perspective of "when will you ever be here again. Lets go check out the view" he was okay with it.

We started walking up towards the pile. From the road it didn't seem too far away or too high but the closer you got the more you realized this was not a quick 15 minute hike. We soldiered on though. I was still wearing my biking cleats which were rather slick. So I too my good time. These rocks were sharp and one wrong move and we could really hurt ourselves. Not to mention there were icky spiders all over the place. This photo should give you a little perspective on the height of this rock pile.

After what must had been an hour we reached the summit. I presumed it must had been another 300ish feet up this rock wall which would put us at near 10,000 feet. Short of taking our plane flight this would be by far the highest point of our bike trip.

The view from the top!

In fact, sitting there that moment, looking over the huge horizon I couldn't help but feel so accomplished. We had come so far, overcome so much! I mean we had cross the Rockies and biked hundred and hundreds of miles. Perched up there Josh and I felt like kings. We celebrated by eating pistachios and spitting their shells all over the mountain we had conquered.

Before we left I gave Josh the camera and he took a whole bunch of photos. Notice anything wrong with this one?

Our conquest was brief though and we climbed from our lofty throne. We had both been a bit worried leaving our bikes on the side of the road when we first went to climb the rock pile. We jokingly hoped our bikes were gone so we could give up with dignity and go home. Lucky us though, no one stole the bikes laden with dozens of pounds in gear. Shucks. In typical fashion I gave the mountain the finger and we began biking down the Eastern slope.

Screw you Big Horns. I won.

It was easy riding. We flew down the hill hitting upwards of 40mph without even pedaling. We were going so fast I even stopped to put on some extra clothes/my helmet just in case I fell (again). Josh and I were quite pleased to finally have some downhills. I mean, I had just faced 26 miles of continuous uphill. I DESERVE easy riding. On another good note we soon hit our 1200th mile!

Milestone 12 of 35ish!

We were joking and having fun, it was quite pleasant really. The two of us had a unhealthy obsession with trying to hit 50mph's on a bike. Here's my first attempt..

Shortly after my first try at 50mph we came across a hill. A little annoying but sometimes there are slight uphills on the downhill side. We pedaled up the inconvenience and continued our quest for 50!

We were about to start going downhill again when a truck drove past us and beeped suddenly as it crossed Josh. Josh was noticeably startled (although things like this happen all the time). When I caught up to him Josh went on about how the guy was a prick and bitched about what the guys problem was. Honestly it takes a lot to piss Josh off and I was a bit shocked to see him like this. It really got to him.

About another mile up the road we came to yet another hill. Hmm, well that's annoying. Josh was still pissed and he powered up the hill in a fury. I took my time- I already biked up a mountain yesterday. Today's supposed to be my easy day. I earned it.

Josh takes advantage of the slope and goes FLYING down the next hill! He actually managed to hit 49.9 mph and because of that we deduced the speedometer probably maxes out there. Good work Josh ol' boy. We continued another mile. Another hill. This was starting to get to me. I mean the majority of the distance we were traveling was downhill but it's taking me 5 times longer to go up this mini mountains. I was starting to get pissed.

Josh was starting to get a bit reckless, he was clearly still upset from that truck driver and his horn and started drafting cars and trucks on the downhill in a quest for speed. Definitely dangerous but I was getting so pissed about biking UPHILL the downhill face of the mountain I didn't give a shit.

After about 3 or 4 more hills I'd had enough. I got off my bike, picked it up and THREW it on the side of the road. When it landed a reflector broke off my back wheel and Josh picked it up, handing it to me. I took it and launched it as hard as I could into the woods. Josh burst into laughter over my childish behavior.

"Fuck this Josh! I'm not spending all day biking up both sides of this mountain! This is so fucking gay! We didn't get a break on the opposite side! It's just not fair!"

I sat down with my laptop and looked up the topography of the mountain vowing to walk up any more uphills I faced. Josh was laughing, knowing I was just super pissed. Somehow knowing I was even more upset than him put him in a good mood. He threatened to tell everyone I didn't actually "bike" the whole way if I walked up any hills. I got super pissed and didn't talk to Josh again for about 45 minutes.

At about that time we came across a sign saying "cautious 7-8% grade hills for next 5 miles" meaning there were no more uphills. I thanked God Almighty and flew down the hill. I literally spent 2/3rd of the day biking back up the mountain today. I'd had enough of it.

Once we left the mountains we reached the town of Buffalo. No fucking around tonight. It was already evening and I was hungry and grumpy. We went to a pizza shop and each ordered a large cheese pizza. That's right. Each of us dammit. I literally ate the whole damn thing. It was more to prove I could because after about 5 of 8 slices I wasn't that hungry. Josh had a slice or two left over and opted to bring it with him. What a pussy. Some day I'll teach that boy how to eat.

We went and found a suitable campsite for the night. We did some laundry, wrote in our journals and blogs and enjoyed some relaxation. We decided to go for a little walk through town before the night ended. We ended up just buying 5 kit kats each. Josh's head was still hurting a bit and when he went to inspect it he noticed his right temple was severely swollen. Inspect this photo again and see if you can notice (hard not to now that I mentioned it). We didn't exactly know what was up, but we decided if it didn't get better soon we'd have to do something about it...

Little swollen Joshyboy?

When we were going to bed I informed Josh I planned on sleeping in tomorrow because today sucked so much. Josh pointed out though that tomorrow was the 4th of July and he didn't want to be on the road late at night due to the likelihood of drunk drivers. It's times like now that I'm glad he's here. I would had never thought of that. Thanks Josh, take care of your melon-head, will you?

Trip Summary
Day's mileage- 49.7
Total mileage- 1236.5

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