TABR16- Day 10

When I woke at the Rawlins Western Lodge, I was still very tired and very hungry. Much to my frustration and despite my plan, on my way to Rawlins I had ran out of food and went to bed without eating. As I gathered my things and packed up, I was starving. I was up early and made my way down the street to an auto parts store. My plan was to grab a tire patch kit there so I didn’t have to wait until a bike shop opened at 10AM. All they had was a car tire repair kit so I bought that and ditched everything but the cement. That would make sure I had a way to fix a flat until I could find a bike shop and get some tubes.

I then went in search of food. The closest place was McDonald’s and I wasn’t feeling real picky. I was surprised, but pleased to find fellow veteran racer Michael Wacker  there. He and I both raced in 2015 and DNF’ed. I was looking forward to seeing what he would accomplish in the 2016 race. I ordered big and sat down with him to eat. He was nursing a sore knee and was worried about the copious amounts of pain relievers he was having to take just to get by. He didn’t want to do permanent damage to his knee, so had made the decision to pull out of the race. I was gutted for him. What a difficult decision to make after all the planning for another year. Despite the somber mood of the occasion, it was a treat to get to share a meal with him. Once I was done eating, we said our goodbyes and I went my way.

On the way out of town, I loaded up to capacity with supplies at a gas station. No more running out of food!!!

The portion of the Trans Am that I was on was my absolute least favorite. Rawlins is just ok. Then just a couple miles down the road is Sinclair, home to Sinclair Oil’s head quarters and oil refinery. The stench of crude oil being processed permeates everything. Then it is 13 stress-inducing miles on the shoulder of Interstate 80. In my opinion, it just doesn’t get much worse than that for cycling. I muddled through it and was glad to have it behind me.

When I turned off I-80 and started south toward Saratoga, I was immediately confronted with a nasty head wind. It took almost 3 hours to make the simple 20 miles from the interstate to Saratoga. Add in the lack of energy from the previous night’s blunders and I was beat when I got to town. To make matters worse, I was well aware that typically the winds get worse in the afternoon. I found a ice cream parlor/diner on Main street and sat down to eat, recover a bit and make some decisions.

While I ate, I found myself doing all the things a racer shouldn’t.

  • First off, I wasn’t moving or asleep. That is never good. In the words of Mike Hall, “if you aren’t riding, eating or sleeping during a race, there better be a damn good reason why you aren’t.” I try to abide by that mantra usually, but my best excuse I can give is I was broken. Winds, hunger, disappointment of not being where I wanted to be and just plain being exhausted were all colluding to make things rather difficult for me and I was succumbing to the forces that be. Granted, I was eating, but I made a production out of it and was basically just wasting time shoving food in my face because I didn’t want to go back out there.
  • Second off, I was checking weather and  Trackleaders like they were going out of style. I was watching forecasts to see when the wind would die down. I was watching a few folks just behind me. They were closing in and wouldn’t be long catching up. I was also watching a few just ahead of me. I figured they were in the wind and hating it. I didn’t want to be out there hating it. I wanted to make the best use of my finite energy.
  • That all led me to doing “math” again. I was trying to figure out how I could stay out of the wind and make the best use of my time and energy.

In the end, I convinced myself that my best move was to get a motel room in town, sleep the afternoon away while the winds were worst. I would then get up in the evening and head out, riding through the night in conditions more conducive to progress and energy management. I went next door to Hotel Wolf, got a room and went to bed. It was 1:30 in the afternoon and I had made a whopping 43 miles on the day thus far. I hoped to make up for that in the evening, but the fact remained that the day was a bust.

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TABR16- Day 9

I spent the night in the no-so-elegant Wind River Motel mostly because I like it. The rooms are old and the furnishings are scant, but it just felt right for me to be there. That and the rate was super cheap!

I slept longer than I should have and once up, went across the parking lot to the Village Cafe/Daylight Donuts. I ate a huge breakfast plus a couple donuts and waddled to my bike for what I planned to be another big day. I was on the road by 7:00AM.

The ride was easy and before I knew it, I was in Crowheart. I stopped at the general store for a quick snack and was back on my way. I was trying to keep my stops quick and stay moving as much as possible.

In Fort Washakie, I was a bit taken aback when the reservation sheriff pulled out in front of me from a side road. There was no question he had seen me. I guess he wasn’t much of a cyclist fan. Oh well.

As I approached Lander, I was getting pretty excited. In 2014 Phil and Linda Cardinal came through my hometown touring the Trans Am. My wife and I happened upon them and spent an evening hanging out together at Country Days, a fair the city puts on the first weekend in June every year. Phil and Linda had since moved to Wyoming and we had stayed in contact via Facebook. They were coming to meet me in Lander, if just for a moment, and say hi! We texted a bit and it was decided I should look for them at McDonald’s.

When I got to the golden arches, much to my surprise I found race director Nathan Jones and his partner in crime Anthony Dryer in the parking lot. They were out on course, taking pics and video of racers and had backtracked from the front of the pack to catch some mid-pack folks. It was great to see them!

Inside McDonald’s I found Phil & Linda. We sat together chatting in a booth while I stuffed my face with burgers, fries and apple pies. All too soon, my food was gone and I needed to hit the road. We said our goodbyes and I went across the street to a gas station for, you guessed it, supplies. 🙂 Added to the extra food I had gotten at McDonald’s, my plan was the supplies would get me the 80 miles to the gas station at Muddy Gap, where I would supply up for the next push to Rawlins. I left Lander a little after 2:00PM.

Not far outside Lander I could see the sky turning dark to the south. I figured I would have to deal with a storm and a check of radar on my phone confirmed it. It looked like a pretty nasty little bugger too. I remembered Scott McConnell’s tale of being stuck in a storm in this very valley the year before. Granted he did it at night, but I had no intention of riding through it if things got dicey. I felt I needed to respect the mountain weather.

I rode on, crossing over the Beaver Creek valley, hoping I could make it to Sweatwater Station (where there is a rest area) before the cold rain hit. As I reached the base of the climb up to the Beaver Divide, I could tell that I wasn’t going to make it. The wind was picking up and the air turned cold quickly. I was still about 9 miles and a pretty good climb away from the rest stop. The storm was bearing down on me and I was in the middle of nowhere in a desolate part of central Wyoming.

The storm was nearly on top of me and I was looking for anything for cover. I noticed a guardrail up ahead. I figured that meant a bridge. Maybe I could get under it and have some cover? I rode up to it, leaned my bike against the railing and bailed off the side of the road to inspect what was there. It was a big concrete culvert, likely designed for drainage after spring storms and snow melt. There was also a gate in the adjacent fence, making me think that it was used for livestock crossing under the highway too. About 10’x10′, it was plenty big and I felt that it wasn’t going to be a danger of flooding. I went back up, grabbed my bike and ducked into my “shelter”.

At first, I was disappointed in my holing up. The wind blew a bit and it looked nasty, but not much else was happening. About 10 minutes later, as I was about to “man up” and head out into the fray, the rain came. Due to my limited perspective from the culvert, I hadn’t see the massive black cloud coming overhead that brought fat drops of icy rain. I got cold with the wind whipping through the tunnel and put on my warm gear. It absolutely poured for 10-15 minutes. Rain was coming down hard enough to make it difficult to see. I was very thankful for my hiding spot!

As the rain let up, the wind died down as well. After a bit, I got out and back on the road. All total, I stayed holed up in my spot for about 45 minutes. 45 minutes well spent in my opinion. I stayed safe and didn’t have to deal with wet clothes robbing body heat afterward. I finished the climb and the remaining few miles to Sweatwater Station, where I stopped for a quick nature break and to fill my bottles in the rest area. A quick check of Trackleaders showed that the pair of Jay Petervary and Mark Seaburg were closing in on my pretty quick. I really knew nothing about Mark, but Jay is an icon in adventure bikepacking races. If there was any way at all that I could remain in front of them, I wanted to make it happen.

I left Sweatwater Station with a vengeance, aiming to put down miles and do so quickly. Despite being exhausted with tired legs, I found the energy to push out near a 25mph average for the 15 miles to Jeffery City. As I rode, I decided to eat my food from McDonald’s in Lander. I didn’t plan to stop in Jeffery City and I figured just about everyone in the race did plan to stop there due to it being the only spot for supplies within a 80 mile stretch. A check of Trackleaders as I rode out of Jeffery City showed I was making a little bit of ground, but only just staying in front of Jay and Mark. I kept the “gas pedal” mashed.

I became a bit obsessed about wanting to stay in front of Jay. Then I realized the time of day. If I stayed hammered down, I would make Muddy Gap a little after 9:00PM. Would the station be open? I didn’t know, but I was about out food and had nowhere else to go. I kept pushing hard and had my sites set firmly on that station. Of to the south, big black thunderheads were soaking the mountains and providing a spectacular lightning show. At Muddy Gap, I would turn south and likely have those storms in my path. Then I felt the mush of a slow leaking front tire.

I tried to be in denial for a bit, thinking that if I rode with more of my weight toward the back of the bike I could limp the 10 miles or so to Muddy Gap, but soon enough I had to stop. It was a slow leak and I didn’t want to take the time to change the tube to only end up with the station closed when I got there, so I pumped the tire up and went back to riding. Just a few miles down the road and it was about flat again. I ended up having to stop and pump it up three times.

When I got close enough to the station at Muddy Gap to see it, I could tell it was a ghost town. It was 9:15PM and I had missed it. Come to find out, they had closed at 7 or 8, so the entire plot was for not. I wouldn’t have made it anyway. I sat down next to the gas pumps and opened up my front tire. I planned to patch it and save my last spare tube for an emergency. I had used my first spare when I flatted coming out of Kooskia, ID and hadn’t replaced it yet. When I opened my patch kit, the rubber cement was completely dry. Nothing at all. I was gutted. I scoured the inside of the tire to do my best to make sure there wasn’t a small thorn or piece of wire stuck in it, then put my tire back together with my only spare tube.

I now had no spares, no patch kit, no food, little water and about 50 miles to Rawlins across some of the more desolate parts of the route in Wyoming at night with storms looming on the horizon. It was now 9:30PM and the temps were dropping. It was shaping up to quite possibly be a really interesting evening.

All I could do was ride. I quit checking Trackleaders and radar. If someone caught me, so what. If the rain came, I would get wet. If I bonked completely from lack of food or I had a flat, I would walk. I had no choice but to just ride. I put my headphones in and rode across the dessert in the dark. On and on, just keep moving. Up and over a climb. Down into the Great Divide Basin. Then the climb out of the basin. I was hungry, thirsty and tired, but I just rode on.

Once out of the basin, I knew it wasn’t far to Rawlins, but all down hill. I was cold and ended up putting on everything I had. I even had my puff coat on with my rain jacket over it. As I started to see the lights of town, I was getting excited. I had made it! It was 1:30AM.

Upon reaching Rawlins, I was gutted again to find nothing open. Every gas station and restaurant was closed. Nothing to eat at all. Later I would have the chance to chat with Jay and he told me about a diner on the bypass that stays open all night. I had followed the Trans Am route through town and missed it. Dejected, I went to look for a hotel.

I stopped at the same one I stayed at in 2015, Rawlins Western Lodge. The door was open, but to my surprise, there was a note that said they were closed and would be open at 10AM. There was also a note that said that if guests needed someone, to push a doorbell button there. I needed a room and wasn’t going anywhere until I had one. I pushed the button…and then again….and then again. Finally the woman came to the desk, sleepy eyed. I had obviously woken her. I apologized and said I need a room and asked if they had vacancy. She muttered things and began checking me in. In her frustration, she said something to the effect of, “can’t you read?”, referring to the sign that they were closed. I said, “do you want my money or not?” She finished the transaction and gave me a key. I thanked her and found my room down the hall. I felt bad about the way I reacted to her, but she had been a bit rude. In the end, I guess I was at fault for ignoring the sign. It is easy for me to get snippy when I am exhausted and hungry.

After having wandered around town looking for food, then the checking in process, it was getting pretty late. There was guest laundry facilities just down the hall from my room. I put my clothes in then went to shower. I came back then and put clothes in the dryer and set an alarm to get up and get them when they were done. Then I went to sleep “for real”. What a day. I finished the day with 210 miles. I was good with that, thinking that the next day I would be in Colorado!!!

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TABR16- Day 8

After a disappointing day 7, I woke at the Driftwater Resort to my alarm at 4:00AM with renewed vigor. Day 8 would be a much better day and I was going to make it happen!

I gathered everything and hit the road quickly. It was a cold morning, but I was prepared with the kit I had. I made pretty quick work of the route along Quake and Hebgen Lakes, then made my way into West Yellowstone for a super fast breakfast at McDonalds. I ran across the street to a gas station for supplies and a nature break, then headed for Yellowstone. I spent a total of 15 minutes in town. I was bound and determined to get as far as possible into the park before the throng of people came.

Being the 100th anniversary of the national park service and the fact that it was Yellowstone on a Saturday in June, I figured the park would be crawling with tourists and traffic jams. I have traveled through this part of Yellowstone 3 times prior to this trip, so I had no desire to see anything except for the miles flying by. I went through the west gate about 8:00AM and after paying my fare, didn’t slow down until Grant Village. I passed right by every spot to stop and see something, right by all the traffic stopped to look at buffalo (I just rode on the small shoulder right passed them) and right by the buffalo themselves as they stood in the road. I was a little sketched out by the beasts being that close, but I figured as long as they were there, the cars couldn’t get by and I would have smooth sailing on the other side.

At one point I needed to pee REALLY bad, but I was climbing one of the passes in the park and the traffic was too heavy to just stop and go along the road. I decided that at the next little pullout, I would go up in the woods and take care of business. When that next pullout came, I started to slow down, but noticed a bike in the woods just a few yards off the road. Upon further inspection I saw the bikepacking bags on the bike and a bivy on the ground. I knew then it was a racer, so I never put a foot down, kept riding and tried to be as quiet as possible so as not to wake them. Every person I could pass made me feel a bit better about my debacle from the day before. Later I would look at Trackleaders and see it was Lee Fancourt taking a nap.

I made the 51 miles from West Yellowstone to Grant Village in right at 4 hours. I was super pleased with that given it was through the park with traffic and several significant climbs. I resupplied there and tore off again, aimed at getting over Togwotee before the night was over.

As I came out of Yellowstone and into Tetons, the weather was beginning to turn. Clouds were moving in and there was a bit of cold rain. The mosquitos were atrocious as well! I stopped at the station at the turn to Colter Bay, then headed off again. Just up the rode about a mile I came across two young guys who were obviously touring and had one of their bikes turned over changing a tire. I stopped to make sure they were ok and found they weren’t. The new tire they were installing was super tight and they had been trying for an hour to get it on the rim. I put the tire on for them and asked if they needed help airing it up. They blushed and said no, so I left them be and headed on. Later, when I got home after the race, they got in contact with me as they came through my home town. Come to find out I had punctured the tube with the tire levers while putting that tire on and they had to do it over! What a dope! They were good sports about it all and just grateful that I stopped to help. They mentioned I was the first racer they met as the others wouldn’t stop. That made be feel good. It is a race, but sometimes you gotta let it go.

My view of the Tetons was obscured by clouds as I rode passed Jackson Lake. No matter. I kept rolling with intent. Soon I made the turn at Moran Junction and headed East for Togwotee Pass. As I passed the Hatchet Resort at the base of the climb, cold rain began again. It set in and made things a bit nasty. I was fine with it. I was staying warm by climbing. The digital highway sign stating “Stay in your car!!!! Bears on the road!!!” didn’t help though. I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to combat that. I just made as much noise as I could, singing and talking to myself as I climbed in the rain.

Half way up the pass (or so), I stopped at Togwotee Mountain Lodge and went inside for some food. I knew at this point that I would make it over the pass that night, but I wasn’t sure I would get to Dubois in time to get any food, so it was a no brainer to me. I wasn’t going to go through the same thing that I did in Twin Bridges. After a quick meal, I headed back out into the rain and fleeting light of day to finish the climb. It was only 7:00, but with the clouds and rain, it seemed pretty dark.

The remainder of Togwotee was fairly uneventful. Toward the end of the climb, the rain stopped. I never saw a grizzly, but it wasn’t for lack of watching. At the top, I stopped and put on clothes for the descent. It was cold and wet and I was a bit sketched by the curvy, wet road in the earliest, steepest part, but it was uneventful as well. I did have a few times where there were deer very near the road on my way down. That always makes me nervous, thinking they may run out in front of me. Nothing doing. They would look up as I passed, but then return to grazing. A few miles down, I stopped at Lava Lodge for a cup of coffee to warm up. It was a short stop, but a nice respite from the cold of coming off the mountain.

The sun set and I finished the ride into Dubois, pronounced DO-boys. Just ask the locals. As I came into town, I was pleased that I stopped at Togwotee Lodge for a meal. Nothing was open. I passed by a couple of chain hotels at the western edge of town and headed for a particular mom & pop place that I have stayed at before. The Wind River Motel is a 1940’s era place. Not much in the name of accommodations, but it suits me fine. As I was pulling in the lot, the old lady that runs the place was shutting the lights out in the office. I rushed over and she was gracious enough to rent me a room. I thanked her, did our business, took the key and found my room for the night.

In the end, I made 188 miles on the day. Not an earth shattering amount, but not bad considering it was through the parks and over the second highest pass on the route (9658′). Much better than the day prior. I went to sleep, pleased with my come back and anxious to make more headway the next day.

 

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TABR16- Day 7

I had arrived at Twin Bridges the night before a little after 9:30PM, right at dark. Upon further inspection, I had no food left so I went to bed hungry. I set my alarm for 4AM with the intent on making a huge push the next day. I really wanted to make it through Yellowstone, the Tetons and over Togwotee Pass, but it was going to take all I could muster. From Twin Bridges it would be right at 275 miles with a boat load of climbing to pull it off.

As I lay sleeping, I was awoken by the sound of a couple guys just outside the camp/hostel. I remember being able to tell by what they were saying and the fact that they were shining a flashlight through the windows that they were up to no good. I tried to lay there, hoping they would see me, move along and I could continue my sleep. Whether they saw me or not, they came inside the hostel and started making a bunch of noise. I abruptly sat up in my bivy and gave them a stern “HEY!” At that point I realized that they had NOT seen me because I scared the crap out of them! They gave a half-hearted apology and took off. My guess is they were partying or something and were looking for a place to sleep or hang out. Either way, at that point, I was up. I believe it was a little before 4AM. I HATE being woke up before my alarm!

I got up, gathered my things, put on my warm gear (because it was COLD!) and got moving. I wanted to have a big day, so I figured I might as well start it early.

I rolled down the main drag of Twin Bridges, praying something would be open, but those prayers were in vain. Having not eaten the night before, my hunger was multiplied. With nothing else to do except ride, I rode on out of town. I needed to stay moving to stay warm. Hopefully one of the little towns just down the road would have something open early. It was only 10 miles to Sheridan. I would try my luck there.

As I rode, I warmed quickly, but I had absolutely no power. None. Without eating before bed, I hadn’t restored my needed glycogen stores and that meant zero energy. I was screwed. It took me over an hour to make the short 10 miles to Sheridan. I was zonked and needed food bad. The worst part was when I got to Sheridan, it was basically a ghost town. Nothing open and nobody around. I found a diner that would open at 7AM, but it was only 5:20AM. All I could do was wait. I found a park two blocks away and found a bench to hang out on. I wanted to get my bivy out to nap and also stay warm, but there were signs that said no overnight camping. I put on all the clothes I had and sat, watching the seconds tick by.

After what seemed like eternity, it was finally 7:00 and I slowly rolled to the diner. I went in and ordered a huge breakfast as well as coffee to warm me up. It was so good to eat! I ate more than any two people should and started to feel a bit better. At least I was warming up. I paid my bill and went down the block to a gas station that was now open for supplies. I probably over did it on that shopping trip, not wanting to be without again. When I finally left Sheridan it was 7:45AM. I had been up for about 4 hours and had made a mere 10 miles.

The next 20 miles were a slog, through Alder and up to Virginia City. It was all up hill and even though I had eaten, my body hadn’t processed the food so I was still short on energy and power. To make it worse, I had the pass after Virginia City to deal with. I knew it was steep, but low on energy, I found myself reduced to walking parts of it. I just didn’t have the energy to turn over the pedals.

Once over the top, the descent off the pass was fast and right away I made it to Ennis. After a resupply and another meal at a diner, I was excited to tackle the next stretch of road. It is 76 miles from Ennis to West Yellowstone and a slight upward trending grade, but both of my previous trips through this area had afforded me a massive tailwind that helped me to dispatch it in short order. After the nasty morning I had, I couldn’t wait to start heading south.

What followed was one of the worst headwinds I had ever experienced. No sooner than I left town, the winds dialed up to maximum on the knob. The weather reports I saw showed that it was a strict and steady headwind of 30+mph with gusts up to 50. It was demoralizing. Over the course of the remainder of the morning and afternoon, it took me 7 hours to go 41 miles. Even down in the aerobars, all I could manage was 6-7 mph. By the time I reached Driftwaters Resort, I was beat and there was no fight left in me.

I had stopped by the Driftwater in 2011 on my tour. It was just a short stop in their little store to grab some drinks and snacks. Fast forward to 2016. Before the race while spending some time in Hood River with Thomas Camero, he gave me a list of great spots along the Trans Am. The Driftwater was one of them. This time I would make better use of their facilities.

When I arrived, I went to the bar and asked about accommodations. The owner said that I could stay in the great room next door on a fold out couch, but I would have to wait as there was a birthday party going on in that room. I had zero intention of going back out for more headwind, so I sat in the bar area, eating and drinking. Markku came in at one point and sat with me for a bit. He contemplated things and decided to carry on ahead with the intent of staying in West Yellowstone, some 35 miles down the road. There was no way I was staying there. I did that in 2015. Way too expensive and just got lucky to find a room. The Driftwater was to be my spot. It would just take awhile.

I hung out, chatting with some folks at the bar and eventually the lady of the house came through and said the common area was ready. We went over and she showed me where to put my things, where the showers were and where I could wash my clothes. In the end, she started the coin op washer and dryer for me for free and offered me some snacks as well. When I asked her what I owed her for the accommodations, she said $5. I gave her $40, thanked her over and over and went to bed after taking care of my things. She was an absolute joy and so helpful. I can’t praise her hospitality enough.

I was very frustrated with my progress on that day. I made  it only 83 miles and felt like it was such a waste of resources, time and energy. If only I had planned my food better the night before. I may not have made it through that area without headwinds, but at least I would have had more energy with which to put up a fight. Exhausted, I laid down and slept well. All I could do was put it all behind me and let tomorrow be a new day.

 

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TABR16- Day 6

When my alarm went off at 4AM, after 5 hours of sleep, I can’t say that I was real motivated to get moving. When just a few minutes later I heard a door in the hallway shut quietly and the sound of a bike freewheel clicking as it was pushed down the hall, I knew Janie was up and out the door. I figured I had better get moving if I had any intention of keeping up!

I grabbed my things quickly and hit the road. As I left Lolo, I stopped at a gas station for coffee and supplies. This was where Scott McConnell and I had coffee after The Great Sprinkling of ’15. This time I wasn’t laughing- just trying to stay moving. I packed the supplies I bought onto my bike and headed down the road.

Over the course of the morning, as I traveled along the route, I stopped a couple times quickly at gas stations, but didn’t dally. There wasn’t anything of note that stuck out about the morning. At a couple points along the way I saw Andrej Zaman, the Slovenian racer. When I got to the spot in the road that is Sula, I had every intention of taking a good break and getting some food from the diner there. While I was there, in came Andrej, Markku Leppala of Finland and to my surprise…Janie! Although she had left the motel before me that morning, she unfortunately had went the wrong way from the motel and was headed to Missoula. By the time she figured it out, I had left and she ended up behind me. Not what I expected!

Everyone else came in the store, grabbed what they needed and left quickly. I took my time, enjoying a burger and fries, then loaded up with snacks and hit the road to climb Chief Joseph Pass. Chief Joseph is one of my favorite passes on the route and climbing it was wonderful. The mountains have such beauty and it is best seen riding a bike.

Once over the pass, I settled in for the long descent into the Big Hole Valley toward Wisdom. If I remember right, there was a little bit of a rain shower on that descent, but nothing too bad.

In Wisdom, as usual for June, the mosquitos tried to cart me off if I was going slower than 12mph. I quickly propped my bike up outside the grocery store and went inside for supplies. Janie and Andrej were there as well and I made quick work of the stop. I wanted to stay moving. In the race the prior year, I had started my day early in Lolo, but later stopped too much which forced me to end my day camping at a roadside park of sorts on Big Hole Pass just outside Jackson. That night I felt like I was going to freeze to death! I had no intention of doing that again, so I wanted to stay moving and at least make it down out of elevation.

Right away I was back on the road. I felt really lucky to have just enough wind to keep the mosquitos knocked down. Unlike the vampiric scene from 2015, I rolled into Jackson easily and without bug bites. I was feeling very hungry and although I didn’t want to take the time, decided to hit up a little bar and grill for a meal. Another burger and fries topped off with Coke and a Gatorade did the trick. While I sat, Janie and Andrej passed by chasing after Markku.

Back on the bike, I headed out of Jackson and shortly thereafter, up Big Hole Pass. It was such a relief to me to be over that pass in the daylight, much less at 5:00PM! I was much faster than in 2015 and seeing that seemed to spur me along.

Over the pass, there was a HUGE tailwind! Probably along the lines of 25mph or so. That pushed me along and I was flying. Couple the tailwind with the ~2000′ of elevation loss over 35 miles from Big Hole Pass to Dillon (minus Badger Pass in the middle) and the average pace was soaring. I passed Andrej going up Badger Pass and came off it feeling like a gajillion dollars, chomping at the bit to keep rolling and use that wind for all it was worth.

When I rolled into Dillon, I scanned every business I passed, expecting to see Janie and/or Markku, but saw nothing. That made me think that they had rolled on through and I didn’t want to get behind. I made a quick stop at a gas station as I went out of town, checked Trackleaders and realized that I had missed them somehow, as they had stopped on the other side of town. I got all excited thinking I would make some hay and head out ahead of them. I grabbed a few snacks and hit the road, looking forward to more tailwind.

As I left Dillon, I was smacked in the face with the reality that my tailwind had shifted and was now a headwind. Going along the fairly flat stretches of road by Beaverhead Rock, I was reduced to rubble as I had to grind against the wind. The road actually was slightly downhill, following alongside the Beaverhead River, but I couldn’t tell. I was crawling along, fighting the wind and averaging less than 10mph.

Just a few miles ahead, Janie caught up to me. She had stopped in Dillon and grabbed tacos for dinner. I had whittled through my stores and wished I had tacos, but alas, I did not. I did however have a bit of company as we rode and chatted for the 15 miles or so to Twin Bridges. She is a great soul and a pleasure to talk to. As I am a very social being, those bits of communication I had with folks along the way are some of the moments I hold very dear about TABR.

As we approached Twin Bridges, we discussed plans. Janie was headed to a small hotel in town. I planned to hit up the cyclist-only hostel/camp at the edge of town that was administered by the city in their park. We got there about 9:30PM and went our separate ways. I assumed I would see her again the next day somewhere along the road.

The cyclist-only lodging was little more than a thin-walled shed. Being right by the river, they had built the walls so that they were about 2 inches off the floor all the way around, I assume to help promote water drainage when spring rains and melt force the river out of its banks and into the park. This made for quite a breeze under the walls and plenty of bugs. I dug through my bags and found that I was out of food. Bad planning. I rolled out my bivy and laid down to sleep- cold, hungry and wishing I had thought things through more. Overall it had been a good day. I had made about 220 miles, climbed 3 passes and felt good about my progress, but my lack of preparation for the evening would come back to haunt me. Sleep found me very quickly.

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TABR16- Day 5

The dawn of day 5 came way too early for me. I ended up sleeping later than I wanted, but I was zonked and needed some rest. I got up, gathered my things, ate as much as I could from the hotel breakfast and headed out into a bright morning sun about 7:00AM.

My original plan was out the window and I was trying my best to just keep moving and hopefully make the very best out of my race. To do that, I would shoot for 250 a day, which would mean on this day that I should make Sula, MT, roughly 80 miles south of Lolo. Between here and there would be 27 miles to Kooskia, then 100 miles of gradual climbing with no services (sorta) followed by Lolo Pass. After THAT, it was 34 miles to Lolo, 40-ish to Hamilton and yet another 40 or so to Sula . No sweat.

I rolled easy out of town and enjoyed the plains-type feel of the fields on the Nez Perce Indian Reservation. That easy feeling was brought to an abrupt end as I descended down Lamb Grade, arguably one of the steepest, curvy and in my opinion sketchiest roads of the entire Trans Am. Dropping 1400′ in just 3 miles down a crooked little country road with no shoulders or guard rails, Lamb Grade insured that I wouldn’t come off my bike due to my flexed gluteus. It’s a beautiful ride, but man was I cautious.

Once at the bottom, I spent the next few miles into Kooskia trying to relax. I was more than a bit tense after that descent! In Kooskia, I loaded up on supplies and prepared for the long stretch of remoteness along the Lochsa River toward Lolo Pass. As I left town, I had my first flat. What a difference this year was compared to my other trips! At this point in prior journeys, I would have had 10 flats. Chalk it up to luck more than anything, but I’m sure the fact that I only had 10.5lbs of gear helped to reduce them as well.

The ride along the Lochsa is one of my favorite stretches of the Trans Am. It is literally 100 miles of gentle grade alongside a beautiful mountain river that is surrounded by nothing but mountains and evergreen trees. It is absolutely stunning. I took it all in as I went, doing my best to enjoy this moment. It just doesn’t get any better.

By late afternoon, I reached the end of my time with the river and turned toward Lochsa Lodge. I was really looking forward to a good meal and some cold drinks. I went inside the restaurant, ordered a big burger and fries with a Coke and proceeded to chow down. As I finished my meal, Janie Hayes came in. She was looking a bit worse for wear, but as usual, she was in fantastic spirits. She quickly ordered some nachos if I remember right and got to scarfing down her food. I went across the drive to the general store for a few supplies and got ready to head out. By the time I was leaving the store, Janie was out of the restaurant and headed over to the store! She was on a mission. As she went into the store, I left and made my way for Lolo Pass.

I settled in on the pass and found my groove. Some folks don’t care for Lolo, but I think it is a great climb. It just doesn’t seem that bad to me. Not that I am some great climber. By the time I reached the top, I needed to go to the rest area found there and use the facilities. I didn’t dally and as I got back on the road, I turned to see Janie summiting the pass. It was a treat to get to share that moment of triumph.

The two of us began the descent off the east side of the pass and quickly I was getting away from her. At nearly twice her size, gravity was my friend. In short order the grade leveled and we got the opportunity to chat a bit as we rode along. The miles passed quickly and we discussed our plans for the night. With a storm on the southeastern horizon, flashing lightening through thunderheads, we both decided that we would stop in Lolo and not risk having to bivy in cold mountain rain. In what seemed like no time, the 30 miles to the town of Lolo were gone. At that point I saw the advantages of riding near someone. It is truly no comparison to riding alone.

It was after 10:15PM when we got to town and many of the businesses were closed. After trying to get food at a couple different places, we came upon a McDonalds and grabbed big orders of food to go. We both then went across the highway to a motel and got separate rooms. We talked about sharing a room, just to save the cost, but neither of us felt comfortable with that. As we both checked in, the owner, who was running the front desk, offered us each a beer. Nice!

I went to my room, ate showered and hit the sack by a little after 11PM. I had finished the day at about 160 miles, 80 miles short of what I wanted, but I was over Lolo Pass and had made decent headway. I had to think of the race in little bits. Tomorrow is another day. I would start early.

 

 

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TABR16- Day 4

I woke in my hotel room in Baker City a bit dazed and not sure that I wanted to leave the coziness of a bed to go out and ride through the lonely Eastern Oregon desert at night, but I quickly gathered my things and headed out. As I left town, I went by a gas station and supplied up, prepared for a night without services.

As I left the lights of Baker behind and climbed the hill outside of town, I was afforded a fantastic view. I didn’t pause to take it in, but instead glanced over my shoulder a few times and plunged into the desert with intent. I really wanted to have my next sunrise be in Idaho, but there were a few obstacles to deal with to make it happen so I needed to “make hay” as Grandma would’ve said.

As I dropped into the desert, the road came alongside the Powder River. Soon I was in the gorge of sorts that the river flows through. There wasn’t much pedaling to do and I coasted along, enjoying the night. A few times rats would run across the road in front of me. This made me a bit nervous. I wasn’t afraid of the rats, but rather what might happen if I ran one over. Would it send my careening off the road and into the river? Who knows. Twice I saw big owls in the road in front of me, perched upon one of the aforementioned rats that they had caught. It was a little disturbing to suddenly see a 2′ tall bird standing in the road in front of you, mostly because my light system didn’t give me a great amount of time to deal with going around them and they had zero interest in moving. I could kick my head lamp on high and have a better view, but it would only last a few hours in that mode. Better to leave in on low and conserve the battery. That did mean I would need to be careful of the wildlife.

I went miles without seeing a soul or even a car, then suddenly there was a vehicle behind me. I could tell it was a pickup truck and strangely it refused to go around on the winding road. Without a shoulder to get off on, I felt a bit trapped, but continued to ride. They never honked the horn or got too close, just far enough away. I let myself get a bit creeped out by it when they seemed to be staying behind me way too long and refused to pass. After what seemed like a very long way, I came up on a straight stretch of sorts and the truck went around. It was an old beater with a wooden rack across the back of the cab in the bed of the truck. Sticking up from the rack prominently as they went by was a shovel and an axe. My mind immediately went to crazy-axe-murderer thoughts. I carried on in the dark, once again alone with the stars, the river and the rats.

A mile or so farther down the road, I saw the sign for a rest area. I remembered this little spot and had stopped there in both of my previous bike trips on the Trans Am, but both of those had been during the day. This night I didn’t need to stop, but curious of my surroundings, I kicked my light up on high to scan the small parking area, thinking there might just be another racer hunkered down there. No racers were lit by my beam, but there was the axe-murdering-beater pickup, sitting parked, engine off, lights off and in my mind at least, stalking me.

I bolted. Not initially, as I didn’t want to give anyone the thought that I knew I was being chased, but rather slowly built up speed until I was around the next corner and then I laid it all out. I just wanted to get to Richland! Around each corner I watched for headlights behind me and prayed to see some in front of me coming the other way. If I was going to die, I wanted witnesses! I saw neither and soon made my way into Richland. Looking back now, I am sure it was all on the up and up. Nothing for me to worry about, but in that moment I was truly terrified I was being stalked. It is really silly what our minds will conjure up when we let it run away with adrenaline and exhaustion.

Richland was all shut up. I paused outside a cafe that I have eaten at a few times, missing that part of this trip. Sitting down and chatting with folks at little diners across the country is one of the things I absolutely love about bike travel. It just wasn’t to be on this trip.

I left town and began the long slog of a climb up the unnamed pass Northeast of town. The pass was long, but the worst part was the descent. As I came off the pass, I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I was shouting, slapping my face and doing everything I could to stay awake. It scared the crap out of me. Once at the bottom of the pass, I saw the turn for the little town of Halfway in the pre-dawn light. There is a large wooden sign denoting the turn with a planter around the bottom. I decided to go behind the planter and roll out my bivy for a nap.

I slept 2 hours and was awoken just before dawn by a very strange sound. A thrumming sort of noise, at first I thought it was a cow mooing and that I was getting checked out by some bovine escaped from it’s fence. I realized as I woke that it was a bird, but had no idea what it was. Over and over I heard this strange mooing sound, just over my head. Having since researched it, I now know it was a common night hawk. Check out the video below to hear what I heard.

Back up and on the road, I made fairly quick work of the remainder of Oregon, cruising into Hell’s Canyon and across the Brownlee dam into Idaho. One state down!

I made the significant climb out of the canyon without much ado and rolled into Cambridge for a resupply, then it was on to Council. The slog up to New Meadows wasn’t any fun, especially with some rude drivers and a bit of traffic, but I tried to take it in stride as I was looking forward to the big drop in elevation that was ahead of me from New Meadows down to White Bird.

I ate Subway in New Meadows, grabbed supplies at the gas station across the street and headed out of town. Immediately there was fresh oil and chip-n-seal so new it had not set up yet. My 25mm tires couldn’t navigate it well at all, so I rode along a small bit at the edge of the shoulder that wasn’t covered with the goo and rocks. It was maybe 2″ wide. I was really bumming as it seemed that I would be in for a long haul of road construction. Not far ahead was a road crew stop sign and I was told I couldn’t ride the next few miles. I would have to ride in the pilot car. I’ll admit being torn as I wanted to make the trip within the race rules and under my own power, but was told by the crew that no riders were being allowed to ride through and the others in front of me had ridden in the pilot car as well. I took the ride and as we zipped along for about 3 miles, I found myself thankful I didn’t have to ride the chip-n-seal!

The road from New Meadows to White Bird follows the Little Salmon River and descends some 2500′ along the way. It is beautiful and hot. I stopped in Riggins for drinks and a snack at the same general store where I had sat at the year before with Scott McConnell and Andi Buchs. Great memories flooded in and I missed the camaraderie of other riders around me. I didn’t stay too long and headed back out into the evening heat, headed for White Bird.

When I arrived at the small spot in the road know as the town of White Bird, I was disappointed to see that the GPX file I had downloaded from the TABR website showed that I was supposed to climb the “new” pass, a boring, traffic-heavy grade with multiple lanes. It is the main highway through the area. I knew that the real Trans Am route went up White Bird Hill via a beautiful switchbacked road that was much longer, but a much better way to go on a bike. In the twilight I saw the lights of a couple other racers up ahead on the correct route, so I made the executive decision to do what I knew was right and ignore the GPS. The climb was fantastic and I was grateful to be there after dark so it was cooler. The only thing that would have been better would be to climb it at daybreak. It was a beautiful night.

Once over the pass, I rolled quickly to Grangeville, grabbed food at the 24 hour gas station and went across the street to the Super 8 for a room. It had been a long nearly 24 hours on the bike. Riding through the night, I had made 245 miles despite my nap in the morning and felt really good about my progress, but I was beat. I showered, ate while I washed my clothes and then slept hard.

Posted in Idaho, Oregon, TABR16 | 6 Comments

TABR16- Day 3

When I went to sleep in Redmond, I was in 9th. I slept 4 hours which translates to 5 hours down between renting the room, showering, dressing, packing and grabbing supplies on the way out of town. While I snoozed the heat away 9 people passed me, putting me in 18th. However, I was a “math” genius and would make up all kinds of time while they all slept through the cool night. “I’ve got this!” *Insert ominous sound effect alluding to the obvious*

I left Redmond about 7:00PM and headed off toward Prineville. It was still smoking hot out, but the sun was low in the sky and soon it would cool down. I was looking forward to that! In Prineville, I stopped by McDonald’s and ordered double: food for my meal then and extra for the night ahead. I scarfed down my meal, then stopped by a convenience store before leaving town to load up on bottled drinks in my jersey pockets. The road ahead would have few-to-zero services through the night.

The sun was setting as I left Prineville and I was excited to see how the night would unfold and how much I could make up on the other racers. I climbed up and over Ochoco Pass and was finding comfort in the night. With almost no traffic I was alone and OK with it. It was just me, my bike and the small beam that shone ahead of me from my lights. That lack of scenery to watch became mind numbing as the witching hour approached. As I came off the pass and down into Mitchell, I was getting tired, especially so on the descents. With nothing more to do than hold on as I went down the hills, my body was craving sleep.

Mitchell is just a spot in the road and is completely closed overnight. Much to my surprise there was a church-turned-bike hostel in town that had a sign out front beaconing cyclists to stay. They also had a cooler filled with water to refill bottles. I had prepared for the stretch of no services through the night and did not need the water, but I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer. I leaned my bike up against a low wall along the walkway out front and laid down on the ground next to it for a short nap. I had my alarm set for 15 or 20 minutes and got up with a start when it went off. Slightly relieved of my drowsiness, I hit the road again.

I rode on through the night, alone and sleepy, but making headway. As the sun started to brighten the horizon, I came into the little burg of Dayville. The mercantile was still closed at the early hour, so I went on ahead and stopped at the city park where there was a rest area with running water. I went in and freshened up, then came out and decided to take a short nap. Riding through the night was hard for me and the morning sun in my eyes was once again making me sleepy. I went down the hill behind the rest area and rolled my bivy out in the grass. I crawled in and set my alarm for an hour.

My nap was short, but seemed to do the trick. I climbed back on the bike and headed out of town. It was about 6:00AM and I was starting to get pretty hungry, having ran through my stores of food overnight. I made the 33 miles to John Day pretty quickly and went in to a diner for some breakfast. As I sat eating, I checked in on the race to find that my “math” had not worked out as well as I hoped. My original plan had been to make John Day by the evening before. Having stopped to sleep in Waterville, Redmond, Mitchell and Dayville, I was now about 12 hours off schedule. My choice to ride through the night had made up a bit of time, finding myself in 11th, but while I ate, two riders passed and two more were coming in fast. I made quick work of my meal and hit the road, anxious to keep moving and get back to some semblance of my plan. I would never be able to make up for the lost time, but I didn’t want to just throw the baby out with the bathwater and ditch the whole works.

I left John Day about 9:00 and began the long, 90-ish mile stretch to Baker City. There are few services and plenty of climbing, crossing over three passes along the way. Add in the regional heat wave and the fact that it was Day 3, there were parts of the day that were just a slog. I carried plenty of food and fluids, refilled when I could and kept moving mostly. The last 20 miles or so before Baker offered up a significant headwind to boot. I rolled into Baker City about 4:00PM, a bit scorched, tired, hungry and thirsty.

Having not learned my lesson completely from the night before, I made the decision to get a room in Baker and avoid the desert that lay ahead during the heat of the day. I figured I would be better served sleeping the afternoon/evening away and then riding through Hell’s Canyon at night, saving me from the heat and making up more “math” on the competition. I was back in the top ten and wasn’t too far removed from my plan, having put in about 230 miles. I grabbed a meal at the restaurant next to the hotel and set my alarm to get 5 hours sleep. This was opposed to my plan of 4 hours per day, but I thought that just a bit extra might save me from having to stop and take the naps along the way. I cranked the air conditioning up and slept hard.

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TABR16- Day 2

Day 1 was a win because I made 250 miles in 17.5 hours, but it was a bit of a loss in my mind due to a 2 hour nap that had to happen in order to stay awake. To make matters worse, I was so amped up when I laid down, worrying about who might pass, that I had a hard time sleeping. I did get some rest and was back up at 4:30AM, ready to make up for some lost time.

The gentle grade toward McKenzie Bridge was a nice way to warm back up. One positive from my nap- it bought me enough time so that a convenience store was open along the way. I had planned to grab water at the Ranger Station and cruise on through at night. The store was better. I refilled bottles, grabbed some grub and carried on. I knew when I made the turn toward McKenzie Pass what I had in store, so I settled in for the climb. It was nice to climb the pass with it not being so hot as it was in 2015 when I climbed it in the afternoon.

I made it over the pass and on to Sisters for another resupply stop. There is a great little Mexican grill in a gas station there where I have stopped every time I have been through that town. I grabbed more food than I could eat and ate what I could outside while talking to a couple other racers. The temps were really starting to heat up now that we had crossed over the Cascade Range and I needed to cool off. I went in the gas station bathroom (think 1950’s around the side of the building bathroom), stripped down and rinsed my kit out in the sink. Putting on the wet kit in the high dessert climate made me cool REALLY fast! I gathered my things, feeling some respite from the heat, and headed down the road.

The road from Sisters to Redmond was nasty hot and I did not have the tail wind I have had through that area before. By the time I reached Redmond, I was scorched and dried out. My plan had been to make Prineville before stopping again, but I was just too hot. I needed to get cooled off. I found a McDonald’s when I came into town and went in to get some drinks and cool down.

Temps were in the upper 90’s to low 100’s, it was 2:00 in the afternoon and I knew that the heat wasn’t going to let up for hours and hours. I did some “math”.

Side note: Doing “math” during a race is a bad idea. You will always THINK its a GREAT idea, but it isn’t. What I’m talking about here is looking at Trackleaders, checking where you are compared to everyone else (This is a REALLY bad idea) and making assumptions on what the people in front or behind you will “surely have to do because of ______”. (Insert headwind, rain, heat, lack of services, whatever in that blank.) Basically what is happening here is you are having some adversity and you are trying to find a way out of it or to reduce it. You THINK that the others around you will have to slow down, sleep, eat, etc, but the reality is they won’t. This “math” you are doing is a head game with yourself that will end in you doing exactly what you think the others will have to do and you will end up way behind.

After my “math”, I came to the realization that it was super hot and it would cool down later after the sun went down. I was at that time in 9th overall, so the folks in front of me, for the most part, had ridden through the night and would need sleep that evening. If I grabbed a hotel room in Redmond, slept through the heat, then rode through the night, I would make up for some lost time from the night before and make up for any ground that the crazy people out in front of me would make while I slept. I sleep while they ride in heat, then they sleep while I ride in cool. Genius!!!

So that is what I did. I grabbed a hotel room in Redmond with the plan that I would sleep 4 hours and roll out a little before dark. The shower was nice and the air conditioning was nicer. I was cool and slept well in a very dark hotel room. Bad news was that I was now really off my plan and I had only made about 100 miles on the day since my sleep in the post office at Walterville. I hoped to make up the difference riding through the night ahead. Surely the others would have to stop, right???

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TABR16- Day 1

I must admit, that I write this account somewhat reluctantly. Overall, I feel like I am done with Trans Am Bike Race (TABR) for now and I would rather leave it “there”, but I have a part of me that feels obligated to write it down. If anything, so I can go back at a later date and try to convince myself not to do it again, but that thought should probably reside at the end of this account instead of here. I’ll get to that later. For now, lets just look at what happened. I’ll spare you too much introduction and explanation of my history with this route/race. If you want that you can read my previous accounts.

I came into the race this year better prepared and armed with my experience from DNF’ing last year. Of my goals I set for preparedness, I had accomplished most of them. I hadn’t done all the speed work that I wanted to and I was heavier (my body) than I wanted to be, but my overall kit was pared down and much lighter than before. I was also very familiar with said kit and had gotten out numerous times over the winter and spring to use it. I had researched things to absolute death and felt that I had the best setup I could amass without spending more than I was comfortable with. I had put in plenty of miles and had the success at Trans Iowa in April (a 340 mile gravel race) under my belt. I had a specific plan to ride roughly 250 miles a day and felt that I was capable of meeting it. I had done plenty of reading, meditating and affirmation exercises to mentally prepare. In short, there was no doubt in my mind that I would finish and finish well.

On June 4th at 8AM, after a few words of wisdom and some photos, 66 riders took off on an epic adventure, some of us in Astoria headed East and a few in Yorktown headed West. I believe there were 57 riders who departed from Astoria, myself being one of them. The same as the year before, it was a pretty chill roll out as we went out of town, crossed the bay and made our way toward Seaside. I remember trying to take it all in, knowing full well that I might never see most of the people I was riding with again. It makes for a very bitter sweet start.

A few miles down the road things started to sort out quickly and I made a point to stay focused on not going too fast. My opinion is that there isn’t a lot of point in getting all worked up on the first day of a 4200 mile race. Just do your own thing and it will work out in the end. In preparation for the race, I had marked out specific stops where I planned to get supplies so as to stay moving and keep the distractions at a minimum. What that meant was that I didn’t go too fast, but maintained momentum. At nearly every convenience store I would see bikes leaned up outside as I rolled through. I made my first planned stop in Garibaldi at 63 miles. I was quick and efficient, having planned what to get.

The rest of the day went much like that, making my planned stops, staying moving and hitting my timeline. In fact, I was quite pleased with myself as the day progressed for having prepared well and sticking mostly to the plan. It was empowering when things got off the rails a bit.

As I left Pacific City, just a bit over 100 miles into the day, an old Datsun pickup went by and threw something at me. Fortunately for me, I had a Gatorade bottle in my middle jersey pocket and whatever they threw hit the bottle, deflecting the blow. Later I would hear about Brian Steele being struck with a water bottle at the base of the neck, giving him a concussion and ending his race on the very first day. Despite being fortunate, I was very annoyed, not only with that driver, but with the level of traffic. The coast is usually busy, but this year it was even more so because of the later start. Being 3 hours later into the day meant we caught the full force of the weekend traffic, where as in 2015, many of us were down the coast and heading inland before things got heated up. Speaking of heat, much like 2015, the region was experiencing higher than normal temps and that added to the things to think about. Being on the west side of the Cascades meant that the first day wasn’t too bad, but it would certainly come into play over days two and three.

Coming over the coast range was easy and eliminating the possible stops was a big plus. I came down into the Willamette Valley and into Monmouth on task and on track. I carried on south and made Corvallis right after dark. My planned stop at the edge of town was closed so I went on into the city keeping an eye open for other options. I knew that the route went a couple blocks to the west of the main drag which meant I would miss most of my options unless I went off route. I didn’t want to do that, thinking that my best plan was to stay as close to the route for resupply as possible, so I went on and hit up a McDonald’s in the city center. They took forever to get me my food and I was a bit frustrated by the time I left. I probably would have just bailed, but I wanted the food for later in the night, knowing I would be going through a long stretch with no night time services. Once out of there, I was looking for a convenience store to grab some other things. Across the street was a gas station, but they didn’t have anything except gas. I got directions from a local and had to ride over a half mile off course to get to the nearest store. I would have been better off going the few blocks off route on my way into town. Oh well. Live and learn!

Back on course and out into the night, headed south down the valley, I was pleased to find John Williams and friends at their racer rest stop. It was great to see a familiar face. I didn’t stay long, just long enough to fill a bottle and hit the restroom, but it was very nice. Thanks John!

Back on the road, I continued south and rolled through Harrisburg and then on to Coburg, which was where I had camped on the first night in 2015. It felt great to get there around 1AM, a similar timeframe as the year before, but this year we started 3 hours later. I felt great and was ready to push on, besting myself from the year before and staying on plan.

Over the next hour and a half, the sleep monster came on and came on hard. My plan had been to push over McKenzie pass through the night and on into Central Oregon the next day before taking a break to sleep. That would put me in great position to stay toward the top of the race. I knew that I could do this having ridden through the night before several times. Unfortunately it seemed to be beyond my control. I just couldn’t keep my eyes open. Frustrated, I found a post office in Walterville and threw out my bivy for a nap at 2:30AM. I set my alarm for 2 hours and laid down. I had a mixed bag of emotions. I was stoked that everything had went according to plan. I was 250 miles in on my first day and I was in good position, right then, but I knew that people would pass me while I slept and this two hour nap wasn’t in the plan. Tomorrow would be another day and my first day off script. How would things go? Only time would tell.

Posted in Oregon, TABR16 | 2 Comments