Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tour Divide Day 4.

172km (including an intentional deviation). Columbia Falls to Holland Lake Lodge.
Total time 15 hours, including 2 hours stopped.

Although I did not come with a 'plan' regarding distance per day or days to finish, I did have a strategy. I would cover as much distance as I could each day while expending as little effort as possible. So far, this strategy has left me finishing earlier than I'd like to and totally smashed at the end of the day. Today was no exception.

I woke up feeling heavy in the chest and tired, but measurably better than yesterday. I took it as a sign that I was on the mend.

Sharing this isn't going to help my love life, but, then, neither is taking off for a month on a solo bike trip. Yesterday, I developed a blister on my butt. It is rather large, about 2cm wide and maybe 4cm long. Not good. I don't know how this is possible, given the amount of time that I have spent in the saddle this year. But it is there, and it made its presence painfully obvious.

The blister led me to adjust my riding style from a continuous spin to an out-of-the-saddle pedal-pedal-pedal-coooooaaaaast.

Near the top of the first climb, a bear walked out into the road less than 50m in front of me. Like, even with my wimpy cyclist arms, I could have hit it with a stone. But, I didn't. I was surprised not to feel scared at all. Maybe it was because I was too tired, maybe it was because the bear was just so chilled out. I stopped my bike and started singing a lullaby that I made up on the fly. He looked at me and then turned around and ran into the bushes.

Hey, I have no illusions about being a good singer.

I sang for as long as I could after that, especially on the downhills. Mostly beatles songs. The beatles have a lot of good songs. And a lot of weird ones. I seem to only know the weird ones. I may be surrounded by wetness, but I am not in a yellow submarine. And this is not an animated adventure. This is very real.

The hills got harder and harder. Harder than they should have been. My body is just not there. Hard breathing is leading to coughing fits and I'm now evacuating red from my lungs. With my shallow breathing and butt blister, climbing out of the saddle proved too much effort. So, I walked. A lot. I focused on staying warm and just keeping on moving.

I was totally exhausted and picturing the distance and profile to the next services. Not pretty. 5:45pm and 55km to go and a lot of elevation and I can only really walk up the hills in my current condition.

I wanted to stop, throw up my bivy and wake up tomorrow, but I felt that wet clothes and a cold campsite would bury me deeper. A warm meal and a dry bed were required, even if it meant showing up smashed in the dark.

As I approached a small stretch of highway that connected two dirt roads on the route, I could see some little icons on my gps. A restaurant *and* a hotel! Only a few kilometres off route! And on the road to the highway, there was a rainbow. Ah, hope!

The restaurant turned out to be right. The hotel did not.

Seeing the sign for the restaurant, The Hungry Bear, put the first smile of the day on my face. This had a lot to do with me being as hungry as the bears must be right now. It also had to do with Hungry Bear being a term that my Aunt Keli uses.

I ate spaghetti while watching the rain come down outside, observing the locals 'dine out' and listening to country music. 'I love the rainy nights, I love the rainy nights...'. You have got to be kidding me.

The lady at the restaurant told me about a lodge about 10km away. Holland Lake Lodge. As luck would have it, it was on route. This is one of the problems of preparing for this race in only two weeks. I should have had this marked on my cue sheet, but, in my haste, I missed it.

I only went as far as I did today in order to get to services. I probably would have stopped at the eight hour mark if there had been services. Tomorrow is forced rest. Maybe that means hanging out at this lodge all day. Maybe it means rolling on to Seeley Lake and holing up there. Staying at the lodge could be good for inspiration; it's gorgeous on the same level as Emerald Lake Lodge. Then again, Seeley is likely to have a pharmacy, which is probably a good idea for me. And a bit more progress will help me psychologically. I'll figure it all out tomorrow.
Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network


Blogger BikingBakke said...

even if they're tough ones, it seems from a distance that you're making all the right choices. a day in a montana lodge is a great way to spend a day, it just so happens that it's less ideal during a bike event. but perspective...

June 14, 2011 at 11:50:00 AM MDT  
Anonymous Elizabeth Evans said...

Holland Lake Lodge looks like a good place to recharge your battery. The photos look gorgeous, glad you made it there.

Thanks for writing this blog. It helps me understand a bit what my husband, JP (who you referenced on Day 3) is going through.

I'll put you on my prayer list. Hope you feel better and energized soon!

Elizabeth in Texas

June 14, 2011 at 4:49:00 PM MDT  
Anonymous Five Stroke said...

Way to go... TdA folks is with ya...

Five Stroke

June 14, 2011 at 9:41:00 PM MDT  
Blogger Cindy said...

out of the saddle pedal pedal pedal coast. That brings back some memories. When i bought a new saddle just before transrockies and bragged about how I never have problems with saddles.
I hope your blister heals up. I had some great luck with blister protection from the bandaid liquid bandage. It's like a plastic coating that you paint on your skin and acts as a barrier. It does peel off but last long enough. Hope you find something good for it. Not sure exactly sure where the blister is located but hope you can find something for it.
Keep warm! Keep singing!
Can I make a few requests? You have a great voice!

June 17, 2011 at 9:46:00 PM MDT  

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