Monday, June 20, 2011

Tour Divide Day 9.

197km. Reservoir to Lakeview.
Total time: 16 hours.

This was the first day in a while that I have woken up not in a pool of sweat. Maybe I'm getting better. Maybe it was the layer of frost on my bivy. In any case, the smell of sage bush in the morning was nice.

Luke and I took off together up the valley to Medicine Lodge Divide. At the foot of the mountains on either side was mostly ranch land. Field upon field of cows grazing. Nice looking cows, too. With those almost black coats. Luke amused me for a while with his cow calls. The calls were good enough to prompt responses from the cows. And the cows were pretty vocal. It was like a cow symphony.

I'm not sure exactly when I dropped Luke, but he was eventually out of eyesight and I just carried on up the hill on my own. Walking. Riding. Doing what I could to keep moving. At the side of the road were some cool little pink flowers that looked like wild roses but were growing as singles really close to the ground instead of on a bush. They were so pretty and looked rather out of place, though maybe this is one of the only places that they really belong. It is one of those things that you could easily miss if you were driving a car and that makes cycling such a rewarding means of transport.

With the high point on the pass, the scenery changed from a valley of ranches to a big, lush bowl of grassland that was carved out of the mountains. It seemed like the sort of place where photographers might come to get photos of violent storms. So, a wasted no time getting down while the weather was still good.

Once I was out of the bowl, the descent went through a canyon that made me feel like I was in a cowboys and indians movie, except that I always imagine it to be a bit warmer in those movies.

Luke caught up with me in Lima and we carried on toward Lakeview. The road was rolling, but flat relative to everything that we had done to get there. So, progress was fast. Finally! It was so nice to have a section that didn't involve climbing.

At about hour 11, I was thinking that today was what I had hoped for from this trip. Long, hard day with some good distance.

At about hour 12, the rain started. And it was cold. Very cold. And the road turned squishy. And, the wind picked up.

We pedalled on.

There was not much listed by way of amenities along the road, but there wasn't much we could do except keep pedalling and stay warm. It was so hard to stay warm. We were wet to the bone and it was so cold and windy. And now we were losing daylight. Fast. And our bikes were squealing like crazy from all of the mud that we were grinding through the drive trains. And our tires were squishing down into the mud and it felt like both tires were flat.

All that we could do was keep moving. It was getting to be panic time. There was no talking. We just pedalled.

It was 930pm now (10 minutes of light left) and the only hotel that we knew of was still about 20km away. That would be several hours at this pace. We needed to call to make sure that they would have a room ready for us. But there was no cell phone service! We passed a wildlife refuge headquarters and saw a house with a light on. Maybe we could borrow their phone?

A lady named Jillian answered and handed over her phone without hesitation. As she and her husband, Jeff, watched us shiver as I began to explain to the lady on the other end of the phone what we wanted, they invited us to just stay there for the evening.

Wow. Yes. Awesome. Disaster averted.

They made us hot chocolate and sat and chatted with us for a while. And they set up a futon and some blankets for us to sleep on in the living room. And they were so warm and friendly to us strangers. We were so lucky to be saved tonight. Oh, the kindness of strangers.
Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network


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