Today was an easy day, well at least on paper it was. 60 miles and some change with only two hill climbs. A flat 100k is basically the Monster Cookie ride back home, one that I’m very familiar with and can usually breeze through even without much time in the saddle.
I was wrong. Today was very tough. Tough as any other day so far, really. It started with my muscles aching and butt still sore from so much riding. On the ride, I noticed my stem was missing a bolt. I must of lost it on the ride yesterday. Considering that the simple loosening of the bolt could mean my handlebars falling off, it could of been very dangerous.
At the first rest stop, about 14 miles in, I tracked down the bike mechanic. It took about an hour of waiting for my turn. Another rider had his shifting cables fray and it took awhile to fix. A simple bolt for the stem and a ziptie for my pump holder (it broke yesterday) and I was on my way. I was safer, but that gave the sun an hour to catch up to me and heat up the day.
I have to pat myself on the back for not quitting though. I rode up each hill, a bit slow, but steadily. “On your left” is a phrase I’m getting used to hearing as people pass me. It’s tough to ride with no shade in this land, but I’ve been doing it and not giving up. On some stretches of the road I’ve been going pitifully slow. I’ve seen a lot of people quit, and I don’t blame them in this heat.
This was not an easy day whether you were in cycling shape or not. I think I drank six bottles of water, 3 V-8s (for the sodium) and 1 can each of Cherry Pepsi and a sparkling lemon drink.
I stopped at one SAG wagon that was picking someone up just to refill my bottles with water. Funnily enough, I was only about a mile from the next rest stop. I’m not taking chances in this heat, so I consider it a good choice to not try and push my luck with no water and dehydration.
The ranger at the last stop lied to me, promising flat land all the way to Diamond. It turned out to be chip-seal road (hell on the tires and lots of vibrations to numb the hands) that gently rolled up and down. Little hills seem big after a long day in the sun.
Reaching camp was a welcome sight. The local kids cheered us on and handed out popsicles. It’s amazing how good one of those tastes after a long day in the saddle.
An easy ride it was not, but I did it.
I’ve learned my lesson on showering immediately after a ride. The lines are long and the sun is hot while you wait. The tent was also too hot to rest in. instead, I skipped the shower and took a little nap in the shade of a truck trailer. The field was used as a cow pasture, but after a hot day I didn’t mind.
After the shower lines died down, I did my usual routine of washing my clothes while I showered. I use my tent as a place to lay my clothes and let them dry.
Dinner was excellent. I had a plate stacked high with BBQ ribs, corn-on-the-cob, beans and cornbread. A bowl of salad and a slice of sweet potato pie finished it off. I ate dinner while watching a Bike Gallery mechanic do a mini-workshop on bike maintenance.
I stayed at the stage for the evening performances as well. Poems by Jessica ?, cowboy music from Coyote Joe, and a poem written and recited by the Harney County queen. She was nervous and forgot some lines, but the Cycle Oregon crowd cheered and clapped for her. After the encouragement, she finished off her poem.
The ride announcements came up next, and afterwards the Bike Gallery guys put on a bike rodeo performance. I need to learn how to handle my bike like they can, stopping and turning on a dime.