Today was a lesson in humility.
The flags were flapping with a strong breeze out of the northeast (the direction we were headed), so I decided to go with strength in numbers and left breakfast with a group that usually rides at a pace that is comfortable for me.
Trouble is, I usually start slow and warm up for about five miles before I ramp up to cruising speed. Steve (pictured the other day at Teton Park in a yellow jacket) led the way out of town at a blistering pace. I knew within a few miles that this was not a sustainable pace for me for 90+ miles. When a tendon behind my left knee started complaining, I dropped off the back (after taking a pull at the front).
I would pay for that error for the next 80 miles.
Pretty soon I decided that finishing in time for dinner was my only goal. I expected to be on the road for 10 hours.
Relief came when we turned onto US Hwy 20 West. The good news is that got us out of the headwind. The bad news is that that is inconsistent with getting to Boston.
We rode through the crumbling town of Shoshoni. On the way out of town we passed what might have been a trailer park and might have been a junkyard, I couldn’t tell.
We headed into the Wind River Canyon and the day changed for the better. By this time I was riding alone, at my own pace, with no desire to try to keep up with anyone.
Wind River Canyon is phenomenally beautiful. We rode through three short tunnels and had lunch at the “Wedding of the Waters.”
White people are funny. Someone “discovered” the Wind River and named it (at least he didn’t name it after himself). Someone else “discovered” the Big Horn River (and also didn’t name it for himself). Only years later did they figure out it was the same river. Rather than change one or both names (or find out what the people who already lived there called it), they decreed that our lunch spot would be henceforth known as the “Wedding of the Waters”, and upstream would be the Wind River, downstream the Big Horn.
We rode into the town of Thermopolis, home of a hot springs. We were encouraged to stop and take the waters. I was afraid that, were I to get into a hot spring at that point in the day, I wouldn’t want to get out. If I did get out, I didn’t think I’d have 40 miles left in me. I looked, but did not get wet.
A hot spring at the end of the ride, especially with massage therapists, would have been a great idea.
At mile 80, as tends to happen on hard days, my feet were on fire. I took off my shoes and used my water bottle to cool them down. This made the last 13 miles survivable. Now I know why you can buy shoes with vents you can open under the toes.
I finally joined forces with Kevin at that water stop and rode into town with him.
Steve later confessed that his speedometer wasn’t working in the morning and he had no idea he was going that fast.
I finished riding at 2:30, about the same time as usual.
Thursday we climb Powder River Pass, a 25 mile climb. We climb almost 9000 feet for the day. The pass tops out at 9666 feet, and we ride >90 miles again before we say goodbye to the mountains. Time to get some sleep.