Transplant Athlete
Saturday, July 30, 2011
  Travel Home

Woke up early, couldn't sleep after 4:45am. Walt had an early flight and he was catching the 6am shuttle to the airport. I had breakfast, showered, shaved, repacked my bag. My train wasn't leaving until noon. I caught a cab in to the Amtrak station and had to wait for the ticket window to open so I could check my bags. Once I was free of my luggage, I wandered around town and found a farmer's market. Lots of organic produce and crafts, but also food trucks. There was even a wood fired oven on a trailer. I had to have a pizza and it didn't disappoint. I'm determined to build my pizza oven by next spring.
I still had lots of time to kill, so I did a little more shopping.
The train is slow. I've been onboard for 4 hours now and we haven't even gotten out of New Mexico. It feels like we're doing about 40 mph and occasionally hitting 60 mph. The seats are really big not really that comfortable though. No one patted me down to get on board, so we'll see how it goes.

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  Santa Fe To Albuquerque

We rolled out of the hotel individually, buyers on coagulated into large groups. We had great tailwinds and some descending for miles. We were spending a lot of time over 20 mph. There was some chip seal which I didn't like (I got hit in the face with a chip). We had some smooth fresh pavement and we had clean shoulders.
We had a great descent after the first rest stop, some flat areas and we went through a couple one horse towns. I got a slow leak flat about 3 miles before the second rest stop. I tried to ride with my weight as far back as possible. My odometer was slightly off, but I knew I was close. With the flag in sight, I could tell there was no more air in the tire, but the rim was riding on the tire, so I just rolled in.
Phil helped me fix it, but everyone who saw me was aware of how many flats I had yesterday, so I was taking some ribbing. My tires were pretty shredded at this point and weren't doing much to protect my tubes, but I only had 40 miles or so to go and I didn't want to buy new ones. From that rest stop, I had started drafting Bruce, but I just couldn't keep up. I made it the 12 miles to the next stop. It was downhill from there, but I was alone. I missed the "hidden right turn" at the Travelodge. I saw the Travelodge, but I thought I had to go another mile or two. I made a right a couple miles further and was able to pick up the bike trail. I have to say, Albuquerque has a great trail system.
At the hotel, lunch was leftovers, we were really early, so rooms weren't available. Lon encouraged us to pack our boxes by 4 pm, but I think we were done by 2. I showered and Barb gave me a massage. I didn't want to be sitting on a train for two days with sore legs. I then explored old town Albuquerque. They were also prepping for a concert in the square, but we were having our PACTour banquet from 6 to 8 at Little Anitas. The slideshow was great, I hope Susan sends out copies. We had a great time. Susan gave out the plaques and she really should have been a stand-up comic. Kevin Kaiser won the official Map signed by everybody on the tour for $1200 at auction. The proceeds go towards the charity work that PACTour does in Peru.

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  Chama To Santa Fe

Second to last day. The weather is good, should be a good day to ride. We backtrack to 84 south. Lon's running the first rest stop. Some people are talking about how many flats they are having and I think to myself, I've been lucky. I had one flat the first day. I had one flat out of Lake Village, although the patch failed and I put in a spare tube, that flatted, I patched it, and that failed. That was the last major tire drama I had on the tour. I was thinking it was all due to my Continental 3000 GP tires.
Two miles past the rest stop, boom. My rear tire went flat. As I rolled to a stop, I could hear air escaping from the front tire. I pulled them both off and fixed the front first. I inflated the tire with a CO2 cartridge and noticed that a small pebble was jammed between the tire and rim, I had to deflate the tire, pull the pebbles out and re-inflate it. I fixed the rear tire, and while I was re-inflating it, the tube failed at the valve stem. I stood up to put the wheels on and noticed the front wheel no longer had air in it. I fixed it again. I was last on the road, so no riders passed me while I was fixing my tires and Lon hadn't passed yet with the SAG van.
Once I got back on the road, I felt like I could make up some time. Lon passed me and I should have flagged him down for new tubes and a floor pump to get my tires up to full pressure, but I didn't react quickly enough.
We were generally losing altitude, so I was able to go pretty fast, but around mile 40, My front tire flatted. It was a snake bite flat. I fixed it and soldiered on, although it was getting really difficult to fix the flat and move on, it was just killing my momentum. I was almost at mile 44 when my rear tire went flat. I pulled over to fix it. I pulled the tube out and realized the patch had failed. I was just thinking about what to do when I saw the PACTour SAG van pull up. Bill had come to rescue me.
I asked for two tubes, and he offered to bring me uph to lunch so I'd have time to fix the tires. he said I wasn't far behind the other riders, but we passed his stop and Lon's next stop without seeing any other riders, that means I was at least an hour and a half behind everybody else.
I ate lunch and then fixed my flats (so my food would have time to digest) and then stopped at a gas station to use the rest room. As I exited the station, Ron, the Brits, and Anne pulled up. I drafted them as long as I could. They pulled off for a bathroom break and I continued on. They caught me and passed me. I made it to the last rest stop, which was something like 12 miles from our hotel. It was getting really hot out.
Andrew encouraged me to jump on his wheel as he passed, but I just didn't have the power. We hads some climbing to do to get into town and we were on an interstate. Rain clouds rolled in and it took some of the edge off the heat. Mercifully, a few rain drops dropped out of the sky. It was enough to cool my skin, but not enough to merit a rain jacket. Near exit #168 I got a snake bite flat. I patched it, but the patch didn't last long. I replaced the tube and limped in to Santa Fe. I saw Drew in town and he was a little lost. I went slowly so he could follow me, but he didn't catch up. He had gotten a flat in town and that's why it took him so long.
I went to dinner with Lon, Susan, and John Lake. We had wanted to eat on a balcony overlooking the town square but it really started raining. I had a spicy beef enchilada and the red sauce was so hot, my lips were burning. Afterwards we went for ice cream which is the popular choice on PACTours. The rain stopped and a concert had started in the town square. John went in search of a pharmacy, while Lon, Susan and I walked up to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. We heard the band sing "Big River" Lon and Susan went looking for a little shop and I went back to the square to listen to the band. They did some of their own songs and then did "Jackson"
It was a nice night.

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  South Fork To Chama

It was a cold morning in South Fork and we were leaving early. I took yesterday off to rest. I was having "Seat Contact" issues, but they felt completely resolved. With fresh legs, we charged up Wolf Creek Pass from the east. The first rest stop was halfway up the mountain, I rode right by it, I think most people did.
The second rest stop was at the top of Wolf Creek Pass. Kristin Ames turned around there and headed back to the hotel. Her tour was over. The rest of us blasted down the other side of Wolf Creek and on to Pagosa Springs. Just before we got there, we turned south on 84. I was pretty much on my own into the lunch stop. They had made meatballs and pasta for lunch and they bought some good ciabatta bread in town. It was really good and I wanted to chow down, but that has always prove to be a mistake (usually there's a climb or some other hard effort after lunch) so I kept my portions small. I didn't recognize any of the roads going in to Chama, so the 2008 RAAM route must have been on a different route.
As usual, I was near the back of the pack at the last rest stop. I pedaled on in solitude. Then I started seeing construction signs. Then I spotted a group of riders at the front of a long line of cars and a pilot car coming the other way. I sprinted up to them and it was a group of the really fast riders. The flagman made us wait until all the cars had gone through, then told us, "catch up." I sprinted off, but it turned out to be a really long construction zone. Big Mike passed me and I tried to jump on his wheel, but it was like trying to draft a tandem. He flew downhill and motored across the flats. I could almost keep up with him on the uphills, which meant I was off the back in short order.
I felt pretty good when I got into Chama, so I rode downtown, bought some gifts, stamps, and took pictures of the train and station. The hotel didn't have a washer or dryer, so I rushed off to dinner at the High Country Saloon, then rushed back to skype with the kids.
I had to do some laundry, so I put all my dirty clothes in my camelback and rolled out. The laundromat was supposed to be 1.2 miles away, but it was closer to 2 miles away.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011
  Durango To South Fork

I felt awesome this morning. I think we had a slight tailwind, I averaged 15 mph to the first rest stop. It followed the RAAM route, or maybe the RAAM route followed a route laid out years ago by Lon. I made it to the second stop still feeling really good. I joked with Ron Dunlap about tackling Wolf Creek Pass. On my way to the third rest stop, around mile 50, I just ran out of gas. I couldn't put any power in the pedals. I struggled to reach the third rest stop.

When I got there, Rebecca said she was out of ice and it was getting hot! I pulled away on to Rte 160 E and just melted. I was overheating, I couldn't put any power into the pedals. It was only 26ish miles to lunch, but I knew it was going to take a looooong time. I passed through Pagosa Springs and decided to pull over and get some ice and a snack, but then I remembered I pulled the money out of my saddlebag yesterday. I raced through the older part of town.
I ran out of liquid and I had about 15 minutes of pedaling to get to lunch. Not really a problem until I got to where lunch was supposed to be and it wasn't there, it was moved a couple miles further east. I was without water for about 30 minutes by the time I found the lunch truck.
It started to rain, so I grabbed some food and took shelter inside the red trailer. It was around 2:30pm. The climb is about 8 miles long and would take me almost two hours, but I'd need to recover from the water shortage first. The crew was scrambling to tear down the rest stop in the pouring rain. I made the decision to SAG in to the hotel. I was very disappointed I didn't tackle Wolf Creek Pass. Still, I covered 89 miles under my own power.
I got a massage at the hotel. I'll take tomorrow off. It's an optional 123 mile ride to the top of Slumgullion Pass, which according to my topo map tops out just under 11,600'.

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Sunday, July 24, 2011
  Montrose to Durango

We started out into a headwind. I was suffering alone until Ragan came along. He pulled me into the first rest stop. My chest felt like I had been punched, I'm guessing it was from the day before when my heart felt like it was going to pound its way out of my chest on the climb. From there we took a bike trail Into Ridgway, then jumped on 550 South again. We had gentle climbing to Ouray, but the big stuff started at the far edge of town. Lon was situated a couple miles up the climb with the support van. Karl had a flat but went through a couple tubes trying to fix it.
The climb was beautiful, but also a bit scary. There was no guard rail at all. In several places, if there was a shoulder it was very small. Looking over the edge you can see a thousand or two thousand foot drop to a creek down below. I got dizzy just looking. It was a long climb topping out at 11,018 feet. So yes, I had trouble breathing and yes I was one of the last people over. We had a fast descent into lunch, but then more climbing to Molas pass, which topped out at 10,910 feet. We dropped 1000 feet, but then had to make that up in 3 miles to get through Coal Bank Pass which I believe topped out at 10,600.
Barb was waiting there to support us. She said the front group got rained on, but I hadn't seen any rain. We had around 35 miles to go to get to the hotel. Luckily it was mostly downhill and there was a little tailwind. Bikeroutetoaster.com says there was 8400 feet of climbing over 112 miles. My time was around 9 hours in the saddle (my computer wigged out at about 85 miles) so that's a guesstimate.

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  Grand Junction To Montrose

I have to start off by saying the cue sheet was twice as long as all the others. There were a lot of turns to get out of Montrose. I would almost have preferred to just jump on I-70. We did eventually end up on I-70 for a short section. Once we got off the interstate, the terrain was pretty mellow. Of course we were climbing, but it was really gradual. It was also really beautiful, the canyon walls were carved by the little stream running along the road. We left the interstate with about 16 people in our pace line, but guys would go up and take a pull, then just drop off the back. I got dropped a couple miles from the first rest stop and the group that dropped me was just 3 guys. From mile 33 to mile 53 we climbed about 6000 feet and topped out at 10,829 feet above sea level.
I was pretty much the last one over the climb. I booked down the other side and when I got to lunch, I just filled my bottles ate a little pie, and jumped back on the road. The pie might need a little explanation...A couple days ago Susan asked me what kind of pie I liked. I said, "Apple." She went out and bought it, so I had to at least have a piece, but I skipped the rest of lunch. It was 99 in the shade and it was getting late, so I rolled out right after John Lake. I was feeling ok, just really hot, so occasionally I would squirt water from my camelback (which was iced) onto my legs to cool them down. Our route into Montrose followed a charity bike route, we could see their turns and they had written slogans on the pavement. The rough sections of pavement were dubbed "the cobbles of Montrose"
It was a long day, my bike computer said I was in the saddle for 8 hours and 45 minutes.

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Friday, July 22, 2011
  Rangely To Grand Junction, CO

The easy day and massage yesterday paid off. I felt pretty good leaving Rangely. I was the first one out, but I got passed on the road. I eventually traded pulls with Brian again. Fred Matheny came blowing by us with a line of riders behind him. Brian jumped on the back. I followed. I didn't want to take a pull, but Brian worked his way up and killed it on the front. Soon after, we were at the first rest stop.

I got out of the rest stop as quick as I could and drafted Rebecca and Chris for awhile, but got dropped. Fred and hsi group came flying by again and I jumped on the back. I got dropped before the massive climb. Then I got passed on the climb by a bunch of riders, but there was a spectacular view from the top. The rest stop was right at the top, but I didn't stay long. The descent was wicked fast and had lots of twisties. I got about halfway down the steep stuff when I caught up to a blue pick up truck. The guy had one hand on the wheel and the other on a cigarette and he was riding the brakes like an old lady, which meant I had to ride the brakes like an old lady. We had a long way to go to lunch, but it was mostly downhill. With a few miles to go, Thomas caught up to me and asked me if I was feeling ok. Then he asked if I wanted some water. I had a nearly full bottle at that point. When I got to lunch, he said I looked like crap and he just wanted to make sure I was ok.

There was an optional ride after lunch up to Colorado National Monument. I got to the turn off and thought I was really hot and there was no support on the alternate route, so I went straight for the hotel. We had a slight tailwind and I was cruising along, but I started to get the feeling that I was overheating. That feeling persisted all the way to the hotel. I had plenty of sports drink, but it was getting warm and eventually it was really hot. The temps were supposed to hit 96, but it felt hotter out there.


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  vernal to Rangely, CO

I need a rest day and here it is, just 52 miles with 1000' of climbing. soft-pedal. soft-pedal. soft-pedal. Everybody was taking it easy today. since the day was real short, I got into the hotel early and got a massage. Vernal was a small town, Rangely was even smaller.

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  Evanston To Vernal, UT

Right from the start, I wasn't feeling like riding. We jumped on to Interstate 80. There was a lot of construction and I followed another rider onto the active roadway with a really small shoulder. I got buzzed by a semi and then I took another look at what I thought was a closed exit ramp. It was actually the 2 eastbound lanes of 80...I quickly jumped the guardrail and had 2 lanes all to myself. Lon came by right about then and said, "What were you doing out there? There's no shoulder..." We had a headwind and the road had some pretty good climbs on it. The support van stopped at every off ramp to watch us go by, I was annoyed that they stopped. Then later, when they didn't stop, I was annoyed. Up until the day before, everything was good, I was really happy, so I knew something was up...

The voice in my head was saying really bad things too. "You're slow." "You're not putting out any power." "You should just go home" I pushed on to the first rest stop, but I was really slow and I had a 150 miles to ride. I was the last person by far at the first rest stop. I pushed on to the second rest stop and Ron and the Brits were just leaving. They had had multiple flats, so they weren't having a good day either. My speed was now just 13.8 mph, so if I continued, I would be getting in around 6 or 7pm. I told Barb I would be SAG'ing to the hotel. She brought me to lunch and Susan convinced me I should at least ride from the last rest stop. There was still a little bit of climbing from the final rest stop, but there was an awesome descent as well. I took off with Kevin Kaiser. He's riding a fixed gear, so his top speed on the descents is around 25. I blew past him at around 36. He caught up to me though before town and I drafted him into the hotel.

Interesting fact, when you get to the hotel first, the Tostitos bag is full...I'm used to showing up last and eating crumbs. Vernal had a dinosaur theme going, they are in the dinosaur diamond, an area where they dig up a lot of dinosaur bones.


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  Montpelier To Evanston, WY

We had some pretty good tailwinds going into the 2nd rest stop. But right after, we turned into the wind and we had 28 miles to get to lunch. I caught up to Brian, Ivan, and Larry. Brian was pulling and it looked like it was a long pull. I tagged on the back, they were doing about 13 mph. After a little bit of that, I asked them if we could each take short 30 second pulls. We bumped our speed up to around 15 mph. I did my best to encourage everyone and to keep the pace high, we slowed down when people were having trouble keeping up. It was working really well. I have to say, that some of the people on the trip are not comfortable drafting. They'll ride to the side, or they'll ride a couple feet behind. I'm not the greatest at leading a pace line, I never know what pace to be at and sometimes I push the pace too much.

These guys didn't have a problem with riding close enough to get the draft. We plugged along for awhile and we reeled in my roommate Walt and the we caught up to Tim. Tim took really long pulls on the front, which annoyed me, but only because I was getting irritable from too much riding without rest days. At some point, within a couple miles of lunch, the road turned and the wind was at our backs and Walt took the pace up to 22 mph which blew apart our pace line. I fell off the back, Larry fell off the back, it was horrible. We regrouped, but after that, they were riding all over the road, the pace was erratic. With 2 or 3 miles to go, I was dropped. Larry got dropped. Luckily, it wasn't far to lunch.

After lunch, I noticed there was some metal sticking out of my brake hood,it looked like a little metal pin. Barb (the massage therapist) passed me, but I caught up to her and we rode most of the way into Evanston together. I went to Walmart and she thought I missed a turn. Walmart didn't have what I was looking for, so I tried a sporting goods store right next door, but it was a hunting and fishing sporting goods store.

When I got to the hotel, John Lake pulled my shifter apart to fix it. We had it done in about 2 hours, at times it was pouring outside and we were stuck under a small canopy.


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  Jackson To Montpelier, ID

I felt really fast leaving Jackson, I kept up with some of the fast guys for awhile. After the first rest stop, I drafted Andrew and Bronwyn. Andrew is a machine, I was really suffering trying to hang on the back. At the third rest stop, Ron and the British guys came by and Ron encouraged me to jump on the back. Again I suffered. I got dropped a couple miles before Lunch and Rebecca offered to tow me in, but I needed to go at my own pace.

We had a pretty big climb after lunch and when I got to the top, I was sure I had more climbing to do. The road descended into a valley and all I could see on either side was really really tall mountains. Mountains to the left of me, mountains to the right of me, mountains in front of me. But, there was a valley between them and we snaked down through it. John Lake passed me right before the descent, so we were within a couple bike lengths all the way into town.


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Tuesday, July 19, 2011
  Lake Village to Jackson Wyoming

We had an hour and a half to go 20 miles from Lake Village back to West Thumb. I was making good time until I got a flat. I patched the flat and took off. Within 2 miles, the tire flatted again. I was running short of time, so I pulled out my CO2 Cartridge and filled the tire up and hopped back on. That got me another 2 miles down the road. I used my last CO2 Cartridge and was able to go another 2 miles down the road. I pulled over and pulled the tube out. The patch had failed. I put on another patch and pumped it up with my frame pump. I got another 2 miles down the road. I had to be at West Thumb at 8am or else...So I rode it in on the rim. I was 5 minutes late, which meant I held everyone up.
There is a section of Yellowstone road that doesn't allow bikes, so we had to get shuttled to Colter Bay. We then had a really easy ride down to South Jenny Lake with Great Views of the Grand Tetons. We had crazy hard headwinds into Jackson but we had plenty of time to get there. Kevin Kaiser and I rode together for awhile after lunch. I'm still having issues with eating lunch. I can't seem to put out any power after lunch.
I walked around Jackson a little bit.

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  West Yellowstone to Lake Village

West yellowstone to lake village. Chilly start. Wore dc rand wool long sleeve and was sweating within 20 minutes. Relatively gentle climbing blue skies puffy white clouds. Guide recommended detour on fire hole rd was beautiful. More gentle riding to paint pots mud flats and steam vents. Head wind though. Just missed old faithful by minutes, so ate drank, and waited over an hour. Got video and still. Climbing halfway to lunch continental divide 8260 feet. Was having difficulty with the altitude and pedaling. More climbing and a little bit of descending to continental divide at 8391' fast descent to lunch in west thumb. Then fast around lake to lake village. We're in cabins. Bison were sitting 50 feet away. Later deer came sprinting between cabins. Did laundry. Talked to kids early start tomorrow dead tired.
Post pictures

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  Ennis To West Yellowstone

Short day just 80 miles. The big climb of the day was to Earthquake Lake. The lake was formed in 1959 when an earthquake struck. The earthquake brought down part of a mountain onto a stream that emptied out of Hebgen Lake. The Army Corps Of Engineers had to come in with heavy equipment to cut a path through the landslide.
According to Wikipedia, 27 people died during the quake. While I was riding, I saw a sign that said on the night of the earthquake, 250 people were camped in the Madison River Canyon. The landslide had trapped them in the valley on one end, and the earthquake destroyed the road leading out the other end of the canyon, so the campers took refuge on a ridge. Together, they all cared for the injured and helped each other out. A Forest Service Smoke Jumper team parachuted in to aid the injured.
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Because it was such a short day, we ended up having lunch in West Yellowstone.
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I went for a short run around town and the altitude sucked the moisture right out of me. I got a massage to help my legs recover, I wish it could have been longer...

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Thursday, July 14, 2011
  Butte To Ennis

Short Day Hallelujah! We were supposed to leave at 7:30, so I brought my bike out to the trailer, but it immediately started raining. I hid under the van's awning and then it started hailing. It was pea sized, but it quickly added up on the ground. Needless to say, our start time got pushed back to 8:15.

My legs were stiff and sore, so I just tried to take it easy at the start. Eight miles out, we had a big climb, another one I remembered from the Northern. Partway up the climb I started to overheat, the rain had subsided, so I pulled off my rain jacket. On the descent, I remembered that Phil had put my front wheel on after I sagged and he mentioned that I should check it before I started riding. I didn't want to have to worry about that on the descent, so I pulled over and checked it.

I got passed by three guys. The first guy was bombing down the descent, the second guy was much more cautious and Arnold was right on his wheel. I had to ride the brakes most of the way down, it's not the best form to pass someone on a high speed descent especially when the road twists and turns. They were averaging between 35 and 40 mph as we got near the bottom. We saw a woman, parked in a baby blue Subaru at the end of her driveway. She was there awhile. We assumed she saw us. When we got closer, she pulled straight across the road to her mailbox. Arnold and the guy in front of him had to slam on their brakes to avoid slamming into the side of her car. They screamed at her and she stopped her car in the middle of our lane. I was about two bike lengths behind Arnold and I was watching her, so I had much more time to react. Yikes.

The first rest stop (at 33 miles) came by really quickly. I had arrived in the middle of the pack.

The second rest stop also arrived pretty quickly, but I got seriously slow on the way to lunch. I took some pictures of Nevada City
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Lunch was just before Virginia City. Everybody knows hotel check in is 3pm, so we had 15 miles to go and nearly 2 hours to get there. I pigged out thinking I would walk around Virginia City a bit and my food would have time to digest, but thunderstorms rolled in and I decided to take a few pictures and move on. Well there was a big climb leaving town and I struggled up it. I was barely managing 3 mph. The rain was coming down hard and thunder was reminding me that I shouldn't dawdle. Susan had pulled over to encourage me at the top of the climb and she was ringing a cowbell. She then pulled over again right before the descent. It was a real hairy descent. The rain was making the roads slick and I had to ride my brakes to keep the rims warm dry and ready to stop.

The wind gusts were throwing me all over the road. I figured Susan had pulled in behind me and was protecting me from traffic, but it was just to dangerous to turn my head to check (My rain jacket limited my side vision, so I would really need to turn my head to see if she was really behind me). The wind yanked my helmet up about an inch and that was disconcerting. I tried riding close to the white line, but it was just too dangerous (the white line is slippery when wet and one wrong gust of wind would have put me into the guardrail), so I took the lane. The bike felt a little squirrely under me, so I risked looking at my speedometer and it was reading 46 mph, that's with me riding the brakes...In the rain...And gusty winds...Probably not the brightest thing I've ever done, but I was under control at all times. Before Dialysis, when I was doing Chuck and Crista's weekend rides, I usually made up for my slower climbing by bombing down the descents, but I'm out of practice.

My roommate for the tour has been Walt Chapman, but tonight, we are in a cabin that sleeps 3 so we got a new roommate, Drew Carlson. We went out to dinner at Banditos in Ennis. Really good food. Walked around the town and stopped in at the Banking on Art exhibit. An art gallery in an old bank. Skyped the wife and kids (amazing technology).


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  Missoula To Butte

Missoula to Butte was a hard slog. I was able to get onto a pace line for about an hour (Andrew, Bronywn, and Anne). I remembered the first rest stop from The Northern Transcon a decade ago. I arrived at the second rest stop and the only person behind me was John Lake. I don't remember all of the route from the Northern, but I was still on it. We had lunch at the same park. The thunderstorms rolled in while I was eating lunch. I suited up in rain gear, but the rain didn't last long.

Around mile 86 we started climbing and it was a lung buster. We climbed up to 6300 feet. On the climb a rock slide is visible that appears to me to be a heart. I took a picture back in 2001 and I took another one on this trip. When I get home, I'll post the two pix. I'm having trouble posting on the road. During the Northern, Susan was waiting for us at the top at an unscheduled rest stop. This time, I was alone, but there was a tailwind pushing me around the lake, but unfortunately the thunderstorms hit again and this time they brought their friend Hail. I suited up again, and it rained, for almost 20 miles. Luckily for me I had a descent into Anaconda and then the rest stop was just past Anaconda. I got to the rest stop and the weather got worse. I pulled off my raincoat to put arm and leg warmers on and by the time I got the raincoat back on I was freezing.

I watched the skies for about 10 minutes and it just seemed to be getting worse. I still had 23 miles left to go, so I caved and sagged in to the finish. Unfortunately, I also sagged from that rest stop during the Northern under similar conditions. In fact when we took down the EZ UP tent back then we were gutting shocked when we touched the metal poles.

Humdrum stuff: I did my laundry and skyped my parents, and sent some postcards.


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Tuesday, July 12, 2011
  Kalispell To Missoula

It was a beautiful morning for riding. It was very flat leaving Kalispell and consequently very fast. I miscalculated the rest stop opening time, so I was dawdling, taking pictures, just noodling around. A couple miles outside town, a dog raced down his fence line parallel to us, unfortunately the driveway wasn't fenced and he shot out onto the street.

I yelled out, "Eddie you came out to play."

He chased me a little bit, but his heart wasn't in it. He then crossed the road and laid down in the tall grass to ambush the next group of cyclists. A short time later I got a flat, when I arrived at the first rest stop I realized my mistake and booked on to the next one. Which wiped me out for the stretch to lunch. I jumped on Harry's wheel (He was only riding to lunch) and did my best to stay there, I managed to hang on for most of the ride to lunch, but it was tough.

I felt rejuvenated after lunch and easily made it to the rest stop at 102 miles, but during the next section riding to the rest stop at 126 I drastically slowed down and realized I hadn't urinated in a while even though I had been taking in plenty of water, which led me to believe I was low on salt. I had some packets in my camelback from a fast food place, I cracked 'em open and downed them with just a little bit of water. Sure enough my speed picked up and by the time I got to the rest stop I had to use the rest room.

The last 22 miles into Missoula was a grind. We were descending alongside a river, but there was a really strong headwind, so it felt like we were climbing instead.

9hrs 40 minutes on the bike, my computer says 148.7 miles. I bought the Mapmyride App for the Ipad and tried to use it today. I checked it a couple of times during the ride and it looked like it was collecting data, but when I got to the hotel and checked it, it hadn't recorded any info. Bummer. I'll try again tomorrow and break the ride into smaller chunks.


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Monday, July 11, 2011
  Glacier National Park

Kalispell is in the Flathead Valley. The first 11 miles of my ride were pretty flat, heading North on Rte 2 East. I tried to keep my heart in my aerobic zone. I didn't want to be introducing a training load on my body. I've got a 144 miles to ride tomorrow. When Rte 2 East finally started heading East, the road started climbing to the city of Columbia Falls.

I was feeling pretty awesome. I was breathing pine scented air. The temperature was a bit on the cool side, but that was perfect for riding. I was expecting the road to really kick up, but all the grades were big ring-able. My goal that morning was to get to the West Glacier entrance, but as I realized I wasn't as fast as I thought I would be, I had thoughts of turning around, especially when the shoulder disappeared on rte 2. It wasn't hard to talk myself into continuing, my fitness level must be better than I think it is. I pass through the town of Hungry Horse.

Hungry Horse

I pass by a whiskey distillery that offers tastings (noon to 8pm) but it's only 9am. I pass by two helicopter tour companies and I wonder if they are suffering because of the economy. They have to be. The guy who drove me from the airport to the hotel actually owned the taxi company. He was quick to point out that Montana has the highest education levels, but the 2nd highest unemployment rate in the country (15.5%). With the trains not running, it's a double whammy for them.

Finally, Glacier National Park next left. Alberta, Canada has a welcome center right there, which I mistook for the GNP welcome center. I did get to hear a Canadian girl say "aboot 4 miles away". The things that stick with us from childhood, Degrassi chicks saying "aboot". Shenandoah charges $8, so I had $10 in hand when I rolled up to the gate, unfortunately GNP is $12, I guess they have to pay for those free shuttles and all that snow removal...

I was on line for one of the free shuttles because normally bicycles are prohibited on the Going-to-the-sun Road between 11am and 4pm. One of the volunteers said that with the road closed for the snow removal, they were being a bit lenient and she encouraged me to ride up to Avalanche Creek, it's only ten miles (she said). I think it's closer to 16 miles.


After an hour of chugging along, one of the free shuttles passed me. I arrived in Avalanche right behind it. The people getting off were the ones who had been in line with me at the Apgar Transit station and they were mighty impressed that I beat the bus.

The road was closed just past the bus stop, so I jumped on board and relaxed on the drive back to Apgar. I was running short of time and I wasn't interested in upping my mileage to a century. I arrived back in Apgar at noon, which meant I could stop in at the Whiskey Distillery, but I missed it on the way back. I obviously don't drink much, but I thought that might be fun.

I started running out of energy in Columbia Falls, so I stopped in for food at A&W...Big Papa combo with a frosty mug of root beer. I felt like I had swallowed a basketball. I managed to waddle out to the bike and did my best to coast as much as possible. In the end, it was around 85 miles.

Lon and Susan had a quick rider meeting and then treated us to pizza at Moose's Saloon. Now, they say it's "World Famous" They don't say it's "World's best". Having eaten pizza in New Jersey and New York (If I had been able to take the train here, I would have been able to comment on Chicago pizza), they had quite a hurdle to impress me. The cheese was Mutz, mixed with some other cheese, but it was subtle. The crust was thin and crunchy with a heavy layer of corn meal on bottom.


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Sunday, July 10, 2011

I arrived at Dulles well before the United ticket counter and the main security gate opened. I had been stressing about my bike, on the train it was supposed to be just $5, but the box I was using was oversized, which would have cost me around $225 in fees at the airline counter. I then tried packing my bike in my hardshell case, but again, that was overweight, oversized, and definitely a bike, so the United site said I could incur fees up to $325. I ended up unscrewing the derailleur to shrink the size of the bike down and cutting up the cardboard bike box I got from the Bikelane.
I was able to fit the frame and one wheel in the box and the weight barely hit 10 lbs. I added another 10 lbs of clothes and shoes and tools and taped it up. I stopped in at Uhaul and picked up a "mirror" box, which fit the front wheel and some more clothes perfectly. My PACTour carry-on was virtually empty (and I figured it would need to be because it was technically oversized for carry-on. My Camelback HAWG was stuffed.
At the ticket counter, my homemade oversized bike box was first on the scale. When asked what was in it I replied, "mostly clothes, shoes..." He cut me off and said, "Fine."
Whew! Only cost me $60 for the two boxes. Now I have my fingers crossed that the boxes made it onto the plane and that they will get through the Denver airport and on to The Kalispell flight without a hitch.
Since the main security gate wasn't open yet, I headed downstairs for the only open gate. As you can imagine, the line was pretty long. I wasn't so lucky at security. This was my first foray through airport security since the nude scanners and pat-downs have been in force. I was picked out of line for the X-Ray Backscatter machine, I politely opted out and was made to wait for the pat-down. Cue the scary music here. What I found interesting was they didn't send me through the Metal Detector first, they pulled me through a gate. The pat down was physical, but it wasn't as bad as I was expecting. The guy was nice about it, but he was still rubbing my seat area with the back of his hand and not in a "I'm looking for weapons kinda way." It made sense later when he swabbed his gloves and sent the sample through the explosives detector. When he got to my crotch, he did brush up against my genitals when he ran his hand down my left leg, but not when he went down the right side.
By the time I got through security, it was almost time to start boarding for my flight, but I still had to take one of those buses out to the terminal. The gate was empty. Not a good sign. A janitor mentioned that there was a gate change and there was a couple of us that had to rush from one end of the terminal to the other.

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Friday, July 08, 2011
  Swing And A Miss...

I spent several hours this morning working on my bike, replacing the brake pads, cleaning the crud out of the derailleurs, etc. I then packed frantically. I arrived at the train station late, and it looked like my bike was going to arrive a day later than me, until the ticket agent realized I couldn't get there either. Due to flooding in Montana, my nice leisurely (and cheap just $223) train ride has been canceled. I thought the flight was expensive months ago, now with only 2 days notice, the flight was $720. Additionally, the airline is going to hit me up for around $150 in baggage fees for my luggage and my bike when I show up at the airport. UGH!

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I've gone through kidney failure twice. The first time in 2000, my mother donated a kidney; and again in 2008, I'm on dialysis waiting for a breakthrough in immuno-suppression medicines before seeking a new kidney.

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Warning Signs for Kidney Disease:

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Burning or Difficulty when Urinating
  • Frequent Urination at Night
  • Blood in your urine
  • Cola or tea colored urine
  • Swellig of the eyes, ankles, or feet
  • Lower back pain unrelated to physical activity

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