Saturday, July 9, 2016

Windy Whine Oming

Day 31 - July 7th
71.7 miles
Total: 1264.5 miles
Moving Avg: 7.3 mph

Here is a fun math problem. Assuming we averaged 9.9 miles per hour for the first 46 miles. What was our moving average for the remaining 25.7 miles if our moving average was 7.3 over the whole day?

Crazy folk that we are, we opted for a 3:45 wake up. It was our goal to make it to Atlantic City, 92 miles away. We crawled out of our sleepy state, and geared up for the 0.3 mile ride to Love's Travel Stop, where we bought coffee, electrolytes, and treats for the big day ahead.

Then we set off down county road 23 into the Great wide open basin. It was still dark, so we traveled by headlamp. Fortunately, the road was fairly smooth and easy going. In fact, we cruised along at eleven plus miles per hour. It was a joy to have such rapid miles disappear behind us. With that joy, we were able to see the Great Basin for its beauty. The gentle rolling hills covered in very low laying shrubs allow for expansive views. Nearly every view includes a Pronghorn (not to be confused with antelope), racing at speeds of up to 30-40mph after being frightened by our rolling tires, sometimes even bursting to 60mph. I wonder how their ankles handle the irregular terrain.

As the miles slid past, we encountered a number of tail end racers, and a couple tour cyclists. We exchanged tips on water and road conditions ahead, and continued on our way.

For me, the day was stressful. My GPS has the official Great Divide Route on it, and my phone has the official Tour Divide Route on it. We are in an area where the two paths deviate, and I lack a narrative description of the path we were taking. I was relying on Google maps for the narrative description. After 60 percent of the days ride was done, I discovered that the Google narrative no longer matched either route. We were essentially traveling without a map, as our map doesn't show the area we were traveling. This was very nerve racking to me... and perhaps a little foolish in the very open, very dry, very hot, and very solitary great basin.

Nevertheless, we trudged on. I had looked deeply at the Google Earth Images and saved what I could to my phone. I opted to continue with a shoddy map, because it was better than the alternative. Other cyclists described the official Tour Divide Route as having an eight mile stretch where the road disappears out of disuse.

We traveled down a lonely BLM road into the windy depths of the Basin. We were likely the only people in several hundred square miles, and the wind introduced itself as a 25 mph headwind. The road introduced itself as a ridge road. This meant that we were massively exposed. On the bright side, the route was stunning. We struggled against the wind, beating our willpower to a pulp, but the ripples of ridges reaching into the Basin in their multicolored tendrils of sand and stone replenished our energy.

It was an amazing dichotomy of struggle and inspiration. I felt beat down through the whole afternoon, every view forward was a straight long shot of the same boring windy struggle before us. On the other hand, all the views back were stunning shots of accomplishment and perseverance.

After an hour nap in the wind and sun, we made the final push of the afternoon. I wanted to make sure we made it back to the official route, as I wasn't completely sure where we would reconnect, so my knowledge of water sources before us were a little unclear. Sixteen miles later, we hit the official route, exactly where I expected and hoped.

One and a half miles later, we were at Diagnus Well. As we rolled in, exhausted from an uphill climb in the washboarded sand, against the wind, facing the sun, I startled another cyclist who was set up to camp at the well.

His first words were: "THAT WAS A ROUGH DAY, YES?"

I knew he was also a northbound cyclists, as he also rode into the wind.

Phil, from Finland, made for very enjoyable conversation while we made dinner. He is out for three months, and we have been tailing him by a half day for most of our ride. We sat in the shadow of our tent, watching the sun set on what the three of us agreed was the most difficult day of our tour this far, mostly because of the mental exhaustion.

We have about two more days before we get out of the windy basin.

Live life at a slower place.

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