I’m waking up before alarms, but I’m dead ass tired. I’m starting to dream that I’m sleeping through them, and getting passed by other riders. I'm waking up in panic. Not sure how this is possible as I’m thoroughly exhausted by this day. Wisdom, MT is at mile 1060, and I think I’m hovering somewhere in the 9th/10th spot at this point. I've been working my ass off.
This morning was a little different- the alarm goes off (on my phone) but when I go to turn on the lights to the hotel, nothing comes on. The power is out. No immediate panic- My bike is strewn with lights- I just pluck one off the charger to work through the morning routine (it’s pitch black outside- no help there). The lights, GPS and iPod (yeah I rock an oldschool iPod- the only apple product I own) all look to have received a full charge before the power went out. I head to the sink to fill up my camelbak bladder- nothing comes out of the sink.. bathtub? Nope. An electric water pump! I have absolutely no water. With no WiFi nor cell coverage, I’m reliant on my sheet map to remind me I'm 60 miles to Dillon- the next place that will have anything open within the next 4 hours. I can’t leave- I'm dehydrated already and it's not wise to try and push 4 hours with no liquids. I’m literally at the mercy of this electricity coming back on. I lay back down, stressed for missing miles but also finding a little comfort in getting some more shuteye. I turn on all the light switches in the room- when power comes back on, I’ll know.
I think the room lit up about 4:45am- only about an hour lost. I was already in my chamois (thoroughly creamed for all you visual readers) and had already packed up and eaten. All I had to do was put on my helmet, fill up and get out the door.
Mornings are getting colder as we progress further west and hover at higher elevations- it was about 45 degrees this morning with a modest amount of dew, which felt like those February long rides in Salt Lake City. The sun is still coming up between 5:30 and 6am right now. There’s not a soul on the road, just cow fields and ranches strewn across a valley, nestled among a sea of mountains. It’s definitely that big sky feel- every direction is mountains, and they’re deep for hundreds of miles it seems. It’s a little daunting as you think about getting out of this valley!
I roll into Dillon probably around 10am- hungry and getting to the end of water supplies. It’s a small town with a college (U of MT Western)- I start browsing for breakfast shops on my phone. Most of these towns are easy to find food in- there’s only one damn road through the town, but Dillon was a little spread out with options. I think this is where I started to notice some loss of cognitive thinking. It took me no less than 20 mins to find the breakfast shop that was about a block away from me. I just kept riding in circles on this downtown grid, going right past the restaurant. When I FINALLY found it, I sat down for breakfast and chatted with the shop owner. She shortly came back to my table with a fresh notebook asking if I could chronicle by TABR experience thus far and begin a journal for other riders to follow. I was honored to share a short excerpt of my experiences, but I’m confident it wasn’t anything profound. As with any stop, it was critical to get back on the bike and moving. The struggle with chatting with locals and continuous progress is now constantly present. So many interested parties, so little time to chat. Onwards!
I don’t’ remember much from here until Virginia City- VC was this odd little one street town with lots of shops and attractions- lots of tourists were stopped here. The temps were now soaring, just as I was hitting the large climb out of town. Mid day heat is becoming an issue that will become larger in the days to come, especially on some of these long climbs. With no wind to cool off and a very heavy bike, it’s a constant dowsing of water to try and stay cool.
I enjoy climbing, so I can't imagine how it's treating others that don't appreciate it. We are rewarded with a ripper descent down into Ennis. I knew Matthijs was in Ennis, and he seemed to not be making too much progress today- could be anything. At this point, you’re balancing a competitive nature but also concerned to make sure other racers are OK.
Ennis had cheeseburgers. That’s my memory of this town. Double bacon cheeseburgers and the thickest shakes you can imagine. I may have caught one of the workers in shock as she watched me put down 5,000 calories in ~5 minutes. Put me in a eating competition and I swear I’ll crush.
I pack up and see Matthijs is still stopped in Ennis- time to make my move. I push out of town and quickly enter back into a vast open valley. Storms are lurking on the horizon, winds are starting to pick up and a few small showers are popping up. Something nasty is coming. It’s simple flat riding, and I get a little caught up in checking the tracker while trying not to fall asleep in aero bars. Looks like I pulled off a 3-4 mile gap on Matthijs coming out of Ennis, but he’s moving again…. and he’s moving fast. The gap trickles down to a mile- damn, son. I look back- I can’t see him yet. I finally pull over to put on a vest, and Matthijs comes riding by like a bat out of hell. We get into some rolling terrain that hugs Earthquake lake- we now have a massive tail wind and Matthijs drops me in a blink. To ride that strong at this stage was incomprehensible to me- I was definitely finding my way into the top of the pack and felt a little out of place in moments like this.
Once through Earthquake lake, we soared past Hebgen lake. The tailwind was massive, lifting spirits and helping with the final push to the targeted shelter of West Yellowstone. The last 10 miles to West Yellowstone were into a sidewind, which proved to be quite dangerous. Moving at 20mph with 40mph side gusts on a bike with a full frame bag is squirrley. Throw in fatigue and I find myself all over the road. The sky was brewing black as I barreled into town. I saw Matthijs standing on the street corner, awaiting my arrival. He asked if I needed a room, but I had already booked one (for $275!- note to other future racers- try to avoid staying here). We chatted for a minute, but I needed to get food and get my hotel room before this storm hit. I mentioned I was leaving early and would text to see if he wanted to ride out together.
Now to pull out phone. Search... "Pizza". Order, pick up, ride to room quickly. Tomorrow was Yellowstone, and I knew it was going to be an early morning to beat traffic. But the bigger issue was the sounds my bike was starting to make...