Friday, July 21, 2006

Howard's 2006 Tour de Wyoming

Howard took only one photo before his H-P camera stopped working. Damn. And he likes H-P.

Howard's well-shaded tent is shown parked in front of Buffalo High School in the background at center left -- a great location among tent city.

Howard's 2006 Tour de Wyoming experience can only be described as "Peak" -- both of the climbing-the-Big-Horn-Mountains-twice (pun intended) and of the oh-my-God-that-was-awesome sort. The friends made in five stressful and challenging days of cycling were well worth the pain... and a lesson that Howard desperately needed to re-learn. It's so not about the bike. But more about that later. First, to the narrative...


Day 1 - Dayton to Buffalo:
Howard arrived in Dayton, Wyoming on Saturday, July 15th to check in and claim prime tent space. But first he made a side trip in his car up the Big Horn Mountains from Buffalo to the Powder River Pass at 9,666' elevation -- the route of Day 2's climb. He wanted to see for himself what The Beast looked like for real (BTW, you did notice all those sixes, didn't you?) The elevation diagram just had to be an horrific typo. Terrible decision because sleep came reluctantly that night as Howard began to recognize what a collossal mistake he had made in joining the 2006 Tour de Wyoming.

Except for a handful of salted peanuts and a Clif Bar, he didn't have time nor the inclination to eat dinner the first night in Dayton. Also, he didn't talk to anyone that evening nor the next morning before leaving for Buffalo. While he likes to think of himself as 'self-contained,' he's actually painfully shy. I know, hard to believe.

A crew from Wyoming Public Television was on hand throughout the week filming the suffering, but the only time Howard noticed that he was in frame was as he was leaving Dayton on Day 1. The teevee crew was interviewing Amber Travsky, director of the Tour de Wyoming in front of the high school in Dayton as Howard passed directly behind Amber. Hopefully, she was saying something pithy and significant so Howard might make the final cut. Look for the tall, dark, and handsome figure on the bronze Touring bike. Wearing red.

After a quick easterly scoot down the road to Ranchester [I'm certain you can figure out the derivation of that name for yourself], we took a right turn and headed south on a frontage road to Sheridan. The wind was also blowing south. At about 25 mph. Wheeeeeeeee! Last year's Tour de Wyoming was plagued by winds blowing an unfavorable direction. This year's Tour de Wyoming was karmic payback. And Howard was there to reap the benefit. Howard likes reaping benefit.

Except for one nasty climb [see the point in the elevation diagram above about two thirds through the ride where it gets very steep] and a broken rear spoke -- the first broken spoke on my Fuji Touring bike -- the wind-aided speeds up to the mid-40's simplified a 60-mile ride to Buffalo to a smidge over three hours. It's all everyone could talk about when we got to Buffalo. Because it was just so damned much fun!

This left Howard with so much time to kill that he ate a hearty lunch at the local Subway restaurant, swam twice in the free city pool, sunning himself both times--as if he really needed to look better--and he still had time for a delighful two-hour talk with Randy and Alice from Kearney. This experience opened Howard up, as he realized that without his wife present, it would be a long and lonely six days if he didn't make an honest effort to meet and talk to people.

Actually, Howard wouldn't shut up after that. He met and talked to dozens and dozens of people beginning in Buffalo. And he found himself making a real effort to memorize names, faces, and hometowns. For example, there was Peter from San Francisco, Sid from Fort Collins, Martin from Idaho Falls, Daniel from Redwing, Nick from Rapid City, Glenn from Gillette, Richard and Steve from Lander, Mitch and Norm from Laramie, Debbra from Grand Junction, and Kolbi from Missoula. You get the idea -- [first name] from [hometown]. This method worked very well for Howard, and made meeting and greeting so many of the 320 Tour de Wyoming riders into a manageable task.

Also, compared to Ride the Rockies, there seemed to be more participants on the Tour de Wyoming who were as old or older than Howard. Plus, more of them knew each other, and they seemed as a group to be more devoted to cycling.

After a delicious lasagna dinner and ice cream provided as a fund-raiser by Buffalo High School's band, Howard went back to tent city to pick up his bicycle, left with the tour's bike mechanic, Mitch Bock from Laramie. Mitch fixed the broken spoke, trued the rear wheel, and tightened the front stem assembly. Along the way, Mitch also adjusted both deraillers, the brakes, and the handlebars. He did all this for $15. The man's a jewel and a prince.

Howard thought he was as ready as humanly possible to face The Big Horn Beast (9,666') the next morning. Heh.

Distance: 60.65 miles
Maximum Speed: 45.4 mph
Average Speed: 18.9 mph
Ride Time: 3:12:35
Total Time: 3 hours 45 minutes


Day 2 - Buffalo to Ten Sleep:

The day of dread began with a twist at 5 a.m. Normally, Howard wakes up and goes straight to the breakfast table, leaving the folding and packing and loading of the gear for later on. This allows a bit of digestion to take place before starting a day's ride. However, this morning the breakfast, being prepared once again by the High School band, was served at the Wesleyan Church, located about five blocks away from tent city. This meant that all the cyclists had to pack up first, and then eat right before embarking on the hardest day of the Tour. Circuit breakers at the church popped, resulting in a lack of pancakes as Howard passed through the chow line. Since Howard is not a big fan of the starchy disks unless smothered in real maple syrup and butter, he didn't bitch. Free breakfast is free breakfast, regardless of digestion time.

Upon leaving the city limits of Buffalo heading west, the climb began. In earnest. Five miles of uphill approach to the Big Horn Mountains and we were there -- at a lung-collapsing 7% grade. Without relief. Without break. Imagine breathing as hard as you can for 45 minutes.

But minutes before the start of hyperventilation, as Howard was approaching The Beast (9,666'), he noticed a rider ahead who was passing everyone and doing so with a pedalling cadence half of the ideal 80-90 rpm cadence normally recommended. Wow, Howard thought, this guy may only have a double chain-ring up front, and he's gonna die when he hits the 7% grade. Definitely worth seeing. And yet, this guy kept going and going and going, never slowing his already slow cadence, and never hesitating to pass everyone in his path. This guy was a machine, and Howard was determined to stay with him as far as he could go. Easier said than done because Howard is no machine. He is flawed and soft and easily beaten down by the nasties around him. But this time he persevered.

At the top of the 7% grade -- four-and-a-half miles of the worst continuous climbing Howard has ever attempted, the grade flattened out briefly, allowing Howard to catch up and thank The Machine for leading them both up the hill at a challenging, but not quite deadly, pace. The man's name was Glenn. From Gillette. And he quickly became Howard's friend for the remainder of the Tour.

After another five miles of climbing, the pair came upon the first Aid Station. Allow me to pause for a second.

The Aid Stations for the Tour de Wyoming were nothing short of incredible. While Ride the Rockies provided one kind of fruit and watered down Gatoraid, the Tour de Wyoming usually provided three or four kinds of fruit, as well as Skittles, Salted Nut Roll candybars -- one of Howard's favorites -- plus an energy drink named Squencher (orange - okay, berry - very good), fig newtons, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. All FREE! Can you imagine Howard's reaction to free food? Every 12 miles? No, Howard did not lose weight during the Tour de Wyoming.

Getting back on the road, Howard's quads were jello while The Machine's quads were steel. So keeping up was futile. At one self-made-in-the-shade stop, Peter from San Francisco stopped to admire Howard's choice of shady spots. Peter's sense of humor was admirable, considering the considerable pain that both were in at the time.

The problem with climbing to Powder River Pass was becoming clearer with every rise. Instead of the grade leveling off, providing much needed relief and recovery, the elevation would substantially but much too briefly turn downward before throwing the rider back into a steep climb again. This loss of elevation was frustrating as it was repeated eight to ten times during the day. Alice from Kearney called this, "buying it back," meaning that the rider had to re-climb hard-earned elevation before they could start ascending further up to 9,666'.

As Howard climbed one annoyingly steady hill, a kid no more than 19 years old latched onto his back tire as Howard chugged uphill at 10 mph. At the top of the hill, the kid -- one of a pair of dark-haired chisel-featured Apollo twins -- complimented Howard on the aggressive and challenging pace. Howard said thanks before turning it up a notch, soon leaving Apollo I (or was it Apollo II?) behind. About 200 yards from the summit, both Apollos passed Howard and his 40-something cheekbones behind. Damn it all to hell.

Powder River Pass was spectacularly beautiful and only about 80 degrees, as a brief rainstorm had passed over on its way to, well, nowhere in Wyoming, that's for certain.

After the most difficult and painful ascent in Howard's long life, the most wondrous and awe-inspiring descent came next. Beginning the downhill descent, Howard saw a sign showing a truck pointing downhill and the words "6% grades next 19 miles." It was the most beautiful sign he had ever seen.

Howard wept. And then he flew. [Okay, he didn't actually weep. But he should have, it was so beautiful.]

45 miles per hour later, Howard was flying through a pair of switchbacks, exceeding the 25 mph speed limit, while a small car filled with a family trailed behind. When the car finally passed Howard, he saw a small boy, only four or five years old, with his face smashed up against the window and his mouth open wide in gaping awe of Howard. Sort of like the way Howard's own kids look at him on a daily basis. If only women could see Howard the same way.

Upon pulling up to Ten Sleep's High School, Howard immediately saw a great spot on the east side of the school for a soon-to-be-shaded tent. He threw his bike on the spot, said hi to a woman, Kolbi from Missoula, setting up her camp spot next to his, and headed for his luggage. Kolbi soon followed, looking for her own luggage, and they talked a bit. She was the kind of person who makes a strong first impression. And Howard was impressed.

After setting up his tent, Howard went to get showered and shaved. The shirt he was going to wear after the shower was dirty so Howard washed it in a sink and walked back to his tent wearing only shorts and flip-flops.

And then Howard is not certain, but he's kinda sure that Kolbi didn't retch and turn away in disgust when he got back to his tent. As a matter of fact, Kolbi continued to talk to him. In Howard's universe, a 21-year-old woman doesn't talk to a 40-something-year-old man missing 90% of his clothing unless... oh hell, I can't even finish that sentence. Let's just say that Howard the Old Guy suddenly felt good about his appearance for the first time in about 15 years. Thank you cycling.

Another tent city neighbor, Nick from Rapid City, clearly had gotten there first to stake out the finest camping spot in all of Ten Sleep. Upon further investigation, Howard learned that, despite being a bit older than himself, Nick was the best prepared, fastest, and most talented cyclist in the 2006 Tour de Wyoming. Cycling clearly works because Howard would have believed Nick had he said he was still in his late 30's. Howard saw that Nick was an interesting guy and decided to get to know him and maybe uncover some helpful cycling pointers. Because Howard always needs more help.

That evening, the cycling community of 320 that had descended upon Ten Sleep, population 220, had a nice BBQ beef sandwich dinner prepared by the Worland American Legion from the nearby city. Afterwards, local talent Jalan Crossland, serenaded the crowd with ballads about overly contented trailer dwellers in Bosler, Wyoming, of Mexican border love affairs gone bad, and the joy of chicken trucking. That's TRucking. His mastery of the guitar and banjo, as well as his excellent vocal abilities, had us all entranced. He has a couple CDs. Check his website out here. Also, you can see him here at YouTube.

Distance: 64.54 miles
Maximum Speed: 45.4 mph
Average Speed: 13.6 mph
Ride Time: 4:45:27
Total Time: 5 hours 15 minutes


Day 3 - Ten Sleep to Meeteetse:

The next morning, while Howard was still chomping on a breakfast burrito, also provided by the American Legion, Nick and Kolbi left about 15 minutes before he himself was ready to leave. Nick was the fastest rider in camp and Kolbi was riding a brand new $4,400 Trek with a polka-dotted custom paint job. So although the day's ride of 88 miles was the longest of the tour, Howard thought, "good luck catching them."

On the outskirts of Ten Sleep and heading west towards Worland, the uphills began in earnest. Several brief but tough climbs later, the grades leveled out and the mph's increased. In Worland, Howard met Louis and Jan from Hays, Kansas at a convenience store and he bought two one-liter bottles of Mountain Dew. Some people get their caffeine from coffee, Howard gets his from slightly fizzy green pop.

As Howard was leaving Worland, he was almost squished by two pickup trucks. Fortunately, they were more awake and aware than Howard at 6:30 a.m. That's when Howard looked around and realized that there had to be over a dozen pickups within view... at 6:30 in the morning on a Tuesday! Howard could never be a rancher. He likes to sleep in.

Southwest of Worland, Howard's pace picked up. Naturally, thanks to the Dew. As he passed rider after rider, he saw on the horizon a rider. He chased. The distance did not diminish. He picked up his pace. The distance gradually diminished. About 50 yards away and after about four miles of chasing, Howard decided that he liked the pace of this rider and decided not to pass him after all. And then he noticed the sloooow cadence. And then he recognized the bike. It was Glenn from Gillette. The Machine!

Howard and The Machine rode together and talked for the next 15 miles, passing everyone on the way. Until Howard saw a rider about 50 yards ahead getting back on her polka-dotted bike. It was Kolbi.

The pair slowed as Howard talked to Kolbi, asking if she wanted to ride with them for a while. She said yes. So the three of them rode together for the remaining 40 miles towards Meeteetse. That was some while.

After climbing a tough hill a couple miles before the final climb and descent into Meeteetse [Howard likes typing Meeteetse], they took a quick break. Howard told Kolbi to take the lead up to and over the final hill. Kolbi took off like a rocket while Howard and The Machine struggled to catch up. Coming to the beginning of the final steep hill, Kolbi only accelerated, passing a half-dozen riders who had already resigned to the 27th-gear crawl at 7 mph, only she was going over 20 mph herself. She made it halfway up the hill before the serious downshifts began, and then Howard and The Machine took over and finished strong for the team.

This made a tremendous impression on Howard, and he kept telling the story over and over the rest of the Tour until his listeners began to roll their eyes as though Grandpa was about to spin another one of his boring Battle of the Bulge yarns again.

The three amigos found a great spot on the east side of Meeteetse's high school. And of course, Nick was already there in the best and most shaded camping spot in Meeteetse, Wyoming. Altogether now, the three amigos quickly became the four musketeers.

This high school had the very best facilities -- showers, indoor swimming pool, town library built into the high school -- of the entire Tour. And Howard partook. Long lingering showers. Swimming dozens of laps. Twice. Checked and sent emails. Even read a newspaper. What a nice town Meeteetse is.

Meeteetse. Meeteetse. Meeteetse. Damn that's fun.

Distance: 88.44 miles
Maximum Speed: 39.8 mph
Average Speed: 16.5 mph
Ride Time: 5:22:07
Total Time: 6 hours 30 minutes


Day 4 - Meeteetse to Basin:

Notice anything unusual about the elevation diagram above? Nearly all downhill! And if I told you that Nick & Glenn & Kolbi & Howard woke up at 5 a.m. and left by 6:20 a.m., and that they formed a nice tight paceline for about 54 miles, then when do you suppose they arrived in Basin? Did you say 9 a.m.? You're right. This day was nothing but fun.

Pacelines can decrease the power necessary to sustain a nice velocity by about 20%. And the four musketeers proved it. Each rider took his or her turn at point for about three or four miles before moving off to the side and sliding to the back of the paceline to rest in the wake of the others. Each rider except for Kolbi. For some reason, she would take her turn at the front of the paceline and just stay there. Until someone else would overtake her. Damn, that girl was tough.

And then at one point after leading the team for about four miles at about 27 mph, Howard peeled off and receeded to the end of the line where he found another paceline participant -- this one over sixty years old, but with thunder calves. He stayed with us for the next ten or so miles. But when it was his turn to break some wind up front, we came upon an aid station. Howard stops for all aid stations. So too did all the others. But the older man did not. We never did see if he could lead the paceline at the torrid pace we were moving.

After about 50 of the 54 miles, The Machine was in front and was continuing the mid-20's pace. However, Howard was getting pooped. Also, the downhill assist had turned into a flatland flop. Kolbi was also slowing and Nick lagged behind with her as well. The Machine wanted to fly, but the other three, knowing we were well ahead of everyone on the Tour, were content to crawl along at a miserly 21 mph.

Finally, the town of Basin was in view, and since Howard is a sprinter rather than a climber, he zoomed ahead and rode past the city limits first -- his hands raised high in mock victory. At least until he began to veer off the road. Howard's not too good at steering without hands anymore. Nick pointed out to Howard that he nearly ended up in the ditch, and Howard accepts truth. He's a rank amateur, though a very well-practiced one.

In Basin, the search for time-killing entertainment began. The four sat around for over an hour awaiting the luggage truck. They explored the showers. Howard decided to explore the womens showers as well, until someone within asked, "who's there?" Bad idea. Horrification followed. Guess someone got there nearly as quick as the four musketeers.

Kolbi's mother, Debbra, showed up and the two of them decided to ride on to Greybull and stay in a motel for the night. That's what mothers are for.

That's also about the time The Machine climbed back on his bike to finish out his century (more on that in a minute.)

Howard and Nick went to the only restaurant in Basin and were lucky to get seats, because shortly after that, about a hundred more cyclists had the same idea. And the restaurant, Tom's Diner, only had one frazzled but quite competent waitress. Howard left a $4 tip on an $8 lunch.

Then Howard and Nick went to the Basin Public Library to check their email. God how Howard loves his libraries. Not only the books and newspapers, but now they all have free internet access -- even in the small towns throughout America. While there, Howard also looked up his wife's book. It was there on the shelves. And it had been checked out four times in the past three years. In Basin, Wyoming, of all places. Then Howard went swimming at the High School pool. More laps. Nice showers. As he was leaving, someone asked Howard how the water was. "Filled with kids," was the answer.

The dinner that evening was prepared by Basin residents and was a nice tan medley of ham, yams, mashed potatoes, gravy, salad, green beans, corn, and something else which Howard couldn't identify. They were giving extra scoops of the mystery item to vegetarians. Typical small-town mid-western grub, although afterwards many of the urbane cyclists complained about it. While $9 was a bit steep, the food stayed down. So Howard was not among the dissatisfied.

Resting afterwards in his tent, Howard overheard a quite entertaining discussion about chamois creams. Applied to the chamois liners of cycling shorts and to the perinium area of the nether regions, it prevents saddle sores and chafing. One woman had never heard of it and was asking a man who wasn't her husband lots of questions. The delicately phrased answers and the woman's reactions were a hoot. Howard uses chamois cream. It may or may not work as indicated, but it sure is fun to apply.

Looking at the next day's elevation diagram, it became clear to Howard that the climb over the northern stretch of the Big Horn Mountains would be as bad in its own way as the climb over the southern stretch three days earlier. Dread began to coil around Howard's tan-food-filled gut.

Finally, one word -- actually one paragraph -- about one of the more amazing individual achievements during the Tour de Wyoming. When a cyclist rides 100 miles or more in a single day, this is called a century. Howard has never done one. They're not easily achieved. For example, if the cyclist averages 15 mph, the century takes about seven hours of ride time. Don't forget the chamois creme. On Day 1, from Dayton to Buffalo, Glenn kept riding while everyone else rested and showered until he had his century. On Day 2, from Buffalo to Ten Sleep, Glenn kept riding until he had his century. On Days 3 and 4, to Meeteetse and Basin, Glenn kept riding until he had his centuries. Four days, four centuries. Is there any doubt that the man is truly The Machine?

Distance: 53.42 miles
Maximum Speed: 39.1 mph
Average Speed: 22.6 mph
Ride Time: 2:22:06
Total Time: 2 hours 40 minutes


Day 5a - Basin to Burgess Junction:
Nick, Glenn, and Howard agreed to wake up at 5 a.m. and leave at 6 a.m. But when 5 a.m. came around, Nick couldn't sleep, so was already packed up and eating breakfast. Glenn and Howard ate, then packed, and hit the road at 6 a.m.
Flat for the first 27 miles, Howard and Glenn shared stories of how rich people aren't normal people. Glenn won with his story of a friend who owned a 1950's 30-foot speed racing yacht and wanted to race it against other boats of similar dimension. A group that puts such events together told the man that they would need 10 such boats to hold such a race, and that boats of that dimension were rare. So what did the rich dude do? Why, he built himself 10 more yachts at a cost of $1 million each, and he staffed each of them with a captain, a driver, and a navigator. Just so he could race his 1950's yacht. Nope, the rich aren't like you, me, and Howard.
Passing one large and nice ranch as they headed east towards the looming Big Horn Mountains, Glenn suggested that Howard consider buying it. Howard responded, "I'd have to sell a yacht first. Maybe two."
Remember when I asked you to imagine breathing as hard as you could for 45 minutes straight? Now multiply that time by four. While the climb a few days earlier from east to west provided momentary breaks as the grade dropped before climbing again, the slopes on the west side of the Big Horn Mountains run continuously up at grades between 4.5% and 7%. No breaks. No relief. No recovery. Just pain. For three hours.
Glenn was patient with Howard. Glenn could have gone much faster, but he set a workable pace for them both. They fought their way through a narrow canyon and to the first Aid Station about five miles up the mountain. They climbed their way to the Shell Canyon Falls where they drank natural spring water and took pictures of each other in front of the falls. They suffered up another long and steep slog to the second Aid Station and rested for a long while. Then they chugged another 16 miles to the final Aid Station just before the summit at Granite Pass. All easier said than done. Remember, this all took them about three hours.
At the first Aid Station, which was absolute hell to reach since the five miles of climbing to reach it was at a 7% grade, Howard was eating plums and drinking Squencher for all he was worth, when Peter from San Francisco went riding by without stopping. What the hell? He really wasn't going to stop! Everyone was watching him, and some like Howard were waving him over to stop, but Peter just kept on going. Until the last second... when he veered off the highway and rode over to the Aid Station to great laughter. That was certainly the funniest moment of the day, and perhaps even during the entire tour.

At the final Aid Station just before the summit, Howard and Glenn didn't stay too long. Howard liked the look of the short climb to the summit and felt like he had new legs. Which he did. All that patience and consideration by Glenn went out the window as Howard just had to fly. Which he did. He hit the summit--still going uphill--at 25 mph, and then saw lovely lovely flatlands beyond.

Zooming through the tundra above treeline at 25+ mph for 11 miles, Howard, with Glenn still trailing behind, finally arrived at the promised land -- the Bear Lodge at Burgess Junction.

Finding Debbra from Grand Junction, Kolbi's mother, already there was a surprise. She said they left their motel room in Greybull at 5 a.m. that morning, and that Nick had caught up with them and continued on alone with Kolbi. Debbra made it most of the way up the mountain alone, but finally succumbed to the temptation of a SAG wagon a few miles from the summit. Howard frowned and said that since they left at 5 a.m., Glenn and Howard would never be able to catch up. Debbra said that was the intent. Howard thought that was a strange thing to say with too many interpretations possible, so Howard kept his mouth shut. She said Nick and Kolbi decided to go down the other side of the mountain to get their cars in Dayton so they could leave the tour that afternoon, but that they would be back soon.

After some discussion, Glenn and Howard decided to do the same. Randy from Kearney decided to join them, so down the hill they went.

Distance: 57.46 miles
Maximum Speed: 38.9 mph

Average Speed: 12.3 mph

Ride Time: 4:40:16

Total Time: 5 hours 30 minutes


Day 5b - Burgess Junction to Dayton:

Just a few miles down the mountain to Dayton, it began to rain for the first time during the entire tour. Randy and Howard had jackets stored in packs on their bikes, but Glenn did not. The rain increased in intensity as the downhill turned to a four-mile uphill climb. Howard was beat and couldn't keep up with Glenn anymore. Randy was keeping up with Glenn, and both of them are older than Howard. How is that possible?

But then up ahead, he saw a pickup pull over and the driver talk to Glenn and Randy. It was Nick! When Howard caught up, he realized that Nick was saying his goodbyes. Not good at goodbyes, Howard mumbled a few insipid nothings, shook Nick's hand, and he was gone. Crap.

Back on their bikes, the hill turned steeply downhill as the rain continued to fall. Around one sharp turn made dangerous by the rain they went, then another, and then a small sedan drove by quickly and honked without slowing. Kolbi stuck her head out the window as she shouted "bye", and she was gone too. Double crap.

Then came the logging truck. Driving down the steep guardrail-less road, a fully-loaded logging truck was driving barely 25 mph. Howard, Glenn, and Randy -- plus about a dozen more cars and trucks -- got to follow the slow moving truck for about 10 miles. In the rain.

But then the rain stopped and the grades flattened out and the road widened and the cars all sped up and passed the cyclists, and within five minutes, they were at their cars.

Driving back up, Howard thought that he didn't really want to stay for the evening BBQ and festivities, which included a limerick contest. No, Howard wanted to go home right now. When he got back to Bear Lodge, he packed everything up in the car and went looking for Glenn to thank him for the friendship during the week and the companionship during the long rides. But he was nowhere to be found. So Howard wrote a long note, left it in Glenn's tent zipper, and decided that he didn't like the way the whole thing had ended. Triple crap!

As he drove away from Bear Lodge, Howard pulled over and stopped to make sure his bronze Fuji Touring Bike was securely fastened to the bike carrier, when Glenn drove by coming up the hill. He had stayed down in Dayton to eat a sandwich. So they still got to say their goodbyes.

Howard told him that if in the future Howard sees a rider moving at a good pace up ahead with a slow cadence, and then works hard to catch up but then decides not to pass after all, he's going to forever remember to check if it's The Machine.

Now it's time for Howard to stop writing in third-person...

I hope I get to ride with all these guys again some day. This was such a wonderful experience for me, that I won't be able to get it out of my mind for a long time to come. Thank you Nick, Glenn, and Kolbi. Oh yeah, and you too, Randy and Alice!

Distance: 27.00 miles
Maximum Speed: 40.1 mph
Average Speed: 18.24 mph
Ride Time: 1:29:00
Total Time: 1 hours 40 minutes

Final Stats --

Distance: 351.51 miles
Maximum Speed: 45.4 mph
Average Speed: 16.1 mph
Ride Time: 21:51:31
Total Time: 25 hours, 10 minutes
Total Elevation Gain = 25,422'
Calories Burned: 17,446


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dang! You biked the equivalent of Oregon's eastern stateline to the Pacific Ocean in under a week AND you made friends?
Shoot Howard I'm impressed.

11:46 PM, July 24, 2006  
Blogger HRlaughed said...

All by necessity, J, as Mrs. Howard wasn't there. After the first night in Dayton, and then the first day's ride to Buffalo, I didn't talk to a single soul. "This is gonna royally suck," I thought, "unless I figure something out." Voila, I spoke to a semi-retired math professor and his wife for two hours and the solution finally occured to me.

Oregon's eastern stateline to the Pacific? Heck, we climbed over 25,000 vertical feet, which made it more like a ride from the Pacific Ocean to Alaska's Mount McKinley--even though McKinley is only a fuzz above 20,000'. I'm still sweating.

1:06 AM, July 25, 2006  

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