Monday, May 26, 2008
I tightened things back up and gave the wheel a spin… Oh buddy, did it spin great! The ratchet system was so quiet and smooth, and it locked in place perfectly with a solid velvet click when the pedals were engaged. It was going to work!
After we climbed a little, we dropped back down. And then climbed back up. Then down. Up. Down. Up. Down. Although we had reached the main summit, we still had not been granted a major downhill slope, however the fact that it was about even climbing to descending made things much more enjoyable than a slow steady ascent (especially on our rodeo parts), and the weather remained picturesque through the afternoon.
Finally, we had some serious downhill stretches! If you have never experienced the thrill of cruising on a bicycle at 40 Mph with nothing between you and the empty road but a layer of spandex… you are probably smarter than us, but it is fun. This made for quick time as we descended down to Glenallen. Well, at least it helped…
The next twenty miles were downhill and the drunken trees were replaced with much taller, more uniform, healthier looking trees as we coasted along. The highway made a large “S” curve as we made one particularly steep descent, and as we did, my stomach made some grumbling noises and felt like it was being tied in knots. It was extremely lucky that there was a rest stop at the bottom of the hill with some public privies.
Mark was generally in charge of cooking our meals. I, on the other hand, generally had the task of getting the groceries, so Mark stayed outside to watch the bikes as I headed into the store.
It had a surprising selection of food considering our perception of the town, and it is always a bad idea to go grocery shopping on an empty stomach. I had to be very careful not to get more food than we could actually carry, so I had to go around the store several times putting things back onto the shelves. I also had to find foods that were convenient to cook and carry, and also foods that could be eaten for any meal. Canned foods were not practical because of the weight of both the metal and of the water they already contained. Dehydrated things seemed best. Things that had individual packages were good. Hearty breads were always good because they were filling and they went well with just about every meal. I avoided dehydrated soups and stews because we didn’t have a whole lot of water to be able to clean all the mess it made. Breakfast was always tricky. This time, I decided that granola bars were a good idea, and they could double as snacks on the road. I grabbed a box of 48.
Being in the sun so long the past two days, I was starting to get sunburned. I grabbed some aloe gel and a small tube of SPF80 for our faces and ears, and headed to the checkout counter, since the store was starting to close.
Outside, we started packing up the food onto Mark’s bike. Mark picked up the box of granola bars and almost fell over.
“You bough forty…eight…granola bars!? Are ya freaking kidding me!? Where are we going to put all of these!?”
Well we… oh wow. I had just realized 48 probably was quite a lot. The box was about the size of Hawaii (or at least as big as a large tool box), and I figured it wouldn’t be completely full. We opened it up.
Mark repeated, “Forty eight freaking granola bars. You’re killin me Jake. You are killing me.”
We started packing them around all of the other food, and when there was no more room, we started packing them in any open space we had on our saddle bags. We had granola bars bulging out of every pocket and pouch, and we still had a quarter of the box left, with nowhere else to put them. We ate a couple from the box, and then I took the box back into the store and told the clerk that we just couldn’t take any more, and I didn’t want to throw them away. She laughed and said she’d give them out to the kids. We still didn’t know where we were going to stay that night, but she said there were a few campgrounds nearby.
The tent sites were tucked in the back up against the forest. They were cozy little sites with wooden platforms for the tents, concrete fire pits, and pick nick tables, all surrounded with the fine looking spruce trees. Wandering off a few feet into the wooded area, we found that the ground was very soft and spongy—like walking on a mattress. Layers of moss, pine needles, twigs, and dirt had all piled up to form this springy layer of the forest floor. It wouldn’t be fun to walk on if you were lost out in the middle of the forest.
We got the tent set up and had our showers. They had really nice shower units set up in the middle of the campground. It was a prefabricated building, and the showers were really nice for a campground; very clean, and plenty of warm water. The warm water made me realize how badly my face and ears had become sunburned that day. I was glad that I had decided to purchase the sunblock.
We settled into bed, and I was still in awe that there was still daylight at 11 P.M.. It had dropped behind the trees casting beautiful pink light with purple shadows through the forest across our tent. I chuckled to myself as I reflected on the day, thinking about the granola bars, and just how much of my bike was now jury-rigged together. We still had a very long way to go, and I tried to imagine what my bike might look like by the end of the trip.
80 miles, Approximately 12 hours