Day 32: July 15: Rising Sun to Avalanch Park, MT: 30 Miles

Day 32: July 15: Rising Sun to Avalanch: 30 miles

Sorry for the late post.

At some point in every persons life, they should have the opportunity to test their limits. They should find out what truly they are capable of, and what their limits are. Today was our day.

TJ just renamed his bike Lil Red Glacier, and today the newly named bike would be challenged like never before.

We woke up at 5 am and questioned our plan when we faced a 20 mph headwind. We hit the road around 7, all nervous. What awaited us was a pretty rough start. We rounded our first mountain pass, and were blasted by a wind strong enough to stop us all in our tracks. The sand blasted our faces and the cold wind blew. It was 49 degrees.

We pushed on, and within a few miles we realized that the wind was not too terrible on most stretches when trees or rocks protected us. We didn't climb much for the first 5 miles, but with 8 miles to go we had almost 2000 feet left to climb, against the wind.

We climbed, and climbed. The temperature kept dropping. It was soon in the mid to low 40's, snow was appearing on the sides, and then we hit the road construction. Road construction, next 10 miles. Oh man.

We climbed more, and more, and more. After 2 hours, it was getting darn cold. It was in the low 40s. I was wearing over half of the clothes I had packed. We were bundled up, trying to stay warm...which is made harder by the body sweating even though you are cold. Water began flowing from the sides of the mountain, wetting us further. I lost feeling in my feet, but we were only 2 miles from the top. Katie was leading the way, Laura was falling back. Roger was starting to really struggle for the last 2 miles.

The last 2 miles were rough, very rough. I was froze...the only thing keeping me warm was pushing. The last 5 miles of the climb were 6 to 9 percent grades, all gravel. About a quarter mile from the summit, Laura had met her match. Her and roger have been fighting a cold for a few days, and the thin cold air wiped her out. It took everything she had to fight the headwind, sandblasting, water blasting, and final climb to the top. Roger right behind her. Katie and TJ went ahead to find shelter in the building at the summit.

We arrived at the top, at this point there was 10+ feet of snow everywhere...and the wind was bitter cold. We all pulled off our wet clothes and put on whatever dry stuff we could find.

I pulled off my layers. Shirt 1, shirt 2, shirt 3. Each one was entirely soaked and cold to the touch....even with numb hands. After a 30 minute rest in the non heated shelter, we were at least somewhat dry.

We hugged, and celebrated, with mixed emotions. We conquered the climb, but now we had to go down where there was no pedaling to keep you warm. There was only your tiny bike brakes to keep you from a fatal decent.

The climb took us 3 hours. This is really an amazing time for 13 miles in such conditions on a fully loaded touring bike. This group should be proud...other cyclists stopped and couldn't believe our time, especially on recumbents which everyone knows "can't climb". My bike and gear weigh in at about 100 pounds... and I took it up to Logan pass. Cool. We crossed the continental divide without a photo...fingers too frozen. We wanted to hurry down the mountain quickly to find warmer air. Hypothermia was a major concern....especially with rain clouds looming and this wind.

We layered up again, with everything we had, and started our 20 mile decent. Soooo cold. I put on 3 shirts, a raincoat, and stuffed hand warmers in my socks. They felt like they were burning on my feet, even though they felt cool to my hands. Katie and TJ wore 2 pairs of gloves. Roger and Laura put on whatever they could find that was dry.....and we hit the downhill.

The decent was amazing. We had to stop every mile to let the brakes cool, and our hands thaw, but it was worth it.

We saw a lot of cycling tourists today, all but 1 had their bikes loaded on vehicles. One loan soldier was crawling up the opposite direction. He looked to be barely moving.

During the decent, we tried to stay under 20mph, especially in the gravel sections. Many sections have no wall between you and a thousand foot drop, and the jagged cliff towering up on the other side isn't encouraging either. The cars were courteous, the construction was actually helpful, the gravel slowed us down and eased the wear on the brakes.

Of course, Roger had to get a flat tire on the decent. Flat tires have seemed to have poor timing as of late. A team effort got it changed in record time.

After a few breaks, switchbacks, tunnels, and splashes from falling water, we were back in 60F air. Layers started peeling off.

We are now in our tents, TJ, Roger, and Laura are are already asleep, after a dinner of Ramen noodles at Avalanche Campground. It is 6pm. The warmth of my sleeping bag has never been so inviting.

I think the cold was harder on us than the climb was.

Our food is almost gone, our batteries are all dead, our laundry is in sad shape, and we are beat. Even if this place had electricity or hot water, I am not sure I would have the energy to take advantage of it. If we don't make another mile, this adventure has already shown each of us what we are really made of.

30 mile (1355 total)


I am in awe....

of your collective adventure, will to succeed and writing skills. These posts have had me on the edge of my computer chair!!! I am so excited to see the pictures when you can get to them. Oh to have actually seen the sights with you all would have been amazing.

This trip sounds like it has

This trip sounds like it has been an adventure. I'm not sure I could ever bike this far. I don't think I'm in that good of shape. I cannot wait to see the pictures of the past few days!