Thursday, June 20, 2013

June 19, 2013: MIM Day 4, Wisdom, MT to Hamilton, MT

At present, I am lying in bed in my motel in Hamilton. I am feeling a bit nauseous, apparently a side effect from lunch -- a tuna melt and large mound of fries. Pretty much the only time I eat significant amounts of fried food is on these bike trips, and this very result has occurred before. I don't feel like I'm about to hurl, but I didn't feel well enough to accompany Fred to the nearby Bitteroot Brewery for beer and more food. I didn't think I would be up for this post, either, but here I am.

Today was eventful:
  • We invited Greg (a Trans Am Route cyclist whom we met a couple of days ago) to ride with us today.
  • Right out of the gate we hit a strong headwind and we were glad to have a third person to take turns at the front of the line for the first 15 miles or so.
  • As we started our climb up Chief Joseph Pass (we went over the top at 25 miles), it started raining and pretty much kept raining for the remaining 50 miles of today's ride. Fred had wisely insisted on a stop to get our rain gear on when we felt the first drops.
  • After going over the pass it got suddenly colder, thunder started rumbling, and the rain turned into sleet or hail or something else that is bad. Luckily we came upon a Montana Rest Area, complete with heated information cabin, a mile later. We took refuge there until the thunder abated and the rain became lighter and returned to completely liquid state. While there, Greg and I both added yet another layer of clothing. For me that meant: base layer, short-sleeve jersey, windbreaker, polartec-lined shirt-jacket, and my rain jacket on the top. I was already wearing SealSkinz neoprene socks over woolen socks as well as neoprene gloves.
  • It was 43 degrees when we left the shelter and started the descent of 3500 feet. (The pass is at 7200.) I quickly left the others behind, searching for the happy medium between the chilling effect of a fast descent and the desire to get it over with as soon as possible. That turned out to be a speed of 30 or so, except for switchbacks, which I took much slower. I got down to the store in Sula several minutes before my companions, and took some photos of their arrival (below).
  • When I removed my gloves I found that one of my fingers was numb. Apparently the neoprene gloves were not the answer, so during our warm-up at the store I switched to half-finger polartec gloves that convert to mittens. I also switched from knee warmers to full leg warmers under my rain pants. Officially, I was now using all the cold weather and rain gear in my possession, and it worked out well. Even though the rain eventually seeped through the mittens, my hands remained comfortable. My torso felt cold for a few minutes after each stop, but after pedaling a little I felt good. My feet felt slightly cool from time to time, but not uncomfortably so.  
  • From the time we crested the pass, we were descending. The first 12 miles was at a downgrade that varied from three to six percent. The only energy required was to stay warm and to feather the brakes. The remaining 38 miles was easy pedaling at 15 MPH or faster because of the slight downgrade and lack of appreciable wind.
  • I had the first flat of the trip. My front tire picked up some glass about 10 miles from our destination. There was a handy covered porch nearby, so we were able to fix it in comfort and we were back on the road quickly.
  • Stats: 73 miles, riding time 5 3/4 hrs, 2000 feet of climbing.
  • It may be cold and wet, but we are having a great time! After all, it is days like this that make it "adventure" cycling.
Because of the weather we took few photos. There are a couple at our overnight place in Wisdom, one at the Montana Rest Stop, and a few of Fred and Greg arriving in Sula (Fred replaced the Dollar Store shower cap he was wearing earlier with a makeshift Arabian-style rain hat. Once a fashionista, always a fashionista.)

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