Day 5 - We
reach the next downhill section at about 3:30 AM.
I’m feeling great and have been ever since coming
out of Wardsworth Canyon. My feet are killing me because I’ve been wearing bike shoes
on a 40+ hour hike.
I’ve paid some attention to them, but not nearly
last few miles of the bike leg has been on smoothly-graded
I’ve learned over the past few miles that it’s
much easier for me to stay on the bike and pedal, however
slow it may be.
It’s easier on the feet and it feels more like
We are near CP 16
but the checkpoint marker is not where it is supposed
to be. I decide quickly that we are definitely in the right spot,
and the CP is not.
The Four Winds team has not historically hid
checkpoints, so we continue on with the belief that
the CP is missing.
We’ll make a note and let them know at Strawberry
struggle through the last couple of hours of darkness
through rolling ups and downs on our way to CP 17.
I’m feeling confident of our position on the
map and think I’m getting pretty good at reading and
identifying the mountainous terrain.
I also decide that my Suunto
Vector altimeter watch is the single best investment
I have ever made in race equipment.
What an awesome navigational aid!
the way to CP 17, we find an incredible surprise.
At the top of a hill we come across a tent with
It turns out that they’re the CP for the hiking
section that passes next to the bike leg.
We also get our first glimpse of Strawberry Reservoir.
It’s exciting to finally see our destination
and our spirits pick up. The real bonus though is military rations!
A banquet of MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat) is spread
out before us and you would never believe how good cold
ravioli could taste.
Snack pudding and fresh cold water round out
the meal as we stuff ourselves, sitting at 8400’ watching
over the valley below.
The checkpoint volunteer, “Ski Patrol Mike”,
watches Danny walk away from the rest of the group and
says “watch him, he's definitely a city guy, he’s peeing
into the wind.” It seems like a good metaphor for this bike ride.
CP 17 is another ½
mile away. The
ride from 17 to the road is a fast singletrack downhill.
This time it's a nice hard packed trail dropping
about 1000’ over 3 miles.
This trail brings more animals, but of a different
of sheep line the trail and clog the way.
We race down the trail baaing at them and laughing
as they scatter.
Just another in a long line of weird experiences.
As we get within a
few miles of Strawberry Reservoir, Colleen finds a burst
of energy. She’s
cranking up the hills!
These last few miles go quickly as we ride like
horses racing back to the stable.
Of course, we have more bike problems but we
refuse to let them slow us down.
Tom’s derailleur snaps off his bike, so we convert
his bike to a single gear by breaking the chain and
removing the derailleur.
Tom gets another flat tire.
Tom’s rear disk brake explodes in a shower of
springs and screws.
No big deal, just pack up the shrapnel and continue
Sixty-four hours after
we started, we reach the park road and the marina is
in sight. Everyone’s
excited to see us after our epic as
Will from Team Aardvark hugs me and says, “Man,
we didn’t know where you were and Randy was going nuts,
it’s good to have you back.”
We walk up to the CP and proudly announce, “we
didn’t get eaten by bears, we did not have to cut into
one of those cows for food, and absolutely, positively,
at no time were we ever lost!”
The bike ride is finally over!
fries, and shakes are waiting for us.
I wolf down a Double Quarter Pounder and a Double
Cheeseburger, washed down with two tall lemonades and
a strawberry shake...kind
of appropriate since we’re at Strawberry Reservoir!
With gear prepared
and stomach full, I head off with Randy for some map
study time before hitting the boats.
I work for about an hour and fall asleep reading
the maps. Randy graciously offers to work on the route while he loads
me into a nearby bed.
What a great friend!
How many people would give up vacation and family
time to work as hard as he and Jerry have this week.
Their support is appreciated.