Texas Hill Country
October 12, 2020
Lava Hot Springs, ID
Elevation: 4,975 ft.
Distance: 54.0 mi.
Odometer: 1,847.0 mi.
I had my hotel room until 11:00 AM and didn't have to meet Matt until 2:00 or 3:00 PM, so I figured I'd "sleep in" until about 7:30 AM, take full advantage of the hotel's breakfast, and check out the Oregon Trail Museum next door to the hotel. Sadly, there wasn't much to it. The chronology on the wall right in the front lobby was basically the best part. Went back to the room, packed up, and hit the road about 10:30 AM.
The day was almost entirely flat, with slight declines peppered in here and there. Short day too, so I made it to about the halfway point at around noon. Lots of calls to and from Matt throughout the day, trying to figure out where each other were and about when each of us would get to Lava Hot Springs. Looked like I might beat them there.
For a long stretch between Soda Springs and the big hill at the end, the shoulder was in such bad shape that it felt like riding on a rumble strip. The traffic lane, however, was in perfect shape. By the time that was over, I got so frustrated that I took to riding in the lane when there was a huge gap between cars, checking over my shoulder every ten seconds so I'd know when to move back into the shoulder. All the while, you could see the hill coming for about ten miles.
The hill was an 8-9% grade for about 2.5 miles. Any steeper and I probably would've wound up in my granny gear. The most demoralizing part was halfway through, when you come around a corner and see that the hill is twice as long as you thought it was. Ten minutes of grunting later, I crested the hill and saw a sign saying "5% grade next 4 miles." Oh, this was going to be fun.
A 5% grade isn't the steepest downhill in the world, but four miles of it is a lot of time to build up speed, enough that I figured I had a chance to break my top speed for the summer. I shifted up and pedalled for momentum, but a solid headwind kept me from getting above 35 mph. Forgot about speed after a while and enjoyed the rest of the coast downhill.
Beat Matt there by about an hour, so I had time to pitch the tent and change out of my bike clothes while I waited. Eventually saw a blue truck roll up with hands waving out both windows. Walked up as he got out of the truck and gave him a big hug. Good to see him again.
Spent the next few days grilling food over the campfire, tubing down the river, setting off fireworks on the 4th of July, and just enjoying some time off of Freebird with my brother. I've got a few marks for wear from the river, though Matt got it worse. It's been a good weekend. Wrapping it up by writing again in my journal by the light of a warm, flickering campfire.
from Pedal for Potatoes