pass the ibuprofen please... - Seattle towards Minnesota - CycleBlaze

July 24, 2007

pass the ibuprofen please...

We woke up to blue skies. It was the first time Howard had seen sun for more than thirty seconds in 9-10 days.

He fixed breakfast for both of us... oatmeal and hot tea. We set all of our wet things in the sun to dry.

Jeff the RV Guy came out and Howard and I took turns talking to him. When I'd get ahead of him in my packing I'd make a comment or ask Jeff a question. Howard would slip away and return the favor a few minutes later.

By the time we finished tag-teaming Jeff and getting packed, it was 11:30. After I calculated my climbing speed (slightly more than 4 mph, the pace of an elderly woman using a walker) and the distance to the second summit (29 miles, 283 times the distance of the first airplane flight), I realized that we would reach the peak at 8:30, right about sunset. Oh, well. Time to start riding.

When I got on my bike and began pedaling, my left knee hurt so bad I was unable to use it; I had to pedal with just my right leg. I had already taken a couple of ibuprofen but took a couple more. After I warmed it up some by riding around camp I was able to use it, though it continued to hurt all day.

Less than a mile from camp, we hit a 6-7% grade.

The ascent was spectacular. I took a lot of pictures, but when I looked at them on my camera, they seemed tame and confined.

One really nice thing about being on a bike is that you can stop anywhere for a picture. It's too dangerous in a car, or even a motorcycle, but completely safe on a bike. I've been able to get pictures I wouldn't have been able to get otherwise.

There's a weird phenomenon when bicycling. I understand it's just a matter of perspective, but there are times when it looks like the road in front of you is going up when it's really going down. Or worse, the road in front of you is going down when it's really going up.

Today, we experienced the latter - after a grueling climb (6-7% is pretty steep for me) I'd see a short downhill section. When I reached it I tried coasting, only to find that if I didn't keep pedaling I'd stop within three feet. Instead of climbing up an EXTREMELY steep grade I was climbing up a VERY steep grade.

When I'm pedaling up a steep section of mountain, something happens... I call it The Rhythm... When it happens, it happens all at once. After climbing a ways, all of the muscles I'm not using completely relax, especially from the waist up. Even my legs relax some as I even out the use to all the muscles. I turn the crank at an even, consistent pace, my breathing becomes regular and actually slower, and after a while I think my heart rate slows down just a little, though I've never checked it. It's not a fast pace, simply one that is sustainable for a surprisingly long time.

I love the names of some of the mountain peaks we passed: Cutthroat Peak, The Needles, Big Devil Peak, and others.

About halfway up the mountain I did something that won't surprise those of you who know me... I rode without a helmet.

Yes, that's me... a risk taker. Sometimes I don't wear ear protection when mowing the yard (okay, that one time), I've been known to use a weedeater wearing shorts instead of long pants and steel-toed boots, and occasionally start the car without having first securely fastened my seat belt. It's the thrill of living on the edge.

This is the deal: at some point on the side of the mountain, I realized that I WALK faster than 4 mph. I don't wear a helmet when I'm walking. Well, hardly ever anyway. If I fall, so what? And if a car hits me, well, I'm going to need a lot more than a helmet to protect me. Maybe even more than long pants and steel-toed boots. So, I took it off and strapped it to the back of my bike, safety be damned.

My knee discomfort was tolerable and not getting worse. I nursed it and kept the ibuprofen going.

Along the way, we each ate a Clif Bar, a Power bar, a banana, and a little chocolate.... and dreamed of steak.

About 3/4 of the way up we saw Jeff on the side of the road. He gave us some water and wished us good luck. I love people from Wisconsin. I've met a lot of them in the last two years and I like them all.

On all of my trips, I've taken music to listen to. I learned in the harshest way that I can't listen to it in the morning. When I do my pace quickens, even if I try to go slow. By afternoon, I have nothing left. Just.... Nothing.

With about an hour left of climbing, I pulled out what I call The Afterburners. I put in my earbuds and within two chords the world around me transformed. The heavens opened up and I heard angels singing, though they sounded suspiciously like Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp. My knee pain miraculously vanished, my pace quickened, and my heart rate dropped to a mere 55 beats per minute. I stopped sweating. I stopped smelling bad, and my teeth became whiter. (Okay, maybe not the last two)

I was no Lance Armstrong, but I was nearly superhuman.Within a few minutes I passed Howard. 

A few minutes later I looked back and he had fallen far behind.

I reached Washington Pass, 5477 feet, and waited for Howard.

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We took pictures by the signs, (including a biker's favorite sign: Downhill 7% grade for 7 miles) then began the long descent to Mazama.

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I'm not going to try to describe the feeling of screaming down a mountain on a loaded touring bike.  Not now.  I have to think about it. But I will say, like the cheeseburger... it was good.

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On the way there we passed two people on horses going in the opposite direction, a mother and her daughter. The mom yelled, "Is your butt as sore as mine?" I thought, "Lady, if you only knew."

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In Mazama there were two places to stay: one of them is more than $300 a night. We stayed at the other one.

Howard and I split the cost of the $100 room. After getting cleaned up we went to the restaurant and had a pretty good steak, though it was slightly overcooked. We wondered why it is that every cafe in every small town always overcooks steaks.

I did laundry then blogged until 1:00.

According to Howard's GPS, we climbed a total of 4908 feet today. (if you start at zero feet, climb 20, drop 20, climb another 20, then drop back to zero, that would be 40 feet. It calculated climbing, not change in altitude)

Miles 50.68
Avg speed 8.8
max speed 77.2 (it was about 32)
Time 5:45:00
Cumulative 125.83

Today's ride: 51 miles (82 km)
Total: 126 miles (203 km)

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