This was a day made for self doubt and self betrayal. A day made to tear you apart first then provide a reward after your proper humbling. A day that taketh then giveth.
Is giveth a word?
The Futility of Hand Pumps
I left the cool little cottage that the host gave me in Dickinson. Not before first experiencing some mechanical headaches. Noticing the front tire could use some air, I proceeded to pump it up with one of those small, impossible hand pumps. This one screws on over the Presta valve onto the threads and then you can start your biggest workout of the day by pumping 1/1000th plume of air with each agonizing push.
All kinds of things can and will go wrong. First if you don’t get the nozzle screwed down well onto stem, the air just leaks out. Next, if you move the valve stem a lot as you push and pull on the hand pump you can ruin your tube when it develops a leak where they weld the stem onto the tube. But what I did was unscrew the Presta valve from the stem when I tried to unscrew the pump nozzle.
This results in an instant flat. It took me awhile to figure out that my multi tool actually has 2 mm wrench, so I could reinstall Presta valve and tighten it enough so I can remove nozzle.
At this point I have lost 1.5 hours of time and had 2 workouts for what I thought would be a simple job to add a little pressure before taking off that morning. As I left town I found a City Brew coffe shop and lost another hour.
Ride to Medora
The ride to Medora starts on Old hwy 10 going west. The wind was strong and continuous, driving my avg speeds to less than 10mph. The ride was only 45 to 50 miles, but long climbs and wind really worked on my mind. I really started questioning if this was normal. With breaks and low speed, it was evident it was going to take me all day to get there.
As I rode my lower back started hurting. Then the top muscle on my thigh threatened to quit. And no mercy from the wind.
As I rode into Belfield and began a tortuous climb, 2 young men on touring bikes coming the opposite direction passed me going 30 mph. I could hear there yelps of glee from 1 mile away what with the tremendous wind push they were getting and some assistance from gravity. Their experience was 180 degrees from mine, and man was I jealous. They sped by me with hardly a glance.
Badlands and Painted Canyon
Salvation came from the change of scenery. It may have felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere, but as I rode into the Badlands and Painted Canyon, I was awestruck with the beauty. Rock formations stood out from buttes and hills and often had different colors from brown to red to white. Hawks circled below as you viewed the landscape from a height advantage. Then a large buffalo sauntered by on a cliff.
The last 20 miles hurt, but the change in scenery made it interesting and fun.
I stopped at the Red Trail camp and decided to stay 2 days to recover. I have not taken a day off since Memorial Day and think I need both a mental and physical break. Time to heal. Dinner was at the Little Missouri Saloon.
Looks like the next stretch of road as I head west and north will be very desolate with few towns and services. I want to plan my itinerary and check food supplies before proceeding.
I texted my more experienced friend Gary R to ask him if my experience was also his experience. I needed reassurance that a day into the headwinds was a shared experience. Of course I know that it is but to hear from Gary was helpful. He also had days like this when he biked the same route 3-4 years ago. I needed affirmation that I didn’t totally suck at this!