One of the MIT students, Titiene, from the Netherlands awakened everybody with a “It’s 6am; time to get up!” Titiene is a morning person; I am not. Therefore I had to shoot Titiene. He is no longer with us. We all assembled at the local diner for breakfast, and I wrote a couple blogs in anticipation of sending them to my webmaster the following day—my rest day—in Cedar City (tonight’s destination). Breakfast was hearty and full (two eggs, bacon, OJ, and three of the biggest, thickest pancakes I’ve ever seen).
I made it out of the diner around 10am and went on my way, first to a small town called Minersville, only about 15 miles into the ride to Cedar City (which would be 67 miles total). After Minersville, the wind picked up considerably to 40-45mph….and the worst thing, it was a headwind. I have been through some brutal climbs and conditions, but this was the most physically and mentally challenging ride I’ve ever experienced (yet). While I as on flat land before I even approached the climbs up the mountains, I was on my smallest gear, standing off my seat, just to get enough force to turn the pedal. It was a nightmare. I felt as though I might be able to walk quicker than riding, and considered hopping off the bike. However, I thought that would be such a “wuss” move… so I kept pumping the granny pedals. When I did begin ascending my first mountain pass, I was freaking miserable. The wind was unrelenting, the weather was cold, there were a few rain drops, and no shoulders on the side of the highways. Thus I had to be constantly vigilant for drivers coming from behind. I would actually switch to the other lane if there was no oncoming traffic. The second mountain pass was the ass-kicker of the day. It was about an 8-10% grade, and kept snaking up and up…and when you came around a corner, it would continue up. Freaking freak freak. Just when I was about to summit the pass, I noticed the group of bicyclists I had met the day before in Milford (Greg, Claire, and the others) just off the side of the road with their support van. They were eating snacks and drinking water and Gatorade. They kindly invited me to join them for a snack, and I had a banana and some water. We talked a bit, cracked a few jokes, then were on our way again. This gesture by this group lifted my spirits (funny how an act of kindness can do that, at just the right time).
I had so much more to go to finally reach Cedar City, and again, the wind continued to be a nightmare. I could see Cedar City about 20 miles out, nestled into the side of a mountain. How encouraging, but it took over two hours to reach, as I could only muster about 8 mph. I finally made it into Cedar City where Matt had booked a room for us at Super 7 motel. Nice! I arrived and immediately took a warm shower, had a Core Power (this stuff is the bomb for recovery), then took off for a dinner at the Sizzler. Yes!
Afterwards, back to the motel and I fell asleep like a baby. I was so exhausted, and the mental taxation of the day had made an impact. I also felt proud that I persisted through this, the most difficult ride I have ever been on — not once giving in to the temptation to walk my bike, even up the passes with the serious headwinds. Nitey nite.