Sunday, June 22, 2008

Hell's Canyon

After an 85 mile ride, tonight we’re staying at the Woodhead Campground on the Brownlee Reservoir. We’re just in Idaho and it’s now Mountain Standard Time. Today’s ride was very rewarding and contained some surprising challenges. Overall it was a gradual downhill ride with one 1,300 foot climb about 40 miles into the ride. I was surprised at the difficult grade, having to stop three times to catch my wind. Looking back from the summit, the sign said “7% grade. 3 miles.” From the east side of the summit, I enjoyed dropping 2 miles on the same 7% grade into Hell’s Canyon. The Adventure Cycling map warned of the high temperatures in the canyon and said bring extra water, which I did. The ride was going well until I reached the Brownlee Dam on mile 82, with the campground 3 miles into the reservoir. There was another 7% grade and a mild head wind. It was very hot and dry. In fact I learned the temperature was well into the 90's. I rested, finished my water and said a quick prayer. It wasn’t enough. Again I stopped a few times to regain my wind. The third time I stopped a young man; John pulled over and asked if I needed help. He gave me ice to put on my neck and water to rehydrate. Then Mary came back down the hill to check on me. After resting and rehydrating I went on. It was only an eighth of a mile and then downhill to the campground. John and his family are also camping and he directed Mary to a just vacated site. Then he came by later to make certain I was OK, which I am. I told him he’s an angel.

Several other transcontinental bicyclists planned to make it to this camp site today. The wind has become strong enough to blow over camp chairs. I hope they make it.

I did get a new saddle yesterday. It’s gel. The geometry doesn’t quite fit and it feels like wearing a diaper. It’s great. It absorbed all the road shock today. I wouldn’t be able to complete the tour without this more comfortable saddle.

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