I walked over to the Gatorade cooler to fill up my water bottles and was pleasantly surprised to see a stream of blue Gatorade flow out, the best flavor. Despite the anticipation, people chatted cheerfully as they made preparations for the road. Pumps squeaked and Velcro scratched as we pumped up our tires and strapped on our shoes.
PSSSSSSSTTTT! With a sound more powerful than a deflating thermarest, Amanda's front tire suddenly went flat, the rubber of the tire splayed out on either side of the rim of her wheel. Amanda sighed slightly and began working to remove her wheel from her bike to replace the inner tube. Another day, another flat.
Her, Kat, Sarah, Cindy, Nyx, and me started off around 6:30 this morning after the sun finally rose. The sky was overcast and the temperature stayed cool and we cruised easily to mile 35 where first lunch was. We chewed on coconut peanut butter and razzleberry jelly, two new condiments at lunch that we had to try. The coconut peanut butter was unexpectedly sweet. Right after first lunch, I saw my favorite road sign:
I got into a tuck position to get as aerodynamic as possible and flew down the descent into a beautiful canyon. Idaho continues to surprise me with its incredibly varied terrain. Normally arid land is heavily irrigated to make lush and fertile crop lands blanketed with thriving corn and alfalfa plants. Waterfalls spurt from canyon walls, creating streams that make their way to the Snake River. Sagebrush covers land covered in dry grass, ready to burn at any given time. It is a beautiful and sometimes unforgiving landscape.
A few riders made a wrong turn and got on the interstate by accident. Second lunch was pretty late in the ride, around mile 75, to accommodate those riders. I was feeling great when I rolled in. There was a half-empty (or half-full?) two-liter bottle of Coke sitting in the trailer. I downed half of it, savoring the sweet and caffeinated beverage which really hit the spot. I ate another quick PB&J and headed out, trying to beat the heat. The day was rapidly getting hotter and the wind was starting to pick up. I had been feeling so good that I decided to head out with a few of our faster riders, Dan and Kevin, because I figured I could keep up. Bad decision.
A few miles in, I just could not pick up my legs any longer. I was struggling to hold a weak 14 mph. The Coca-Cola sat like a carbonated rock in my stomach, threatening to come up at any moment. The small rises in the road felt like mountains and I panted like a dog in the sun. "Drop me!" I pleaded to Dan who stayed with me even though he could ride much faster. He did not want to leave me alone on a road with virtually no shade. We were riding on the Oregon Trail historical pathway.
Miraculously, we came across a house with a green lawn and a few shade trees, a much-needed oasis in the Idaho desert. I told Dan that I had to pull off and rest in the shade and told him he should continue without me. He took off and used the last bit of energy I had to climb a small wood fence into a strangers yard and promptly fell asleep in the grass. My dreams were filled with the sounds of flies buzzing and the whirring of bicycle wheels as my teammates passed me unknowingly. A half hour later, I awoke just in time for Amanda, Ethan, and Kat to roll up, seeking the same shade that I found. The nap had done its magic and the Coca-Cola rock was gone. My legs felt better.
We conquered the last 17 miles together, stopping only to cool off in the sprinklers in an alfalfa field. After 103 miles, we arrived in Mountain Home, ID where we were welcomed into the house of our gracious host and hostess. We were so psyched to be in an actual house again that Kat did a jig in the kitchen. I am blogging while laying on a couch right now and it is amazing. It's all about the little things on Bike and Bukld!
Relatively short 77 mile day tomorrow. Day two of our 13 day stretch! It is time to get some sleep!