Canada was beautiful and rugged. This is where we learned how to ride the loveshack, being that we got our bike only 1 month before the race (not by choice), we really had no back rd experience on it. Sure we had a month to practice on flat, paved rds, but getting out climbing and descending on firerds that were rocky, loose, gravel and sometimes mud slick, WHOA! That was eye opening fer shure! It was hard at first, the sound of the gears and chain grinding and popping, the communication, co-ordination of pedaling, shifting, standing and coasting together. But after a week or so, we were riding like pros, ok maybe not pros, but definitely a lot smoother. Climbing was really difficult because of all the weight between us, the bike, gear and food, but the DH-wholly smokes! I was definitely not ready for that. Not being use to having no control on loose, gravely, mud-slick roads took some getting use to. At first I kept asking Jay to slow down, which made it harder for him since he knew I was so nervous, that energy spreads. On the finally decent to the pavement in CA, I was in tears, it was wet, cold and the rd was supa mud-slick, cows running next to and around us while we were traveling at probably 40 mph, I just couldn't control myself.
Getting to the border and into Eureka was a huge relief. We got some food and carried on. That night we missed a turn, slept and in the am took a very beautiful 30 mile side trip up to a lake-it was early in the race, so we just recovered from our error and carried on. Traveling together, it's easy to lose focus, cause we were having such a good time!
Montana was really beautiful and BIG!! But the passes were really cute! Nice, rolly rds. This is where we meet Paul Bunyan aka Jim. Jim asked me what I thought of MT, as he was towering over me at what seemed to be 8 ft tall, my response was everything is really BIG!! It took us a long time to get out of Montana, I guess cause it was so BIG! It was really wet and there was SO much water everywhere, but the mosquitoes didn't seem to be an issue. We lost our spot in Lincoln and replaced our drive train in Helena.
We seem just to cruise thru ID, but I do remember the rail trail. Jay said it was a lot worse for him when he did it in 07, and it was definitely bumpy while we were going thru, so I'm glad it wasn't any worse. The mosquitoes starting getting bad here. Poor Jay, I think for every bite I got he got 20! As we headed down the end of the trail, we saw some men in orange in the middle of the trail-waving and yelling! How cool! It was our good friends and teammates Dave B and Piker! They came to greet us and cheer us on!
Ahh-WY, our home state. It was nice to get here and know we would see the familiar Tetons we love. As we were descending towards Flagg Ranch-who did we see? Our good buds and teammates, Jill, Andy, Chris E. and Lori! More friends greeting us and cheering us on! They got some pics, a little video and Chris E made us a cool banner! After we got some snacks at Flag we headed to Leeks, breaking the chain on the way, for some yummy pizza and tea. We made it to Moran, which wasn't too far for some sleep. The next morning was really hard for me to get up. Up and over Togwotee pass, then on to Union pass. Union pass was tough. It started raining, so the mud and gravel gunked up our drive train and we broke the chain like 4x's.
CO, was definitely the hardest climbing. The passes were steep and long. We replaced our drive train at the Orange Peel in Steamboat. They were really awesome, taking the time to work on the loveshack, getting it dialed in and telling us where to get big fat burritos-which were delicious!
Getting to NM was very exciting, but also very sad, because it meant the end was in sight. Our stop in Abiqui was a good time. Good food, and we were with Chris P., so it changed the scenery and conversation. There was some dogs chasing us thru the town and into the night, heading up the pass, but we were saved by a cattle guard. We climbed 1/2 this pass at night and then finished in the morning. This is where the rainbow gathering was happening, miles and miles of cars, hippie vans, painted buses and people! Lots and lots of people in the middle of the woods. The wx on the final stretch in was just like the prior days, enough rain just to soak everything, rain jacket on, rain jacket off. As we headed in for the last 20 miles we were lucky to run into Kurt on his way back from the finish. He and Maggie were kind enough to turn around and wait for us at the finish and give us a ride to Deming.
And that was it-it was over! No more simplicity of riding 15-20 hrs a day, living off the bike, no more putting on wet Lycra first thing in the morning, definitely no more king size candy bars and crazy food we ate, no more solitude of the trail. Of course there are a ton of details and experiences I have not included, just cause it would be a book. Maybe someday that will happen.
Thanks to our friends Jill, Andy and Cora for taking care of our kids, Burnin' & kitty. Dave Byers for the support and getting our spot back on. Thanks to everyone who helped build our bike, WTB, Fitzgerald's Bicycles, Phil Wood, Crank Bros., Salsa, Slime, Old Man Mtn. racks, Carousel Design for the sweet frame bags, Smartwool, Montbell for keeping us warm at night, Slime for keeping up flat free-which is unbelievable, and MTB Tandems for the guidance and generous support!
Thanks Jay for being the best husband I could ever have! Sharing this adventure with you was just amazing! We are really fortunate to have each other.