Lincon, Mn. – Lava Mountain Trail ; 147km distance, 3,050m climbing, 11hrs 08mins moving time.
I am Gregs knees. I am in pain. More pain that you’ve ever experienced. Hear me creak. Feel me with your every waking moment. Fear me…no no not the Aleve!!
Naproxin, how I love thee. I wake in pain, too much pain, something has to be done about this. I chug some Peronin and Aleve for breakfast washing down the Snickers I didn’t stay awake long enough to finish. My body is screwed, but I’ve ticked one of the big climbs, and one that was bigger than expected. Today was going to be easier. Right? I fiddled with my cleats and moved them forward in my shoes, they were already as far back as possible, may as well try the other direction. As I start to cram gear into my bag I look at my seatpost. We fuck me, I’ve been riding with it a centimetre higher than my fit mark. I drop the post, curse myself again, pack all my kit and roll out. It’s only maybe 5:30am and I’m angry with the world.
A few kilometres of road give way to gravel and trees again. I’m sore, I can’t sit down yet, and the drugs haven’t kicked in. Suffice to say I’m not in a great mood and I just get on with trudging up the hill until I build up enough sweat to soften my chamois so I can sit down again. I crunch through the Helena Forest almost wishing a bear to step out so I can unleash peppery death on it. After a while the Naproxin has kicked in and I start to pedal for the day. It starts to rain. Awesome. I make my first navigation error, I go down the hill following other tyre tracks that made the same mistake as me. Idiot. I sit on the side of the trail pulling on waterproofs and wondering why the fuck I am here. I am not having a good day. I am not enjoying this.
As I roll into the outskirts of Helena I am down and out. Head bobbing with lack of sleep and too many hours pedalling in the past 4 days. I rest on the TT bars and doze off – not ideal on the hard shoulder descent on an interstate. I wake to the roar of a semi pulling past me as I’ve drifted into the 1st traffic lane. Instant energy. I wake up, pull over to a gas station and stop. Two Red Bulls + food + a bag of Skittles. I need to get myself back together.
Helena comes and goes in a flurry of burrito, cola, and self pity. I almost stop for the day here, but it’s 4pm and I can’t do that. I look at my phone and cruise Twitter and Instagram as I get SPOTstalked by a nice guy from the university. I get informed that I’ve made a big gap on people and they are moving slow today too. I cram another burrito in my bike, fill up on cola and Gatorade and get going again. Buoyed a bit, but not relishing going back into the cold and wind again. But to my luck it starts to warm again, temps creep into the high teens and I can ditch the windproof layers and get on with riding that bit faster. Oh look, more trees.
Finally the trees break and I’m out onto some open plains, able to see for more than a few meters at a time. The down side is the wind which picks up instantly throwing grit and rain in my face. May as well continue the day as it started I suppose. I ride on. I ride back into the trees. It’s starting to get dark and I know I have a hike a bike coming up. The Lava Mountain Trail is known for it, but I am back in a groove the few kilometres before I get there. Riding through Blood Gulch I meet some guys touring the route. I stop, we talk, I enjoy the company – the first since Ovando yesterday evening – as I ride into the forest I’m feeling ok again. I know where I’m going, I don’t really care how long it takes. I’ll just ride until I find somewhere nice to bivi.