Heat n sand.
After a restful night next to the Colorado River at Dewey Bridge, we awoke to pleasant temps and headed out at 6:30 a.m. to tackle Day Three: 33 miles and 7,100 feet of climbing, more than I had ever done in a single day. Mike, Chris and I were intent on getting it done but we would have to without the luxury of a resupply as there was no place to meet our RV support along the way. Robb and Mark would ride the first 10 or so miles with us then planned on heading back as we rode onward. And onward we did ride.
At about 11 a.m., we ditched the bikes and hiked up the hillside to gain some shade provided by the mountains so that we could rest and eat lunch. After that, we had to brave the heat and sand of the desert valley and it was tough, really tough. I happened to have a burst of strength and pulled my two partners through the stretch. Little did I know how much I would need them later in the ride. A reasonably short climb led us to the top end of Fisher Valley, and a nice refreshing downhill. We noticed a 4×4 vehicle coming up towards us and we decided to wait and say hi, and ask if they had any extra water. We were greeted by some very friendly folks who gladly refreshed our water supply. A second 4×4 party came by shortly thereafter and did the same. This big-time hookup rejuvenated us for the time being.
A short-lived downhill stint led us to a hard right turn and, yes, more climbing. I started to feel downtrodden. But there was no other option so we all kept grinding, praying that the end was near. I had to step off my bike numerous times to stretch and relieve an aching left hip that was not handling the bike geometry and repetitive pedal motion very well. At this point, my cumulative time in saddle was at about 12 hours—that’s normally 8-10 rides for me, covering 4-6 weeks of riding in season. Eventually we made it, I made it, with some help from our team who rode down from the campsite (Beaver Meadows) to meet us and help pull us up the remaining miles.
I was literally sobbing in pain and exhaustion when I finally reached the camp. I stripped off my hydration pack and helmet and collapsed underneath a mature Ponderosa Pine, face down. I’ve never been so tired and happy in my life. The campsite was excellent, cool and lush, just what we needed. We cooked and ate and got to bed. With my tent nestled underneath another mature pine, I relaxed as the wind whipped through the branches in an odd mixture of pain and satisfaction. Tomorrow we would descend then climb (paved) road up to the start of the second half of the Whole Enchilada, the prize we have all been working for—25 miles of sick singletrack, slick rock and big drops. Having ridden it a few years ago, I was really excited to finish with a bang.
Lunch stop in the shade . . .
Trying to keep cool on the long climb
Overlooking Fisher Valley
Camping site for night 3