Beads of sweat are running down my forehead, down my face, forming drops on my nose and chin and eventually dripping down on my cycling computer and the top tube of my Surly Long Haul Trucker. It is not as hot as on a couple of the days the previous week, but still up in the mid 90s on street level. The guitar solo intro of U2’s Where The Streets Have No Name is blasting from my headphones and into my ears, keeping me motivated to make one pedal stroke after the other.
I am about halfway up an ascent of yet another hill, another summit, this one allegedly topping out at around 4000 ft. My legs feel like they have been sore since day two of those past three weeks. My lower back and butt seem to slowly adjust to the strain of hauling around 110 pounds of bike and gear, but usually start to protest heavily about four hours into the riding day.
When you feel pain, you are tired, hot, hungry, thirsty, not necessarily all at once, but scoring a solid 3 out 5 most of the time, thoughts start to creep in about the sense of it all. “What the hell am I doing out here? In the middle of nowhere, on a country road in Idaho?”. Secretly hoping that I don’t end up like one of the countless roadkill victims I have passed or don’t become one of the many white crosses, marking fatal accidents on highways, on the side of the road. Run over by a Winnebago, that isn’t how this adventure should end.
About 300 vertical feet from the summit I get my first flat of the tour. Not even 18 hours after I had crossed the border from Oregon into the State which has chosen “Famous Potatoes” as it’s license plate slogan. I pull off the road, into a little nook that just happened to be there. Everything takes longer than it should, but I try to focus on the task at hand, don’t complain, cause that doesn’t help me at all. After 35 minutes I am back on the road, reaching the summit shortly after.
Sometimes you have to grind it out, focus on whatever is next, the next milestone to reach (for me, that was eventually making it to Missoula in Montana) and remember that, with everything in life, the lows don’t last forever. And once you make it to the end of that slump, which is inevitable if you keep at it, something else will take it’s place.