Today was an 86 mile ride (89 given one wrong turn) from Burley to Pocatello. The elevation gain was modest at 1,200 feet. The wind was mostly at our back. It felt relatively easy. My average speed was about 18.5 mph, and I would say that after mile 20 or so my average pace was closer to 20mph. I haven’t spoken much about average speed on this blog because this is not a race. We all start out slow and gradually the faster riders pick up pace. And many times I will ride side-by-side and have a conversation with someone. And traffic/road conditions, and following directions also alter pace. So, for most of us, we actually ride slower than we do back home. But today I knew I was riding relatively fast and so did the group of riders I was with.
The terrain was relatively flat and the same as the past few days. In fact at route rap last night we were told it was going to be boring. But it wasn’t. There is still something about long stretches of road as far as the eye can see, with hills in the background, and a few farms that I find beautiful.
The big news today concerned Mike, the tour leader. It is hard to convey in words how much we all have come to admire Mike. He is a retired air force officer and a natural leader. He is also a very enthusiastic biker. Who also could make a tire repair clinic interesting? His blogsite has statistics on his riding: he bikes about 7,000 miles a year. He has done a century in 3:54. His max speed on a bike is about 64mph. He has crossed the country something like 40+ times (mainly as tour leader and so not peddling every mile, but who do you know who has been cross country that many times?). He has done this route something like 12 times. He has a cohesive staff and is clearly in charge, but he leads with common sense and a sense of humor. He has made all feel much less anxious about things on the trip. So today, Mike broke his ankle. Changing a tire. Wha?? Well the tire was on the van, not a bike. The tire iron did not quite fit the bolt and it snapped off and broke his ankle. He will be on crutches with a cast for the rest of the trip. So, what we learned today is that crazy things happen, even to Mike. A further reason to be cautious.
I had hoped that the local press was going to come to the hotel to do interviews with riders–it is news to have cross country bikers come through. And I was told that the focus would be on charity riders. So, I was prepared to see if I could make news in Pocatello with marriage equality. This is extremely conservative part of the world. Mormons on top of being from remote farm country. So I wanted to see how far I could get. I sat in the lobby all afternoon because I did not want to miss them if they came. I practiced conservative sound bytes in my head, hoping they might play on TV. But unfortunately, one of the nearby neighborhoods had a fire last night that destroyed 64 homes and the news was clearly diverted. Although the conditions up here are not as bad as in Colorado, the area is dry and fireworks have been banned (against protests from locals). I am hoping for another opportunity…