A Hard Day's Night (USA Day 80)
Maybe you can tell by the bags under these here eyes: we slept terribly. Riley took our bed for the comfiest and curled up right in the middle, making our sleeping bags and the majority of the mattresses inaccessible due to dog. When, at around two, the last of our ‘unpoppable’ Swedish mattresses deflated, Amy was forced to seek asylum on my punishment mat. Riley was not impressed: he buggered off to the safety of deep inside Mike’s sleeping bag on the other side of the room. He slept great, we gather. We, on the other hand, huddled together on the hard, cold floor, wondering when the next day would begin.
It began at six, with a flurry of alarms and a slump of bodies as we all attempted to rouse ourselves. Aside from Mike and Riley, who’re presumably still sleeping happily together in their shared sleeping bag, the rest of us rolled off west into rural Montana, towards two enormous hills that would mark the main activity for the day. After encouraging Sam and Erik to leave us behind at the foot of the first one, we pootled uphill accompanied by ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ with its heavy double tracking, odd lack of rock ‘n’ roll and questionable lyrics about taking revenge on the entirety of womankind after a bad break-up. Name the song!
It was in the valley between the first and second climbs that the lack of sleep caught up with us (which isn’t a great feat given our relative speeds). I felt my eyelids drooping, my thoughts blurring. At the foot of climb two, we pulled over and I dropped off to sleep where I lay, until my leg was invaded by spiders a few seconds later.
The decision was made: we’re getting bored on these hills because we’re simply not riding hard enough. Your suggestions were fantastic, and thanks very much, but the main issue is that on a hill you’re supposed to be desperately stretching for the top, not lazily stretching for another fruit polo. We attacked the hill with vim, if not vigour, pumping out quite the Ringo-esque rhythm all the way to the top.
Whoever designed this particular mountain forgot to put in a downhill, however. We kept our high altitude and bad attitude all the way to Jackson, where the sleepiness returned once again. This time we battered it back with a trail mix barrage and clambered back on our bikes for the final, headwind-stricken but mainly downhill twenty miles. At about this point, a chap drove past in the other direction with his window cranked and called out, “I read your blog!” We all pulled over, dismounted our relative vehicles and revelled in the coincidence. He’s from Idaho, and is taking his sons back to college over east. I felt suddenly rather self-aware that people actually read this dross, but chuffed that he’d done so. If you live on the remainder of our route and smell us coming, please do say hi! It made our day.
With shops due to close in little Wisdom and miles still to cover, we time-trialled against the wind and made it to our campsite with plenty of sunlight left. Sam and Erik, who’d had similar travails, were already there, as well as through-hiker Isaac (trail name: Isaac), who’d bought himself a half-gallon tub of ice cream and finished it in a sitting. Of all the achievements that any of us managed today, I’d say that was the most momentous.
Today: 68 miles
Total: 3,741 miles