|A little inspiration from the fridge.|
It was a little after 1pm when Courtney dropped me back off at the Sweet Shop. As I re-packed my seatbag to head out, it stopped raining. I left every layer of clothing on anyway, just in case. I was hoping never to be cold again. I would say I was hoping never to be wet again, but I still had the water crossing in front of me so I went for warmth instead of dryness.
I was hoping to make it to Lansing, 87 miles away. It would be my only chance of a hotel before mile 195. I had a bivy and a liner, but I figured after the cold morning they might not be enough. I made decent time to Harmony, despite some of the freshest gravel ever. (I actually rode by the grading machine.) As I re-stocked on snacks, the cashier mentioned some guys on bikes were here when she started her shift at 1:30. It was 3:45.
I rode away hopeful some of them might stop in Mabel so I could catch up. I passed through Mabel since I still had plenty of water and entered the land of State Line Rd. As I rode along, cursing the wind every time I turned east onto State Line, I realized I was literally riding on the edge of more rain. If I turned north, I rode into sprinkles. If I turned south, I rode into sun. When I rode east, I rode right down the middle, skirting the rain. Somehow, this made the wind seem bearable.
The time passed quickly as I amused myself with this realization and around mile 90 I discovered I was finally catching someone on a bike. As I got closer, I noticed the familiar yellow bag on the handlebars. Ian! Fitting that I would catch up to him first, since he was the one who, in no uncertain terms, told me I'd better get my ass back out here.
Ian and I rode together for the next 25 or 30 miles. We passed Craig and Don at mile 103 where they stopped to bivy. The next 10 or so miles were the most beautiful of the trip. As the sun set, we headed down Irish Hollow Rd. Five miles of downhill later, I was still trying to convince both of us that since Lansing was on the river, maybe, just maybe, we might not have to ride back UP today.
I was wrong.
At some point in the next few miles, we turned onto a road with Hill in the name. I knew we were doomed. At first we rode up together, but eventually we each needed our own pace for what seemed like 5 miles of endless up. When I got to the top it was dark and windy. At one point, I heard what I thought was screaming coming from the trees. I reluctantly kept riding, eventually turning the corner to discover a windmill screeching in the night.
Around 10:30 I arrived in Lansing and discovered that one hotel was full and another was not answering their phone. In a bit of a panic and at the advice of the bartender, I left Ian, who wanted to bivy, and went in search of a bed and breakfast. At nearly 11pm I rang the doorbell. Frank reluctantly opened the door. I figured I had a short window in which to prove I wasn't crazy so I blurted out the short story of my day and explained that I wasn't sure if I'd make it through the night in my bivy.
Less than an hour later, I was asleep in their only available room, a suite, having showered and dried my clothes in my own in-room dryer. My light was charging. Sam was resting on the porch. Life was good.
Tomorrow would be even better. So glad I kept going.....