Like last time, after taking a day off, I was shot out of a cannon. The idea was to make it to Superior, or thereabouts, in two days. I'd do one pass per day, camping in between them the first night, then somewhere outside Superior the second.
I made it to the intended campsite by 1:00. More than halfway to Superior already. It would take maybe two hours to clear the next pass, then a lot less time to make it down. Why not?
It had been a warm, pleasant, but somewhat cloudy day. On the way up the second pass, even the occasional traffic dropped to zero. It was quiet and peaceful. Essentially perfect riding conditions. This is how you want to do the last climb of the summer.
After an exercise in patience, I got to the top and looked around. Behind, the clouds were thick and dark. It was obviously raining in that direction. Good thing I didn't stay there! Let's head down.
Shortly after the descent began, a few raindrops. Eh, seen this before. Get down the hill and you'll escape the bad weather. Then there were a few more drops. And a few more. It was getting colder.
Before long, I was caught in a heavy shower, the rain pelting as I whizzed down at high speed. Going faster only made the rain sting more, but if I kept going, I might ride my way out. That never happened. I started shivering. I considered putting on another layer, but that probably wouldn't help. The jacket was the only waterproof thing I had, and I was already wearing it. Putting on more clothes would only mean there would be no dry clothes to change into later.
Eventually, the rain began to calm down, and the clouds were lighter behind. By speeding downhill, I'd essentially moved with the rain, ensuring I stayed in it longer. I found a few trees with a thick canopy and waited it out while having a large snack for dinner.
Once the rain stopped, I coasted downhill for another ten minutes, in order to blow myself dry and to camp somewhere other than where I ate (an odor-free camp is a critter-free camp). I felt better, to a surprising degree, by the time I finished up and picked a campsite, secluded in a thick grove. Put on some dry clothes and felt good as new. The plan was to make it somewhere around here tomorrow. Just like that, I'd made up for the day off.
From here on out, I was already a day ahead of schedule, and every day was supposed to be flat, short, and easy. If I wanted to, I could hold a more relaxed pace from now on.
So I slept in. Then I took a long break in the first town I got to. And another long break in the next one. And the next one.
By the end of the day, I'd gone only 78 km, and it was 7:00 PM when I set up the tent. Less than half the distance compared to the day before, no hills, no rain, and it took longer. OK, maybe I can't always relax that much.
Along the way, I met my second, third, fourth, and fifth touring cyclists of the summer, who were riding as a group. I only managed to remember the names of the first pair I met, Bobby and David. They had some good info about the trails up ahead and a handful of questions about the Wild West Route.
Later, I found myself leapfrogging a group of folks on dirt bikes and ATVs, riding the same rail-trail as myself. At one point, I stopped to talk to them. They pulled a round of beer out of their cooler and we all had a toast. Made the next hour of riding a little more interesting.
from Wild West