Hello to OLT, and family and friends and anyone out there whom I’ve met by giving you a card about OLT.
It’s 8:30 in the evening at the end of what I can now say was the most difficult day of riding. Sometimes I don’t think it can get any better, and then some days, when I’ve had a tough day like the climb to the Teton Summit, I don’t think it could get any tougher. But actually, I would say that today was my hardest day. It was for a lot of other people as well.
It was 120 miles, which the 120 miles wasn’t the only reason it was difficult. From the start of the trip, even though we had sunny skies and what would appear to anyone else to be a beautiful day, if you’re on a bicycle and you have a headwind of 10 knots coming at you for 120 miles of cycling, it’s exhausting. That’s exactly what we had. We had some climbing, but a lot of open terrain on Route 26 with nothing in sight for miles and miles and miles and miles. With the headwind, it was just grueling, and the road grates on the side of the road that we had to stay on the other side of because of the traffic going by at around 80 mph with a lot of trucks. The shoulder was very small, sometimes wider, sometimes narrower. I definitely was thinking today, “And I decided to ride my bicycle across America? Whatever made me think I wanted to do that?!” And I also thought to myself, “And I paid to do this! Am I crazy or what?” That entered my mind many times in the beginning of the trip up to about the 70-mile mark. But I have to tell you, after 80 miles, the last 40 miles got more and more difficult. The last 20 miles, I could hardly even think straight. And if it were not for Cindy and Russ Sage, I would probably not have been able to finish my ride today. The last 15 miles, Russ literally stayed in front of me the whole time, trying to block the headwind for me. I just pedaled one stroke at a time. Towards the end of the trip we had to make a stop and a turn, and my body just wouldn’t make the turn. I fell over on my bike, which fortunately, I didn’t get hurt, although I did scrape my leg a little. I didn’t hurt my bike at all, so I was very blessed that way. I’m not even sure that I got a bruise on my hip, I kind of fell so slowly and so gracefully! I’m not sure how I did that.
It was very grueling and definitely when I got in, I was so exhausted I couldn’t even get my bags to my room. I had Cindy help me with that. Also when I got to my room at the hotel here, the key didn’t work, and I literally just went back to the front desk and said, “I really need some help, I need you to walk me through this because I can’t go back to the room and have the door not open again, I really don’t have it in me to do one more thing.” So she was very gracious here at the hotel, she brought my bags into my room for me, she made sure my key was working. I took my shower, I was filthy from the road today, from the heat and sun and the grease that got all over me from my chain. I cleaned up and went and had some dinner, and went and had my bike checked and just got back to my room.
I was literally on my bike from 6:15 this morning until 6 o’clock tonight, almost 12 hours of being on my bike. I have to tell you, I’m extremely, extremely glad that I have tomorrow off. I’m looking forward to talking to the Casper Channel 13, I hear they want to interview me, and also the Casper Journal. So I’m looking forward to that tomorrow, as well as having a friend of mine on the trip, Marie, nicknamed Mo, help me get my pictures out. I know I need to get a lot of pictures out that I’ve been taking. I just needed some help to do that. Thank goodness I have so many wonderful people with the America By Bicycle group here who have just been most gracious to me and most helpful to me in my low moments and with the computer stuff that I’m really on the flat side about, people are very generous to help me out.
I can’t say enough about America By Bicycle. Mike and Barbara Munk, among some of the staff, as well as Jeff and Jim and Karen, they’re just all wonderful. Barbara has helped me a lot with different stretching exercises that I’ve needed for the numbness in my feet and whatnot, she’s very knowledgeable. And Mike Munk is just a star rider, he’s won all kinds of medals and awards for races, he’s an incredible cyclist. They just do a phenomenal job of organizing this trip and keeping us safe and giving us lots of information every day, lots of support with the SAG stops. Mike and Jim and Jeff, the three of them, are constantly helping us. The staff is just fantastic and I would recommend America By Bicycle to anyone, anytime to do a bicycle trip with. They are really phenomenal, I can’t say enough. I know I I’m going on and on about them. Mike Munk was there at the end of the trip today to cheer me on and give me a great big hug and congratulate me for making it in, because literally, the last 10 miles, I don’t even know how I did it. It was really by the grace of God, I just kept pushing one pedal at a time. I really didn’t think I had it in me. But I have to say I’m really grateful that I finished and I’m glad this day is over. I hope we don’t have another day this tough, but if we do, I’ll be up for the challenge, because every day is a new day, and thank God for that.
Again I say, God bless you and God bless America. I am so glad I’m riding across America, so don’t worry!