This leg was a few days ago. Until we arrived in Missoula, MT yesterday we were without any cell or wifi service for quite some time. It is a very interesting state of mind in today’s world to be unable to reach anyone. It left most of us quite uncomfortable. It also left our families worried that they were unable to confirm our safe arrival. It is an obvious reality, but it really hit us over the head just how dependent we are on immediate communication.
I think of the ride from Grangeville to Syringa as three distinct rides. The first was in wide open expanses of intentionally burnt fields and lovely rollers to ride up and down. we could see for miles and miles. As we rode we discussed (mostly questions rather than answers) why the fields were burnt that way, what the new planting was in September, what all the straw (vs. hay) is used for. There were few cars and we could ride in small groups and enjoy each other’s company at the same time we enjoyed the scenery.
The second part of the ride was a treacherous descent that was on rough pavement, was miles of the steepest slopes we have encountered with sharp turns. I did not enjoy any of it and several of us chose to walk the steepest sections. Off the bike, I could enjoy the amazing views. On the bike in those parts, I was not able to enjoy anything. I have no regrets, even though it is a goal of mine to become more confident on descents. It was remarkable how different I felt at the same, or faster, speed when I can see what comes ahead. I think my discomfort is a combination of control issues and insecurity in my bike handling skills. I plan to work on both in the coming year.
The third part of the ride took us back to the woods as we followed the Clearwater River into past Kooskia and into Kooskia, ID. We stayed in a group of cabins across the road from the river, and it was beautiful. The cabins were quite nice although the configurations of beds made us alter our usual nights of either singles or doubles. I am usually in a double room, but at the River Dance Lodge, I had a loft room to myself with its own shower, toilet and sink. Downstairs, were two women who usually have single hotel rooms. They had their own rooms, but shared a bathroom. There was a living rom, but it was filled with all three bikes and we didn’t use it at all.
After our arrival, before dinner, we had an Equinox party hosted by three friends who have done many rides together. There was music on a little Bluetooth speaker and it was nice to break the post-ride routine with a party. It really made clear how well we have gotten to know each other at this point in our trip. We weren’t getting to know each other at this party, we knew each other well enough to engage in a different way.
At our map meeting that evening after dinner, we learned of coming road construction that would be the subject of ongoing planning and discussion over the next couple of days.