Day 18: Powell, ID to Missoula, MT (58 miles)/Day 19: Rest Day in Missoula

Cold. Rain. Sleet(?). Lolo Pass. Really cold.

That was pretty much how we came into Missoula on Sunday. While I am sure the views were grand, but most of us were focused on one thing: How cold we were.

The day started with a short “peloton” ride through the rest of the construction. All of us on bikes took the full right lane and the SAG car rode behind us all with her flashers on. The plan was for her to tap the horn three times if a car came up so we would have time to find a safe place to get off the road. During the 1.5 miles, there was just one pickup truck and it was an official ID highway truck and instead of waiting for us, it pulled out and around into the left-hand lane. The best laid plans… Regardless of that one truck’s flaunting of our system, we all arrived safely at the end of the construction zone to ride on to Lolo Pass.

The climb itself wasn’t as hard as others we have done, but the weather made it much less pleasant. Even going up hill I was cold - really cold. I could not climb the way I have been climbing. Every pedal stroke hurt, not my muscles, but my right foot. CRPS makes cold pretty close to debilitating. It is hard to explain the pain the cold causes but it is intense and unlike anything else I have experienced. Because it is so painful, I travel with a heating pad so that I can wrap my hands/feet in it if necessary.

It is a hard thing for me to say I just can’t do “that”, whatever “that” is. Sometimes though it is true that It hurts too much or it brings on pain that last a long time. Cold is one of the things I have to think about that way now. I came to the ride knowing that I might have to say that I can’t ride when it is really cold. I knew I might have to say I can’t do that or I risk not being able to do other rides on other days.

So when I arrived at the top of the pass after climbing for 8 or so miles and was freezing cold after a climb, I could not imagine how cold I would be on the descent. So I took a “bump” and rode to the next SAG stop and then got out and rode the rest of the way. Even though I know it was the right thing to do, it really messed with my thinking. I spend a lot of time trying to counter the messed up nerve signals that are a part of CRPS. I tell myself all the time that the pain isn’t “real” even though I really feel it. I tell myself over and over that there is no real and present pain - it is old pain that I am reliving. I tell myself that I have to keep moving or I won’t be able to. I am determined not to give in to CRPS. However, my experience is that there are times that I do have to say I just can’t do it. And yesterday was one of those days. Now I have to get my head back in the place where it was before, so that I can finish this tour strong and happy with how I rode.

Today we had a rest day in Missoula. I did laundry, I had lunch with friends here at a fabulous restaurant, and, importantly, I went to REI to get more warm clothes! I had brought some cold weather cycling clothes with me, but I don’t ride in the cold very often because I am so sensitive to it. I hope I will be able to be fairly comfortable for the next 6 days. There is snow in the forecast and we will be at higher altitudes soon, where snow and cold temperatures are more likely. It seems quite possible that much of the last 6 days will be about keeping warm as much as it will be about cycling skills. I hope my purchases will help me stay comfortable enough. If I can get to the hotel, my heating pad will be there for me to use to get ready for the next day. Onward!