Heather woke us at around 4 am. The poor thing looked really tired but as always she was sporting a smile. James had just gone to bed having just finished servicing our bikes. These guys were just amazing, both with an ironclad commitment to providing us Trans Am racers with an unforgettable experience. I won’t be forgetting it anytime soon that’s for damn sure.
Having holed up in a hotel room in Ness City for 24 hours I was well rested but I really didn’t feel like riding my bike. The intangible force that compelled me each morning to pack up and hit the road regardless of how I was feeling was seemingly no longer with me. Eric’s passing had changed everything for me. The race’s innocence had been lost. The Trans Am was no longer about grand adventure and fun. It was now just about survival. What then was the bloody point?!
My first night in the tent was one of the best nights sleep thus far. I woke frequently due to the howling wind and general discomfort of a barely inflated mattress but the sum total of deep sleep was more than enough to repair and recharge. I reckon I would have got a good 6 solid hours. I felt great.
True to my plan for a relatively early start I was on the bike at 5:46 am. I felt good and was keen to get going but needed to find somewhere for a quick breakfast and some additional water to strap to the bike. There was red ink all over my cue sheet for the next few hundred kilometres indicating minimal services. I absolutely did not want to get caught short of water out on the plains as I almost did the day before on the high desert.
I was up before 6 am feeling a lot more spritely than I had yesterday morning. Mind also in gear and excited about getting over Hoosier Pass and smashing the “downhill” section into Eastern Colorado. Speaking of smashing I did similar to a few leftover slices of pizza and with a smile on my tomato sauce splattered face headed out into the crisp mountain air. What a beautiful day!
I awoke at around 6:30 am keen to crack on into Colorado, the 5th of the 10 states that the Trans Am route meanders across. My mind was keen but my body not so much. No pain but just a general malaise that made packing up all my gear take a lot longer than it should have. I was finally out the door over an hour later, dropped my room key at reception, had a quick chat with JJ who was tucking into breakfast (I’d been wondering where he had got to the previous day) and headed out onto Main Street, under a bright, cloudless Northern Coloradoan sky.
I reckon it must have been my fanatical desire to get the hell out of Wyoming that forced me up out of “bed” at 3 am to the duelling alarms of my and JJ’s phones. Arrrrrgh! That and the fact that my daily distance output had fallen off a cliff from 288 to 195 to 131 kilometres over the last 3 days. Out of my control to a certain extent yes but what I could control right then and there was to get my fat arse up and on my bike. No room for any excuses. I simply had to put in a massive day.
My plan to get my bike looked over at a local bike shop in Lander afforded me quite the sleep in as The Bike Mill didn’t open until 10 am. By the time I finally left the worlds dodgiest hotel room I was far from top form however. I was still a tad frayed from the previous day’s wind storm and feeling frustrated at the loss of progress from both that storm and what would be at least half a day off the road getting my bike looked at.
I was up just after 6 am well rested but feeling a tad lethargic and heavy in the legs. My knee soreness of earlier in the race had just disappeared however. It’s pretty amazing how the body just adjusts. Hatchet’s breakfast wasn’t until 7 am and I resisted the temptation to wait around for it. Given the lovely dinner I had the night before I was sure that they would have put on an amazing hot breakfast. However, I just wanted to get over Togwotee Pass and away from the cold front that may well be bringing all sorts of nastiness with it.
I was up before 4am, well rested and really fired up for a big day. I ate the breakfast of champions that I had prepared the night before; microwave noodles, leftover pizza and Keurig style coffee. The weakness of the filter coffee was suitably compensated by the stimulating effects of wet lycra on nether regions and frigid morning air on freshly shaved head.