"Life Is Like Riding A Bicycle. To Keep Your Balance You Must Keep Moving." (Albert Einstein)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tales From The PigTail 10

June 17 - Lincoln, MT to Basin, MT (103 miles) - The ride from Lincoln to Helena was amazing and I was feeling almost 100% - very strong! I passed the other woman in the race that had been in front of me for the past several days, even though she left Lincoln an hour earlier. When I got to Helena, I had to get new brake pads and a new chain. While I was heading out of town, I kept hearing a creaking noise and looked at my seat post since the rear hub and bottom bracket were both double checked at the shop in Helena. I could not believe what I saw, 4 cracks in the post. Nevertheless, I have learned my lesson - carbon is not a good idea with weight hanging from it and the pounding the GDR dishes out. Anyway, the shop did not carry a seat post in the size that I needed, so they had to call around to local riders and found someone who had the proper size on a road bike. I was in Helena for nearly four hours getting various repairs done, which was way too long. I wanted to make it to Butte tonight, but that was now unlikely, especially with Lava Mountain up ahead. I knew that I needed to hit the rough and steep section of the trail before dark, which I did. Then the temperature started to plummet and it began to rain, thus my light began to fade at 9 instead of the usual 10pm. In the twilight, I was left with a very steep, rocky 10 mile section of downhill into Basin. All of a sudden after rounding a corner at 20 mph plus, I slammed on the brakes due to a very large bear in the middle of the trail. He was about 50 feet away when I stopped - and truth be told, I do not know whether it was a Grizzly or Black Bear, just that it was very big and I had startled it! I rang my bear bell and began yelling in the hopes that the bear would get off the trail. Instead, he looked at me and charged! Fortunately, he stopped about 15 feet away and then I proceeded to get off my bike, placing my bike between the bear and myself while continuing to maintain constant eye contact. I then stood motionless and we must have stared at each other for a couple of minutes, then he just turned his head and proceeded to walk back down the trail in the direction that I needed to go! I could still see his silhouette in the waning day light as he rounded the corner, so I waited another 15 minutes before slowly riding up to the bend where the bear disappeared behind. To my consternation, he was still walking down the middle of the trail, about to go around the next corner. I yelled and rang the bell for another 30 minutes or so, after which it became dark. I now had a decision to make, should I turn around, pitch my tent here, or try and ride thru. There was no way I was going to sleep here, and I was getting very cold due to being wet from the rain, so I decided to take my chances and go thru. Fortunately, I did not run across the bear again and made it down to Basin at 11:00pm. Unfortunately, the only thing open was a bar with 3 drunk, local regulars! They did not serve food, although I managed to have them scrounge up some popcorn and pretzels, which I washed down with a couple of beers. I also needed a warm, dry place to stay due to the rain and all of my equipment being wet. One of the drunk guys at the bar said his father had a spare room in his trailer which I begrudgingly accepted after receiving assurances from the bartender that they were good guys and that I would be safe! I felt that I had no other choice as I was desperate. Anyway, I finally got to bed at 1:30pm that night and was out on the bike by 7:30 the next morning.