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Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Day 9... I breathe the air

It was a late start this morning... not by my choice. I was staying at Holland Lake Lodge and they didnt serve breakfast until 0830. Given the fact that there were only services at Seeley Lakes 4 miles off route 30 miles away... I had to have breakfast or risk dying a horrible death on Richmond Peak! I almost died of a heart attack as soon as I got up... I stumbled down the coridoor to the bathroom.. and a stuffed Grizzly Bear loomed large out of the gloom giving me a fright!

Breakfast was good... full of protein and carbs... just what was needed and then they also packed me up a lunch to take with me at no extra cost... which was really nice and saved me making a detour to the services at Seeley Lakes at the cost of more time. It was in the back of my mind though that Seeley Lakes may be as far as I got today if my legs weren't playing ball!

So off into the scorching heat once again with the knowledge that it was going to be all uphill for a while to the top of Richmond Peak.

Now to interupt the narrative slightly... As Ive been going along today I developed a Lid Legs Fcuked Factor (LLFF) to describe how crap my legs feel at any given time!

0 is feeling like they could climb any mountain like Alberto Contador

10 is excruciating agony with every peddlestroke.

So Day 9 -LLFF = 5

I started climbing through the forest... slowly to be sure... but riding rather than walking.

It was a good gravel road to start with and as I climbed higher.. the view over the valley to the mountains beyond became increasingly breathtaking. Then at some point the directions pointed to a very overgrown track... Just before I turned onto the track ... I stood there looking at the view across to the snow capped mountains and a bird of prey soared high. The mountains and moments like this provide inspiration for my soul. I tore myself away and turned onto the track with the knowledge that there was still a way to go.

Uphill and difficult to ride at times but just filled with wildflowers... daisys... yellow flowers... purple ones .. the colours splashing my soul with joy. I stopped and breathed the air... listening to the sounds of nature around me and feeling at such peace with the world. Despite being more closed in... my bear fear seems to have totally disappeared and I never once blew my whistle in this section. To be fair I was going so slowly... I'd have difficulty surprising one.  The deer seemed unconcerned generally and took their time disappearing into the bushes as I approached... the squirrels, chipmunks and other assorted small furry things were as active as ever... with their antics making me smile regularly.

Eventually the uphill stopped and the track turned to a singletrack of adrenaline filled delights. It has ruined singletrack for me forever as I don't think I will ever find anything to compare. I have videoed the entire descent with my head cam but you will have to wait to see that and instead immerse yourself in my description.

So imagine a path of reddish colour earth that is just wide enough for a large mountain bike tyre... now slope it downwards a way... bit more... tiny bit more..  thats it.  Now cover it with loose shale and a considerable amount of large boulders... avalanche chutes and debris and fallen trees. Now put that path high up on the side of a mountain and carve a steep unprotected edge on one side. Now make it dry and slippery!  Now imagine flying down that... careful with the braking so as not to slide... watching out that you don't hit a rock at a bad angle causing you to jump sideways and over the edge. Add in a few lumps and bumps that at speed cause you to be launched skywards...and then try and watch for bears too! Tricky isn't it 😁.

Half way down I almost literally bumped into a gentleman on a recumbent bike..
Fair play... that must have been even scarier!

This playground lasted a fair few miles..
Unbelievable fun and was totally buzzing when I swooped onto the gravel track at the end of the singletrack! It had a wonderful effect on my legs too. LLFF  =3

I shot down the remaining gravel road and at the low point was presented with a choice. It was sooo very tempting. It was incredibly hot... I was drinking water like it had gone out of fashion and I was pretty tired. I could just have an easy day and go to Seeley Lakes today .... or I could push on to Ovando. Ovando was a place I wanted to stop because they had a teepee you could stay in for free. Ive stayed in a Ger before but not a teepee. You could also stay in the wagon or the jailhouse. All on first come first served.  It was also getting late and Ovando was nearly 30 miles away. No massive climbs but a reasonable altitude change up to a ridge... shoot along the ridge and then down into the Valley.

It took all my willpower and then some but I turned left instead of right. I then spent the next couple of climbing hours thinking what a bad idea this had been!! 😁

By now my LLFF was back down to 6 and starting to hurt. At least they were good gravel roads. Up and up they went... me pausing frequently but still making good time (for me). When I reached the top there was a nice lake and then some good fast riding before the final climb to the high point!

Eventually the road turned downwards for 10 miles of fantastic descent... interrupted by a digger 'patting down the edges' of the road. Not entirely sure what he was doing but didnt want to try and scoot past until he had seen me as there was some violent manoevering going on! 

As I came over the rise of the hill... revealed below bathed in evening sunshine was a stunning valley with fields of grass and the hills framing the scene in the distance. It was idyllic... the Montana I had dreamed of. And still so hot!! Having come out of the mountains into the bowl.. it was sweltering so was lucky only had a few miles to go!

I careered into Ovando to find all shops shut... the teepee occupied and the wagon waay to hot inside. The jail was also taken. I trogged up the hill to Trixie's ... a proper western bar complete with animal heads and a raffle where the prizes were weapons!!  The men in here called the bar lady mam and it had a real cowboy country feel. I even met a young man called Jesse though didn't ascertain if his surname was James!!
The bar lady was very helpful... phoning up the motel owner to get him to open up a room for me. She served me a great burger and fries and made me feel welcome!

Eventually the motel owner came... showed me to a lovely room... ensuite.. lots of plugs. A nicer room than the lodge for a third of the price. Location Location Location??? Well this wasnt bad either!

I fell asleep blogging but was woken up at half 12... the entire building was shaking... properly shaking. Sustained for about 30 secs with an aftershock or 2. Now I have felt a very small earthquake in NZ but this was proper and quite disconcerting as we never get them in the uk. I even put clothes back on ... just in case had to go outside. Not sure of magnitude yet!

All in all... the best day yet...
The legs began working closer to the standard I expect from them and the scenery was beyond lovely. I had peace and beauty... snd AWESOME singletrack!
What more could a CraZy girl want for!