I woke up this morning in Ovando... having not slept great due to the Earthquake and several aftershocks. It took a while to get back to sleep... fully dressed in case I had to run for cover!!
I got up and wandered over to the cafe... open early. I couldn't be arsed today. The sun was out... it was going to be another beautiful day and frankly putting my feet up and chilling out with a cold ginger beer would have been fine by me. Cant be arsed!!
Breakfast was big.. protein and carbs in one big fry up delight. At breakfast I met Betsy.. a schoolteacher who was cycling some more of the divide. We chatted over breakfast and then I went to stock.up on food. With a possible camp coming up I needed to have adequate supplies of sweets... cakes... fruit bars and all those healthy things! Betsy had already set off by the time I was finished choosing.
Still couldnt be arsed. I hopped over to the Blackfoot Angler Fly shop who had followed the riders in and out of Ovando but unfortunately I missed the proprieters. Hopefully I got captured somewhere on their webcam 😁
I eventually set off after pissing about... can't be arsed ... and slowly went up the road into the early morning sunshine. The valley surrounded by mountains was inviting me to stay... and it was very tempting... but inexorably I was drawn onwards... towards the mountains... towards my morning struggle for superiority over nature temporarily. The roads were of good gravel and straight as a die... carrying me onwards at a rapid pace. LLFF =2 this morning but I still coildn't really be arsed with this cycling malarky. Ovando... shouting at me to return... became quieter and more distant as I faced the horizon with a gradually improving purpose.
I caught Betsy up and we briefly chatted but as I have said before cycling with others is difficult and Betsy knew that too so we both continued on at our own paces. The washboarding effect on the roads (see day 10 photos) made for a highly jarring and uncomfortable ride... occasionally ramming my seat up when my arse was coming down.. Ouch! My hands bore the brunt lf this and were a bit tingly afterwards. It was on a short stretch of tarmac that I was overtaken by a french gentleman and his son... going significantly faster than me... we exchanged a few words before I turned off back onto the rough track and they continued motoring along.
I got to the foot of the climb to Huckleberry pass and with that usual sense of dread that wells up.when you are not sure if the legs are going to be up for it.... after all ... If I couldn't be arsed... why should they?? Turns out my legs could be arsed today... in fact they were imbued with a sense of purpose that I had been lacking. No leg pain... no weariness... just climbing legs...FINALLY! This discovery about the state of my climbing legs dragged my can't be arsed attitude up and out the proverbial door.
My arse ... however... was a different matter! Very sore... difficult to sit on the saddle for any length of time... and so much discomfort that I started to employ the 'two cheek shuffle' method which I had utilised effectively in New Zealand. Sit on one arse cheek for 5 mins then shuffle and sit on the other arse cheek... repeat.
The Huckleberry pass climb was almost pleasant and I looked back towards the valley to find a breathtaking view once again. At one point I could see another cyclist... assumingly Betsy screeching round a corner far below.
Seemed like wherever I looked at the moment it was lovely. The descent from Huckleberry pass was disappointing as it was not a down hill downhill rather it went up and down then back up to go down. Im a simple person. I like my uphills to be uphill and my downhills to go... well... downhill.
I reached Lincoln in good time and thought to go for a sit down lunch. I finally found a cafe and gulped down a stunning milkshake. That was a few calories added. The food was a bit disappointing but I guess I should have stuck with the burger... ordering instead for a change a caesar wrap.
When I left Lincoln it was a bit later than I wanted but I had been chatting with a lovely couple about the ride and despite the destination goal for the day... its about the journey more and was well worth the extra time. I had also forgotten to get my waterbottles restocked.... amatuer mistake and possibly a dangerous one. It was so hot when I left Lincoln that I could feel myself burning immediately I stepped out. I had sunscreen on of course but within minutes was sweating profusely washing it off....
I knew that I now had another climb... one that may not be so nice. As I started to go up the track became rougher. A few miles in and I turned off the main road to the part that the map described as extremely steep. The first bit was indeed very steep but then eased off enabling me to ride the technical trail. I was very chuffed as a few days ago.. my legs would have screamed stop at me immediately.
As I was climbing I was being surrounded by flies of all different kinds. If I stopped it would invite them to buzz around me... land on me and generally really annoy me. J had a funny vision in my head of a cartoon I once saw... cant remember what... but the flies were at the bar ordeing drops of sweat! Thats what I felt like .. a sweat bar... only every now and again one got greedy and ordered a few drops of blood with the sweat! One particular fly had a really nasty bite and had me swearing all over the place. The bears could hear me coming from the expletives that echoed around the mountains.
On the way up I saw another rider coming down kitted out as I was. I was greeted by the words 'you must be Lydia'!
Funny that some random stranger knows your name. Evan was doing the race Northbound (NOBO) and it was nice to meet up. It would have been nicer if we werent both swatting away flies. Both our followings of flies had joined together and were almost swarming. It was unbearable. So we wished the other luck and safe journey and carried on.
From that point I had to push.... it was steep!! Here I have to thank the flies though as tbey drove me on up the mountain cos everytime I stopped pushing they landed and started biting!
It sened a long time but with relief I saw the top. I got there with plenty of time to mame it to the cyclists only lodging that I had heard about on the way.
My brakes are starting to fade and will need replacing soon. I was screeching down the mountain on a dodgy trail strewn with boulders... potholes and other obstacles that could have me flying off.
I was worried on 2 accounts...
Petrified I would miss the lodging and my water situation was dire with no fast streams to fill up from.
I then saw houses in the distance. A lady was outside one and I asked her if this was the lodging... 'no' she said ' but its just literally down the road'! Phew!! She asked me if I needed anything... got me water... and then said that if the lodging was full I could come back up and stay in her trailer. So so nice.
I went the final short distance and found a sign that said welcome. Opened the gate into the Llama field and wandered over to the cabin and tent. There to use on a first come first served basis I had been beaten to the cabin.... by the french gentleman and his son that I had met earlier!
The whole concept of what the owners of this place .. Barbara and John... had done was beyond belief in the charitableness (word?) of the thing. They had stocked the cabin with food... equipment... bedding... cooking utensils... a camera to take a pic and pin it up... lights... wifi...fresh water... a shower (heated by gas) ... a cooker... fire... in short anything you could want. And it was free... to whoever needed it. Unbelievable generosity and kindness in a world where very little is given without expectation of something in return.
I made my way to the tent but Oliver and Victor offered to bunk up in the larger bed so that I could have the other. We spent a nice evening comparing route... notes... bikes. Even had pasta for tea!!! Wahoooo! I haven't had pasta yet. I missed pasta!.
Barbara and john came to say hello and I expressed my thanks to them and said what a remarkable thing they were doing. They said that they asked for a pay it forward in return... what a great idea. I love this place and I think its truly a beautiful thing!
I went to bed feeling that La Vie ... really and truly... est belle!