Monday, July 18, 2011

Day 18 - Demise

My body felt great.  I had finally gotten used to riding all day without aches and pains and my joints were holding up fabulously.  We had a moderate day planned but I wasn't worried, I had conquered the Cascades and there was nothing that I couldn't do.

Some easy miles and we were on our way to Seattle, where we had a room reserved at the Holiday Inn near downtown on the bay.  It rained in the morning but cleared up as the day went on, and we fantasized about which of the beautiful acreages we would own some day, and how that palomino would be mine, and the buck skin would be Brenton's.

The brambled arms of wild berry bushes hung over the guard rails, leaves up like palms, and the thorns grasped desperately at my clothes and ripped at my skin.  The shoulder became nonexistent and the traffic was heavy with mind-numbingly loud trucks.  We needed lunch and, as we hit suburbia, I gave up any hope of finding an authentic little Mexican hole in the wall.

To my relief, we turned off the of the highway with no shoulder and found a rode that curved to the right. . . and then straight up.  I have yet to meet a hill that I couldn't climb, even fully loaded with all of my gear.  Here, after my big triumph over Steven's Pass, I met my match.

I saw the hill looming ahead of me and rode at it like I was going into battle.  Once I hit the incline, I pedaled with all my might in my easiest gear.  The strain and burn in my thighs was becoming unbearable and I growled audibly in defiance of my inevitable failure.  I faltered for a second, and felt my trailer pulling me backwards down the hill.  I had to stop.

The hill was too steep to get going again, so I put my shoulder into my handlebars and heaved, rolling the heavy rig laboriously up the concrete shoulder with the metal cleats of my bike shoes slipping ever so slightly with every step.  Sweat poured down my body and, with Brenton now pushing his bike as well just ahead of me, we pushed until we could go no further and, just in time, there was a pull off where we dumped our gear off and collapsed, gasping.  The climb was to go on like this for three quarters of a mile, and I knew I had no chance of hauling this amount of weight, so I took of my trailer and pushed it back into the brush and made two trips to each pull off, walking back down each time to walk my trailer up separately.  Although Brenton's rig is heavier than mine, he somehow pushed it all together in one trip, refusing to make two.

The steepness relaxed a little towards the end and we were able to ride the last leg, but hard work and time and taken their toll and we were exhausted and losing day light.  We pushed our hotel reservations back and booked a campsite on a lake, only stopping to finally eat at a small family owned Chinese restaurant that we thoroughly enjoyed.

The campsite was a thin grassy slot, the width of our tent, in between two RVs, without so much as a fire pit.  The campground host scolded us before we had even set foot on our site, as if we looked like we were up to no good, that "pets must stay IN your campsite!"  We set up our tent and walked down to the water's edge and swatted at mosquitos while five year old's in a golf cart did cookies in front of the sheriff's office.  Seattle would have to wait for one more day.  


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