Monday, September 30, 2013

A Boy and His Bicycle

My husband, Chad, took up running about three years ago, but that came to a screeching halt almost exactly one year ago.  On one of his regular evening runs, there was an accident, and Chad's knee was wrecked.  Surgery was done, and the doctor was optimistic that the knee would be good as new. wasn't, and Chad's running was over.

So, this past spring, he decided to take up bicycling and purchased a bike. It's sort of a hybrid mountain bike that's good for riding pretty much anywhere, which is exactly what he needed. Off he went on his rides, and he loved it so much, that he set some pretty tough goals for himself.

Goal #1: Ride 1,000 miles before the end of the summer. Check! That was accomplished by mid August.

This is the decal Megan designed and Chad had made when he hit 1,000 miles.

Goal #2: Ride the old highway to Buffalo. That's 96 miles, and has some pretty good hills. Check! He did that twice in June. Once by himself, and once with a friend that also wanted to make that ride.

Resting at the end of the ride to Buffalo. He was one tired guy!

Goal #3: Ride from his parents' house at the base of the Big Horn Mountains, to the summit of Powder River Pass. It's only about 30 miles from bottom to top, but it's nearly a 5,000 foot rise in elevation, with the first few miles being at a 7% grade (that's really steep!), and the last few at 4% grade (also nothing to sneeze at), with lots of big ups and downs in between. Crazy? Yep, but he was determined. He'd gotten to discussing this goal with brother-in-law, Jesús Rios, and they hatched a plot to try this together. Jesús was just getting into cycling, and figured he wouldn't be able to make the whole ride, but he wanted to give it a try. Plans were made and the date was set.

At 9:30 on the morning of September 7th, The guys took off on their adventure.

I had the very important job of being the "Support Crew". In other words, I had the car, which was loaded with supplies; first aid kit, extra water and gatorade, energy bars, and some sandwiches and chips for lunch. Making this more interesting, cell service ends just a very few miles up the road, so they wouldn't be able to call for help. I checked on them every so often, making sure they had everything they needed. Fortunately all that was really needed were gatorade refills and a tool to tighten a loose seat.

After about two hours and nine miles, Jesús decided to turn around and head back down. It was quite an accomplishment for him to make it that far considering he really hadn't trained at all, and he'd ridden the steepest miles of the entire route. So down he went. What had taken two hours to ride up, only took ten minutes to ride down!

Chad pedaled on, and when it was time for a lunch break, we stopped at a turnout along the highway, and had a little picnic. The only critters around were a couple of squirrels and a few cattle. One calf was watching us intently. I think he wanted a bite of sandwich. It was a pretty area, and high enough in elevation that the aspen leaves were already turning.

After lunch, Chad had about seven more miles to the top. But it was all uphill at a 4% grade, so we knew it would be slow going. I drove on ahead to the summit, where I read for a little while, then decided to climb up to the top of the hill above the parking lot. From there, I would be able to see Chad coming up the road. While I watched and waited, I explored some pretty neat rock formations, enjoyed watching clouds form, join, and then get blown apart by the strong winds aloft. It was sunny and perfect for hanging around at the top of a mountain.

Soon after I took this picture, the entire top of that cloud was sheared off and completely gone.

Finally, at 2:10 p.m., Chad made it to the top! He was a little tired, but feeling good. We snapped his picture at the summit sign, loaded up the bike, and headed back down. But after the hard work of riding up all day, Chad wanted to have some fun going back down. There is a brake check area just above where the 7% grade begins, so I dropped him off there, and he rode down those last, very fast, miles.

Check! Ride to the top of the mountain accomplished!

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