The Little Engine that Did

Buffalo, WY

Day 53

46 miles

"I thought I could, I thought I could" Arnold Monk

After having spent the night waking up a few times to a glorious thunderstorm, I woke up in the morning slightly panicked at the thought of what I might have accidentally left out.  I’ve learned my lesson from previous experiences though and found everything to be in good shape, packed away as it should have been.  The tent would be wet, but we should be able to let it dry out at our warm showers host later that day.

We said goodbye to Ayran and her dog Whiskey in the morning and started to get packed to leave ourselves, when a full grown, well at least I think it was full grown because it was ABSOLUTELY HUGE, bull moose walked right by Rory, Erik and I.  Not sure of what protocol would be in this situation, Rory and I immediately decided to get our cameras out.  In hindsight it was the right decision as neither of us got mauled and both came away with some photos. 

We took off for the top of the pass, knowing it was only around 5 miles away, and feeling extremely fresh for some reason, I got out a head of the group.  This would be the highest we would be all trip, and unlike previous climbs, we had actually confirmed it this time.  It was invigorating and when I got the top I could feel the emotion of accomplishment, a feeling I was just starting to learn to crave. 

I think this is a good time to talk about emotion, and what it is beginning to mean to me.  We’re all emotional, even the most stoic of characters have emotion.  But how do we dictate it? Can we control it?  Not all the time, every morning and night I find myself feeling alone, missing that familiar smile, scent, and breathing.  This brings tough emotions.  Sadness will steal your energy, your desire to get out there, but it’s an important emotion, because it reminds us of what is important.  Anger will disrupt your symmetry with others, creating haste decisions and responses that aren’t balanced or reasonable. I think though I am recognizing these emotions quicker and therefore controlling them better, well at least the anger part.  I’ve had a few moments on the trip where anger most certainly takes hold.  I’m not always sure of the immediate source, but the roots of it are evident.  Each day though, each milestone, climb, I find myself being less and less upset about small trivial things and I can only continue to thank Ryan and Erik for the patience they showed when I had those moments.  The pedaling is an addiction like so many things, a simple focused goal that becomes routine, and in a way can be equally mind numbing as it is invigorating. 

So much of this trip started out as both a mental and a physical challenge, but it’s not so hard to ride the bike for a long time anymore, and this opens me up to either “check out” or “check in” while riding.  In a way I miss the distraction of the early days were I gave everything I had to the ride, to get through it, but I am also glad my strength has gotten to the point where the riding has become more than that, can be more than that.

So when I think of the emotion of riding, the ups and downs, and those very masculine two words “my feelings” I’m definitely left with a mix bag.  I’m in awe at how far we’ve already come, what we’ve conquered, but I’m nostalgic for it already.  I’m worried about what is left, what is the next challenge? Getting to the top of the pass today, feeling so strong on the bike, so in control, there is a great emotional release, like with every pass we’ve conquered, a big “fuck yeah” if you will, but there is also a small sense of sadness, for the joy was so much in the conquering, in pushing yourself to a new limit.  I wonder how this will continue to carry itself in me throughout the rest of the trip and life.  Will I feel the need to continue to push my limits, will it ever be enough?  Having been through the emotions of tackling something so physically and mentally challenging, I can’t see myself living without it.  I’m already talking about signing up for a marathon and a half ironman even though I haven’t run or swam once this summer, but I desire the challenge, the thought of not continuing to push my mental and physical limits when this trip is done is already starting to creep into my head, to make me nervous.  

So I’m starting to realize this ride, its actually fairly short compared to the ride that lays ahead, but I’m happy with the road I’ve chosen and I know that even on that fateful day when I reach the Atlantic, I’m not really done, and much fun lays ahead.

 These rock formations protrude from the ground throughout the top of the pass.  I hiked around to grab a few photos.  They remind me of dinosaurs or maybe Godzilla sleeping in the ground.

These rock formations protrude from the ground throughout the top of the pass.  I hiked around to grab a few photos.  They remind me of dinosaurs or maybe Godzilla sleeping in the ground.

 Another formation with a great view back towards the top of the pass.

Another formation with a great view back towards the top of the pass.

We got to the top of the pass and took a bunch of photos.  Rory took off for Buffalo, WY while Erik, Ryan and I decided to climb to the top of a large rock formation to get what was clearly the best view and to make it to what looked like would put us over 10,000 feet above sea level.  It was totally worth it. 

 A picture of what we decided to climb up to get as high as we could.  We tackle this from the west side of the photo, scrambling up large rocks and then eventually climbing to the high peak you can see in the center of the formation.

A picture of what we decided to climb up to get as high as we could.  We tackle this from the west side of the photo, scrambling up large rocks and then eventually climbing to the high peak you can see in the center of the formation.

 Ryan and Erik enjoying the view after our climb.

Ryan and Erik enjoying the view after our climb.

 A look out over Powder Pass from the top of our climb.  It's a little chilly and windy at 10,000 feet.

A look out over Powder Pass from the top of our climb.  It's a little chilly and windy at 10,000 feet.

The ride into Buffalo was still a good ways and it turned out we had five fairly significant climbs ahead of us.  Most passes are followed by an immediate downhill, and this was the case here, but it was brief and we shortly found ourselves going back up 7% slopes.  As we progressed though the Bighorns started to become visible and it made for some spectacular views and as always, an attempt on my part to inaccurately capture the awe with an overly expensive digital camera.

 Ryan riding down one of our 5 descents, followed by steep climbs.  I got a head so I could take a picture with the Bighorns in the background

Ryan riding down one of our 5 descents, followed by steep climbs.  I got a head so I could take a picture with the Bighorns in the background

I’m not going to dive into our time in Buffalo to much as this post is long enough, but the family we stayed with were truly gracious.  Check out Rory’s blog at roryrides.com he does a great job of writing about our time with them.

 Thanks so much to Brian and Becky and their family for being the best of host.  Erik kept trying to see if the would let faith, the gorgeous pup in the foreground, come along with us for the rest of the trip.

Thanks so much to Brian and Becky and their family for being the best of host.  Erik kept trying to see if the would let faith, the gorgeous pup in the foreground, come along with us for the rest of the trip.

 These nachos never stood a chance,  we just absolutely devour food.

These nachos never stood a chance,  we just absolutely devour food.


Miss you Muppet

Matteo