Boy, I sure don’t want to sound like I’m complaining, but it’s way too much like the middle of the summer around here. We took the tandem out for a pretty decent loop Saturday morning, and by the time we got back, we were feeling pretty cooked. It was too hot for the end of May!
Mike met us at Battlefield, and we took off not really knowing how far we would ride. That decision would be made at Billings, but first we had to get there. The wind was blowing pretty stiffly from the south, so our first leg from Battlefield to the west side of Republic was primarily into a cross-wind.
As we pedaled toward Republic, it became very obvious that we were going to be chasing Mike all day. We usually count on the down hills to help us keep him in sight, but it wasn’t in the cards today. We’ve just not got enough tandem miles in our legs, and fighting the wind added too much drag on the big bike for us to have any kind of fighting chance at all.
When we turned south, the wind was in our face, and it seemed like about all Pam and I could do to make it to Billings where we made a c-store stop and regrouped a bit. After talking it over, we decided to continue southward a while before looping back toward Clever even though that meant we would be cranking into the wind even further.
The break helped a lot, and as we headed out of town on Pine Street, the wind seemed a little more tolerable. I’m not sure if it was the calories we added, or if we relaxed a little bit and stopped trying to push into the wind so hard. At any rate, it didn’t seem long before we turned east on Spring Creek Road.
That road is primarily chip & seal, and gets into a few decent hills. Luckily, most of them were rollers that are steep enough to give Pam and I on the tandem a free ride most of the way up the opposite side.
It was definitely a pleasure to get to Metzelthin Road and turn back to the north. That put the wind at our backs for the first time, and got us back onto smooth pavement at the same time. Pam and I didn’t really intend to stop at Clever, but Mike was quite a ways in front of us and turned that way, so we ended up following.
We have Mike conditioned to never pass by a c-store, so he was headed to Kum-n-Go. When we got there, we were amazed how busy the place was. People were hauling ice, beer, and other drinks out of there like mad. You would think it was a holiday weekend or something….
From Clever, we knew it was about fifteen miles back to our car, but there would be a few hills to conquer before we got there. We probably should have used our granny gear coming up out of the Terrell Creek valley, but we were both to hard-headed to do it. After nearly killing ourselves there, we ended up having to chase Mike down when he missed a turn again because he was too far in front of us to hear our yell. You can see from the little “stub” on the map above that we had to chase him nearly to Highway 60 before he realized he was lost. He keeps forgetting that one shouldn’t ride in front if one doesn’t know the way!
After retrieving him and getting back on route, we headed across to ZZ Highway, where we were treated to the killer downhill into the Battlefield. Pam and I hit 47 mph on it with the wind at our backs!
As we made our final pass of Wilson’s Creek, the wind, miles and hills started to catch up with us. We finally had to admit defeat and use the granny gear. That’s also about the point where Pam’s back side started complaining. It’s a good thing we were nearly back to the truck at the time.
We finished with 42.73 miles. That’s a pretty good jump from our previous longest tandem ride this year, so I was very proud of how well Pam handled the conditions. It wasn’t the best day to ride, but she rode pretty strong.
It wasn’t our day for electronic devices. We intended to take Pam’s garmin to track her calorie burn, but when we pulled it out, it was dead. The transmitter on our wireless computer succumbed to a dead battery just before we got to Clever, and shortly after our Clever stop we found that our camera battery had died. Luckily, my GPS kept working!
Here’s a link to the GPS track. I guess I can’t complain about a 15.4 overall average speed given the conditions. Did I mention that it was hot?