We turned the first corner and there was the first climb of the day . . . . . not even a warm up to start us off. It went on and on and on. Just when you thought it was close to the top, there would be an overlook to have a short rest and a corner to start-up the next section.
The second climb of the day, brought me to tears. Exhausted and worn out, my legs were like spaghetti. I pushed on my pedals with all my might to inch up the slope. Several times I had to unclip quickly to avoid falling over. Doug and Ryan would ride ahead and wait for me at the next view-point. This was the day I felt broken . . . . I unwillingly gave up my saddle bags through tears and blubbering. Ryan and Doug took one each and tied them down to the tops of their trailers. On a positive note, this seemed to even out our speeds ~ well, I was able to keep up a bit better. A few times, I even passed them on the climbs. Only a few times!
At Manning Lodge, we cleaned off our plates once again and used the ice water jugs to fill our camel-backs. It was so refreshing to have chilled water to sip on to ease the pain of the effort needed in the heat of the day.
After lunch, Crowsnest Highway continued to wind back and forth, and up and down, endlessly. . . . . . . . 71 km doesn’t seem all that far ~ except when it’s over the Rockies! The ups were brutal, the downs were exhilarating. Some of the climbs took close to two hours followed by coasting with brakes for over 30 minutes. Doug and Ryan would glide out of sight around the next corners full speed ahead. I was building my confidence aiming to use my brakes less and less.
I’ve never forgotten the lesson Ryan gave me when I was struggling with climbs. Standing up for 10 to 20 pedal strokes in a harder gear then sitting, gearing down into an easier gear for a bit. Cycling through this pattern certainly helped me to concentrate on something other than the pain ~ counting out pedal strokes, hydro poles, and guard rails and shifting gears.
We arrived in Princeton at supper time, it had rained the last bit of our day and our faces were splattered with road grime. I was so happy we decided on a “hotel night!” Boy did I need it!