But You're Dirty
Tuesday, November 2, 2010 at 12:42AM

Uh oh! A lightening storm. Shucks, I have no clue what I am supposed to do when camping in the middle of a storm. It's lashing rain outside so there is no chance of me getting out of the tent. The lightening had charged me with enough adrenaline such that there is no chance of me falling back to sleep either. I guess, I'll just have to wait it out watching some Dexter on the laptop.

Of course, all of the above was wrong. I should have gotten out of the tent, I should not have been lying prone on the ground and I should not have been playing with electronics. Thankfully I was in the lee of a mountain-side with trees nearby such that I was unlikely to be a target. However, it is very discomforting not knowing what to do in the force of nature, especially as the lightening bolts were within a mile. I had no idea what way the storm was moving from inside the tent but lightening jumps around and can change its point of contact over six miles at a time. I was frustrated, not just because my ride was delayed but because common sense was not yielding me any answers on this one. Normally I trust that my instinct will tell me the correct course of action but in this case I was coming up a blank. I hate feeling at the mercy of mother nature, I have been conquering her with my bike but only because she lets me.

The storm subsided and so I made a dash for it packing up my wet tent. The sky was still gloomy and I had the uphill single-track of Lava Mountain to climb. Wet weather at altitude in the mountains can quickly turn hypothermic, so it's very important to stay alert at all times. You need to keep asking yourself how you feel to make sure that your senses remain keen and that your judgement doesn't become clouded. There is an imaginary line that one has to heed and it is very important not to step over it, particularly when riding solo in the middle of nowhere out of cell coverage when nobody knows where you are. Feeling soaked, having numb fingers and being hungry are fine to a point but you need to stay on top of the situation especially when you don't know what way the route is. When the clouds are racing as fast as they were one can not rely on the weather improving. One needs to think of blue skies and the sun hitting the nape of your neck to stay positive but it is also important to consider what you will do if conditions get worse. There was an alternate route but I decided to stick to the race route out of curiosity.

Inevitably the route required an awful lot of patience, 8kms of walking and pushing the bike kind of patience to be precise. The trail up and down Lava Mountain was extremely difficult for a loaded bike. When I eventually ended up on some sort of road it was in fact closed to traffic. It was a mining road and the weather had turned it into an awful state. Dirt was flying everywhere as I tried to descend on this but I had to be really careful as huge mining trucks were on this narrow stretch. These truckers would not have been expecting a cyclist at this time of year or in this weather. The trucks had already ripped the road apart and with the rainfall the mud was like slurry and made braking difficult. Thus, as soon as I heard a truck I had to duck for cover as there wasn't room for both of us on the same road. It was a total mud-bath and now the rain was picking up again. My spirit and clothes can repel the elements for so long but there is only so much one can do. I was getting wetter and wetter and as I was descending, colder and colder. I managed to slip past the truckers and mines such that I had the road to myself again. Finally, I arrived at the small town of Basin, my intended half-way point for the day, a lot wetter and later than I had planned. There was no way I could camp in this weather so I pulled into the pub asking where I could spend a night. Thankfully there was a B&B in this tiny artists' enclave of a town and so I made my way there, hoping that my mud-wrestler look would not be turned away.

"But you're dirty" Diane said. Thankfully, she saw through the mud to my shell-shocked eyes, eyes which suggested that I had just come out of the trenches. I managed to secure a bed at a discounted rate and was very gracious for the good fortune of stumbling into a nice B&B with a generous and helpful host in such a tiny town. The truth is that it was silly of me to bike that day. The forecast was for the wet weather to clear a day later but in my rush to get south I decided to ride it out. It made no difference; what I gained in miles I lost in time trying to clean the crud from my bike and clothes.

Bring on the sunshine, I'm not sure how long I can battle this weather.


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