38 Miles, (61 km). I had planned to bike twice that distance, but the sun and heat had other plans for me.
On the way, I stopped at a general store by Hell’s Canyon Inn, about 15 miles into the day. The ride was unusually easy and I was making good time, although it was warming up. At the store, I ran into Alexis and Brian (sorry if that isn’t correct, my memory gets foggy with heat!)
The store was exactly 4000 miles (6600 km) from where they started their bicycle ride, from New York to Virginia and on to the Pacific coast. They made me feel like such a wimp, I’m only up around 600 miles. I had stopped to talk to a friend of theirs earlier, he was a few miles ahead. He is limping along trying to make it to Baker City, OR with a broken spoke issue on his front wheel. That can be a dangerous situation roaring down these mountain roads at fifty miles per hour. I hope he makes it okay.
I crossed into Idaho over the Snake River, which also meant a new time zone, one hour closer to home.
When I reached Woodhead Park I needed to stop. The temperature was 108 degrees F (41.222 C) and I was done in. I sat at the registration booth, which is also the restrooms and showers and tried to fill in the form for a tent site. I was so light-headed that I had to sit on the concrete walkway. I knew if I stayed standing I would go down. I’ve never passed out in my life, and this was as close as it gets.
As I sat there trying to sum up enough energy to fill in the form, a couple stopped to use the restrooms. They are regulars at the campground and were pulling their boat behind their green Chevy Tahoe. The woman passenger, Stephanie, hopped out and took one look at me and decided that maybe I could use a hand. I asked her how far it was to the restaurant since the campground doesn’t have any store. She said she thought it was five miles up the road further. She was incorrect, it is just over two miles, but that was the right answer for my situation.
I replied that I would just wait until breakfast time, I was too bushed to go that far in the heat. She informed me that she, and Jason, were on their way to the store for ice and would pick me up something. She asked what I would like and all I could muster was a sandwich and some Gatorade.
They left and I struggled to finish signing in and managed, somehow, to put up my tent. A while later Stephanie returned with the finest turkey sandwich I have ever eaten. She said she just threw it together at the cafe since they were in a hurry, but to me–it was a lifesaver. I was very depleted and didn’t even realize it. I’ve been taking in so much liquid that I have not had much of an appetite. I wasn’t so much dehydrated as just very low on energy from lack of food.
They drove off and I didn’t get a chance to pay for anything. I asked where their site was and she pointed down the hill.
Later, after I had regained my strength, I walked down to where she pointed, but I didn’t see the green Tahoe.
Finally, an hour before sunset, although still very hot, I gathered the strength to ride the bike to the restaurant and gorged myself on a very good taco dinner, a ton of drinks, and followed it all with some ice cream.
I rode back to the camp, rode around and spotted their Tahoe and ran into Stephanie’s mom, Lisa. She found her daughter and I couldn’t thank her enough. She was astute enough to see someone needing help and took action. This is America at it’s best. Thank you, Stephanie and Jason.
I told her I would send her a signed copy of my book, Three Hundred Zeroes, since she wouldn’t take payment for my life-saving lunch.
Tomorrow morning I should be out bright and early, I have a 4000-foot climb to a pass, first thing.