Yes, I made it to Salt Lake City. 118 miles. OOOiiii.
Day started out with the intention to take it at a 15 mph pace, but Ole had a flat about a mile after the start. I kept him company (and learned a few new tricks about changing a flat) and then we did a two-man pace line to catch up with our group Over about 20 miles we closed about a 2 mile gap. Intentions out the window. We then went with that pace line to the first SAG stop, which was at about mile 42.
Then I did a completely bonehead move. Despite it being marked with 3 orange cones, I walked straight from the SAG to my bicycle into some mud that was basically potter’s clay. After about 15 minutes of cleaning I still couldn’t get my speedplay’s clean enough to clip in easily.
I joined a pace line that ran a very moderate and disciplined pace through to the next rest stop (88). Fortunately we didn’t stop too much, as the potter’s clay hardened. When I got to the SAG I could barely unclip.
After the rest stop my right leg tightened up to the point it was almost “frozen.” The next 20 miles or so were increasing traffic, with a lot of debris on the side of the road. I was tired and a bit freaked out by all of the traffic. It was getting pretty tough, mentally and physically. I was having trouble holding my own with the group. Finally we took a right turn and rode next to the Great Salt Lake for about 10 miles, with a gentle breeze behind us and virtually no traffic. 118 miles.
My friend Ned picked me up and we went directly to what turned out to be three different bicycle shops to see if we could address the gearing issue. The second shop recommended the third. This guy (Whitney) who is totally fanatical about bikes listened to what I wanted to do, talked through options, and then disappeared with my bike for about 45 minutes. Ned went home to pick up a small bracket I had ordered and we in fact needed. An hour later I had an 11-36 on the back, which will help immensely in the mountains, at altitudes that I understand will go as high as 11,000 feet. New derailleur, new chain, new cartridge. I am so relieved.
Leaving the group to stay with Ned and his wife and family for a day brought home how intense the trip has been so far — in science fiction terms it would be an alternative universe. To make progress every day I just have to get into a zone which discards everything not needed to accomplish that day’s goal. To be in a car driving around, to eat an incredible home cooked meal, to not get up in the morning and get on the bicycle — it was like going to Disneyland; it was totally enjoyable but almost felt imaginary.
During the rest day I did some mechanical work of my own — changed my tires to 28 mm Gator Skins (Continental);, replaced my too large rear bag on a pannier with an Ortlieb that fits on a bracket under the seat, and cleaned the bike up. So it is quite an overhaul; I hope everything works on Day 13. I’m having the mechanic with the group do a final check in 20 minutes before I inflate the tires and hope for the best.