Day 10: Chester, MT - Chinook, MT
Distance: 81 miles
Vertical: 774 feet
Biking Time: 6:00
Today was a rough day. Due to a storm that hit Minnesota today, Josh and I battled 15 mph head winds for the entire ride. Although this is not our first encounter with head winds, this is the first time that we have consistently had one without any tree cover or hills large enough to knock it down.
For those of you who haven’t had the “joy” of biking with a headwind, I won’t muster up some sarcastic and exaggerated analogy to give you an idea, but I will tell you one thing, it is demoralizing. When it takes you hours longer than it should just to get to your check points and you are more physically drained after 50 miles than you were after 101 miles two days ago, it gets hard to be optimistic.
Today was the first time I ever saw Josh scream in rage as he threw his bike off to the side of the shoulder, it was the first time I have ever gone from 12 mph to 2 mph in three seconds without touching my breaks, and it was the first time that I questioned why I signed up for this ride. We took a break 60 miles into the ride in Havre at a local McDonald’s to soak up some air conditioning and let some of the anger subdue before getting back outside. I recall watching a tree just outside of the parking lot getting pummeled by the wind, bending about 50 degrees thinking, “this is just my luck”. Supposedly winds only blow to the west when there is a storm in the distance, and even that much is rare, once again, “just my luck”.
I told Josh that I didn’t want to write a blog post today. That the scenery was like going to an open field and riding on a stationary bike for 7 hours, and we were all so emotionally drained that I did not want to bring down my light hearted blog posts. We agreed that we would wait till tomorrow and write it after a better day. We ate a quick Curate bar, took some juice of the angels, I mean GU, and got back on our bikes. We had 22 miles to go and then we were done for the day, “I got this”, I exclaimed to myself.
10 miles into the final stretch I began drop in speed, I was exhausted. Storm clouds began to cover us and the winds grew stronger. It was at that moment that Josh biked past me and said, “hey let me lead, you can draft off of me for the rest and let me know if I need to slow down.” It was a comment like that that turned my mood around and overpowered all the negativity that the wind brought. “Come on Matt, you’re stronger than the wind, you can go farther.” At that moment I realized how much of a team effort this ride was. The entire day Josh and I stayed no farther than a yard away from each other, screaming at the wind together, pushing through every pedal together, drafting off of one another, and not allowing each other to quit. Everything we did, we did together, and that is what got me through the day.
During the final stretch I had a realization. There is no way in hell that I could have done today’s ride last week. Today took more than physical strength and conditioning, it took heart. That is why I am doing this bike ride. It is not only an adventure around the country, but also an adventure into your mind and a way to test what you are capable of. I could not be happier to be a part of this adventure with two of my best friends.
When we got in the car I told Josh that what he did for me in the last stretch was brotherly move, proving that he embodies the motto of our fraternity and the Kyle Charvat Foundation, to lend an assisting hand. He said thanks and explained that he had a surge of adrenaline towards the end and “that it was like Lance Armstrong kissed [him] on the cheek and said ‘go out into the storm my child’.” I love my friends. A lot of people ask how often we fight and we do get on one another nerves on a daily basis. It’s often by doing careless stuff like Nigel putting a U-Lock around a post but not around my bike, Josh parking in an un-findable location in East Glacier and making us bike farther before stopping, and me, well, come to think of it I haven’t done anything to make Nigel or Josh mad. Anyone who knows me understands that it is impossible to get upset with me, I’m pretty much perfect. However, with every bickering argument we get in, they are immediately followed by jokes, and laughs.
Josh, you’re a homey,