Where did I leave off... Yes, the race and those that bug me.
The second leg would turn out to be my favorite. Strawberry Pass is a beautiful ride. Great road. Perfect temperature. And I really enjoy a nice, sustained climb. Really I do. The descent was a little tricky when I got a strange speed wobble when I touched 40 mph. Not sure why, but I think there might have been a slight crosswind. But I was much more fortunate than one guy who crashed hard when, as I understand, he was cut off by another rider. This man was being loaded into an ambulance when I went by. He survived the crash but died a few weeks later when he fell during a rehab session and hit his head.
While walking past the ambulance, I ran into Mike Clark again. He joined us for the descent, which I couldn't match the guys due to my speed wobble. He and Jared waited for me, an occurrence that would be repeated several more times. During the run in to Montpelier, Jared and I got a little wild and took off on our own. The exuberance didn't buy us much, but didn't do any long term damage.
Montpelier was a long rest stop. It was also the 80 mile mark. The next section to Afton is a test. The second half at least. Leaving Montpelier we almost immediately begin the climb to Salt River Pass via Geneva Summit. Now that sounds tough, and it was. But it was a complete 180 from the last trip I took through these parts. The last time, I can't even remember Geneva Summit. But I really remember Salt River. This time, the lower grade of Geneva kicked my ass. I didn't have the power to muscle up it without really working. However, the steeper grade of Salt River, and my lower gearing, really made that a pleasant climb. After a short feed, we headed down the other side toward Afton. The speed wobbles kicked in again and I shat myself a little. As pretty as riding through Star Valley is, it is a perilous trip. This section of road has the nastiest road vibrators around and you have to navigate them carefully. People are also starting to get tired. It adds up to a nervous 50 miles. It was somewhere around Thayne that I encountered the toughest part of my day.
Mike, Jared and I got into a rhythm where we started using up groups. We would ride up to a group, rotate through with them a couple of times, until we got close to another group, and then they would drift away and we'd go to the next group. We were comfortably turning out a higher speed, which allowed us to catch groups. These guys would turn themselves inside out to hang, usually bumping up the speed when it was their turn to pull through. Then they would blow and drop back and we would move on. It backfired on me about Thayne. I am not a power rider and rolling along at 27 - 28 mph on flat roads took its toll on me. We finally hooked up with a guy and gal with some chops and with the extra horsepower, we were flying. I took a pull at a tough for me 26 mph and sat up. The dude pulled through and raised the speed the speed to 28 or so going up a small rise. And I popped. Audibly. As the four of them put distance between us, I put my head down and buried myself to catch back on. Completely spent, I sat on the back the rest of the run in to Alpine.
The feed in Alpine left 81 mostly uphill, but not terribly steep, uphill miles to go. I'll get to that next time.