Day 16 - Adventure & Danger
Updated: Jul 26, 2019
Today’s ride was a real rollercoaster!!!! Everything started off okay until we reached a section of the Highway 90 where there was some roadworks with no provision for cyclists. As a result, we all stayed on the closed section of the highway until, suddenly, the road just stopped.
We had to then walk our bikes to the side of the construction works until we reached a gravel path. We stopped to talk to one of the construction workers and we were told we faced no choice but to follow the gravel path until we reached another road. Our road bikes had to cope with the rough surfaces and it was really hard work. Eventually, we were back on track but there were some very rough sections to go through until we reached some locals at the end of another gravel path and Bill Turner asked them if this was the right road for Washington DC and the locals just shrugged their shoulders and looked rather bemused. It was so funny!
We pressed on but slowly the weather started to turn from sunshine to clouds, to drizzle, to rain, to hail, to sleet, to snow! As a result, temperatures started to plummet!
We had a mountain to climb to the Homestake Pass at 6,329 ft and, as a group of three of us started to climb, the sleet started to turn to snow and everything turned rather grey. Whilst we were pedalling we tended to stay quite warm but, nevertheless, the snow was pitching on my fingerless gloves as temperatures continued to fall. Eventually, hallelujah, I made it to the top where there was a rest stop but, regrettably, no facilities to produce a nice, hot cup of coffee. I climbed into the car to try to warm up a bit before attempting the descent and the warm atmosphere was most welcome. Hindsight would have been to stay in the car but I wanted to try and finish off the ride, as I had ridden every mile so far on the tour.
Therefore, I climbed on the bike to start my descent. It did not take long for the windchill effect to start to impact on me. I tried to speed up to finish the descent but the downward slopes just kept coming so I knew I was in trouble. I called out to one of my fellow cyclists but he was struggling too so I started to slow down to reduce the windchill effect. Eventually I stopped but by now I was so cold I was shivering uncontrollably. I tried to walk down but I was chilling rapidly and my heart was going overtime to keep me going. I came across a couple of properties but they looked empty with no sign of life so I kept walking, however fear was creeping in on me. By now I was desperate and hoping someone would stop and help. I was tearful and worried as I kept trudging down the mountain but the mountain still had me in its icy grip.
Just when I was starting to loose hope a car came up from behind and pulled over and it was the help I desperately needed. David Erquhart climbed out of his car and helped me into the back seat and then tried to put my bike into his car. The car already had three people in and two bikes on the roof so we needed to travel on with the boot slightly open. I wept into a towel I was given to try to warm me. I could hardly speak I was so cold. I continued to shiver so the heating in the car was turned up as high as possible to try to thaw me out!
Some colour started to return to my cheeks but I still needed assistance when we arrived at the church and loads of people leapt to my help will warm drinks, warm water for my feet, blankets and loads of love and concern. I was home with my new found family but still somewhat shocked at what had taken place! I have never been so cold or thought this could happen to me. Nature and come up and bitten me hard!!
After a warm shower and some hot chocolate I started to recover but I remained shaken by these events for the rest of the day and the next few days. I was very emotional but as least I was safe and enfolded in the love and care of my fellow adventurers.