Bad Decisions make Good Stories

A few weeks ago, I needed an adventure; I really needed to get out of town. At first I was going to head south to Moab, or Bryce Canyon. After tossing the idea around, I remembered that I have been promising to visit my friends in Boise. So I sent a few texts was set to head to Boise in the morning.

I planned to leave before the sun came up but when I got home I was exhausted, so I took a “nap”. I woke up around 5. I dragged myself out of bed, and grabbed my laundry. I threw my clothes in the washer and set an alarm for just after 5:30. Deciding that as long as I left by 7:30, I could still get the early morning adventure feeling I love so much. I didn’t get out of bed when my alarm went off; it wasn’t until 6 that I wondered down and transferred my clothes over. and set an alarm for 7. I got out of bed at 7:30, still feeling groggy but also annoyed that I still hadn’t packed to leave. I grabbed my now clean laundry and returned to may room to pack, I knew I didn’t need a lot, but planned for rain and cooler weather as well as my camera. I was able to get everything in one bag, I worked hard to get everything into one bag, strapped it to the “rack” on the back of the bike, and was finally ready to go at 9:00.

It wasn’t long before I was in Layton, and I decided to pull off and have breakfast at Sill’s Cafe, a historic little diner with great coffee, and even better scones. There was a line out the door, for no reason other than the fact that it was Saturday for breakfast. I waited in line for at least 20 minutes before taking a seat at the counter. The service at Sill’s moves pretty fast as expected at a diner. I had coffee almost immediately and breakfast less than 10 minutes after I ordered. I was ready to leave by 10:30, and headed to the closest gas station. While there, I rechecked my cargo, my route and plugged in. I was finally on my way.

I had checked the weather before leaving, and knew it was going to rain, but the look of the clouds and the chill in the air, made me realize I should have brought my car on this trip. I was still close enough to turn around, and switch them out, but I convinced myself I could do it, I’d ridden in rain before. It was colder than anticipated, but from the forecast I knew it was a small storm. I pulled off in Tremonton, just after the I-15/I-84 interchange to gear up. My hands were extremely cold, and I needed an extra pair of gloves, and ideally something to keep them dry. I went into the store and wandered the aisles, I found a cheap pack of wool gloves, and a poncho. I looked for nitrile or latex gloves, but found none. I went to check out and asked if they had any I could have but was told they didn’t. I asked for one extra bag and headed to the Burger King attached. They gave a few pairs of gloves, (not without a few strange looks), and I headed out to my bike.

It was already starting to sprinkle. Up until this point I had just been wearing my hoodie, so I unstrapped my jacket. I stood there for a minute, trying to decide the best way to configure all of my new purchases. I chose to use the plastic bags over my shoes in an attempt to keep my feet dry. I knew it would reduce traction, and thus could be risky, but cold feet are awful. I then moved on to my hands, and ended up putting the wool gloves over my leather ones, and then stretched the latex-y ones over top. I pulled them back off, put on my jacket, then the poncho and finally my helmet. I asked passerby to help me pull the hood of the poncho over my helmet, which was harder than it maybe should have been. I wanted the hood up to prevent rain from dripping into my jacket from my helmet. I figured if it was tight enough, it would stay up. I tucked the loose ends in as much as I could, carefully pulled on the gloves and I was ready to go.

The poncho acted like sail as I rode, and at first the tightness of the hood kept pushing buttons on my Sena. I rode directly into the storm; within a few miles I was in the middle of it. It was “needle rain”, the drops are small, abundant, and constant.  Thanks to my gear I could barely feel it, but knew it was bad, I could barely see out of my face shield. Within 10 miles, I realized my hood had come down, but luckily nothing was dripping down my back (that I knew of). Due to the low visibility and the drag of my poncho, I was going well under the speed limit. I would have been more nervous if there had been more traffic, and if I hadn’t been wearing a bright yellow poncho on the outside of all my gear. It must have been a sight to see, I really hope someone got a photo. I rode this way all the way to Snowville (~35 miles) with the rain stopping about 10 miles before I stopped.

I pulled off at the first stop in Snowville, carefully slowing to a stop, careful not to slip, and pulled off my “rain gear”. The poncho was all ripped up, I probably lucky it didn’t get caught in my belt or real wheel. My right shoe bag was torn, but it had served it’s purpose of keeping my foot dry. In fact, all my “gear” had worked, with the exception of my pants, I was completely dry. I could help but chortle as I walked into the station in hopes of finding a hand dryer to dry my pants. Unfortunately the Sinclair didn’t have one, so I filled my tank and soldiered on. The rain had stopped and the sun was intermittently peaking through the clouds.

The front of my legs ached from the cold, felt like tiny needles being stabbed into my legs. I hugged them tightly to the bike trying to keep warm. This caused the insides to dry rather quickly and soon they too began to burn. It was more of a sharp long burn, consistent with a pipe burn. I bowed my legs out for momentary relief and then brought them back in trying to mediate the pains from the hot and cold. Almost immediately my legs felt the burn of the pipes, I looked down. There was no reason for it, after a few more rounds, everything hurt, both legs just felt as though they were burning, I realized that my pain receptors were fried, and my brain couldn’t tell if I was hot or cold.

I kept going, knowing that my legs would eventually air dry, and there wasn’t any point in stopping. I rode about 40 miles before I saw a sign for another gas station and decided to pull off. It was the Sublette Gas Stop, and was the only thing for miles. I pulled up to pump that was out-of-order and cursed audibly. A fellow rider advised me that the pump I was next to was out of order but the one he was at was working. He also proceeded to tell me the bathroom was also out of order, which only seemed appropriate, but also unfortunate, since the cold had made me have to pee… again. There was also a kind of petting zoo with alpaca, sheep and goats. I topped off my tank, and walked over to the animals for a few photos while I warmed up. My legs were almost dry, but my hands were also incredibly cold;  I was freezing and still 200 miles from my destination. My outlook for warmth was bleak, and I was beginning to become truly miserable.

I pushed myself another 80 miles to Twin Falls. It wasn’t easy,  the cold was starting to get to me, and straight ahead of me I could see another storm system. The wind had also picked up, making it even colder and fighting it was exhausting. I was still another 140 miles from Boise, though was comforted that the number of miles was finally under 200.  I tried analyze the clouds to determine if I was better off trying to push through and beat the rain or wait it out at the gas station. It was still aways out,  but hadn’t coffee the highway (if the highway were to proceed exactly straight on). I asked a fellow rider, hoping he might know the route better, but he didn’t. He did tell me the wind got worse before Boise, so I should stay alert. I thanked him and headed indoors.

I debated if I needed food and realized it had been 5 hours since I’d eaten and I’d been fighting the elements. I needed to eat. I wasn’t the least bit hungry, and wanted something that wasn’t going to upset my stomach. I chose the least questionable thing there, Blimpie. I also needed water so I made myself drink a cupful (~8oz) even though it was cold. After I ate, I still wasn’t feeling great and started to get colder. I walked around wishing there was a sauna or something to help me warm up. I bought a pair of hand warmers and grabbed a cup of hot water. I breathed in the steam and blew into the cup to cool the water to a drinkable temperature, and warm my face. I eventually drank about half the cup and decided to stop burning my mouth to warm my core. It worked though, I felt slightly thawed and was finally ready to get back on the highway. I rolled my bike over to the gas pump, and arranged my gloves so the hand warmers were in between the two layers of gloves. I also took a moment to call my mother and let her know I was OK.

My next stop was to be Mountain Home, a short 40 miles from Boise. I had changed my Pandora station to 80’s rock, and was feeling refreshed after my short stop. The hand warmers were also helping, my hands were cold, but it didn’t seem to be as biting. Luckily, the storm was staying to the South of the road, so I was staying dry, but it was creating a strong, steady, and biting wind. I was starting to get in the groove finally. Everything was tight from the cold and sore from the long road. I was incredibly saddle sore, but I finally felt back to normal. No longer was I a whiny kid being dragged along on this ride, I was a woman kicking ass and getting to Boise. As I rode, I was still counting down each mile, eager to FINALLY get there I’d been on the road for much longer than expected. I was thankful for my hand warmers, and tried to ignore the pain in the little knuckle on my left hand. It was getting a little too warm and had start to hurt. I tried to shift the warmer, under my glove, but was unsuccessful.

The pain was getting unbearable and I saw signs for a rest stop. I really didn’t want to stop, but didn’t think it wise to push on. I veered off on to the exit a little too fast having waited until the last possible minute to make my choice. I pulled into a parking stop and ripped my glove off. Sure enough the knuckle of my little finger was bright red, and black right in the middle where the burn had been the worst. I was thankful I had chosen to stop, otherwise this might have been much worse. I went into the bathroom because once again the cold had made me have to pee again. It wa refreshing to was my hands, to even out the temperature. I was hoping some of the black would wash off, thinking it was just pigment from my gloves, but no, I had really burnt my hand. I had ridden 60 miles, there were 30 more before my next stop. I reinserted the hand warmer careful to avoid my knuckles (on both hands) and set off for Mountain Home.

My gas light came on about 10 miles down the road. I was pretty sure I could make it, but nervous about the possibility of not. As the first exit for Mountain Home got closer I breathed easier… that is until I got close enough I realized there were 0 services there. My stress level raised again, just waiting for the jolt indicating my two-wheeled steed had run out fuel, but it never came. I pulled off at next stop and filled up. I called my friends as I filled the tank, a car pulled up behind me wanting to use the pump. (This is one of my pet peeves. Getting gas on a bike is NOT like getting gas in a car, the tanks might be smaller but more often than not, bikers take longer at the pump if for nothing else the gearing down and gearing back up. I had taken my helmet off and was clearly on the phone, so was thoroughly annoyed about having to immediately move just so this guy could use the pump. (then even more annoyed when he and others acted like I was forgetting my damn helmet because I put it aside to move rather than put it on my head.) I finished up my phone call, typed in their address and was on my way. Only 40 miles to go now.

I was ecstatic to be so close, and it was apparent in my speed. I was booking 90+, i just wanted to get there. I crossed the Snake River, and marveled at how gorgeous every part of that river is. I kept going until I started to see signs for the airport. I was close, I had one exit left. Suddenly I hit something, likely a pothole, HARD. I cursed in surprise and pain. And then was worried I might have damaged my rim or blown the tire (I’ve done it before). Luckily I was less than 10 miles from Vanessa’s house, so I was pretty sure I could make it if I was careful. I slowed down and soon reached the exit. I took the turn extra slow, focused on the feel of the bike. Still nervous I pulled off at a gas station and checked both tires, and my cargo. Everything looked to be in order, so I rolled out and on to her house. I pulled in just before 6, my 5 hour trip to Boise had taken 9 hours. I was thankful to have arrived, but was exhausted and ready to stop.

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