September 12, 2002
Near Noxon to Plains
71 Miles Google Map
This day started out pleasantly enough. I’d gotten in a full morning of cycling and had had the “Maidrite Special” for lunch in the Thompson Falls Boomtown Cafe. Feeling pretty good with no body complaints (for a change). The score was thirty-five miles done, maybe thirty-two to go. But what’s that number up on the bank display? Yes, it’s eighty-four. As in degrees. As in “You’ve got a tough, hot ride coming up”.
Leaving Thompson Falls, the heat hit me immediately. Worse, there was really no roadside shade to pull over and hide under for temporary relief. Just the occasional group of straggling pines or junipers in the distance which looked to be in worse shape than I.
Then there was another map mystery: a phantom rest area supposedly located somewhere between Thompson Falls and Plains. Spent the entire afternoon on the lookout for a picnic table, or least a place I could stop and comfortably stretch my legs, but it was all in vain.
Towards Plains, the road had recently been asphalted in stylish black. It already felt like I’d been cycling under a heat lamp; now there was a skillet underneath. If I fell off the bike, I’d sprawl on the road and fry like an egg.
I pushed on. Fortunately there were no large hills to climb or headwinds to contend with. Just the heat. Off to the right were occasional glimpses of the refreshing and inviting Clark Fork River. I made up my mind that in the event some semi truck accidentally came too close while we were crossing a bridge, to avoid a collision I’d deliberately go over the edge and into the water. It would almost be worth a broken leg to be immersed in its coolness.
Entering Plains was confusing. There’s a real estate office, a couple more businesses, then suddenly you find yourself out in the country again. It was only the advertisement of a malt and burger place further on that made me realize civilization had not entirely abandoned me.
After a cherry malt and maybe a gallon of cold water, I decided to call it quits some seven miles short of my original destination. Stepping out of the restaurant was like entering an oven. Following some directions I’d received, I cycled through the remainder of the town and found a run-down motel on the outskirts. Aside from a short food run, I’ve since been lying on the bed, semi-comatose. Even going to the bathroom requires an inordinate amount of energy.
In the same manner as Icarus, I’ve cycled too close to the sun.
Will hit the trail again tomorrow.
Today: 71 Miles
To Date: 500 Miles / 804 Kilometers