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What do the Statue of Liberty and a flying cow have in common?  If you go to Sandpoint to ride the Chafe, you can visit both.  Chafe (a clever acronym, not the undercarriage phenomenon) is not a race, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t want to circumnavigate the 150-mile loop with all possible dispatch.  So we hurried to the blue-and-yellow balloon-arch start line a full three minutes before the 6:30 a.m. start, just in time to catch the tail end of the rider meeting and for M. to reset the Garmin, and then we were off on the longest-by-far day ride either of us had ever tackled.

In any mass start, and today was no exception, one is likely to become caught up in a pace line of other riders of a similar speed.  This day, though we tried our best to avoid it, we were sucked into an annoying 22-wheel-long inchworm that, like a dysfunctional relationship, was impossible to escape due to sheer momentum.  Thankfully we were only involved in this relationship-gone-wrong for a few miles when we hit our first hill climb and our dysfunctional but fleeting family dispersed.

Ah, finally a little piece and quiet befell us and we were able to do what we do best.  Being two women of a certain pace, we had become accustomed to working together, often silently for long miles, engaged in our efficient and unspoken pull-draft exchange.  We have learned that we can ride far and fast this way, faster than either of us can pedal alone, and we don’t have to deal with any of those pesky inchworms.

The first aid station was at Bonner’s Ferry High School, and I am pretty sure it was manned by teachers because they were a fun bunch.  We were awarded these diplomas for successfully accomplishing the first thirty miles of our day-long trek.  Graduating from the thirty-mile aid station was like graduating from kindergarten: we still had to get through elementary school, middle school, high school, and college, and maybe even grad school.

What can I say about long miles and hours to follow?  I can tell you this for certain, M. was the stronger of us and did most of the pulling.  We flew by several fit-looking fellows, and there I was… sitting on, sitting up, smiling big, swigging my Perpetuem-laced water bottle, and thinking, “this is sweet!”  As we crossed the Idaho/Montana border, M. pointed out a sign on some dubiously decrepit and defunct establishment, “last chance to buy cheap cigarettes!”

Later (much later) in the afternoon, we stopped at the nearly-100-mile fourth aid station to refuel, where M. remarked, and I quote, “that was the easiest hundred miles I’ve ever ridden.”  That’s when is started getting tough.  First the hillclimbs started, then we turned west into a headwind.  Some miles click by faster than others, and these miles were barely crawling.  M. only complained a little bit and then became quiet, so I figured she was comfortably nestled into her pain cave.  She said I did most of the pulling after that.  I can’t say, I was deep in my own pain cave, lost in time, mindlessly grinding, and unaware how long I had been working or resting.

After slamming a few fruit smoothies at the fifth and final aid station, we set out on the last leg, knowing that indeed we can ride 150 miles in one day.  Did we ever have any doubts?  Here are some stats (approximate) per M.’s Garmin: total time out – 10½ hours; actual saddle time – a little under nine hours; average speed – 16.9 mph; calories consumed – 7,000+.

chafe

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