2.2mph. That is the slowest I can go uphill before gravity wins its never-ending battle and I lose control of this beast beneath me. Sometimes I catch myself as I tip, other times the wheels slip out. I’m amazed at how fast I can hit the ground while moving so slow. We have been on the Lolo Motorway for only two days and I have already lost count of how many times I have crashed to the ground or into rocks or trees. I really should be better at riding my bike by now.
At times today, the loose rock and ridiculously steep grades forced us off the bikes and we resorted to pushing. As difficult as it is to pedal up these mountains, pushing our 100+ pound bikes is worse. I only manage about 1.5mph, barely above a crawl.
Either way, we are not able to outrun the giant biting flies, which swarm relentlessly during the day, allowing for only brief breaks. We learn by experience that they are deet resistant. I’m impressed on a biological level that deet can melt synthetic fabrics but not deter these flies. Their bites sting and leave large itchy welts. From a distance we must look like crazy people, vigorously swatting at the air, hoping for the satisfaction of knocking one of these buggers into next week.
But even with all the swatting, crashing, pushing, pedalling and sweating, we do take moments to appreciate the beauty of our surroundings. But only briefly, until the flies swarm again, pushing us onward.