I had seen a post on the bike club newsletter of an invitation to a mountain bike ride and barbeque in Pomeroy from an old friend of mine who I used to ride with when I worked over there. Mark owns the town grocery and several other related businesses. Every Wednesday after work four of us would alternate taking either road bike or mountain bike rides. Chris, a club member from Moscow, would come over and Steve, a banker who worked in Pomeroy on Wednesdays, would also join us. We had some great times. Seemed like a wonderful opportunity to relive some old memories. Mark advertised the ride as 35 miles with 3700 feet of climbing.
As it turned out the only ones to show besides me was Chris from Moscow (Steve is now in Boise) and the local physical therapist who works at the hospital/nursing home (my old employer). Mark and Steve are 20 years my junior and the PT is just 34.
I had forgotten how long and steep those Garfield County back roads are. Our first stop was about 14 ½ miles out at a little convenience store/campground in the Blues called The Last Resort. We would always stop here on our mountain bike rides for refreshments. We had already climbed two major grades with one nice descent to get there.
From there we had about 10 miles of gradual descent on pavement. After that the fun began. The Meringo grade is a killer – long, steep, gravel deeply wash boarded. At times I was going only 4 mph. There are several easier routes back to Mark’s and by the time I reached the top of the Meringo I had decided I was going to take one of them. And Chris who is a superb rider who has already logged well over 4,000 miles this year is the only one who was beating me up the hills. I expressed my intention when we eventually gathered at the top and invited the PT who was having to walk up parts of the hills to join me in an easier route back. He insisted he was ok so on we went. I decided I’d try one more grade, long but not so steep, and just skip the last major grade.
My shoulder was hurting, my back was hurting and my legs felt dead. Chris soon went ahead and Mark and I were plodding on with the PT out of sight behind. Eventually Mark stopped to wait on the PT and I went on to join Chris at the end of the road. From there I turned down hill for highway 12 and back into town to Mark’s. Eventually the PT called his wife to come get him and Mark and Chris each took different routes back, shorter but more difficult than the one I took. My odometer showed over 44 miles with over 4 hours in the saddle which I believe is the longest mountain bike ride I have ever ridden and I’m quite certain the toughest. I was even hurting going down hill. I can tell you, the shower and barbeque at Mark’s was like heaven. I was ok the next day but I took a day off from riding.