And hot, of course. We cannot avoid hot. But for the start of the ride, smoke was a bigger issue. Edwin’s human went out to work breakfast and immediately returned to get his mask. Last night there was a fire just over the hill from the hotel. Now, wait, Dear Reader, if you’re from the Midwest like me, let me define “hill”. That would be less than a mountain, but much bigger than what we’d call a hill — it was at least 750′.

While the fire was the night before, the smoke was still irritating leaving town. Our hotel was below the Coulee Dam (yep, glad that the dam didn’t spring a leak last night!) and our ride left the hotel…up the hill past the dam and then up into a 1300′ climb. Smoke, but early enough not to be hot. And….oooo….such a pretty ride. Open range with switchbacks. so we could watch the pretty bikes ahead of us and look back down the switchbacks at the riders coming up. At the top, the cattle were racing us up the slope. OK, maybe they just wanted to go up slope…naw…that’d be a boring answer.

Oh, what was that? I shouldn’t have been ahead of any riders because my human is slow as molasses on a cold, Wisconsin January? Well…that early in the day we still are ahead of riders. The human rushes us onto the bike so that we hit the road first wheel (or close to it). That can give us a 15-30 minute head start. The really fast riders pass us shortly and slowly over the morning the rest of the riders pass by. If we would ride to the end of the day we’d end up last wheel. But, the human is still playing it safe and sagging in from lunch. Tomorrow we’re going for the distance. Lest you be impressed, Dear Reader, tomorrow is a short “recovery” day. Sigh…that is where I have landed…fast, elegant touring bike who’s “going for the distance” is a recovery day for the real riders. Sigh…..

…but it could be worse. This has been a hard first four days for a tour. We lost one rider on day one when his bike lost traction on fresh-ish chip seal. Neither bike nor rider were looking good; the rider went to the ER with multiple injuries but will walk away. Same day a driver right hooked the 3 of 4 riders riding a paceline. WTF! Drove past the 4 riders and turned into the 3rd. The rider is fine, but the bike?!?! Oh…the bike needed repairs. Thankfully, PAC Tour has good mechanics.

Edwin’s human is not doing well with the smoke so Edwin is riding the truck while his human works. But….one of the riders took a tumble and while she is fine, her bike’s top tube is cracked (<expletive>cheap carbon fiber</expletive> wouldn’t happen with beee–aaa–utiful steel). Edwin’s human is about the same size so if the crack worsens Edwin may get to see extra road time.

But, yep, the crew is working hard. They always do, but with the smoke and the heat, the people issues make the job the job harder. The crew is awesome.

Tonight we’re in Spokane. A big city with real restaurants and even vegan food (apparently, that last bit is important to the humans so I added it….beats me why that matters….a little T-9 and some air (even with smoke) to my tires and I’m good to go!)

Details: 68 miles (out of 92), 3064 feet of climbing (out of 3700), 15.1 strain

Reading List Finders Keepers Craig Childs. We’ve read works by Childs before and enjoyed them. Part travelogue; part essay; part diatribe. This one was on archeological remains and whether they should remain in situ, collected, protected, etc.

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