Posted by: Mark Wollemann: On the move | June 27, 2016

Day 15: When the going gets tough …

Day 15
Destination: Craters of the Moon, Idaho
Today’s mileage: 45. Total: 834

sign for day 15

My starting smile was replaced quite quickly by a sweat-streaked frown.

In my previous post, I said 60 miles was a “leisurely ride.” Forget about that. I went 45 miles today and it felt like 100. As a matter of fact, that was the temperature on my little bike computer when I pulled into the Craters of the Moon visitor’s center. By the time Melody arrived to meet me there, the temp had risen to 106. It was hot.


This fascinating and picturesque area features more than 1,000 square miles of lava rock, deposited there between 2,000 and 15,000 years ago by eruptions through fissures in the earth. Today it felt like all that black rock was absorbing a hot sun and belting it back out to me, the only idiot bike rider on the roads as far as I could see.

I started my ride from the intersection of Hwy 20 and 75 near Bellevue and headed northeast on Hwy 20. I was feeling strong and optimistic that I’d make great progress today. This is the first day in the first two weeks that I really “underperformed” my expectations.

I’ll try to take you through what happened and how I dealt with it.

The weather this morning was nice, but I got a late start. The bike needed a little fix and I had to wait till it was finished this morning before I could leave. By the time I got going, my idea of reaching Idaho Falls was clearly folly (as it turns out, it was folly from the get-go). It would be more than 130 miles, I had made a small mistake in reading the map last night, and there was no way I was going to go that far today. Not with a late start. And not with the heat.

And then there was the soul-crushing wind. As I took off, I immediately noticed that I would be riding into a stiff breeze (at least for most of the day). I also didn’t eat enough, or properly, so within the first seven miles, I was bonking. I stopped. Pounded a PB&honey sandwich and restarted. I felt better, but I was starting to feel something that I hadn’t felt in the first two weeks. Every ache and pain was bothering me.

My left palm throbbed from holding the same position on the handlebar for these past two weeks. My right knee ached, I think, because the wind prevented me from getting into a smooth cadence. I struggled with every pedal stroke. My butt felt bruised. I don’t know why it took two weeks for that to, um, rear its ugly head. But there you have it. … It’s not that I’m chafed. I’m bruised.

my view of the road

The view of the space I hold tight to on Idaho state Hwy 20.

Those aches and pains have been evident all along, I think. It’s just that I’ve been feeling so good — so strong — that I’ve been able to put them out of my mind. Today, they were on my mind constantly. It sucked. I stopped at 21 miles because Melody had set up a small picnic area in a rare shady spot so we could have lunch. I wolfed down another sandwich, a chicken wrap, and a big bottle of powerade. The calories brought me back to life a bit. And the shade helped a lot. I could have quit right there and said “let’s try again tomorrow.” But one thing I know about myself is that I have to push myself to achieve some sort of goal. On my original itinerary, the Craters of the Moon “area” was my target. I needed to push to get there. In spite of the wind. In spite of the heat. In spite of my various aches and pains.

I’m not trying to sound heroic here. I was a whiny bastard the whole way. I talked to the “go-pro” camera on every climb. I whined about the headwinds. I sucked greedily on my water bottles, hoping to stave off my dehydration. And I chugged into the Craters visitor center, 45 miles under my considerable belt.

Melody and I had talked about camping among the lava rocks. When I went into the visitor center to refill my water bottle, I saw a poster that talked about the withering heat among those rocks during the hottest days of summer. They say the temperature can reach 170 degrees Fahrenheit at times. Now, it’s the desert, and it’s at 6,000 feet, and a kindly park worker said “It cools off at night quite a bit.”

But one look at my sad, puppy-dog eyes and Melody knew we’d be motel hunting. We drove 20 miles ahead and found a little motel in Arco, Idaho. It’s not much. Concrete block walls. A shower from the 1950s. A 20-year-old TV. But it has air conditioning. And today, that’ll do quite nicely.

It’s now “only” 84 miles to Idaho Falls, so maybe I can make that tomorrow. If I get a good wind at my back, a better breakfast, and an earlier start. Or maybe I’ll just do the best I can do and leave it at that. One bad day out of 15 isn’t too shabby. I have to remind myself of that. Melody will remind me, too, but I’m too stubborn to listen to anyone but my inner voice — especially when it’s not whining.

truck passing by

It’s amazing how easily one can adapt to “sharing the road” with these big rigs.

For more on the trip, including more pictures and videos, please visit our website:


  1. Gee, Mark, I guess you are human, after all…. Eat well, get some good sleep, and tomorrow, you will kick it, BIG time!

  2. Way to go, Cuz 😅
    So hard but you did it!!
    Hope tomorrow is cooler and the wind is to your back.

  3. Fantastic. Eat eat eat eat. Drink drink drink drink.

  4. A not so good day. But at least it was punctuated by a picnic in the shade with Mel. A good night’s sleep and a new day…

  5. “Whiny bastard?” I’m not buying it — not after reading this post. 🙂 Hope the wind is at your back tomorrow.

  6. […] Yesterday’s difficulties reside in my rear-view mirror. Yeah, I’m sore. Yeah, I ache in all sorts of places. Yeah, I’m tired. But I persevered today. It was necessary. […]

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