Stories from the Trail

It has only been a short time since the inception of the idea for Energy, Oh Energy and since then time has been disappearing in front of me.  The editing process is proving tedious but enjoyable.  As of last count, I have over 6000 video clips and this list is only growing.  The clips range from power plants to flat tires.  It has been a very interesting experience watching clips of me struggling in the desert.  It’s hard to relate back to what I experienced even though it was only a few weeks ago.  I sit in my office chair and comfortably watch the screen.  Some of the shots reflect the exact opposite feeling of comfort and security that I have now.  The same is also true for the opposition.  Some of the moments were nothing short of incredible.  The video brings me back but it is hard to truly feel what it was like during those moments.  One of the ways I have brought emotion into my past films was through the soundtrack.  Energy, Oh Energy has huge potential for a great soundtrack.  I have licensed 4 songs but am looking to have 15 for the final product.  I am also composing a portion of the score myself.  I have a musical background that stretches back to playing piano, accordion, and drums as a child and into my adulthood.  I have done a number of compositions for smaller projects and am excited to use some of that experience to develop the score for this film.  I have been getting a lot of emails about stories from being on the road so I have decided to make a weekly contribution to the blog that tells a story from my ride each week.  Since we have been getting quite a bit of rain here in Laramie, I thought I would share a story about rain.

After leaving the Flaming Gorge Dam, Carrie and I rode to Clay Basin.  The original plan was for this to be Carrie’s last day on the journey and to camp at the bottom of Clay Basin.  Another supporter and longtime friend, Roger Weber was going to meet us there to ride the next day.  We decided to knock some miles out that night so Carrie and I rode about half of the largest climb of the whole journey and camped there.  That night Carrie decided that she wanted to ride another 4 days of the journey rather than calling it quits the next day but she hadn’t planned on it so she was out of supplies.  The new plan was for her to go back to town when Roger was dropped off the next morning.  She would get supplies for herself and then meet us at the edge of the Red Desert that night so Roger could have a ride home.  This plan worked out fairly smoothly but what happened in between Carrie leaving and coming back is where the story gets interesting.  Roger and I rode all through the day, covering over 60 miles before we were done.  We rode everything from rough two track roads to the smooth pavement of US-191.  It had been a great day and we were starting to think about where we should call it quits.  From the night before and the quick pace that day, I was nearly 2 days ahead of schedule.  We had more energy but had run out of food.  The wind was beginning to pick up and we could see a massive storm nearing us.  Joking about chasing the storm and it missing us, Roger and I started to make “what if” plans just in case it turned our direction.  The storm had been visible for most of the day and I was starting to think we had gotten lucky when I felt a rain drop on my neck, or at least I thought it was a rain drop.  Either that or Roger was spitting.  I soon confirmed my hypothesis about the drop on my neck being rain and not spit because it was shortly followed by about 100,000 look-a-likes that were definitely rain.  We had gotten caught in the storm.  Just before the rain started, we made the decision to keep riding until Carrie returned with the vehicle to take Roger back to town.  This meant taking on a huge climb.  The rain started to fall harder and the road began to transform into something you can’t describe unless you’ve experience it.  The dirt has a high clay content and when clay gets wet, it sticks to rubber tires like glue.  We pedaled furiously up the mountain fighting the storm.  For a minute, I thought we were actually going to make it.  Looking back, I think the cold and fatigue was getting to me and I was thinking completely irrationally.   I was the first to falter.  Both of my tires locked up solid with a huge mud deposit on each wheel.  Following that, the brakes became jammed and shifting gears was a more distant thought than winning the lottery without a ticket.  I looked over to Roger and his bike had followed suit and was equally as incapacitated as mine.  We began to push and found the wheels completely locked and unable to budge.  I started to drag my bike like a piece of scrap metal.  At this point, that’s all it was.  The mud had rendered our bikes unusable.  The rain kept falling and the mud kept piling up.  I began to limp because each of my shoes had accumulated about 3lbs of mud.  I looked at Roger and in the midst of the storm said, “What do we do?!”  Roger being equally as surprised and handicapped with the mud responded, “Let’s just walk.”  I don’t know why we started walking.  We weren’t even walking up the hill anymore.  We were just walking.  It helped take our minds off the chaos that was occurring around us.  We walked without a trail or destination.  Water was running down the mountain in various informal streams that had been born in the last hour.  I was in a state between fear and not wanting to take the whole situation seriously because we were vulnerable.  After walking, we found our way back to the bikes.  The rain had slowed and we began the next task, chipping the hardening clay from our bikes to make them rideable again.  After breaking the wheels free we decided to ride back down the hill.  The downhill stretch helped loosen the mud and we were back in action.  The storm passed and in a matter of 30 minutes, you couldn’t even see that it had hit.  Carrie pulled up with my parents and brother to drop her off and pick Roger up.  Roger and I tried to explain the storm but no one seemed that impressed.  As I said goodbye, I smiled at Roger and he smiled back.  He knew how bad the storm was and so did I, and sometimes that’s all that matters.


2 responses to “Stories from the Trail

  1. 100 % Wyoming Bentonite. Now you know why drillers use the bentonite in drilling oil/gas wells: It sticks to everything. Including the well bores, which helps prevent blowouts.

  2. Mark,
    I read this blog and found it to be a good piece of writing. It did tell about our day and you are right, you had to be here. I just told Jana tonight this ride was my favorite activity of the summer that didn’t involve her.For the record, I rode tickty ticks point tick ticks miles. (66.66) So, good luck and thanks for the great ride.
    Roger Weber

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