What they failed to tell me was immediately following the start is the first of many tunnels. It is two miles long. Now I certainly remembered how to ride a bicycle, BUT riding in a dark and wet tunnel with only a small beam of light MIGHT have pushed my "Nearing Panic" button. WHAT WAS I THINKING???
This picture from the WWW would have you to believe you could actually see in the tunnel. THAT WOULD NOT BE THE CASE. It was pitch black and you could only see the lights pedaling toward you and the dim circle of light created by your LED flashlight. In this--the longest of all the tunnels, it closely resembled a Broadway Parody of "Three Blind Mice" --PLUS TWO. The others quickly pulled ahead of me and I was in the back with only my twilight haze of light to try and avoid all the puddles of water and the the deep troughs of run off on each side. I was truly groping in the dark and watching for the first glimmer of light that announced I might get out of this dark dungeon alive. Sadly I determined my Claustrophobia is alive and well.
When we finally emerged in the daylight, I knew I would survive. We then rode mile upon mile of trestles, switchbacks, and beautiful trails built on an old railroad track bed. The scenery was breathtaking and the slight downgrade made the entire ride an exhilarating experience.
We began the ride in Montana and rode back to Idaho changing time zones on the way. There was some confusion about the time for our pick up by the shuttle for the ride back to our car. We somehow managed to make it with minutes to spare--quite by "blind luck"--pun intended.
We then load our bicycles and ourselves on a bright yellow school bus for the thirty minute ride back to the start. The most frightening part of the entire adventure was the school bus ride up the hair pin switchbacks getting us back up the mountain.
SURPRISE---YOU HAVE TO RIDE YOUR BICYCLE BACK THROUGH THE TWO MILES OF DARK TUNNEL TO GET TO YOUR VEHICLE AND TURN IN THE BICYCLES. Since there is NO Plan B---you must get back on the bicycle and ride back through the pitch black tunnel. Only thing is the tunnel is now FILLED with a large number of riders, making it even more treacherous.
SOME of us needed to have to have our rears cleaned up after sloshing through the water and mud filled tunnel.
OH--BUT THE FUN WE HAD!
AND THE SIGHTS WE SAW!
When we relaxed after stumbling through the dark beginning! Sometimes you have to take the plunge into the unknown and conquer the fear factor, to experience the biggest blessings!
"I will lead the blind by a way they do not know, In paths they do not know I will guide them I will make darkness into light before them And rugged places into plains These are the things I will do, And I will not leave them undone."