Day 5

July 22, 2004

Thompson Falls, MT to Missoula, MT


My day started with an acute eye pain that woke me up at 3AM.  It was the sort of pain you feel when you get a large piece of grit  into your eye.  The tears flowed but I couldnít seem to dislodge whatever it was that was in my eye.  By breakfast, the pain had subsided to the discomfort you feel when you have an eyelash in your eye.  This seemed manageable, until I got on the bike.  With the cool morning air and pressure from the wind, the pain in my eye intensified.   I rode 27 miles in agony into the first rest stop where I knew I would find Susan, who is also a nurse besides a PAC Tour organizer.  Both Susan and Roberta (one of the crew) took a look at my eye but couldnít find anything.  They tried flushing it with a saline solution but it still didnít improve. Susie Slack (another crew member) who also once worked at an eye doctorís office, thought that maybe I had a scratched cornea ń itís the sort of thing that hurts a lot and feels like an eyelash in your eye.  This seemed to make sense to me.  Perhaps I opened my eye while I slept and rubbed it on the pillow.  Or perhaps some road grit from the day before had worked itís way in while I slept.  The treatment for this is a patch to make it feel better, some eyedrops to avoid infection, and time to let the eye heal itself which it usually does in a couple of days.  So here I am, with my patch Ö.



Ö all I need now is a parrot on my shoulder to be a real pirate.  It certainly made riding a bike a bit more of a challenge.  With just one eye, you lose your depth perception.  So this made finding road obstacles harder.  And riding in a paceline was not safe, either.  Also, it was nearly impossible to see cars approaching from behind me.  The patch did, however, make the pain tolerable, so I was able to focus now on getting the bike on down the road.


Apparently, the eye is one of the fastest healing organs in the body.  As the day progressed, it felt much better.


With the distraction of my eye problem, I didnít do much sight seeing.  However, the scenery was very nice as we took quiet back roads along a river  -- I wish I couldíve enjoyed it more.  One point of interest was the Bad Rock Trail that we rode along Ö



Finally at the end of a challenging day.  Some riders working on their bikes Ö


Our progess so far Ö



Profile and statistics (absolute altitude is wrong). 


Today, it felt like I was peddling up hill all day.  And as the profile shows below, this was mostly true!  We basically are headed  up towards the continental divide.   The morning was quite chilly (mid 50ís) and I really regretted not having my leg warmers with me.  It took a long time for the legs to get loose.  Another uphill battle was dealing with the shakey start from my eye problem.  By the time I got to the second rest stop, I was getting behind the pace of the main group with only a handful of riders behind me.  I finally caught up at the lunch stop by maintaining a decent pace and keeping my stops as short as possible.





By dinner time, my eye seemed completely better.  This was quite a relief.  Iím greatful to my PAC Tour eye professionals (Susan, Roberta, and Susie) for their help.  The crew also made a special trip back to town to get eye drops for me.