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Day 3 - Spokane Washington to Thompson Falls, Montana
171 miles

Team Extreme decided to do the shared work thing again, and started out the morning together. We also grew by a few riders who thought this paceline thing sounded like a good idea. We did a great job of keeping the group together and under control on the gradual climbs that we encountered. I was amazed at how flat the route was, despite going through mountains. I think some of it was adrenaline, some was riding in a large group, and some was that it was really pretty flat. Along the way I met our new members, including Roberta, one of the crew members from Michigan, Mike, an engineer from Idaho, who's home state we would enter briefly today, and Kurt, a mountain biker from Minnesota. Kurt was using a highly modified mountain bike for the trip. After noticing his smaller 26 inch wheels, I did ask if he had accidentally washed the bike in hot water (making it shrink). I wasn't quite booed out of the paceline for that one.

Nancy, my roommate had torn a muscle and injured her achilles tendon earlier in the year, and the first two days of hard fast riding had aggravated the situation. She decided to take the day off and help crew in hopes of being able to ride again without pain. Nancy was planning to do a RAAM qualifier two weeks after the trip ended and really was focused on training for that ride rather than doing every inch of PAC Tour. She picked a tough day to take off though, since it was laundry day. She ended up helping out with laundry, shopping and lunch and gained a unique view of how hard this trip was to run. I think she was happy to get back on the bike the next day.

During the final leg of riding, Team Extreme was joined by Pete Penseyres. Now I really try not to be in that "oh my god, it's a famous rider" mode, but I was thrilled when I ended up in the double paceline beside him. We started talking and I found out that Pete told the most fantastic stories, was even stronger than I imagined, and was really just a great guy. We talked about RAAM, tandems, road racing and Joanne. Joanne is Pete's wife and probably one of the most experienced crew people alive. She has crewed on every transcontinental that he and his brother Jim have done, lots of qualifiers, 24 hour races, training rides, and several PAC Tours. She has great people skills and can be quite resourceful on the road. He told me about one PAC Tour with a breakfast mix-up. Normally, we have breakfast in the parking lot with cereal, bagels and yogurt, but every once in a while, there would be a sit down hotel breakfast. One morning after everyone had left and everything was packed up, Susan went to settle the bill, and discovered that this was a hotel breakfast morning. The buffet was all set up with pancakes, eggs, sausage, etc. Joanne packed everything up to carry along. It happened to be a cold dreary morning, and riders were thrilled with their hot meals at the first snack stop that morning. Another day, lunch was planned for a McDonald's, but when they reached the town, there was no McDonald's in sight, so they headed into a supermarket and bought ingredients and had their own little fast food joint setup in half an hour when the first riders came through. This they called really fast food.

As we were riding along, we reached a steeper hill and I started to gap slightly. Pete reached over and pushed me back up to the group. He actually gained a reputation for doing this for lots of people throughout the ride. He would literally push riders up to pacelines and keep groups together. Quite a few strong riders benefited from Pete's pushes as well.

Then we got on my favorite subject, tandems. Pete told me of how he and Rob Templin got together for their first tandem transcontinental. He had sort of been thinking about doing one for a while, and Joanne had turned down the opportunity to stoke, but offered to crew. He decided to invite Rob, an old friend over for dinner and entice him with the thought. He told me how Rob's eyes got big as he started talking about the possibility, since it turned out that Rob had been approached by someone earlier in the week who had already arranged sponsorship for two tandems to do a tandem drafting tandem cross country event. Rob had said yes to the other person, if he could convince Pete. This, despite the fact that they had never actually ridden together before.

The bikes arrived a few months later, and they started riding together. It took months before they were able to stand since both were road racers and wanted to rock the bike, but not quite at the same time. Joanne crewed on many of their early training rides and thought it would be hopeless, but one day, they finally got in sync, and their out of the saddle climbing became so legendary that people came to rides just to see them climb out of the saddle. They set some records on longer courses that still have not been broken. I really, really wanted to try riding with Pete and finally got up the nerve to ask, and he said yes. We decided to pick a short segment later in the week.

Our train soon absorbed Susan out testing her new Softride single. The folks at Softride get Lon and Susan to try out their new bikes and really give them a good working over. She still didn't have it set up ideally, but was really enjoying the ride. Susan hoped to get a few rides in each afternoon, but running PAC Tour really doesn't leave much time for riding.

Thompsom Falls was one of the smaller overnight towns, and in fact there wasn't one motel there large enough to handle the whole group, so we had split motels that night. The gals and crew were in one, and most of the guys were back down the road. There was also a little confusion about laundry. Some of the laundry bags had come open, and a few were lost completely. Crew members had to drive back to find the missing bags, and people had to go through big piles of loose clothing to find their own stuff. We also discovered that clothes don't get too dry inside mesh bags, so there was soon lots of clothing lying out to dry.

I had dinner with Renee and Julie. Renee was from my home state of North Carolina, but we hadn't actually met there. Instead, we had met in France during PBP in 1991. Julie, her roommate was a member of Team Extreme and in fact had been then one to come up with the name. Julie was our most petite rider and no one could get a good draft off of her, but she was incredibly strong. She had spent a month at a training camp run by Betsy King and Anna Schwartz in the winter, because she wanted to get out of the cold of Indianapolis. Oh, if only I were independently wealthy!

At dinner, I ended up with dessert first, something I decided later in the trip was a good idea. One of the cyclists at the table next to us had asked about getting an ice cream sundae and the waitress brought it out before he had finished his meal. I offered to take it off his hands and he could get another one later. After a few days, I started going for ice cream as soon as I hit town each afternoon. We stayed in a few smaller towns where the size of our group often overwhelmed all the restaurants, and sometimes service was dreadfully slow. A little ice cream would usually tide me over until dinner.