Monday, September 10, 2012

Tour Divide 2012, Day 17 and 18 and....finish?

 Day 17. No Pie for Jarral :(

A note on the route. The section of the Tour Divide that I had slept on seems to be a point of confusion for racers. The rules state that you stay on the main route except for two exceptions. You can take the Chaco Alternate out of Cuba that I was on and the El Malpais Alternate out of Grants. Therefore, these are the routes that racers take. And so did I.
Day 17 Route
I woke up early around 3am to the Res dogs at the widely spaced houses across the road barking at me. I wanted to get going early to avoid the heat and traffic. The dogs knew I was there and wouldn't shut up. Soon I heard a woman screaming at a man and him at her. Then she gets in the car and takes off. OK, time for me to go also. The road was up and down as the sun slowly came up to extinguish Jupiter and Venus on the horizon. Elk ran across the road in front of me. The next aid station of Pueblo Pintado was closed as I approached but I was good with food and water. I did find a fine pit toilet at a construction site. 

It started to get hot. I started to wonder if my insulin would last. I checked it where I had put it on my water bladder to keep it cool and it was getting hot on the side, so I stuck my maps on either side to insulate it from the sun. It brought back memories of riding in snow and rain and Serge showing me how the maps kept you very warm when unfolded and shoved up your shirt. I began to long for the good old days of the cool weather in Canada. Here's a little taste of that.

Well, maybe the heat isn't so bad..... You can't really dwell on what you can't change so I made for Milan and Grants. I stopped at a grocery store in Milan just before Grants and got a bunch of fried chicken at the deli and more granola bars and some drinks and fruit. I grabbed a breakfast burrito for the road also. I took the famous "route 66" through Grants. Unfortunately for Grants, no one apparently drives route 66 anymore. The lumberyards at least were in business selling plywood to nail on all the windows of the out of business motels and everything else. My water bladder that I thought hadn't been leaking really was leaking--Gatorade from Cuba into my pack. I had a patch kit for vinyl but had lost it so I stopped at the hugeWalmart on the edge of town. I found a shoddy looking patch kit and put it on in the garden center. Well, it might hold....

The alternate route of El Malpais leaves Grants on a nice paved road past some cliffs. It is pretty. Large cliffs to the left, rugged lava flows to the right. Old homesteads with windmills for water pumps. After 20 or 30 miles, I turned on the standard route again and dirt. An old rancher and his wife pulled up and started talking to me. They were both missing a few teeth but very friendly. They were checking their now solar powered versus wind mills water pumps for the cattle. They were also placing fresh jugs of water next to pumps for hikers. They told me to stop at their place down the road where there was a water spigot. I thanked them and headed out climbing up into a pinyon juniper forest. Someone was trying to sell many lots of an old ranch. A bit obnoxious.

I was beginning to dream of pie. Pietown was ahead. A two restaurant town and both served pie and lots of it. It was still a ways off though. I got to the old log shack that the old man had told me about and rode down the road to the back and found a beautiful water spigot. I sat in a nice little chair where people used to stay in their RVs and camp out and ate my burrito. I left and the road climbed more. It was rocky and hilly. It was also getting dark. I wasn't going to hit Pietown during business hours. Nothing was going to be open. I wasn't going to get pie! I went by town in the dark frustrated that I missed the pie. There is also another place where you can buy stuff out of a shack like in Canyon Plaza here but I must have gone past it in the dark. I climbed more and finally had enough. It was private ranch land and you aren't supposed to camp but I just laid my bag in a turn out and decided to get up early. I had ridden 165 miles and all without any pie.

Day 18. Silver City or Bust.

Day 18 Route
Waking up I really wanted to get done. The country was actually pretty but like a kid that can't wait for Christmas, the closer I got the more, I wanted to finish. I had climbed higher up and it was cool. I was back into ponderosa forests where the elk were plentiful again. I climbed and then dropped down into the Plains of Agustine. I skirted the plains staying on the edge of the mountains. My next goal was the Beaverhead work station. This is an outpost for firefighters. But most importantly, they have a soda machine that was probably working. I started to think how good this would be. However, the road didn't cooperate. There was a bit of climbing and at one point the road turned to soft powder. It looked from the ruts that in the wet times it was a mud bog. And now in the dry time, it was 6 inches of powder. It was a slog for several miles until I turned a corner and climbed out of it. The ponderosa forest was so dry. There had been a huge fire here when our race started but now was put out. The cicadas in the trees started to get really loud. Some sounded like a wood planer-much louder than this movie.

As I rode, some cicadas sounded like they were playing me a march on a bugle. A march like something from a Monty Python movie. Maybe. Maybe I was just alone too long.
Finally I came to the work center. They have water spigots and the aforementioned soda machine. I, of course, didn't have change. I asked a ranger at the desk if there was a way to get anything out. He said he gave Ollie all his change. Ollie couldn't comprehend US money. Ollie! He said he'd ask the supervisor for the key. Soon enough he opened it up and I had 3 sodas and he had a couple of dollars that he stuck in the machine. I told him Eszter would be coming along sometime and I'd buy her one but then it would be warm...So I didn't. We talked for a bit. He was from Loveland CO and there was a big fire up there. After cleaning up, I asked what the road was like to Silver City. He gave me a look like it wasn't easy and started listing climbs and this and that and that it took a long time in a truck and he didn't go that way. I thought, "He must be exaggerating, I don't remember that much on the map." Sound the foreboding music.

Long story short, the road sucked. No it SUCKED. No it REALLY SUCKED! 40 miles of complete crap. It turned to wash board hell. Every inch of the road was made up of 4-6 in wash boards. And it went up and then down to bottom of every canyon in the area which was a lot of canyons. I thought that the old railroad line in Idaho was bad. This was much worse. Spectacular country really though. If only the road didn't suck so bad. I finally reached the highway to the singletrack section that they added to the race. The sun began to set as I cruised down the road. I found the turn off to the single track but with the directions on the ACA maps and even with the GPS, the trail wasn't easy to find in the dark with ATV race courses crisscrossing the area. It began as a very steep climb up a (volcanic?) ridge of sharp rocks sticking out of a hard surface. It wasn't easy to climb with slick worn out SIDI bike shoes and sore ankles. I reached an area where it leveled out a little and I tried to ride. I was tired. It was dark and the off camber trail was contouring a very steep drop off of the aforementioned rock. I finally decided that I couldn't make it to Silver City in this state. I had really wanted to go with minimal sleep after getting to Silver City. Not going to happen today. I could make it to the border sometime tomorrow still.
I laid down on the trail-the only flat spot-and went to sleep. I had ridden about 154 miles.

Start of Day 19. Mexico or bust.

Final miles!
The single track was much better in the daylight after a mile or two. It was about 7 miles in all. I, of course, missed the turn to the highway to Silver City as my batteries had died in my GPS. I put new ones in and gave my self a dope slap and went back to the turn. The road to Silver City was really pretty. Huge canyons down below. Huge trees. Coming into the town I remember the photographer's words of a great taco stand on the way into town. I ordered a couple Cokes, a torta sandwich for the road and a couple of breakfast burritos. I called Anne and let her know I would be done that day. She was at Deming with my parents and the film crew. She said it was a good 11 hrs of riding from past riders. I said "no way- it is all down hill and paved isn't it?" It wasn't. It did drop initially and I was making good time. It began to get hot as I hit the dirt road to the outpost at the ghost town of Separ. A kitschy shop on the freeway. I sat in their air conditioned entryway and ate my torta and several cold drinks that they sold. I began to yearn for the nice cool Canada weather......

Well, maybe it wasn't that bad here. I checked my sugar and it was freakishly high. Like 500. Which isn't good. Like if I ride, I may not make it out good. So I took some extra insulin and started down the rough road along the freeway at a slow pace. I tested it again at the turn off after 30 minutes and it dropped a touch. Again I tested it at the turn to the border. It was dropping. So I hit the road to Hachita. The map says there is a store there. 

Hachita. There isn't ANYTHING here.

About 10 miles from Hachita a man with no nose pulled up and said that all the hikers stayed in his yard. He even had a tour divide sticker on his jeep. I said, "Nope. Not stopping." as cigarette smoke wafted out and his little dog looked at me. I had drank a lot of my 5 L that I had refilled at the Separ store. My brakes were squeaking, my chain could use some lube and my tires could use some air for the pavement. So I went and found his house and fixed my bike in the shade. It was 104F or so. It could be worse.  I filled my water again from his hose and poured water on my head. I asked his name and he said "John Hughs" I said thanks and road as fast as I could without getting all the boarder patrol on to me.

The road to Nowhere Antelope Wells
Of course, there are cows everywhere here just like the rest of the Tour Divide. Also now there were desert Jack rabbits running as fast as they could in all directions as I passed. I crossed the divide several times as I climbed up an over small ridges.
The border shot

Anne and the kids were very happy to see me! And me them.

Grandma was addicted to the blue dots.

The whole crew.

 So what would I do different if I did it again? Definitely a razor. That beard is awful.
I finished in 18day 12 hrs and a few minutes riding about 150 miles the last day. The air cooled and we sat and had some beers and cold melons. I told Anne we should have Mexican and Canadian beer. She thought it odd but brought some (Negro Modelo and Labatt's).

The after affects. My body felt fine other than my ankles were still a little sore. I weighed about 172lbs. down from about 180. I also didn't really feel like riding my bike much. I did have really high blood sugars however. I didn't each much but it would skyrocket. I took double the insulin as normal and it would still be high. I had Anne bring me some new insulin just in case. I started using that in case mine had gone bad. But my sugars were still high. This lasted for several days. 

The Tour Divide is a great race. I started thinking of how to shave time off....But don't think it'll happen again. Thanks to Anne for being such a good sport. Also thanks to Ma and Pa for driving us all up there and being so supportive. Also to Eszter and Josh. Eszter killed it finishing the next day. Josh is planning on heading back to Steamboat to finish his Tour Divide.

We leave with a picture of the pie Anne's mom made while I was gone not eating pie.(it was a damn good pie - almost as good as the fudgebottom banana cream she made when the lemon was gone. - AWR)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tour Divide 2012 Day 15 and 16 Into a lower income tax bracket...

Profile Days 15 and 16

Day 15. Into the land of breakfast burritos.

Route Day 15

I never get tired of waking up high in the mountains and thought that this would probably be the last time for me as I had camped at bout 10,500 feet on Stunner pass above Platoro and would now be heading into the deserts. I had a real hard time, from the guide books and what not, telling if there were any services in Platoro. I hoped so as I descended in the cold air. I pulled into "town" at about 6:15am and saw a small restaurant among many cabins and whatnot for rent. It was closed . As I tried to see if and when they would open, a tall man with gray hair and a few teeth missing came walking around the corner with a black lab with a grey muzzle walking very slow. The man smoking a cigar began to talk to me in a thick N'aleans accent. He began to tell me of a one, Ollie Whalley, who had come through and ate breakfast. He laughed as he told me of Ollie eating the 5 pancake breakfast that no one had ever eaten. Then he ordered eggs! One of many waves that Ollie had made. He said the restaurant most likely probably would open at 7. There were a couple of guys that usually ate on their way to the mine. But the owner didn't like to get up early so.... I said, "Hmmm there's another town in a little while I think." He said, "You should stay, it's only 30 more minutes." I declined and carried on the rough road. Let's foreshadow here and say if a tall grizzled guy from down south tells you to wait 30 minutes and eat, do it.

The road just kept getting worse and worse along with my mood. Large loose rocks. Feelings of what the hell am I doing. I'm just not having fun. This is getting old. I want some good food. My legs hurt. My butt hurts. My ankles hurt. This was a bad day and I wasn't in the mood for it. Being in a bad state of mind isn't good for riding long distances. I kept stopping for stupid small reasons. Let's look at the map again. Let's make sure I didn't forget my money or insulin at camp. Let's make sure my food is OK.

I looked at the map one more time to see how much farther the next town was. As I was looking, a 30ish year old man and Hispanic woman in a truck pulled up and asked if I was looking for the main road. I said, "No that's the last place I'm going. I just was looking to see how much farther to the next town. I'm sick of candy bars." The lady popped her head around and asked if I liked breakfast burritos. I said "Yes", hoping she was going to say there was a great restaurant down the road. But no, she said, "I have 4, take one" and handed it to me. Before I could say another word, they took off. The burrito was homemade and fantastic! The road continued to suck. Horca is really just a large RV park with some houses thrown in. I found the store and restaurant. Both were closed. They didn't open until the afternoon. I looked at the map again. It was a long way to the next place to get food and those weren't exactly big towns. Nothing would be open late in the day. This could get ugly. I set off with the food I had and my mood didn't improve.

The now paved road climbed very steeply up La Manga pass. The ACA maps showed a restaurant shortly after. Nope it was closed for a year. I was a little put out not knowing if food was in my future. I saw a truck parked in front of a ATV outfitter across the street. They might have food. I went in and talked to a guy who had grown up in the area but whose voice sounded just like a guy from Minnesota. He did indeed have candy bars. So I bought 10 for insurance and filled my water. Talking to a guy that sounded like he was from Wisconsin or Minnesota brought my spirits up as everyone is just so nice up that way. He also said that he'd eaten at a hole in the wall restaurant in El Rito down the road that was really good. Ten years ago anyway.....

I passed into New Mexico with little fanfare and turned onto dirt roads with good views and steep pushes up and down at around 10000'. I crossed the Cumbres-Toltec rail road track and heard the narrow gauge whistle in the distance. This was Brazos ridge. Not easy riding. I noticed that many of the trees, as I gazed down across the valleys, looked odd. They seemed to be deciduous but didn't have leaves. Was it a fire? What were they? Were they dead from the drought? After descending some, I saw that they were aspens and tent caterpillars had peaked this year and eaten all the leaves off all the aspens for miles.

Matt Lee, at the Brush Mountain Lodge, had said that there was water at Hopewell Lake. So that was my next push. And sure enough right at the entrance was a glorious spigot! How nice. My mood improved some. This area was also in a drought and terribly dry and dusty. The campground was full and as I passed I smelled home cooking. It smelled of a green chile sauce on something good. This was another instance where, if I was a bear, I would have broken in. It started me thinking of the little restaurant in El Rito. Could I make it there during business hours? I began to fantasize about the great foods of northern New Mexico like my neighbor from Taos back in Gunnison makes.

I set off on the road to El Rito. The road was OK to the little enclave of Canyon Plaza. Here there is the "Snack Shack".  A lady named Sylvia sells all sorts of goodies. As I pulled into town, her husband yelled from across the street that she was in the house and would be down. She said she was just cleaning up from dinner. They had beans. Mmmm Beans! I told her I would buy her leftovers. She said I could have them. So off she went and I started rummaging in the shack. Crackers with peanut butter in the middle. My favorite lately. Frozen burritos. Chips. Ice cream. Spam. SPAM?? Vienna sausages. Baby car seat. Jerkey. And her prices were actually cheaper than the gas stations. She said they stole from you. She also discussed the merits of Vienna Sausages. I had eaten them a long time ago. Along with the SPAM fried by Mr. Dick Cover. Dick said back when he was in college, he is older than my father by 10 years, they used to call him Trojan. Anyway if she would have fried it up like Richard, I may have gotten some. But I settled for the Vienna Sausages-lots o' sodium....

MMMMmmmmmmmmm Vienna Sausages- Soft and slimey!

I ate the beans with some Fritos and salsa, other goodies, and the Vienna Sausages while sitting on a chair watching the sun set and talking to Sylvia. Canyon Plaza had once been bustling when the railroad came through to pick up timber when she was a girl. She also said that she didn't have the shack open on Saturdays. She is 7th Day Adventist. Their Saturdays are others' Sundays. But if someone came by, she would feed them whatever they were eating in the house. She also talked of the movie "Ride the Divide" and how Matt Lee was knocking on her window to get her up for it. I bid her adieu  and headed towards Vallecitos. I would have liked to see this town in daylight. The narrow street (it is a small town) and old Spanish architecture in some of the dilapidated houses was interesting. The narrow street also encouraged dogs to chase you as you were very close to their house. Several came out to bark and chase me. One really looked like he wanted a piece of me and didn't give up for quite a while. The narrow road was smooth and climbed a large hill with some downhills thrown in. Coming down one hill, I noticed that a large dead tree with a very sharp end was sticking out in the road and pointing right at me. I hit the brakes, skidding sideways and just missed the end skewering me. That was a close call. I'd better make camp soon. So near the top of the climb, I found a nice place in the Ponderosa pines and went to sleep. Not a huge day. Actually one of my shortest at about 119mi.

Day 16. A lower income tax bracket, The Res, and friendly locals.

Route Day 16
Riding through El Rito early I saw the small restaurant closed this early. Some artist studios. Many houses that looked like at one time were very nice. It felt like being in a Spanish village. A dilapidated Spanish village. They also apparently have a community college with a cafeteria that is said to be good. I rode into Abiquiu early and found the one place that had food early in the morning, Bodes gas station and store. I was in much better spirits today. I only had to push a few more days and then I was done. Bodes was almost identical to the gas station in Lincoln, MT except they had hot breakfast burritos instead of egg muffins. I ate a bunch and grabbed one for the road. I also bought some other junk food and some funky vegan oat energy bars. Hmmm Eszter will dig these. I left some for her. The people in the store coming in for burritos and owners were all really helpful and friendly. Lovely place. One guy even made sure I didn't leave my sunglasses out by my bike. "Those are nice glasses. They'll get stolen."
I noticed the post office on my way out of town. I decided to send all my warm gear back to Gunnison. Just a sleeping bag and pad. No warm clothes. I walked in the post office and tried to open the door to the counter. It wouldn't open. A lady's voice came out of the wall behind the PO boxes. "We're closed Saturday."
"Oh" I said "It's Saturday? Sorry I didn't know what day it was." I stared for a second at the sign and my watch. I guess I didn't move fast enough and she popped her head out of the door to explain herself more. I said I just wanted to send some stuff home. She obviously was the "helpful" type and said "OK I'll just give you a box and we'll send it out Monday. Also we need more packages sent so they don't close us." I was now traveling light as I started a long 4000' climb up a rocky and sandy road. It was getting warm so at the last stream on route I dunked my shirt and put it on. Nice! After about 25 miles I ran into a Canadian on a motorcycle. He was going to a wedding so he decided to take the scenic Tour Divide route. He lived west of Banff in a really nice and warm sounding place. He pulled out a slushy Gatorade out of one of his large packs and handed it to me. Nothing ever tasted so good in the heat. He also pulled out a large bottle of club soda that was half frozen and offered it to me. I told him that was too big but put some in the Gatorade bottle. Soon a couple came up the road on motorbikes. They were on a weekend cruise from Albuquerque.We talked about how nice New Mexico was and why all the Texans came to Colorado and not there. He said it was a secret. Oops I guess I let the cat out of the bag. It really was nice mountainous country, if not a bit dry from the drought.  I also told them to delay the girl behind me as much as possible and that she was trouble.
Finally I was close to the descent to Cuba. Many people were also camping here and there and there were some small lakes and trails. The paved descent into Cuba was fast but you could feel the temperature quickly rise. I was happy to get to a "real" town for some food. First thing I saw coming into town was a baseball field full of Indians. A sign said "All Indian Baseball Tournament" Then a teenager on the street. I asked where there was good food. He said, "Presciliano's Restaurant to the right." I said I needed to go to the left. He said, "The Cuban."
I turned left following my GPS line and saw a Saveway Supermarket and Variety store. I pulled my bike into the enclosed entryway. The farther south you go the fewer fancy energy bars they had. So I bought bananas, large bottles of Gatorade for my bike water bladders, my usual chocolate milk, V8, and juice to drink immediately and a few boxes of granola bars. These bars per calorie are much cheaper than other fancy ones. On the way out, the clerk was talking to a lady about the new chicken place across the street. Sounds good. Eszter got me hooked in Rawlins. I saw the young variety store clerk looking at my bike. He was very interested. I felt sorry for him as in Cuba he would probably never get the chance to ride a bike like mine. We talked and I told him I was raising money for diabetes research. He said his dad had Type 2. I went over to the chicken place and ate so much fried chicken, potatoes, slaw, and New Mexican beans I couldn't move. So I rinsed my shorts in their bathroom and washed up and sat outside and watched some Indians from the baseball tournament eat. Nice people but weathered and worn. Finally they left and a sharp looking older man stopped by and started talking. His name was Mickey and he was old school Hispanic. We talked for a long time. His son was running the chicken place and his other son ran the Saveway. His brother was an outfitter hunting elk and was riding his horse up from Mexico for a fundraiser. He seemed like a real nice guy and loved playing with his grandchildren. I told him I'd gone 100+ miles and was going to ride on towards Grants tonight. He said, "No I'll get you a motel and you can take a nap or sleep all night. You will feel so much better." I tried to tell him that it wasn't necessary but he wouldn't have it. So as not to insult him I said OK. He went to two places but all the rooms were full with the baseball tournament. I thanked him anyway and left town towards the "Res". I was a little nervous as alcoholism is a bit of a problem with native Americans, there was little shoulder on the road, it was going to be dark soon, and it was a Saturday night. When ever a car came up, I would pull over into the bushes. The road looked flat on the map profile but actually was quite hilly. The Res dogs barked at you here but the houses were set farther off the road so they wouldn't come at you. The houses all had light poles some distance from the house with a bright orange light shining brightly. The poverty was palpable. I rode as far as I felt I could and found a nice clean patch of sand under a lone tree and slept. I road about 134mi that day. Two more days? Three more?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tour Divide 2012. Day 13 and 14. Meloncholy and obsessions set in.

Day 13 and 14 profile

Day 13. My obsessions begin to thicken.

Many people ask what I thought about while riding. Soooo many things. But I really began obsessing about things. Some things you as a avid reader of this blog may have noticed is cows. But really it would be two main things. 

First song lyrics. 

I was beginning to sing songs quite beautifully but would get the words wrong and sometimes they would then blend into other songs. One in particular was the Take it easy by the Eagles

I had a serious logical feed back loop. I could have sworn that the song went like this. 
7 women on my mind.
2 that want to own me
2 that want to stone me
1 says she's a friend of mine.

But that's only 5 women!!!!
I was like one of the computers on Star Trek..”that is illogical. does not compute..
illogical..illogical..” And my head explodes.. this would repeat into the night down the roads and I would have to sleep.

Second trash on the side of the road. 

I saw so many "Bud Light" cans it was crazy. One cattle guard was literally almost full with them. And I noticed that there always seems to be more cans at the tops of climbs. It's not like I didn't notice other cans and just the bright blue Bud Light ones. So you have to ask yourself, who is drinking Bud Light and why do they feel the need to toss the cans out? This was pervasive all the way on my trek except one section in Montana where there were many coffee cups. I think you could assume a few things. It's light beer so probably overweight people. In the boonies so probably a conservative cowboy. And they don't like a clean landscape. Later on the "Res" there was just a lot of trash. Also in New Mexico, there were many single shot bottles of whiskey along with the Bud Light. 

And with that, here is a American beer joke at about a minute in the following video. 

Day 13 Route
I started moving the morning of my 13th day and took notice of the old ranch that I had camped near that I couldn’t see in the dark of the night. At around 6:30am I reached the metropolis of Hartsel. I thought “hmmm breakfast sounds smashing but nothing is probably open”. So I rode to a café and sure enough it was open! After a nice breakfast of French toast, biscuits and gravy, eggs, coffee, hash browns and toast and a real bathroom, I got going. The best part was that the waitress didn’t look twice when I ordered two meals. The road now I had imagined to be mainly downhill and flat all the way to where I had ridden with Josh “Tiny Dancer” Shifferly a few weeks before. We had done a 2 day, nearly 300mile ride to test out our stuff. It was a little downhill but also had many rollers. The rest of the trail that I had ridden with Tiny Dancer was fine with one good climb but I had no recollection of ever riding it. Soon I was dropping steeply to Salida. I noticed a rider coming up the trail and it was a guy that had ridden up to check me out in my physical form vs a blue dot. We rode to town and I headed to the bike shop. 

My bike was making clunking sounds for days in the left crank, the brakes were still squeaking and rubbing, the front derailleur would over shift and pop the chain off onto the pedals constantly and the back tire was getting really worn. I walked in Absolute Bikes -the guys knew I was on my way and asked what I needed. I said, “uuuummmmm. Back tire bald, squeaky cranks….” They grabbed it and quickly cleaned it up and started to clean the bottom bracket while I got a new tire. I grabbed a tubeless ready Hutchison Python. Pretty fast and light. In my state of brainlessness, I decided to just get some coffee and food in the café next door versus walking around looking for something. It was good food but a little slow and spendy…… and not the caloric values I wanted. I did order an excellent salad, something green in the diet was novel.
I spent far too much time once again eating and hanging out at the bike shop. I came back and my bike was really quite shiny with the tire installed. One of the techs just noticed that the front derailleur didn’t work right. I said oh yeah and the brakes aren’t adjusted right. He tried to adjust the derailleur but noticed that the adjustment screw was stripped. “Lephenhiemer!” The AVID XO brakes should be easily adjustable to widen the gap between the pads. But we noticed that as you adjusted the barrel on the lever the whole mechanism came unscrewed. Ah that’s why they came apart in the snow in Canada and why I hadn’t been able to adjust them! OK squeaky brakes it is. I left town after another long ramble in Safeway for food with some help from some friendly ladies.
It was getting very warm and by Poncha Springs, I was really hot. I stopped in a gas station and washed my shorts in the bathroom, wrung them out and put them back on. Ahhhh cool wet clean shorts. The ride up the highway to Marshal Pass is normally easy for me but as I started to climb the dirt Marshall Pass, I began to lose steam. It was rocky and dusty from the lack of rain and overabundance of ATVs. It was slow going to the top and over the other side to the store at Sargents. I wasn’t feeling super here with a lack of energy and motivation. I sat in the sun and ate and ate. A woman on her way to Telluride stopped to talk for quite some time…… I finally headed down the highway and saw Chris Miller, Eszter’s husband. We talked for a minute and he got a good picture of me.
Coming towards Doyleville
Anne said she wasn’t going to come out and see me - she was superstitious and didn't want to jinx things. I was only going to be 20 miles from home. I guess it bummed me out a bit. I came to Doyleville and the turn to Cochetopa Pass. There was Adam Jensen and a few friends from Gunnison to wave as I went by. It was nice to see them, although Adam was leaving the race. The bearings in his wheels were shot and I think mentally he’d had enough. Too bad, it would have been nice to ride with him more.
At Doyleville. I'm getting sinewy at this point.
I turned up the dirt road feeling better but soon after sunset I lost all energy….. I got the sleepies (term coined by Eszter) and pulled over and slept on the side of the road. I had planned on camping 10-15 miles ahead by Dome Lakes….. For the day I had put in about 133 miles. Hmm I had to start picking it up!

Day 14 Melancholy starts to take root.

"Well, when I get dead drunk, fall in the muddy street, I expect you to come get me 'cause I don't want to die muddy drunk. If I owe a man a hundred dollars, I expect you to stand good for me. And if I get melancholy--which can happen--I expect you to be my companion and to solace me."
Lee Marvin in Paint Your Wagon

Many people when riding by themselves for long periods, tend to start to have problems staying mentally focused. I began to lose some focus and could not tell if my body was losing energy because of the long rides put in every day or that I mentally was starting to lose “interest” or both. I think the past few days I was was a beginning to lose some mental edge and tomorrow would be the worse.I didn't have Clint like Lee Marvin did. I just had Gary my squeaky bike..... But Gary did solace me as well as he could.
Day 14 Route
The dawn broke with another glorious sunrise. I had around 110 miles to the next town of significant size at Del Norte. There wasn’t much water on route so I stopped and filled another water bottle at the inlet to the lakes for 5L total. Yes there was still water in the creek by Dome Lakes but not much. As I repacked, I couldn’t find my money! Did I leave it at the Sargents' store? By camp? I decided to just keep riding and look some more. I climbed over Cochetopa Pass and descended to the beginning of Carnero Pass. I thought Tiny Dancer had told me that this pass wasn’t any big deal on our ride earlier in the summer. But as I started climbing from around 8100’ it seemed to climb for a long time up to 10100’. I quickly descended and found a water bottle from someone ahead of me-probably Serge’s. I passed the turn to La Garita, another possible resupply point, and headed the 15 miles to Del Norte.
Coming into Del Norte in the heat
It began to get very warm here as I had a tail wind and began climbing a small hill in dry rocky country. I pulled into the Del Norte park.  I emptied my bags completely and there was my money! It got stuck under a large Velcro flap..... I grabbed my mail drop at the post office and grabbed a Subway sandwich.
I goofed around for a while oiling my chain and messing with my squeaking brakes and going through my care package. I started to feel better and better. I stopped by the Subway(1)/gas station and grabbed another sandwich and bars and Cheetos(2) and another nice lady stopped to talk to me. A couple of footnotes (except you can’t really do footnotes on a webpage that scrolls forever so we’ll do it here-Damn technology!):

Footnotes (or middle-of-page-notes?)
 (1) If you haven’t noticed Subway sandwich shops are everywhere now days! I really grew to dislike them for some reason after this race….
(2) Later Eszter told me that the guy at the counter said that she had much more food than the guy before her (me). I find this quite unbelievable, therefore, it must be untrue. She is such a liar!

I left town after a long break feeling good. The route climbed slowly up a paved road and then a long steep dirt road to Summitville. For all of you tea partiers wanting smaller government and less regulations, this is a fine example of what happens with no regulations. It was one of the largest Superfund sites around as the mining company had used cyanide to leach gold and other metals from the ore. Of course, the pond they used overflowed….. The metals then got in the water runoff. Most metals are very toxic. Anyway we all spent a ton of money trying to clean this mess up after the mining company left with their gold. Now it looks pretty nice with just on large pit collecting water that drains out of the rocks. 
 The road was very smooth as I passed by at nearly 12,000’ and the sun began to its journey around the earth pulled by Mercury... The sunset was made remarkably red from forest fire smoke somewhere in the distance. This pass was one of those passes that just doesn’t drop down the other side but goes down then up then down then up then down and up. In the dark, I began descending towards the final climb up Stunner Pass. The smooth road turned very rough with large rocks and steep corners. Not fun and it was starting to tire me. Riding at night adds another level of difficulty and without really bright lights I was not moving as fast as I would have liked. I also started getting the sleepies. And then on a fast corner a large buck (male mule deer) jumped out right in front of me and ran across the road. That near miss woke me up enough to climb up Stunner Pass. I decided to stop at the top of the pass for one more cold night as I had had enough for the day……131 miles or so. Tomorrow I would enter New Mexico and the final leg of my adventure.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Tour Divide 2012. Days 11 and 12. Changes in Lattitude and Guest post by Phil and Paul

Day 11 Changes in latitude, changes in attitude.

Route Day 11
I awoke before sunrise feeling just a little guilty about not finding Eszter the night before and maybe wanting some company as I hadn’t talked to anyone in quite some time while riding. I sat up and watched the sun slowly rise over the mountains. I wasn’t in a huge hurry as I thought Eszter might come over the hill sometime soon. I had camped on a high point near Middlewood Hill south of Rawlings, WY. Finally, I pulled my feet out of my sleeping bag. My socks were still on over the tape I had wrapped around my ankles in Butte. My legs had swollen over the last week and I couldn’t get my socks off so I just left them on. Many days as I started riding I could feel my shoes tighten as my feet swelled more. My posterior, as stated before, didn’t have open sores but was sore like it was bruised. My ankles and bum were particularly sore when we hit long stretches of rough road. My rear, legs and ankles also hurt considerably when I pedaled without resistance. For example, if I came up over a hill in a low gear and then coming down the other side if I didn’t shift to a gear where I could push against the pedals with resistance my ass, legs and ankles would protest with sharp pains. My ankles also hurt when trying to stand up to get my stuff packed.Waaaahhh...

My insulin regime was working well enough to keep me moving fast and keeping my blood sugar in a reasonable range of between 100 and 200. I had a 2 or maybe 3 nights on the entire ride where I would have high sugars during the night and morning—250-300 or so. It would quickly drop as I started the day. I think there were a couple of reasons for this. I had started out taking 5-10 units of long acting insulin at night and 10-5 in the morning depending on how high my sugar was at bedtime. I noticed that when I change my activities my body reacts and changes. When I first start training hard, like at the start of biking season, I have a hard time keeping my sugar high the next few days. As my body adapts I can eat less and take more insulin. So as my body adapted to riding all day, it wasn’t needing so much sugar at night. And I needed to take more insulin  at night. I had taken less the first few weeks to avoid lows while sleeping. Another possibility was that I may have eaten a sugary bar too close to bedtime and I hadn’t had enough time to “work it off” so it just went into my blood. 

I took care of business in camp and got on the bike wondering if Eszter had passed me in the early morning. Hmm no tracks. I must be ahead of her still. Eszter has a personality that if you don’t know her can put some people off and endear others. She doesn’t say much and can be taken differently by different people. She had said something that seemed really out of place while we were at the motel in Canmore. As we were getting ready to ride out to Banff, while walking down the hall all of a sudden she burst out loudly, “Someone is having really loud sex in that room.” Josh and I looked at each other and ran to see if we could hear. Nope, Eszter was too loud. We had a good laugh. Josh and I both said at the same time later that when you find out one way or the other that a girl is a screamer that you see her in a different light……

The road dropped and climbed across sage and grass covered hills covered with cows and pronghorn everywhere. Now many people don’t realize that the pronghorn are probably more dangerous than the grizzly but they just can’t see very well (Read this in the voice of the guy in the Dodge Ram truck commercials). Now as I’ve described before, these animals will race along beside you and then cut in front to the other side of the road. Little do most people know that these funny creatures are nearsighted and what they are really trying to do is turn INTO you. Then at their great rate of speed and head down they would stick their prong horns right into you and flip you over their heads. They can do this from simple physics. The 60 mph rate and a 100lb weight gives them the following;
(60miles/hr)*(5280ft/1mile)*(1hr/3600s)*100lbs = 8800 ft*lb/s of force which is equivalent to a charging elephant.*

Luckily for me they can’t judge the distance from their poor eyesight and lack of depth perception from having eyes on the sides of their heads.

As I traveled south in latitude, these menacing beasts would thin and I would not see many more along with the once plentiful snowshoe hares and white tail deer. My skin was drying considerable after leaving the rain and snow of the north. Now my lips were beginning to crack. My nose was also plugged with dried snot and it would not and could not be removed.

The cows also had a completely different attitude to those of the Wyoming basin. As you pass a cow, it will sit very still and as you get close, it will jump and turn. Sometimes it will run along the road or in the road for quite some time. The Wyoming cows jump quite violently like you are going to brand them. These cows now might just stand up and walk a little ways. I stopped at one point and the cows actually walked up to me like I was a long lost friend.

The road dropped and climbed and finally hit a section of paved highway. I passed the “Sandstone Work Center” and continued. Another problem with heading into the south (and especially this year) was that there is not as much water and towns are a long ways apart. I eventually ran out of water as I approached Slater and the turn off to the Brush Mountain Lodge and food and water. A north bound rider passed me in a few miles before and had told me of the great food ahead. I felt like a little kid asking “How much farther is it?” as I slowly climbed the road along a slowly flowing stream and kept looking at the map and my GPS far too often. I eventually decided to get some water from the stream and treat it with some chlorine tablets. Nasty tasting! Finally I got to the lodge where once again Eddie "the photographer" Clark was hanging out with Matt Lee (of the Ride the Divide documentary fame) and his wife and two kids. It was wonderful eating and hanging out (for way too long). I mentioned that I ran out of water and Matt said, “You didn’t get water at the work center?” Mental note--always stop at the work centers for water. After a couple of hours, Eszter showed up. We hung out for a while and I finally got going and started climbing the next big hill.
The road eventually dropped to the store at Clark. I grabbed some ice cream from some kids and got some different food. They had lots of Honey Stinger waffles for a change of pace and I bought a roll of Ritz crackers and a tub of humus for dinner. I also got my usual, Chocolate milk, orange juice, and Frappuccino  drink and gulped them down. The road now followed a nice valley with open grass. About 12 miles, I had to pee. I promptly started back down the highway and missed the small detour on the route. After a few miles, I looked at the GPS. Dope! Back to the dirt road that climbed a hill as it paralleled the highway and rode on to Steamboat. As I came into town and road along the bike path, I caught up to Becky, a pal that had moved there from Gunnison. She was riding the divide section through Colorado to train for the Colorado Trail race. We rode together for a while as the sun went down. After a while, she got tired and I kept going. I, however, started losing steam as I climbed towards Lynx pass and had to stop. I found a wonderfully soft bed of bark under a large pine tree and lay down with no pad and went to sleep. A short day with only about 131 miles, too much time goofing at Brush Mt Lodge!

Shifferly behind me somewhere had to stop at Steamboat with bruised feet. He has had some bad luck with the Tour Divide these last two years and I was sad to see him have to stop. On the drive up we decided his trail name was "Tiny Dancer" as it was his favorite song. So here it is for Josh who does more bike packing than anyone I know....

*I may be completely full of beans here. Fuzzy math as the politicians call it. 

Day 12 Guest post by Phil Ligget and Paul Sherwood!

Day 12 Route

Day 12 Guest post by Phil Ligget and Paul Sherwood!!

Remarkably today I had some friends call some friends and believe it or not we got Phil Ligget and Paul Sherwen of the Tour de France fame to do a guest post from the studio for this day. Enjoy.

Phil Ligget
Paul Sherwen
Phil: Well here we are on the side of the road south of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. And just let me tell you that it is just a spectacular area. 

Paul: Yes Phil, this is the home of Howelsen Hill where in 1914, Carl Howelsen built a ski jump. Today's Olympic tradition continues. 

Phil: Paul, I thought I told you not to talk so much? Common! Yes, now to recap after our 30 minute commercial break, Jarral Ryter, and let me tell you he is something else!, fell asleep under a large tree sometime in the night. He is currently behind six riders with one dropping in Steamboat and passing Eszter-the woman powerhouse yesterday. So he is in seventh place behind the great names of Serge, Adam, and Ollie to name a few. And if he can keep up his pace, he may just be able to catch a few of them.

Paul: Yes, Phil, he is remarkable. He--

Phil: Yes he is. And let me tell you he has that mountain bike background and can really descend with the best of them so he will surely make up time in the general classification. Let’s take a short commercial break…

Commercial; “What does Lance say about the Tour Divide and Jarral, a diabetic, riding it, 5 hour special tonight instead of race coverage….”

Phil: And were back and the main peloton has put on a blistering pace. Jarral has made it to Radium and is waiting for a train to pass at the Colorado River. This is just spectacular country. There is a shot from above of the huge canyon; riders must drop into and cross the Colorado River and then climb back out of. And let me tell you, it is warm down there. The river flows nearly to the Gulf of Mexico after going through the Grand Canyon. And he has crossed the river and is looking for water at a campground.

Paul: I don’t think he’s going to find any, Phil. Campgrounds don’t have water much anymore.

Phil: And right you are. It looks like he is asking some rafters if there is any water spigots. And look, they are shaking their heads but pointing to a large blue jug in their truck. Lucky to get water here Paul. And now he is on his way up a long climb. After the summit, he will come close to the town Kremling where he could resupply. Kremling has had some controversy with its fight with International Falls, MN as being designated the “icebox” of the lower forty eight states of the United States. Everybody knows Gunnison, Colorado holds that title.

Paul: And now with that long climb ahead of him he must be glad that he found some water.

Phil: It is indeed a long climb and it is a HOT climb. Now let’s take a short break to see what Lance had for breakfast this morning.

Commercial; “What does Lance say about the Paleo diet, 5 hour special tonight instead of race coverage….”

Phil: And we’re back. Jarral is climbing like a man possessed. He has climbed to the turn off to Kremling. But you have to wonder if he will pass up this short detour or try to make some time up. And yes it looks like he is going to resupply in Silverthorn on the I70 corridor and pass by Kremling in another 50 odd miles. Just look at his face. He is pure determination. If he does need food and water, his domestics on his team will likely resupply from the team car.

Paul: Phil, there are no domestics or team cars in the Tour Divide. Let’s take a short break.

Commercial break for 15 minutes.

Phil: Here we are with Jarral nearing Ute Pass. And look at Jarral’s eyes. He looks like he is cracking! They are rolling back in his head. He needs to get past the road work where they are grading and spraying magnesium chloride solution on the roads. This is common here as it packs the roads into a cement like surface. He needs to regroup before he heads up the final climb to the top of Ute pass. Oh wait he is laying down at the end of the construction. Is he, yes he’s taking a nap! He has CRACKED! He is down, but let’s see if he can recover.

Commercial break for 25 minutes.

Paul: And he is up. He’s up and pedaling. A little wobbly.

Phil: Yes when you crack you have just pushed too hard. Possibly he didn’t eat enough and or needs more water. He is really struggling over Ute Pass. But he knows if he can get over this and not let the peloton gain on him he has a long descent and then a paved road to Silverthorn. 

Phil: And now it looks like Jarral is still suffering on the road to Silverthorn. Look he is in the river! He is pouring water on his head while he stands in the river! And now it looks like he is going to fill his water from the river.

Paul: Yes he will undoubtedly treat this water.

Phil: And he is really suffering as he is finally coming to a gas station. Here he comes out. Look at him! Have you ever seen anything like that? Both hands full of food and he’s shoving it in faster than I’ve ever seen someone eat. He is really stuffing his face.

Paul: And now just look at the shot from the air of the surrounding area. The trees have just been decimated by the bark beetle. Nearly every tree is dead. 

Phil: Yes, they are. One spark and the whole place will burn. Quite the droughts they have had this year and over the past ten years. Now he must be overwhelmed as he has been riding by himself and now there are cars and people everywhere. 

Paul: And he is now on a narrow bike path for 17 miles to the resort town of Breckenridge. 

Phil: Indeed this path is crowded with recreational road cyclists and grandmas and parents with strollers. It is indeed a sad state for a cyclist to have to ride 17 miles of bike path in this congested city. Let’s take a short break and we’ll be right back.

Commercial, Another 20 minute commercial break featuring the Lance episode described previously.

Phil: And we’re back. The main rider in the field, Jarral Ryter, has been climbing the Col de Como-Boreas pass with exceptional speed as we see the sun setting over the majestic Colorado mountains. He really seems to have recovered from his difficulties earlier and has dug deep and really pushed hard to put some distance in. 

Coming down the other side he will have to contend with a single track trail that at night can be tricky with a multitude of rocks. But other than that, it should be fast as he is a very good at descending and has an excellent mountain biking background.

And now it looks like he is at the bottom and he is going right past the Como hotel and is going to camp next to the road several miles past. This is remarkable as he could have had a nice place to stay as the light was on.

This is indeed a tremendous occasion, this Tour Divide , let’s see if we can catch up with Jarral for a post stage interview.

Jarral, how do you feel about your stage win and how did it feel?

Jarral: Today's stage was a hard stage and very hot as I came to Ute Pass. I was really suffering and had run out of water and then I bonked. I rallied on the bike path and had some ice cream and a triple shot mocha latte in Breck that started me up again. I felt good coming up Boreas Pass and put the hammer down. The single track section was tough at night with packs on but I got through it. I was having some interesting visions as lights seem to come on and follow me as I got close to the town of Como. Very unnerving. I finally had enough and found a nice spot by an old ranch under some trees and went to sleep. For the day I rode about 140 miles. We'll see how tomorrow goes. We've still got another 1000 miles or so to go in the rugged mountains of southern Colorado and New Mexico followed by the heat of southern New Mexico.

Phil: Well, thanks for tuning in and we'll be back tomorrow for a 5 hour special on Lance. Did he or didn't he maybe possibly use performance enhancing substances?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Tour Divide 2012, Day 9 and 10. Set Sail Gary! Full speed ahead! and The world goes down the drain in the Basin

Day 9 and 10 Elevation profile

Day 9. Set Sail Gary! Full speed ahead!

I am a man. I am a man who does silly things. I like to race on skis in the back country in the middle of the night. I leave my wife and kids for a month to ride my bike across America and some of Canada. I am also a man with diabetes. I don't like to talk about it constantly. I don't like to let it affect how I live. It is just a part of me. It isn't me. It is something I have to worry about yes.
Diabetes is like riding and finishing the Tour Divide. You can't stop. You have to keep going. There aren't any excuses.You either deal with it or you crash or pass out. You deal with it or you go blind. You have bad days. You have good days. You have a day with good results and for no real reason you have bad results. It is all on you. No one else can do it for you. You hopefully have people that help you prepare and can help in an emergency. It is a bitch but it isn't me and I have it. It doesn't have me.

Day 9 route
I had the song below stuck my head for quite awhile about this time during the race. Maybe because it is about looking for America, parts of the trip seeming like a dream, buying some pies in a gas station, moon rising over fields, getting lost, taking 4 days to get somewhere, playing games with your mind, falling asleep and.... OR maybe it is just because it got stuck in my head and I couldn't quite remember the words and it was literally driving me crazy. We may never know......

Today I would, for sure, catch Eszter. No more goofing around! Of course, I couldn't get going at the ridiculous hour of 3am that I knew Eszter about 15 miles down the road was getting up at so I left the lodge at 5:30ish and headed up the final little climb up Togwotee pass. It was cold out but beautiful. Elk in the meadows. Elk running across in front of me. Sun coming up on the mountains.  Then I turned onto a little side road to the lake where Eszter was staying. I saw a good sized black bear sitting in a field eating grass and what not. I gave it a "ding ding." It looked up and sniffed looking around. But I guess since I didn't go "Braaaaaaaap Braaaaaap!" it didn't care and went back to eating. I forgot to mention that while I hadn't seen any bruins up to the day before, I had seen amazing amounts of bear scat, feces, poo. Large piles every 100 meters or so (meters as it was in Canada mainly).
The route shortly returned to the highway and dropped fast to the turn to Union Pass. The climb was typical of the Divide, and the top of the pass wasn't really a "top" but ups and downs for 20 miles or so. It was very nice country. I ran into the couple that runs the "bike shop" in Delta--No help if I needed it when I got there. Finally, the road descended towards Cora. At about 2:30 and 90 miles later, I hit the pavement and stopped at the "Place Cafe." I had a coke and asked if they had seen other riders. They said Eszter had been in around noon and had a coke. She's cruising along apparently. I had my Western State College Jersey on,  and we started talking about all the people in the area that had gone to Western. One guy said his boys were at Mesa-I think his ex moved there or something. That was all I could figure as to why they would go there..... I left with a favorable tail wind so I gave the order to Mr. Fisher (Gary for short at this point) to set sail and full speed ahead! We made good time and pulled into Pinedale (one of the few towns with a "big" store). I bought some lemonade from some kids and asked where to eat that was fast. They said the Sugar Shack was not really very good and expensive but the super market had lots of food and there was a deli across the street. So I headed down the road. I pondered getting more Stans sealant in the hardware store with a supposed bike shop inside but decided they just couldn't have tubeless sealant and it would be a waste of time. Down the street I saw a coffee shack! YES! Closed! Damn! I went on to the supermarket and was once again completely overwhelmed. It took me an hour to find anything. I finally came out with a deli sandwich, some candy bars, energy bars, snack crackers, some sushi rolls and what not. I ate the sandwich and sushi on the sidewalk in front of the store. I then decided to try the smaller deli across the street. I grabbed more food quickly as it was smaller and used the facilities. As a side note, I was getting into those snack crackers with cheese or peanut butter in them already in little packages of 4 or 6.
Gary and I once again sailed at full speed with favorable tailwinds for another 20 miles on pavement and then hit dirt. We climbed about 1000 feet to some really great scenery. I was surprised how nice this area was. Wind River mountains to the north, more hills to the south. Many Greater Sage-Grouse were on the road and flew a little ways when I passed. These are related to the Lesser Sage-Grouse or as we refer to them in Gunnison, the Gunnison Sage-Grouse. We don't like them to think less of themselves. One grouse flew into a breeze, and I think he really wanted to be an eagle or was named Icarus. He would catch the wind and make a few flaps and drop and flap as hard as he could and catch some more wind. I watched him for some time as I climbed. I've never seen a grouse fly so long. Good luck buddy you can DO IT!!!

Along the way a drunk guy in a semi permanent RV out in the bush called out and said he had extra beer. So, of course, I rode over and chatted.  He wouldn't give me any extra beer, but said if I was in Denver to look him up. He said his name a couple of times with his bloodshot eyes and shook my hand so hard I think he was trying to break it. He also hadn't seen E. I really was checking to make sure he didn't have her bound and gagged.... The sun started to go down, and it was the most remarkable sunset of the tour. I lamented the loss of the camera. I made a mental note, "Check out this section sometime when I have more time."
I finally hit Hwy 28. Nice and dark. No shoulder really. And cars going FAST! I passed a rest area and pondered stopping there but there were some odd fellows out front trying to get their 1960's era RV started. Eszter later told me she stayed there. So I did pass her I just didn't know it. I wanted to try and hit South Pass City. Unfortunately, as I turned off the highway towards South Pass City, I got sleepy/dreamy and had to pull over. I was irritated that I hadn't caught Eszter..... I went to sleep with a very cool wind blowing over me about 11:15 but would rue the morning for not staying at the rest area. I had ridden 190 miles for the day.

Day 10 The world goes down the drain in the Basin

Day 10. The Basin

I woke up early, and  got dressed, and hopped on the bike. It was chilly out. Then, and I blame the sushi rolls, my stomach started to do back flips. Once again I ripped off three layers and the bib shorts. Only not quite fast enough. Lucky thing I still had a spare pair of shorts and the shower wipes. So, after that debacle, I started riding and there in the morning light, Eszter's tracks! I now know she had just gotten up earlier, and I could have stayed ahead, but at the time it was like a thorn in my side. I quickly dropped to South Pass City-an old gold mining town that now is a historic town. It did have a great little place where divide hikers had camped and a great bathroom with running water. I cleaned up some more and headed up a hill and then back down to Atlantic City. There isn't much here, and of course the store/restaurant wasn't open for another hour or so. So off I went out of town up a steep hill and into the more blustery, lackluster brother of the day before. The road was a bit bumpy.

About 20 miles out of Atlantic City, I began to see strange images. I stopped to put my jacket into my seat bag. Out of the sage I thought I saw Jesus riding towards me on a funky bike. Or it could have been Jim Morrison but there were no naked Indians. As the image got closer,  he did indeed have a beard and long hair. And we all know Jesus and Jim had those. He said, "They call me Cjell Money." He was very friendly if not just a ghost.

Somewhere along here or maybe the day before, I hit a cattle drive led by 4 young cowboys. Cattle drives in Colorado are a mellow affair. The cows walking along and the wranglers and dogs directing stragglers in the right direction. This drive was like something from the Ghost Riders in the Sky. The cows were herded into a tight ball of a squirming mass of flesh.
If a calf or cow got out of the twisting herd, a cowboy ran full tilt to the straggler and ran her full speed back into the churning mass of cows. One cowboy saw me and said, "Shorty, make a path for that guy" He got an evil grin on his face and at a full run turned his horse sideways and started to run the horse sideways into the cows. The cows jumped and turned in every direction over and under each other. He then left, and I rode through the thinning herd of cows running in a panic at the sight of my 29" wheels.

As the day went on the wind picked up.  This was good on sections where the road went with it. Unfortunately, the road didn't always go with the wind which really was quite often. The wind simply picked me up a few times and threw me off the road. Eventually I hit a paved road with cracks every few feet for miles. Thump Thump......, Thump Thump......, Thump Thump......, Thump Thump......, Thump Thump......, Thump Thump......, Thump Thump......, Thump Thump......, Thump Thump......, Thump Thump......, Thump Thump......, Thump Thump......, Thump Thump......, Thump Thump......, Thump Thump......, Thump Thump......, Thump Thump......, Thump Thump.......... Jefe had warned me of this. I was happy to reach the road, however. I was also happy for the general downhill nature of the road and the nice tailwind. I was not happy to realize that I still had 40 miles to Rawlins, and I didn't have much water. I ran out of water just as the last of my soul had been ripped out of me by the wind as I turned on highway 287 and started climbing a steep hill and received a good stiff side/head wind. Let's just say the last 16 miles to Rawlins were a low point. I hobbled into Rawlins and pulled into the City Market. And who do I see eating a piece of fried chicken with her bike in the entry way? Eszter! She was all smiles and was happy to see me (I think). We talked for a bit, and I said I would camp with her. I think the real reason I wanted to catch her was that I wanted someone to talk to for a while, and she is funny. She gave me an idea where she was camping and listed all the things that she had gotten to eat. I walked in, and with glazed eyes and got everything she had mentioned (except dried mangoes--where the heck do they keep those??). I am worthless in these large stores. It still took me four times longer than her I'm sure. She did tell me a funny story about the asking how the guys ahead of us looked to a check out lady. The checker went on and on apparently about how "good" they looked with the tight shorts etc etc. I can't repeat it here as this is a family oriented blog. I did notice after that many women "helping" me and talking to me a lot when stores.... Not that I looked "all that."

Ester had left a while before I got going, and I had also talked to a couple of TD tourists about the road conditions and Serge hurting in the wind for a while. I left Rawlins with the sun going down and began climbing with a nice side wind. I started to feel better and better as I climbed. I hit a major construction zone where once there had been pavement and now was a huge mess albeit with a nice hard packed surface. The sun had now set, and I had no idea where Eszter was. I kept an eye out and kept going. I saw my first of many creepy memorials here. People started some time ago putting crosses up for people who had crashed and died. A Latin influence I think. Now they went a step beyond the standard cross with glowing LED lights that come on and off or dim and brighten. And later by Steamboat Springs one with a Halloween aspect and crazy faces. 
I climbed the steep road that went straight up the hills, sometimes going back and forth to put in my own switchbacks. I reached Middlewood Hill pass and shortly after stopped and found a nice place between some sage out of the wind mostly and watched the stars as I went to sleep. I had put in 174 miles on this fine day and may have met Jesus, and he didn't help me.

Bonus to my blog, "How to order from a deli when riding the Divide". 

Make your intentions known clearly and look them straight in the eye. They will not think you really meant to say you wanted two of EVERYTHING. I would repeat myself and it still wouldn't sink in to their heads how much I wanted....