Friday, July 6, 2012

Tour Divide 2012, Day 3/4 Back to Canada and back south. Day 3 and 4

Day 3. Did your kids cry when you left?

When we last left our hero, Serge the Canadian from Fernie had left (with most of the other contenders) at 3 am. I was losing my marbles thinking that this race was a bit screwed. So I got up in the morning, packed up and went out the door to the highway and tried to catch a ride to Fernie that I had heard was a lot like Crested Butte. Good ski area and a lot of mountain biking. So after not too long, I got a ride from a guy from Fernie and sure enough he knew a bike shop was open. He even called on the way and let them know I was coming. The border crossing was not as fast as the last two times. I was called in and interrogated for quite a while as to where I lived, what I was doing, etc, etc. I guess you look suspicious if you come through often. After about another hour, we arrived in Fernie and I put my bike on the rack and a great mechanic got right on it. I went over to one of two coffee shops and had some coffee, breakfast burrito and read the paper. After about an hour, I went back and the bike was nearly done. The brake pistons freshly lubed, new pads, new oil and a rotor. Another guy came in that had caught a ride from Corbin, the coal mine where I was yesterday, and his bike died. I didn't envy what he had in front of him.
Hitchhiking (OK I still had to cross the road but a bunch of cars were coming...)
The same guy offered to take me back and I offered to buy his gas. We got back to the border and sure enough we were "randomly" picked to be searched. We saw many Tour Divide riders coming through including the three Italians that had helped me notice my SPOT tracker coming off.
The truck we were riding in didn't have much in it and the border guard was mystified by my bike packs but it took a while. He didn't find my stash luckily (JOKING) and after an excruciating delay I was at the motel where I fished a half of a Subway sandwich that I forgot out of the maid's trash as she just cleaned my fridge where I forgot it. It was close to 1:30pm. Not bad considering. I now had a functioning bike. The only issue was the mechanic had set the brakes really close together so I had to deal with rubbing brake pads for most of the rest of the tour.....  I have to give a huge THANK YOU to the generosity and helpfulness of the people of Fernie which really is a cool ski/bike town!!

On the road again!

Day 3 Map

Day 3 and 4 elevation profile.

The road up Whitefish Divide out of Eureka was a beautiful paved road. I passed many TD riders like they were standing still and even a mother turkey with some chicks.
A picture someone took and put on the TD website.
It eventually turned to dirt and then to avalanche debris. The avalanche run outs were steep but short. I quickly made it over these on the steep slopes and narrow road. This area apparently also has a plethora of grizzly bears. I rang my little bike bell on all blind corners. Ding Ding. Ding Ding.

I cruised along at a fast clip thinking of all time I had blown. I passed more people and then David Goldberg. David is one of those Tour Divide legends. Shifferly had talked about him a bunch and we had had dinner with him the night before the race in Banff. He looks like he belongs in a Rockie movie. His house was close to a huge fire in Fort Collins and his shoes were new due to a problem with his old buckles so he didn't know if he could go on. I looked after the race and it looked like he had finished. Nice! We then began to climb up to Red Meadow Lake. I hit snow and the top is a long flat road that was covered by snow and then I hiked down the other side and low and behold a truck from Texas stuck. What were they thinking? I had just hiked many miles through deep snow....
What were they thinking?
Finally the road cleared out and it was a cruiser to Whitefish. Along the way my GPS route disappeared and I couldn't get the file to load. I really didn't want to follow the maps as it would be slower with more risk of wrong turns and take more brain power especially in the night. I needed a computer bad to download the file again. I finally saw a roadie along Whitefish lake coming into Whitefish. I jumped on the peddles and rode with him and his friend for a while. I asked if there were any coffee shops or the like with public computers on Sunday nights...... Not likely but..... He said no but I could just use his computer. We talked and it turned out he used to race with a friend of mine from Gunnison who started Mt Flyer Magazine. He even lived just a couple of blocks off of the route. His wife made me a green smoothie. So good. I hadn't eaten green things in a while. He made me an espresso.  She gave me some left over black beans and rice. Brilliant. His daughter was very curious about me and we talked about my boy that was her age and my girl that was her brother's age. She asked if they cried when I left. Her parents were a bit embarrassed and changed the subject quickly. I didn't say that they didn't. They knew I would come back. Anne, on the other hand, had cried. Quite a few times.
We talked about why I was doing the ride, to promote living with diabetes for children and adults, and the mom said, "Are you the diabetic guy doing the race? My coworker was reading an interview." She said something that sounded an awful lot like my letter of intent that I sent in but it could have been Tony Cervati who was going to try the race again maybe but he usually writes differently that that. 
They offered me a bed and shower but I declined saying that I had to get on the road so I could see the kids sooner (and it was against the rules). I did want to get on the road to make up time.

Some great people in Whitefish
I rode down the road a ways and noticed at a store that I had dropped my sunglasses and money in their front yard. So that was a big waste of time as I had to retrieve them. I got my money and the store was closed so I had to go to another down the road and off route in Columbia Falls. Rookie mistakes! I finally got going again and around 2:30am I found an old school house and slept on the porch. Sweet. The day was short but I ended up putting in around 125 mi.

Day 4. 

Day 4 Map
I woke up very early and hit the road. The day started off with smooth roads with some light rain. Then a pretty good climb up a hill by Swan Lake.

Finally I pulled up to Holland Lake. There was a lodge here and I decided to take a break and get a burger. Very nice lake and lodge. I do remember not thinking clearly from my lack of sleep and giving the guy a terrible tip for the burger. Sorry!

The road climbs steeply and eventually we run into what else but snow. The snow fields were gnarly as there was a bit of a cliff and steep slope you had to traverse. Then a very steep descent to the lower grade road. This pass finally pushed me over the edge and my ankles began to really hurt the next day. Adam Jensen from Missoula caught me here. He also had a mechanical and had to fix it in Whitefish. He was funny and it was nice to talk to someone. He was a dentist that worked pulling teeth of homeless guys. I told him I almost didn't bring a toothbrush due to weight and he almost flipped out. "That's the worse thing you could do! Eating candy bars all day and then not brushing!!" We also discussed that every muscle in our legs was sore and if you touched your leg it hurt. We rode past Seeley Lake turn off and through Ovando as it was all closed up. We ended up camping close to the bottom of Huckleberry Pass just before Lincoln MT. I rode about 155 miles. Too bad Day 2 and 3 were so short....
Stay tuned! Will they make it out of Montana? Will they Survive the wicked ground squirrels of Wyoming?

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