Day 5. It doesn't hurt so much if you pedal like a duck.Adam and I had camped beside the narrow road and we didn't get up super early. My ankles had started to ache the day before from all the hiking in the snow and the running down the muddy road when my brakes went out. This morning they really started to hurt. My right Achilles tendon was very stiff and it took quite a while before it "loosened" up. My left ankle hurt at the front left side and the Achilles was sore but not as bad as the right. As I got up, I told Adam that I would meet up with him in Lincoln. He was pedaling fast and I didn't want to be a baby... As I pedaled, my ankles slowly began to hurt on the outsides. Both ankles' pain seemed to be increasing with the pain moving in a counter clockwise fashion.
This section of Montana really was challenging with pass after pass. Luckily there wasn't any snow to walk through--just a little on Huckleberry Pass that was avoidable. I pulled into Lincoln after Huckleberry Pass and saw Adam. He just bought a bad gas station burrito. I decided to get some real food and let my ankles relax across the street. I don't know what the deal is in Montana but there are casinos everywhere. This place said casino but they actually served food. While they were making my omelet and pancakes, I ran down to the little store and bought a bunch of food.
|Breakfast in Lincoln-Blue Dot in map above|
I ate way too much and left town with a full belly which isn't easy to ride with. My neck also started to get sore in its normal spot as we climbed the next climb but luckily that seemed to go away and not come back. I put my head down as I began to climb Stemple Pass. Unfortunately I didn't look at the map closely enough or my GPS and missed the turn to the steeper, rougher pass that we were supposed to go up. After a few miles of steep climbing, I looked at the GPS, cursed loudly and turned around and rode back down to the correct road. That is the Tour Divide rider's worst fear--taking a wrong turn and putting in unwanted miles-especially extra climbing!
This "road" was very steep and seemed to go on forever. Finally the road descended turning steep and rocky. My camera , mounted on my aerobars on a particular rough section, flipped off bouncing down through the rock scratching the housing lens and the bolt to hold in on was lost. I would now have to carry the camera in my pocket without a case. Not good for me or the camera. So after this, I don't have many pictures :(
At the bottom I was having a hard time motivating and felt very tired so I stopped and put my feet up on a fence and take a 15min power nap.
As I traveled on the back roads along the continental divide, I saw more and more old homesteads slowly decaying back to earth as I went. I couldn't help but think who used to live here, if they lived there and eventually moved on or they couldn't make it and left. Sometimes there was a cemetery next to a group of houses.
I climbed the next pass and there was Eddie Clark photographing the race. Priest pass came next after not much climbing. Mercifully the road was a fast downhill to highway 12 which was also a coast to Helena. My first Blue dot stalker found me here. A kid in a car drove by and yelled out the window that they were watching the race and that we were doing awesome. I don't know if he drove out there just to see me or not but... It was warm in Helena and I instantly began to look for a good place for food. I stopped at a coffee shack and got a smoothie (She gave me a little extra in another cup) and an iced americano. I rode holding three cups into downtown. I asked around and found a burrito place downtown. It reminded me of the Teocalli Tamale in Crested Butte. I would later try to convince Eszter to open one in Gunnison so I could eat burritos close to home but I don't think she was hip on the idea. I hung out far too long and started talking to a guy that used to live in CB for a couple of years. He missed it sorely. He had also seen Shifferly all bandaged up and saying he was dropping out. He apparently never got his back brake fixed and had crashed coming down Priest Pass. Team Gunnison/Crested Butte was down to two. I actually found out later that Josh got his bike working but succumbed to his injuries in Steamboat.
I called Anne to see how they were all doing. I had passed most everyone except Eszter and the other the guys that were farther ahead and they would be hard to catch. Josh was out probably, Eric Lobeck from Steamboat bailed from sore Achilles I found out. Eszter was my little rabbit and now I started to try and catch her. She is sneaky, however, and frightfully hard to catch. She doesn't stop long and was riding long days. I finally got ready to go and a huge storm came over the mountains so I laid down in an adjoining building and put my feet up on the wall.
After the storm passed, I left town climbing up the next pass. However, after a few miles I began to feel lethargic like my blood sugar was dropping. I checked it and sure enough it was. This would happen more than once. If I actually ate a meal and took some fast acting insulin and then rode, the insulin would be absorbed too fast. I ate some food and rode slowly. It seemed that my blood sugar wouldn't go up so I ate more. Finally after 30 or 40 minutes, it was back up where I could go faster. The road dropped and then climbed again up to a nice lake and campground. I, of course, completely missed the main road and rode into the campground for a mile or so. DOPE! Two wrong turns in a day. It was starting to get dark as I continued to climb. It was noticeable now that the sun was setting sooner than a few days earlier. We were going south! In Banff, the sun set at 10:30pm. Now it was around 9:30pm.
The route turned onto a just plain crappy ATV track. Wet, rocky, rooty. And it was now dark and my lights just weren't working well. I suffered through this and about 3/4 of the way to a real road a stick flipped up into my derailleur. It made the classic sound and feel of a possible bent hanger. Sure enough my chain started skipping and if in my big cog, it would slip off into my spokes (to remove it I had to remove the back wheel and pull as hard as I could to get the chain out.) OK just had to finesse it through. Don't pedal too hard and break the chain. Don't shift into the easy gear and break a spoke from the chain falling off. It couldn't get worse....then it started to rain. I hit a wet road and promptly turned the wrong way. I turned around and got going down toward the very small town of Basin in the rain. I finally just got too tired to go anymore and found a few nice big trees that would shelter me some from the rain. I set up my little tarp over my bivy. I woke up the next morning with a nice puddle on one side of the tarp but otherwise dry. I estimated I rode around 130 mi this day with a lot of climbing and very sore ankles.
Day 6. That's Levi's Brother, Ya Know! Or Drunk cowboys saying, "Look at you, you are in such freakin'good shape."
The day started with very sore ankles and a wet camp. I was again having a hard time getting up and going early. I quickly hit Basin and soon after I saw some tracks coming out of some trees. Eszter! I figured she had left early but how early? The road parallels the freeway and climbs slightly with a steep climb. There was also some head wind. Normally this section would be no big deal but my ankles were really bothering me and the wet sandy roads sucked the energy out of me. I finally hit the steep downhill on the freeway to Butte. I came into town and stopped at the Outdoorsman bike shop, home of Levi's brother. They asked what I need to get fixed. I being half out of it said, "errrr ehhhh hmmmm doesn't shift". I failed to say I need a hose to clean it off, the brakes rub terribly, and I think I bent my derailleur hanger and the front derailleur doesn't shift down. Levi's brother starting going on about how we needed to keep our bikes clean and that the handlebar bag was pushing too much on my cables and I heard "drive side up when laying the bike down" a few times. I just stared blankly. I left to get some tape for my ankles, food and mail my GoPro and some clothing that was proving worthless home. I came back and sure enough the other mechanic got the derailleur hanger straightened out. The mechanic was a retired AP chemistry teacher with pre-type 2 diabetes and was doing a ride to Alaska to benefit diabetes. I asked Levi's brother when Eszter came in and he said a long time ago. Hmm I got there at 10:30am. I wonder when they opened. They had a computer so I checked where everyone was. I also checked on the possible serial killer Chris from the Mad city that we had picked up on the side of the road in the rainstorm to see if any racers went missing in his general vicinity--none had.
I met Guenther Glettler from Ragnitz, Austria doing the TD. My parents actually helped him out in Canada as they drove back. He had to bail as his girlfriend was in an accident. He gave me some great European pain killers. He said, "They are good" like he meant it in his Germanic accent and you can't argue with that. I had ran out of my vitamin I so I took the whole box. He also had food that I split with Kurt and Caroline on the tandem team who showed up later. Kurt helped me tape my Achilles. The Outdoorsman was great--just joking around about Levi's brother, Rob. I also met Levi's mom. I spent way too much time here leaving at 2:00pm, OUCH. I left and, of course, the road climbed immediately.
In Tour Divide lore, Fleecer Ridge ahead of me was discussed often. You climb a very steep climb and then turn down Fleecer Ridge. It is a really steep section that goes straight downhill. I didn't crash but almost felt as if I might go over the handle bars a few times as it was so steep. I hit the main road and some houses. Someone had their front door open cooking bacon. Don't they know this is Grizzly country or even worse Tour Divide country. It smelled so good I nearly had to go steal some grizzly style. I soon hit the town of Wise River and I ate at the cafe with a guy touring to Idaho. Once again I spent way too much time here as well. I bought some candy bars from the bar next door and went out to my bike. A drunk local cowboy type followed me out. He wanted to check out my bike and ask how I got in such good shape--nothing like walking around in bike shorts constantly! He kept saying something like, "You are in such good shape. Look at you. How do you get so fit?" I was getting a little worried that this might be some sort of "Broke Back Mountain" thing (not that there's anything wrong with that) but he was just very adamant that I was so fit and couldn't believe that we were riding so far. So I left hoping I was wasn't being followed on the empty road and started up the next paved pass towards Polaris. The sun began to drop and so did I. I neared the top of the pass at around 11pm and bonked hard. Not wanting to descend in the cold and this state I just grabbed my bivy, sleeping bag and a candy bar and went to sleep.... Even with so much time taken off I still rode around 120 mi. I actually purposely rode a slower to give my ankles a rest. They did feel much better with Guenther's meds and the athletic tape going up the back of my calves. Next stop Wyoming!
Tune in next time when, Jarral says, "If you go fast enough, you can't feel the bumps." Will he catch the elusive Eszter? Will his ankles give out?