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....

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Really enjoying your stories! Keep em coming. Too, a world class ride, diabetes or not!

I'll pose a few questions in subsequent posts.