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)


GoinBoarding said...

Yeah Jarral! Thanks for typing this all up, its good reading, and inspirational (uh I don't mean I want to do that race, but its inspirational nonetheless!!). Mexican and Canadian beer, I like it! Kokanee and Tecate?

Jarral Ryter said...

Thanks, it was Negro Modelo and Labatts.

Anonymous said...

Really enjoyed the write up on your race and adventure!

Interesting about your bg's after finishing. I'd be interested in how your A1C fared. Be nice to know what your before and after A1C was, if you had it measured at those times.

Watching the pre-race video it seems you were using syringes and vials for you insulin delivery. Wondering if you considered using pens instead? Seems they would have been a lot more convenient.

Best regards,

Jarral Ryter said...

Thanks. It was an adventure. Can't wait to take (make) by kids do something like it!

I haven't tested my A1C since I got back. It was pretty low before, ~6.4. My sugar wasn't really high most of the time until the last day and afterwards for a week.

I tried pens a long time ago and at least the ones I had I didn't like/trust. Also they are kind of bulky it seems. I had all my stuff in a pretty small pack. I should do a follow up post with that-I think I forgot to take a picture of my kit!

happy trails!

John Lucas said...

Your blog is such an inspiration for those of us who are attempting healthy living with diabetes. I'm amazed at everything you've set out to accomplish. Keep up the great work!

Marijn said...

Hi Jarral, it has been a while since you doing this epic ride. Nevertheless, it was a joy and inspiration to read your story. Thanks for writing it down. I am fantasizing about doing the Divide myself, and stumbled upon your blog searching for experiences of people with diabetes doing trips like these. Didn't read much about how your coped with diabetes however, but that only shows that it should not be a hindrance for such a tour.
Kind regards, Marijn (The Netherlands/Holland)