Monday, May 9, 2016

2015 Tour Divide - Days 1 & 2

"I intend to race honorably, adhering to the rules set forth at, and I will self-relegate if I choose to not follow them. I believe that the quality of the TDR and its future lies in the competitor's adherence to the rules that are in effect at the time of the event. I am looking forward to the race, the route, the competitors, and the experiences and stories it will provide to me, whether or not I finish."

This was all I sent to Matthew Lee at midnight on Christmas Eve in 2014, just over 6 months ahead of the Grand Depart for the 2015 Tour Divide. While a competitive finish time was my goal, reaching Antelope Wells within the guidelines of these three sentences was just as important.

At 8 AM on June 12th, after some pre-race words from Billy Rice, we rolled out behind Crazy Larry towards start of the route at the Spray River Trail and the start of the Tour Divide. Day 1 was a buffet of what we would potentially be dealing with for the rest of the race. The day started cool and sunny, then turned gray and overcast. We were pelted with rain and sleet. Leaving the Boulton Store, we turned off the pavement and were greeted by Crazy Larry just as we entered the Elk Pass Trail. Two steep hike-a-bike sections later, and we were riding on a muddy ridge underneath powerlines. As I worked my way through this part of the route, I heard a strange noise as my bike compressed into a dip. I couldn't tell if it was a squeak or a crack. Not feeling anything funny, and not hearing anything else on further dips, I kept riding. The descent off of the pass was fast and muddy. Later in the day, I noted a rider laying in an emergency blanket on the side of the road, and someone sitting next to him. He waved that he was OK, so I continued. The rescue truck and ambulance that passed me a few miles later meant that this probably wasn't the case. I arrived in Elkford around 8 PM, dirty and exhausted. I took stock of myself and my bike. Rather than pushing on to Sparwood, I, along with many others, ended the day in Elkford. I cleaned my driveline in a carwash, then grabbed a room and food at the Elkford Motor Inn. -

I woke up early on the morning of Day 2 with the goal of making the border. I began the long ascent out of Elkford at 5:30 AM with Sarah Jansen, Dan Lockery, Mark Seaberg. We, along with many others, had a hard time finding the start of the hiking trail reroute. After about 20 minutes, we finally found our way onto the trail. The four of us rode a steady pace the rest of the day. We stopped in Sparwood for second breakfast and supplies before heading into the Flathead. Our group climbed over Corbin and Cabin passes during the day. The snow melt that substituted for the road on the Corbin pass descent helped ease the growing soreness in my achilles tendons. We managed to hit the base of The Wall in the early evening. Everything I had heard about this section of the trail was true. 176 ft of elevation gain in just 1/10 of a mile, all walked one carefully placed step at a time. I was happy that I didn't have a trailer or panniers.  Two hours later, we finally reached the top of Galton Pass. At points of the climb, my speed was barely enough to keep the stand light on my headlight charged. As bad as I felt, I was passed a couple of people on the climb that were in much darker places than I was. A screaming, twisty descent off the peak and down to the Kootenay Highway filled next 25 minutes,  interrupted periodically by my sleep kit bouncing up and turning off my headlight. After crossing the border and riding into Eureka, I grabbed some chips and a couple of beers at a bar before it closed. I set up my bivy in the campground climbed in just after 2 AM. I had been awake 20 hours and had ridden 155 miles. -

1 comment:

Kate Geisen said...

Very excited to get to read the recap(s).