Friday, May 13, 2016

2015 Tour Divide - Days 12 - 14

I rolled out of bed the next morning knowing that I would be ending my day near or in the Great Basin. I stuffed the previous night's extra burger and fries into my mouth, loaded up and headed out into the vast unknown of central Wyoming. After a quick stop for a cold drink in Boulder, I found myself riding with Rob Milburn from Minnesota. Rob and rode together for a few miles but Rob's back was giving him some issues and soon I was riding alone. Rob would go on to finish in a very respectable 23.5 days. About 40 miles in, the road went up and so did the temps, eventually topping out in the mid 90s. The most remarkable thing about this section of the route was the views, which went on uninterrupted for miles in every direction. Rob and Josh Johnson caught me as we reached Highway 28. I'm not sure if it was due to heat or fatigue, but I found myself struggling on this short section of pavement. I did chuckle at seeing JayP's logo painted on the shoulder of the road, a reminder of just how far ahead the leaders were at this point. The four miles between the South Pass City and Atlantic City was a a soul crusher, with three short, but steep hills really putting the hurt on my mind and body. Finally, I made the descent into Atlantic City and made my way to the Miner's Grubstake where rested for and refueled.. A number of riders and locals were inside enjoying food and drink. After some food and a couple of beers, I decided that my best option would be to wait for the heat to die down a bit and then ride as far as Diagnus Well to camp, that way I could hydrate before bed and start the next day with a full load of water. I arrived at the well around  9 PM, just in time to stop and take in the beautiful sunset. I quickly set up camp outside of the well, and had one of my most peaceful nights of sleep of the entire race. -

I didn't set an alarm, opting to let the sunrise and the sounds of nature act as my alarm. I was treated to the sound of coyotes coupled with the silhouette of an antelope family while I ate breakfast. I got back on the road just before 6 AM, with a goal of getting to Brush Mountain Lodge before the end of the day. Early morning in The Basin was quiet and peaceful, with the beauty occasionally broken up by the sight of fracking wells. The new route towards Wamsutter was enjoyable, but tough for the first few miles. The "barely there" two track at the start combined with the proximity to a cliff had me wondering what this "road" was used for. After getting back on more maintained roads, I settled down in the aero bars and let the miles tick by, my iPod providing for some amount of mental distraction. I stopped for a quick break at the solar powered cow tanks to refill water and got back at it. The truck traffic, fracking well density, and the heat increased as I rode closer to Wamsutter. Knowing I was in the middle of their work zone, I made sure to wave and pull over when it appeared that I was causing the drivers any issues. I am sure my actions were radioed ahead, as I had no issues with any trucks during the rest of my ride in The Basin. I reached Wamsutter after seven hours of riding and made a bee-line for the truck stop. The temps were in the mid-90s again and I shoved as much fluid and food in me as I could handle. After a brief call to my wife, I left the cacophony of the truckstop and continued south. After 40 more miles of trucks and dust, I left mining country behind and started working my way uphill. I could see storms forming behind me and while I wanted to outrun them, I quickly determined that out running them while riding uphill was not in the cards. After riding through a brief shower, I was caught by Lane Bergen, who was touring the route from Wamsutter to points south for a few days. The company was welcome and Lane and I rode together to the Colorado border. Brush Mountain Lodge was ahead somewhere on the climb that started after Slater, but I didn't have a solid idea where. After climbing for what seemed like hours, I called to let Kirsten know I was coming and to make sure I hadn't passed the lodge. Kirsten took my food order and told me I had about another seven miles to go. I was exhausted, but continued to the Lodge, pulling in around 11:30 PM. Everything good you have read or heard about Brush Mountain Lodge is true. After a giant hug and welcome from Kirsten, her famous "mom" mode took over. "You can have a beer, but only after you've had three glasses of water or lemonade." "Do you like cheeseburgers? I bet you can eat two. Here you go." "We'll have breakfast for you early in the morning. Here's towels. There's the shower." After a plate full of food some conversation with Kirsten and other riders, I stumbled into a room and fell asleep around 1 AM. -

Morning came early as my room was next to the kitchen and Kirsten was busy making coffee and pancakes for bunch of hungry bike riders. I got my affairs in order and walked out of my room to a cup of coffee, a glass of chocolate milk, along with a plate of fresh blueberry pancakes. I settled in while Kirsten cooked my eggs to order. Did I mention the service? As comfortable as it was, it was finally time to leave and make my way to Steamboat. With one last good luck hug from Kirsten and a tear in my eye, I left Brush Mountain Lodge and headed down the route. I covered the first 15 miles in about 3 hours. There was about 500' of gain in the first mile and a half and then a false flat until we hit the ascent of what was marked as a "watershed divide" on the map. I walked the last half mile to the top of this "divide". The grade was averaging 15% and walking was just as fast as riding. The descent off the divide was one of the roughest so far - a closed, unmaintained logging road with a lot of rocks. I stopped at the Clark store for a large bowl of ice cream and then enjoyed the pavement and downhill heading towards Steamboat. On the gravel climb into town, someone had placed signs containing my name and messages on signposts along the edge of the road, a welcome surprise. The culprit turned out to be Alan Johnson, former Iowan turned Steamboat local. I stopped and talked to him briefly on the descent into Steamboat, but declined his invitation for a beer at the brewery so I could get my bike serviced at Orange Peel. I pulled into the shop, told them what I needed to have done to the bike and stripped all of the bags off my bike so they wouldn't be in their way. Since there were a number of bikes ahead of me, and I was having a replacement dyno hub overnighted in,  I grabbed the things I needed and grabbed a room at the Norse Hotel a few blocks away. I also took this opportunity to take a bus to the local walk-in clinic and get my finger looked at. After a short wait, a doctor drained an infection from behind my nailbed and sent me on my way with some antibiotics. I spent the rest of the evening doing laundry and stuffing myself full of food and fluids and getting caught up on rest. -

1 comment:

Peter Salvey said...

Great recaps! Keep them coming!