Monday, May 16, 2016

2015 Tour Divide - Days 15 - 17

I woke up the on the morning of Day 15 and dove into a leftover pizza while I checked on the status of my replacement hub. Bad news. It was delayed by bad weather in the midwest. I got a text from Mark and Dan about this time, so I joined them for second breakfast at Creekside Cafe. After checking the UPS site a second time, I needed to figure out a plan B, so I was at the shop when it opened and bought a regular hub so they could complete the wheel build. While that was being done, I took a shop bike up the street to get some good coffee and chill out. After returning to the shop, they gave me a spot in their storage area to hang out and start putting my bags and everything else back on the bike. After a late lunch, I  put my repaired front wheel on the bike, paid my bill, shipped some stuff home, and headed out of town. It was 4:30 PM. I rode out of town until the sun set, which allowed me to sleep at Lynx Pass Campground for the night. It was here that I met up with Jean-Michel Monot, from Tahiti, whom I would be spend a lot of time with for the remainder of the race. -

The temps were cool the next morning while Jean-Michel and I ate our breakfast. I packed my gear and headed out, but stopped a few minutes in to put on warmer gloves. This section of the route had some very cool single lane roads with great views. The seven mile descent into the Colorado River valley was both gorgeous and nerve wracking due to the exposure, pitch and tight corners. The next ten miles had two short climbs that really worked my legs over for some reason. Half-way up the second climb, I heard my name being shouted and see a man and a dog standing next to the road. I slow down and realize it's my friend Jubil, who moved to Colorado a few years back. After a few minutes of conversation and catching up, I needed to get moving along. I dropped off route into Kremmling to get some food. Choices close to the route were limited, but I put some tacos in my stomach and refilled my food and liquid supplies at a convenience store before heading out again. I rode on a number of false flats and undulating hills as I slowly made my way to Ute Pass,  the beauty of the area abruptly interrupted by the presence of mining buildings and the sight of the Henderson Tailings Pond. After a brief stop at the top to check on the clouds, I descended off the pass and into Silverthorne. As I crested the face of the dam, I saw someone sprinting across traffic towards me. Andrew Carney, a TD veteran and Iowan turned Coloradan, had spotted my kit while driving back from the store. We chatted for a bit, discussing the race so far and his from a few years back. After receiving some Breck restaurant recommendations from Andrew, we said our goodbyes and I took the bike trail to Breck. I rode through most of town and stopped briefly to look for a place to eat. Out of nowhere I hear someone yelling my name and closing in quickly. This crazed man is going on about me, the race, how good I'm doing, etc. The next thing I know, I'm sitting at a table with Jason and his girlfriend Paula stuffing myself full of food. After talking with them about the race and enjoying their company, I ask for my bill. The waiter informs me that Joe and Paula have taken care of it already. After insisting that I couldn't let them buy my meal, I finally gave in to Trail Magic and thanked them for their generosity. We parted ways, and after a couple of phone calls, I found an open hotel room not too far from the restaurant. My bike had to go in a locked room in the basement, and I had an interesting ride in the elevator with couples in their suits and evening gowns who were leaving a party in one of the meeting rooms. -

The next morning, I woke up, prepped myself, grabbed my bike from the basement and proceeded to the Blue Moose Cafe for breakfast. Afterwards, I was right on to the slopes of Boreas Pass. As Andrew had stated, the paved portion was the steepest, and soon I was chugging steadily up the 3.5% grade on the gravel. I spotted Joe and Paula, who had slept in a small spot along the pass. They were surprised that I hadn't passed by a lot earlier in the morning. I told them the large breakfast was worth leaving town a little late. I reached the top of the pass after about 90 minutes of riding, then began the descent down Gold Dust trail. It started out a little steep and rocky, but I quickly got into a groove. I rode half of the descent with a couple who were just out for a morning ride. The conversation was a nice way to make the time pass. I passed through Como, which was nothing but a few houses and some closed businesses. I kept heading south through sparse vegetation and a number of speculative development areas, which consisted of multiple blocks of dirt roads, scrub brush, and occasionally a basketball or tennis court. I passed Jean-Michel, who was talking to some men in a pickup. Soon the dirt roads ended and we were both on narrow, almost shoulderless pavement heading into Hartsel. A few hours after our burger, fries and beer at the bar, we were both sitting in our rain gear in a low area waiting for the lightning and rain from a late afternoon thunderstorm to pass. During the 15 minute wait, the temps dropped from the mid 60s to the mid 40s, so I pressed up the climb to the top of the watershed divide to generate some heat. Soon, we were enjoying a dry, steep, twisty descent into the edge of Salida. After some searching, we found some food, and a hotel for the night. I quickly fell asleep while Jean-Michel talked with his family. -

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