Wednesday, May 11, 2016

2015 Tour Divide - Days 6 - 8

Day six was going to be long and hard, so we woke up early and got on the road. Dan, Mark, and I settled into our individual paces and we would not really see each other again until Helena. Our day started with the climb up South Fork road towards our first CD crossing of the day. This first climb was long, but extremely scenic. The turn off of Stemple Pass Road towards Poorman creek was 40 yards worth of leg torture until it eased off a bit. There were a number of remnants from old mining operations spread out all the way to the top of the climb, including a really cool abandoned cabin right near the top. The eight mile descent down Marsh Creek road was both beautiful and exhilarating. Shady, with lots of twists and turns. The route would consist many big hills all the way through to the eventual end of our day in Butte. The ride and hike-a-bike on the ATV trails above Park Lake was one of the rougher parts of the route - steep, deeply rutted, and mosquito infested. The last 30 miles into Butte were ridden in the dark, and the last few miles from Centerville down to the Super 8 took forever. Dan and I finally pulled into the motel at 1 AM and it was 3 AM by the time we ate and got to sleep. Mark's leg was still bothering him and he made it as far as Basin before pulling over for the night. For the day, we had 145 miles and five CD crossings. -

I woke up at 6 AM, with the stress and excitement of the race preventing sleep. I ate breakfast in the hotel, sent some unused items home, ate more food in front of the grocery store, and picked up some chain lube at The Outdoorsman. Finally, I left Butte by myself around 10:30 AM. Dan had picked up a respiratory bug and Mark needed to tend to his leg so they had elected to take a rest day in Butte. My goal for the day was to get up and over Fleecer Ridge, into Wise River, then see how I felt. I stopped and took a 15 minute caffeine nap not too long after turning off Hwy 2. The climb up and over to I-15, including the 1000 fast foot drop down to the highway was scenic. After another 15 minute nap not too long after crossing the Interstate I began the ascent towards Fleecer Ridge. After walking to the top and enjoying the view along the top of the ridge itself, I began the descent. I rode the first third until it was too difficult to keep the back wheel planted. I walked down the remaining half mile to where the road was rideable again. Upon arriving in Wise River, I was immediately greeted by a cloud of mosquitos. After refilling my supplies at the general store, I saw the bar and hotel a few hundred feet up the road. After eating a big burger, some fries, and a bowl of huckleberry ice cream, I opted for the comfort of a room in the attached hotel vs fighting the mosquitos all night. -

Up and at 'em somewhat early the next morning. After wrong turn leaving Wise River, I was back on route with a bunch of pavement in front of me. After the first twenty miles of scenic pavement I suddenly found myself in the middle of Ride The Divide, chasing the ghost of Mary Metcalf-Collier downhill through a bunch of sweeping turns. I turned into High Country Lodge with hopes of filling my stomach with warm food. I stopped and had a brief chat with Brian Steele before he headed back out on route. It was a a much needed boost from someone who has "been there". One sentence from our conversation came back to me often during the race and well after - "I now know the difference between a noise and a sound". The wisdom of The Divide. Breakfast at High Country Lodge was wonderful - both plates worth. The hospitality of both Russ and his wife made it hard to leave, but I needed to make progress. I signed the rider board, let Russ take my photo and was back out on the route. The rest of this day was very enjoyable. The roads were fairly smooth and fast, and I was shocked to finally figure out that I was riding on Bannack Road. It was nowhere near the nightmare it had been during previous years. My descent down to I-15 and Lima was accompanied by a slight tailwind, cooling temps and lovely scenery along Big Sheep Creek Road. Two tables of riders were sitting in the cafe as I walked in. After some negotiations with the owners, four of us split a room in one of the cabins next to the cafe. $15 for a bed and a shower was a bargain after a 135 mile day. -


Iowagriz said...

Loving the recaps. Keep them coming.

Steve Fuller said...

I'm glad someone is reading them. :)