New Mexico! Happy 4th of July. Per and/or Paul wished me a Happy Independence Day which was quite nice. Apparently the thing to do in New Mexico on the 4th is ride around on quad bikes and haul stumps. Per and Paul thought that was funny. About mid day my knee starting hurting pretty damn bad. I even cried climbing one hill. It felt like my knee was being hit by a hammer just below the cap.
Nasty mud(even worse when wet) between Vallecitos and El Rito. Of course everything was closed on July 4th. We pressed on toward Abiquiu, stopped by a bar to ask if they would call ahead. The bar tender said they would probably turn us down right then. Paul, Per and Trevor hurried on towards the hotel/restaurant. I followed as fast as I could; crying the whole way. It hurt big time. I came in the lobby as the clerk was on the phone talking about our potential room. Fortunately someone canceled. I slammed my credit card down and said "We'll take it! I don't care what it is", and joined the rest for dinner. I thanked them for getting there before the restaurant closed. Thus began my demise.
I ordered the quesadilla instead of the tortilla soup. I think that's where I went wrong. We all had a main course and desert. It was divine(the first time).
Started the morning with the climb up Indiana Pass. Which, wasn't too bad. I wouldn't do it in the afternoon though. Summitville wasn't much to look at. Water was not a problem. Just don't drink the stuff at the bottom of Summitville. Anything south of Elwood Pass is fine. Very beautiful there. Stopped in Platoro for lunch, the people were super nice as well. They were keeping track with a sign in book. We rode onto Horca, which was pretty much nothing. The shop was pratically empty, but the campground 2 miles away was open. They were full(it was July 4th), but they let us stay in an empty lot for 10 bucks. It was a fine place to take a half day. We did laundry and had cookies and hung out in the screened in game room.
The ride into Del Norte was the best. It was a 4x4 road with undulations, kinda like double track. Finally I felt like I was actually mountain biking.
Gary and Patti were super generous. We stocked up and hit up a diner, then went back to clean up. It was nice talking to someone that knew about biking and didn't ask dumb questions. I weighed myself. 163, 12 pounds lighter. No arm muscle to spare. It was just nice to be in a house with real people, instead of an empty hotel room. Probably the best night's sleep.
Nice start. Had a nice breakfast in Hartsel. Stopped in Salida for a lunch break.
Left for Marshall's a little late, and was caught in the rain. My new rain jacket kicked butt. Also it was nice to know that there was a Colorado Hilton at the top. I only stopped twice to to bunker down. Soon enough I was in the warm Hilton eating a snack. Then I was joined by the rest, I suited up and bombed downhill, minus the rain into Sargents for the night.
The local's were celebrating a birthday. Even though they were busy they made us soup and fries. Super nice folk. Then they broke out the Karaoke. We joined in for "I'll Fly Away", which is hard to do after biking 98 miles. I was out of breath, but we all enjoyed it. I can't believe I didn't take any photos. We all talked about asking for some cake, but we didn't have the balls.
I called Gary Blakley and Patti Kelly to ask if we could stay with them in Del Norte and they said yes, thankfully.
Long climbs in the morning. I hate the fact that I sweat so much. Lots of mines and what not. Silverthorne was too busy, but it was a nice easy bike path. Breckenridge was a little worse I would say. Like Gatlenburg, minus the Jamboree of Bears. Also no cell service. Had a nice lunch and of course I ate too much before climbing Boreas Pass. Which would have been fine had my stomach hurt so much. I also didn't acclimate well and had to leave, it was my first time at 11,000+. Made it to Como and found Cricket, but she was not feeling well/was asleep in a closed B&B. Paul left her a note. She left the race from there. We stopped a lady who said we could camp in her cousin's yard, but they were not home, so we slept in the Winwood playground. It was practically abandoned, and for some reason I slept in the concrete bathroom and damn near froze on the cold floor.
Long morning climb. Per was in bad shape. First hot day. Had to stop to avoid it for a spell.
The ride through Aspen Grove was nice.
Then I bombed downhill on our way towards Steamboat Springs. I'm surprised my bike didn't explode. It was super rocky, but super fun. I stopped to wait on everyone else, and we decided to ride on into the night, hoping to catch Cricket. It was a nice ride too. Steamboat was empty at night. We stopped in the Bunny Motel I think, something to do with rabbits. The desk guy said Cricket was staying there. Ordered a nice big pizza and we decided to sleep in the next morning.
Woke up and Jason plaid us a song he wrote, it was very nice, but sad. I pulled out my radio for the first time and had reception! Nice little college station and NPR. It was good to have because I made great time. Fortunatly the rain had filled the only creek we crossed. I drank a liter and filled up while everyone passed me. I caught up for another break.
For such a desolate waste land, it sure was beautiful. I led for the rest of the day(thanks to the music) and came into town with no water left. Met up with Trevor and went to the bike shop where he fixed a broken spoke. Then we found Per and Paul at a diner, got a room and groceries and then sleep.
Yes Bull Balls. Started off in the rain, but we had oatmeal for breakfast, which helped immensely, as did Paul's encouragement. Easy ride besides the rain, nice flat and mostly asphalt. The rain stopped when we ducked into a rest stop(just as the wind picked up).
Atlantic City was nice. Great bar and great food. I had a few servings of beef stroganoff and some grilled cheese. We got word from the server that Cricket had been in not a few hours prior. Paul and Per got a kick out of the Kenny Chesney song "She Think's my Tractor's Sexy" especially the part about the farmers tan part. That gave me a good idea to make a utility bike and paint it John Deere green. Some Italian tourists came in and liked my Tomato Head jersey. They had a gorgeous daughter too, chatted her up a bit....anyway.
My steed Me Favorite picture of me :D
Left there with some rain clouds behind us(joy!). Certainly not worried about the Basin being dry now! Met Jason, and real cowboy. He had been out since May, and was surprisingly not crazy. Nice guy, gave Paul some Whiskey, and his horse. "He's not a St Pauli Girl horse!" He told Per and I to be careful about snakes since we were in bivies. Sure enough it started raining, and it was super windy too. Paul's tent did well with it's sloping lines(Terra Nova Laser Competition). Trevor's did not inspire confidence(Tarptent Contrail), but he was the first asleep. Per and I hovered behind the horse trailer for a bit and then scampered into our bivies. It didn't rain too bad, and blew over quickly.
19 easy miles downhill. Then two big climbs and a wonderful headwind till town. Not too many photos, I was in a hurry(and made great time) into Pinedale to get the spoke fixed. I didn't' have high hopes for the bike shop since it was in a hardware store. Not much to write or show. I got pissed around midday. Headwinds are the pits. I stopped in a little cafe for a milkshake and ate my "Big Colossal" bar and hauled ass into Pinedale. It was a big city, fresh with money from oil and gas exploration, a boom town for sure. New spoke, but no 9 speed chains. We found a place that had cabins and went with that(not cheap but nice). Had a big Chinese meal and stocked up for the next day.
Nice a hot, got a little bit of a burn. Per's knee was hurting from the rail ride yesterday. We stopped in Flagg Ranch for a nice big lunch. Then rode off into Yellowstone. We were forced to load our bikes in a truck due to construction. I was pissed. Not just because of being forced to ride, but also the reason. The lady agreed with the absurdity of it all. The construction company's insurance would not cover a cyclist wearing a helmet, but would cover a motorcyclist with out. Icing on the cake was the fact that our bikes would probably not have been covered while riding in the back of their pickup. Cherry on top, there was only one piece of machinery working!
We stopped in a little coffee shop for milk shakes. They were out of ice cream but were happy to oblige and rode off on a golf cart to get some at another lodge. There was a nice girl who was totatlly impressed by what we were doing.
Milk shakes were a great idea, liquid calories, and the coffee didn't hurt.
Yumm! Photo curtsy of Paul
Hit the Togwotee pass in the early evening, our first big pass. It was not bad, but not easy due to the fatigue. Then we got off the road and into the mud and snow. Back to being pissed again.
We stopped at Brook's Lake Lodge which was listed as a place to stay. Paul asked the work hands about staying, and they said to talk to the boss. So Paul asked, they guy was in his thirties and seemed ornery "every time one of you CDT hikers and bikers comes by" I thought we were screwed. The lodge caters to large groups(well ahead of time of course). Fortunately they were between two big groups and had two rooms that were not cleaned. Adam(the boss) let us stay for 20 bucks a head(for the chamber maids). He even gave us left overs. Kobe beef patties, a little salad, some chicken, and the most amazing cake ever. Chocolate icing with yellow cake. A little stale, but I had two pieces. The room was amazing with nice beds, "posh" soaps, and the best towels I have ever used(should have written the name down). Nice nights sleep indoors.
Woke, up had a nice breakfast. Quite cold but I warmed up quickly. First actual cowboy of the trip. Trued out Paul was good at herding cowes.
Rode in a nice basin type land for the first half of the day. Nice view but windy. Stopped at ranger station for lunch and a lie down. Nice little climb up to the state line. Finally a new State! With a welcome party.
Had a late lunch at Mack's Inn. Then hit the rail bed which was deceiving on the map. The grade was flat, but the road was not. Lots of little undulations, which were hard on the knees. The cattle guards were precarious so we all dismounted to cross them. On the second or third I noticed I had a broken spoke. Surprised, but not concerned. As we were riding down the Paul asked if we would pretend to be characters from Thomas the Tank Engine. His kids love the show. Paul was Thomas, Per was Percy, I forget who Trevor was James, and I was Henry. It was a nice way to pass the time. We scored a free camp site at the Warm River Campground. It was super buggy though.
Took the day off, house keeping activities. Let the roads dry out. Ray showed up, talked about quitting. I told him to sleep on it. That kept me from quitting. Well he didn't and wound up cutting himself very badly while boxing up his bike. I was walking back from the hardware store and saw Paul hovering near an ambulance. I knew it was TD racer. They took Ray to Butte(I think), turns out he cut an artery. He pulled through it.
Muddy! Muddy muddy muddy. We hauled ass down the road, but as soon as we hit the Lewis and Clark Trail we hit some awful mud. Very thick and sticky. I could only push the bike for a bit, stop scrape of mud, push some more, rinse repeat; ok there was no rinsing. Did that for what seamed like hours. Trevor had the worst of it, everything would cake into his v-brakes. After a while the mud cleared up and I pedaled ahead and stopped at Cross Ranch to ask about the next town. No store or restaurant. But the guy was nice and let me wash my bike off and get water. Everyone else showed up but Jacob. We washed up and then Jacob came in with a broken derailleur and hanger. After making a call to his wife and thinking about quitting, he made the bike single speed. It didn't work too well. He could pedal fast, so I rode with him at 8mph. His chain would go up and down the cassette and then finally it locked into a gear. Then we started a short climb and bang! His chain broke. He replaced the link and we started walking. Next thing I knew, he was waving down an suv and asking where they were headed. They gave him a lift and we said goodbye. I hauled as much ass as I possibly could. Even with a headwind I made good time. I actually freaked about some rain and backtracked to see about taking refuge in a barn. I changed my mind and kept on going. I passed Ray just before the real bad mud. That was much worse. At least it was mentioned in the maps. By then I was out of water and there were no good spots for water. I walked through the mud and could just barely see, Trevor, or Paul, or Per at the next climb. Amazingly enough I caught up to them at the top. They were impressed. Hell so was I. I put on my warm gear as the clouds rolled in and we bombed downhill. It was cold and wet, but not that bad. The last seven miles on pavement were agonizing. We made it into Lima before the restaurant closed and got a big room, and washed up real quick. Kricket was in the restaurant. She was finishing her day off. We decided we should all take a nice break and let the roads dry out.
Worst Day ever! Sorry no photos. Woke up to rain, which worried me. I was afraid of hypothermia. We set out on a road which wasn't bad it wasn't raining that much. Pretty soon I started getting colder and colder. We were passing so many people in campers and tents along side the road. I was very depressed and wanted to just hop in a warm bed. This would be the first and last time I would enjoy hills. They warmed me up. Pretty soon I couldn't feel from my shoulders down. Not good considering the downhill winding section(still on road) into Polaris. Jacob rode with me to Elkhorn and encouraged me a whole bunch. We stopped at the hot springs place. Per and Trevor weren't there. I grabbed some coffee and bothered a couple for a ride to town, they laughed. I wasn't joking. Jacob said hey, it's just a few more miles to the country store. So we rode on. Shivering the whole way. We stopped at Ma Barnes Country Market. She was nice, and from Mississippi. I asked her and her friend for a ride to Butte and offered to pay too. No dice, and they didn't know anyone going to town that day. Thank god! I would have quit and that would have been the worst decision ever. Turns out the the local inn was closed, but there was a local lodge that Ma called ahead about. She left a message. Jacob-"it's just one more mile" The good news of the stop I discovered a delicious peanut bar snack. I gotta find a picture somewhere. It was amazing.
So we rode another mile to the Lodge and a nice old lady answered. "hi Ma called and left a message" "oh I don't answer the phone this is my daughter's place she'll be back soon" We came in and drip dried and the lady brought us some towels and coffee and cookies. We dried off and warmed up. The owners came back from their trip. Super nice people. They put us up and brought out a nice lunch spread.
As we were setting up in popped Per and Trevor. The rode up to a house but found no one home, and then saw a house with someone on the porch. The guy let them in, gave them coffee and oatmeal. They wound up napping with the dog in front of a fire. After that they looked up our spot units and tracked us down.
We spent the rest of the day napping and watching tv. I figured I'd stay another day if it was raining. Awesome dinner.
Made it into Butte real quick for a big breakfast at Denny's. Stopped by The Outdoorsman which was right on the trail. It's run By Levi Leipheimer's brother(I think, relative at least). He cut me a nice deal on the Ergon BD1 and mailed my old bag home for free. I sweat like crazy and needed a backpack that allowed air to go over my back. Great buy! Very comfy and could hold everything. Big surprise! I bought too much food and had to cram some down at a break point. After that we had a big climb and had to hike a bike for a bit. It was too wet. Most of the big climbs aren't a big deal if your legs are fresh. It was foggy but I could see the "solitary fence" that began the steep downhill. As usually I bombed down most of it, but when I got the .25 super steep section I had to walk. It was crazy!
awesome photo by Jacob Johnsrud
Super nice ride after that. We made it to Wise River and wound up bunking in a barn and getting a hot shower for 5$. We met the owners of Taco Del Sol; they follow the race, that's how we got the food for free.