2017 Tour Divide – Part 2

2017 Tour Divide – Part 2

posted in: Bicycle Touring | 3

Warm River, WY to Silverthorne, CO

OverviewPart 1Part 2 – Part 3

Part 2 is days 9-17.  It picks up after riding through several injuries in Montana and having fallen from 4/5th place to around 20th.  Things are starting to come back together except for some building ankle pain, but then start to fall apart again.  Click away:

Day 9: Warm River Campground → Base of Union Pass (128 mi | 9249 ft)

We woke up under the pavilion just as the sun was coming up. My body was feeling better today as a whole, but my ankle was worse than ever.  It took me 5 minutes to walk across the street and back to throw away some trash.  We hit the road together, but Andrew quickly pulled away.  All good, I didn't want to hold him up.

Things loosened up and I remember having a pretty good ride into Wyoming, another state!  By afternoon I arrived at Flagg Ranch Lodge where I caught Andrew and another rider.  They were heading down the road 15 miles to a pizza spot.  I told them I was going to resupply quick and would meet them there.

The ride to the pizza spot was on pavement and gave way to some great views of the Tetons.  They had just got their food when I got there.  I'm glad I caught them at Flagg Ranch, because it was an excellent spot!  They also had excellent ice cream.  It was a luxury stop, but a good one.  I was feeling stronger today and my spirits were up.  I ended up losing Andrew after taking a phone call down the road.  I never did see those guys again, though I suspect I would have if things had gone smoother in the following days.

The Tetons!

After lunch there was some more pavement climbing which eventually branched off to some snowy hike-a-bike side trails.  Once the snow broke and laid way to some excellent views and fun riding.  From there it was smooth sailing to Lava Mountain Lodge.  It was just getting dark as I pulled in, and thankfully I caught them just before they closed up the convenience store.  I got some more snacks for the road and my dinner consisted of a Hot Pocket and Fritos.  When I went to sit down and eat, I found Lee sitting there... 'puffier' than I remembered her.  She had an allergic reaction the day prior and it had gotten worse today.  She arrived earlier in the day and got a small cabin to stay in for the evening.  Her riding partner, Rickie, pushed on with Nathan and Paul who had passed me the previous evening.

The 2nd half of this hike-a-bike section was actually just plowed before I got there. Lucky me!After the snow cleared...

I knew Union Pass was coming up next and I decided I would get as close to the start of the snow as I could to take it on first thing in the morning.  My hope was the temperature would drop enough to freeze the snow drifts and ground, making for a solid surface to hike over.  I ended up riding longer than I thought I would and I called it before reaching the snow.  It was good fortune that I had just so happened to camp right before the snow.

Day 10: Union Pass → 30 mi past Boulder, WY (115 mi | 3378 ft)

Last night got cold!  I remember waking up with some frost on my bag.  By the time I got on my bike this morning I saw another rider approaching.  To my surprise it was Greg who I last saw at Holland Lake Lodge!  He was happy to see me and have a companion for the snowy ride across Union Pass.  Greg is from South Dakota so we had some shared midwest roots.  Although it seemed like his lungs had greatly improved, he said he was having problems with his neck / shoulders.  About half way through the day the last couple days he was wasn't able to ride and keep his head up.  Today was his go/no go day... if he had trouble with it again today he was going to pull the plug.  We rode most of Union Pass together.  It was a pretty easy hike because the snow and ground had frozen the night before.  I had later heard people had trouble sinking in the mud and snow, sometimes up to there knees in mud.  The decent was very muddy and technical because the trail was in such bad shape.  I had to stop and clean my chain at the bottom.  When we joined up with the nicer dirt road, I started to get some leg cramps.  I stopped to work them out as Greg pushed ahead.

Some mud and snow on Union Pass. I was envisioning much worse from the stories I had heard from northbound riders.

Leaving Union Pass

I later saw Greg's bike parked outside of a bar and grill 20 miles from Pinedale.  I was tempted to go in and join him, but figured it would be better to just eat and resupply in Pinedale.  I never saw Greg again.  I heard he ended up dropping out in Pinedale.  I hope he figures out his neck problem and gives the Divide another go.  There was a nice tailwind into Pinedale, it was turning into a good day! I was feeling good... I was ready to start pushing harder.  The plan was to get a good meal and resupply in town and then ride out the tail wind and see if I couldn't ride all the way to Atlantic City late that night.

Unfortunately, I picked the wrong place to eat.  Even as I was eating, I remember thinking something  about the pizza seemed a bit off... like it could have stayed in the oven another 5 minutes.  Well, the damage was done.  I ate nearly a whole pizza so there was a whole lot of it to upset my stomach.  I felt good leaving Pinedale.  I was cruising out of town with the wind.  Feeling good, I thought I really would get a big night of riding in.  Feeling good didn't last long though.  A minor upset stomach soon became a very upset stomach.  Before long the pain was getting to be too much and I decided that it would be best to try and sleep it off.

Beautiful views, horrible stomach cramps.

That night I my stomach kept tossing and turning.  Around 2:00 AM I had to leave bed to puke my guts out for a while.  After returning to bed I slept for a couple hours and then started tossing and turning over more stomach cramps.  Some time early that morning I left bed again to puke the rest of my guts out.  I was exhausted.

Day 11: 30 mi past Boulder, WY → Boulder, WY (-30 mi | N/A)

I finally mustered the energy to get up around 10 AM and got out to the road.  I walked my bike for a while, stopping every 20 yards to rest my head... I was able to ride for a little bit, and eventually walked the rest of the way to the crossroad on top of the hill.  I was hoping to find cell phone reception to let people know I was ok - no luck.  I knew people were going to be wondering why I wasn't moving on Trackleaders.

I didn't have the energy to ride anywhere and decided to lay down and either wait until I was feeling better or hope that someone would come by and could give me a ride back into town.  I had plenty of food and water... I would be fine for at least another day.

Well I was right about people being concerned, because sometime in the afternoon another rider, Tyler, rode by and said he talked to my Dad over the phone in Boulder.  There wasn't much him or I could do... I told him I had everything I needed and was just looking to get a ride back to town.  I wasn't ready to pull the plug and didn't feel that I was in a real emergency situation (the spot trackers have an SOS feature).  He said agreed to give my Dad a status update when he got service.

Luckily, Tyler also flagged down some drivers to look for me on there way by.  The first of which was a drunk guy from Wisconsin.  Surprise! 😀  He was driving a side-by-side ATV, so getting a ride from him didn't exactly make sense (and of course... the whole drunk thing).  A couple of climbers stopped around that time and agreed to shift some things around to fit me and my bike in their car.  One climber began to shift things in the car while the Wisconsin guy pulled out some beers and the other climber was hanging out drinking with him.  And then Jeff pulled up in his truck (when it rains it pours).  Tyler had also flagged him down too apparently.  Jeff was heading to Boulder and had his RV parked there.  He was on his way back from helping pace an endurance running event.  Jeff was recently retired and was in the process of moving across the country to a new house he bought but never actually saw in person.  He was a happy dude, excited about the next chapter of his life.

I happily took a ride from Jeff.  I was pretty out of it on the ride back.  He got permission for me to camp outside his trailer and once setup, I got a shower and took a nap.  He brought me some Coca-Cola and I snoozed some more before sitting down for some dinner that he shared.  We had a good chat about facing challenges (described in the overview post) and I got ready for bed again.  Before Jeff went to bed he said goodnight and something along the lines that I should get back out there and finish the race and that I would be glad that I did.

Day 12: Boulder, WY → Boulder, WY (0 mi | 0 ft)

Jeff had rolled out around 4 AM and I continued to sleep.  Once awake, I packed up and headed down the street to the Boulder Store for breakfast.  They had a good restaurant / diner inside and I wanted to see how food was sitting today.  I was only able to eat half my normal portioned breakfast, a meal size I would normally destroy.

I decided to hang out for a while and make sure I didn't get sick. My stomach still felt really uneasy.  I worked on my some minor bike issues that I had been putting off and hung out in the restaurant.  After giving lunch a try, I decided I was going to take another rest day in Boulder.  My stomach still felt troubled and I didn't want to find myself back in the same ditch tonight.

These are fine.

I stayed in the hotel next door... watching a couple movies before bed.  My stomach wasn't happy and I found myself between bed and the bathroom most of the night.  I wasn't throwing up at least, but things on the other end of the digestive system were far from ok.

Day 13: Boulder, WY → Atlantic City, WY (76 mi | 3547 ft)

I wasn't feeling super this morning, but I wasn't about to sit around another day if I was actually going to finish this thing.  It was already going to be a late start after sleeping in from a poor night of sleep.  After some breakfast and a resupply I headed out.  It was a slow day... but the miles eventually tick away when you throw enough hours of riding in.

It was a bit of a bummer that the first 30 miles or so were a redo from 2 days prior, but at least I was back on the road.  This section is where the land really opened up and the shade opportunities disappear.  There aren't a lot of opportunities to get out of the sun or wind.  Luckily, winds were mostly favorable to Atlantic City.

The desolation begins

When I rolled the tiny town that is Atlantic City the sun was just setting.  Atlantic City appears to be an old ghost town, but there are actually a few residents.  I was skeptical whether any food options would be open (or even in business), but luckily I found the local cafe / saloon open sign was on.  There were 4 other bikepacking bikes outside.  To my surprise the place was hopping... even full of a bunch of young people.  Apparently some geology university students were doing some work nearby and were celebrating a students 21st birthday.  The cafe was closed, but they had some frozen pizzas (not my 1st choice after getting pizza food poisoning) that they would cook up after hours.  I talked to one of the Atlantic City locals at the bar (I've probably met half the population just by walking in there) while I waited for my pizza to cook and then with some of the northbound cyclists as I ate. The other bikepackers were touring, not racing, so they were a few beers deep.  The saloon was great, they even let cyclist camp out in the front yard. I wished the other riders a good night after eating half the pizza and sharing the other half... still no appetite.

Atlantic City is a happening place

Day 14: Atlantic City, WY → Wamsutter, WY (98 mi | 2881 ft)

I woke up before the sun this morning and was rolling out before most of the other riders.  I was tired as my stomach kept me up a good amount last night.  On the road out of town I made a bathroom and breakfast stop and got to enjoy watching the sunrise.  Today was the official start of the infamous Basin.  I was an arid and exposed stretch. A bit like yesterday really.

About an hour into the morning I was feeling out of gas and stopped for a quick nap before pressing on.  It started to get pretty warm this afternoon and I escaped from the sun behind some oil/gas equipment shed.  After a rest and a snack I pushed on to Wamsutter.  All Wamsutter had was a truck stop with a Subway, so Subway it was.  By the time I had and resupplied, the sun was setting.  I wasn't feeling so hot, so rather than push ahead, I figured I'd camp out behind the truck stop and grab a coffee and hot breakfast before pushing out in the morning.

Didn't see any riders out here today Has anyone seen a shade tree?That'll do...

That night was a bad one for the stomach.  It was non-stop stomach cramps.  My churning stomach had me up every hour to go to the bathroom.

Day 15: Wamsutter, WY → Brush Mountain Lodge, CO (83 mi | 4334 ft)

This morning while grabbing a breakfast sub and coffee I met a group of 4 Divide riders; Andrew, Jeff, Ben, and Scott.  They had been riding together on and off and ended up camping somewhere behind the truck stop as well.  Apparently I didn't look to hot, because I remember them saying something about it later.

They rolled out a bit before me which was fine.  I was slow... I wanted to ride alone.  Today was mostly a lot like yesterday.  Sunny and wide open.  Pretty sure I stopped for another nap sometime today.  Other than that it was pretty much a slow slog to Savery, WY.  Nothing was open in Savery, but I found some shaded grass where to lay out in, elevate my legs and eat some snacks.  From here it wasn't too far to Brush Mountain Lodge, my destination for the evening.  I had heard good things from other cyclists, but really didn't know what to expect.

Today's riding: exposed

Just down the rode from Savery I passed into Colorado!  Immediately the landscape became greener and more and more trees started to appear.  It was a slow climb to the lodge, and I finally rolled in just as the sun was setting.  The guys I met that morning were all sitting around a fire at the lodge hooting and hollering as I rolled in.  Someone was even shaking a cowbell.  They said they were glad to see me after the state I was in that morning.  The lodge was awesome, the crew there was amazing, everyone was inviting.  I felt happy for the first time in a few days.  The lodge was everything I needed right then.

Colorado!  Trees!
Brush Mountain Lodge blew me away.

They literally had everything you could need.

Kirsten, the lady who runs the whole operation, cooked up a pizza on a wood fired oven.  She was an excellent host and had some help from a few other great volunteers.  They handed me a beer, took my dirty clothes to clean, and set me up in a bed.  It was perfect.  After a couple rough nights, I really needed a pick me up.  I couldn't have imagined a better situation.  That night I crawled into a warm bed in clean clothes they borrowed me.

Day 16: Brush Mountain Lodge → Steamboat Spring, CO (63 mi | 3533 ft)

I was in no hurry to rush off this morning.  With good nights sleep (only one bathroom break) and breakfast on the way, I was going to get the full Brush Mountain Lodge experience before heading out.  None of the other guys rode off early this morning either.  I finally felt like I could eat a full meal this morning too.

After a delicious breakfast, I got my bike checked out by a mechanic that was hanging out at the lodge.  He was a RAAM mechanic (Race Across America) whose team rider crashed on day 1, so he headed up to Brush Mountain Lodge to hang out and help out Divide riders with the bikes.  A couple things had loosened up over the ride and he confirmed my chain was totally shot and that I'd need to replace the cassette as well.  I planned to take care of that in Steamboat Springs today.

YESSSSS! Kirsten cooking us up some breakfast. R & R - Just what the doctor ordered

Sam the RAAM mechanic from Oxford

I eventually got my stuff together and hit the road.  It was nice to have a slow morning.  I headed out with two other riders, Andrew and Jeff.  I didn't get to ride with them long before my first bathroom stop was calling.  I waved them off and continued on my own towards Steamboat.  Still stomach problems!  I was getting so annoyed!  At this point (and the last few days) I'd been considering calling it in Steamboat.  It was close to my sister and I could just recover at her place for a bit before catching an inexpensive train to Reno.  I hadn't been racing (or at least I wasn't at the race pace I wanted to be at) and I was mentally having a hard time justifying sticking things out with all the digestive problems and slow pace.

Because I was having so much trouble and considering dropping out, my sister Krista said she was going to come meet me in Steamboat and I was going to make a decision on whether to pull the plug.  She actually ended up bringing her bike and meeting me on top of the pass before Steamboat.  It was great to meet up with her and ride together for a bit!  We stopped for an ice cream in Clark where she had parked and we talked about my options.  I was really torn on what to do.  I said I'd think about it some more on the ride into Steamboat.  I was going to get my bike worked on and she was going to meet me for dinner.  I was seriously ready to flip a coin.

Krista!!!!

In Steamboat I ran into Andrew and Jeff in Steamboat at Orange Peel bike shop where Jeff had just got his rear wheel fixed after nearly destroying it on the downhill into Clark earlier in the day.  They were heading out just as I got in, so we waved each other off for the 2nd time today.

Orange Peel was just closing up but said they'd take care of me quick.  Stellar shop!  They even gave me a beer while I hung out.  I finally bought some real chain lube too!  After my drivetrain was replaced I met Krista for a burrito.  After shelling out cash for a new drivetrain and feeling like things were in order for another 1000+ miles of riding I told Krista I just needed to finish this thing.  It wasn't an easy decision because just after dinner my stomach was doing flips again.  Luckily I caught a bathroom at the grocery store where I resupplied before heading out of town.

From here I said bye to Krista. I thanked her for looking out for me and coming to see me today.  I was definitely bummed that I was missing out on a chance to hang out longer with my sis and a way out of this mess of a ride, but I felt like I'd regret it later if I didn't keep pushing on.

I rode a little ways out of Steamboat as the sun set.  After dark I ended up finding a great spot to sleep on a concrete pad with some electrical boxes in a rural area before the mountains.

 

 

Day 17: Steamboat Spring, CO → Silverthorne, CO (115 mi | 10151 ft)

I slept through the night last night and my stomach was feeling fine this morning!  Fingers crossed this continued throughout the day.  Today was going to be a full day's ride with 3 passes to the next resupply in Silverthorne, CO.  It wasn't long into the ride when I realized I should have packed more food in Steamboat Springs. Oh well, I'd just have to ration today.

Things were going great today.  I finally felt good, my bike was rolling good... things were looking up.  I was glad I didn't decide to call it the other day.  Of course, this is when I decided to take a spill.  I was descending down a gravel road and while cornering my front tire washed out. I ended up skinning my left hand pretty good and putting a nice gash in my shin from somehow landing on my cassette.  It happened fast, I'm not sure how I ended up on top of my bike.  On top of having to cleaning myself up and attending to some wounds, my handlebars were really out of whack and required some fiddling.  I spent at least an hour dealing with the results of the crash.  Man!  Always something going wrong out here!

Green, trees, shade... Enjoying the scenery in Colorado much more than southern Wyoming.I was not happy about this...At least things cleaned up pretty well.  Those bandaids didn't last long though.

After I cleaned myself up, I said to myself, "Screw rationing, I'm eating my lunch damnit".  After eating, my spirits lifted again and I pedaled on.  The injuries weren't a big deal, but I quickly discovered the hand was going to be a nuisance to keep covered and required me to change my grip to something awkward and uncomfortable.

By the time I finished the 2nd pass that afternoon, I was starting to dream about food options in Silverthorne.  I had heard there was a Chipotle in town and my mind was set.  Unfortunately, I realized I might be cutting it close to closing time.  When I had service, Google maps confirmed it was going to be tight. Google said I would have 15 minutes to spare.  It was settled... time to push hard.  No stopping allowed.

One pass down, two to go

I really picked up the pace the 2nd leg of the day.  It felt great to be pushing it again.  Luckily, the last pass turned to pavement and I crushed it into Silverthorne.  I rolled into Chipotle with the 1.5 hours to spare!  One burrito, chips and guac, and a Dave's Pale Ale later I went across the street to Wendy's for dessert.  Nothing beats a chocolate frosty... of course after I had one I decided two would really be better.  My appetite was finally back.  I found a stealth camp option along the river, but made a call down the street to a hostel and found out I could get a bed and a shower for $34.  Done!  Today was a good day, despite the spill.

 

Part 3 is finished.  Click here to read it.

3 Responses

  1. Jean Ryan

    Oh my gosh! I can’t stop reading this!

  2. Keith Short

    Enjoying your trip though the food poisoning and crash make me glad to be safe in snug harbor. What an adventure though to tell and retell.

    I remember some of the yarns told during the mid-watch on the sub were quite interesting. I never had much to contribute as I had not been arrested, shot at, stabbed or nearly drowned. Your adventure (properly told) has enough gore to allow you to hold your head up proudly on the mess-deck.

    K

    • Hey Keith! I’ll take some scrapes and food poisoning over gun shots and stab wounds any day!!! 🙂

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