Sunday, 16 October 2016

Tour Divide 2016: Day 10

Outskirts of Boulder, WY to Outskirts of Wamsutter, WY
Mileage: 262.3 km (163 mi)
Riding Time: 19 h 04 m
Standing: 13th place


Day 10 Map
I woke up to my alarm beeping at the regular time.  My little sage bush campsite was right beside a fence and just down the road from a farm house.  I heard a semi-trailer running and a dog barking once in a while.  I was a bit paranoid of the dog finding me and some angry farmer giving me a hard time for camping near his house.  No incident though.  I packed up in the dark and ate some breakfast at the same time.  It was smooth riding on the pavement as the sun rose over the hills.  Mornings were getting to be more and more stiff and sore.  I had a pair of compression socks that I would sleep in to stave off the swelling in my ankles and assist in recovery and I was very thankful for those.  Usually it was my knees and ankles that would creak and groan for the first 30 min or so.  After that they would wake up and I would feel good for most of the day.  “Good” being a relative term.  Pain is something you have to expect and work through in this race.  So as long as it wasn’t debilitating, I would tell myself I felt “good”. 

This was one of those really nice mornings that made me appreciate the opportunity to do something like this.  Amazing countryside and beautiful sunrises.

Sunrise over the hills of Wyoming

I stopped on the side of the road to take communion since it was Sunday morning.  It was a nice experience on the side of the road sitting near the sage bushes looking at the sun rise over the hills.  My mom made some unleavened bread and dehydrated grape juice to make this possible.  The pavement continued on and the sleepiness set in again.  More swerving and nodding off. Good roads and relaxing riding always seemed to bring on the unconsciousness.  This was one part where I actually almost fell over on the bike because I fell asleep.  I jerked awake as I was losing my balance because I went unconscious.   I would stop and try to nap, but the sense of urgency would set in and I would try riding again.   I got into a cycle of riding, nodding off, stopping to close my eyes, riding again, and repeat.  Not too much fun and it seemed to make this one little stretch take forever. 

The pavement gave away to gravel and Jose caught up to me.  It was nice to have someone to talk to and fend off the sleepiness.  This section was awesome.  Those wide open spaces that had views for miles.  I talked to Jose about how I have never ridden in the desert before and was looking forward to it when we got there.  He said, “This is a desert” and I guess he was right.  No trees and sage bushes everywhere.  We kept riding the rolling hills enjoying the day.  We would leapfrog each other and ride together for times as well.  Jose talked about his many mechanicals and how he was happy to catch up to the 50lb single speed.   Was glad my bike wasn’t having as many problems. My left quad started to bother me at this stage.   I knew it wasn’t an injury, but probably a cramp.  It felt really tight and would hurt a fair amount as I pushed down on the pedal.  “Builds character” I would tell myself.  This was the first time I started taking some painkillers hoping they would loosen up the cramp. Every time I would stop I would try to stretch it out.  The good thing is that it would come and go with varying levels of pain.  Just keep moving.


Gravel into the expanse

David Stowe caught up to us at one point.  As we rode near each other on one of the many short descents, a rabbit ran right in front of David’s tire.  More kamikaze animals!  It’s good he missed it.  That would have been bad flipping over at high speed with a rabbit tangled in you front spokes.  Probably would have been pretty bad for the rabbit too. 


David and Jose riding ahead

At one section the gravel road climbed up and ran right along the Great Divide.  This was a highlight.  I was blown away to be actually riding along the Great Divide being able to look left and right for so many miles in each direction.  This is yet another example of how the pictures don’t do the view justice.  Trust me, it was awesome!


Trail leading up to the top if the Great Divide

On the Great Divide looking right

On the Great Divide looking left

Coming off the Great Divide and stretching off into the distance

David mentioned there was a rest station to get some water at the point the gravel ended and turned onto the highway.  David and Jose pulled away at some point and I continued riding along at my slower pace.  I made the turn onto the highway and saw Jose’s bike at the rest station.  I didn’t want to stop and continued up the paved hill.  “Go JayP” and some other messages were painted on the road.  That must have been from the previous year.

JayP!

The road turned back onto gravel and the wind shifted to blowing from the west.  For most of the race so far it had been blowing from the South.  For the next stretch, there was a nice strong tailwind!  I spun along as fast as I could go and thought the geared guys could really fly in these conditions.  I ran into a guy on a KTM-like motorcycle.  He said he was riding most of the divide as well and asked if his bike would make it up Union Pass.  I had no idea of the capabilities of a motorcycle and told him a confident “Maybe?” I saw some ATVs up there so he might be fine.  I watched Jose pull away into the distance on the dusty gravel as it passed through South Pass City.  There were some steep ups and downs here and I felt a bit defeated having to walk up a paved hill.  For some reason, walking up gravel seemed more acceptable than walking up pavement. 

I pulled into Atlantic City sweaty, dusty and hot.  I wasn’t sure where to go since this town was not a bustling metropolis with any big gas stations. I stopped at the bar once I saw David’s bike and Jose getting some stuff out of his bags.  David was on his way out and recommended the “big country burger” or something like that.  I usually don’t like to eat big meals in restaurants since it takes too much time, but it sounded tempting.  I sat with Jose and ordered the burger.  Jose was eating sandwiches which turned out to be a much better choice.  This burger seemed to take forever!  Jose finished up and we agreed to meet at the store on the way out of town.  Waiting and waiting for this burger.  Tom came in and we talked a bit about racing as fast as we could, but still enjoying ourselves.  I agreed with his philosophy.  Finally the burger came and I ate it as fast as I could while talking to Kristin on the phone.  This burger took so long I was concerned about Jose sitting at the store waiting for me.  I hoped he didn’t wait and continued on.  Meeting up with people later was an added stress I could do without.   I couldn’t find the store.  It ends up that the store to buy food was the one advertising guns’n’ammo outside of the door.  I rode right by that store thinking the food store was up this really steep hill.  Nope.  I started riding into the Basin.  I had enough food so I wasn’t concerned about missing the store, but I was concerned about missing Jose.   I had this vision of him sitting at the store cursing my name because I stood him up.  I called Kristin and asked where Jose was on Trackleaders.  He was a few miles ahead.  Good, he didn’t wait.  I felt much better after that.

The wind was at my back for the most part in the Basin!  I remembered the southern drawl of the northbounders, “If the wind is at your back, don’t stop!”  So, I rode and rode with the hopes of making it out of the basin that day. 


Road stretching off into the Basin

I kept riding a bit sluggish because of the huge burger in Atlantic City.  Never again.  No more big meals in restaurants.  They just don’t work for me.  I had the Diagnus Well flagged in my GPS and wanted to stop there not because I needed the water, but because it was a stop I wanted to see.  It’s a good thing I had the flag, because the turn off is easy to miss.  Someone put a really small rock at the turn off that I only noticed on the way out.

Tiny rock with "Water" etched on it

Stop at the well


I filled up my water and was on my way.  The road stretched on and on into the Basin.  The wind was favourable and the roads were nice.  Riding and riding and riding.  The road eventually turned off onto the less worn in trail onto Wamsutter.  My map no longer applied.  I was standing figuring out how much further when Tom rode up.  We figured it was another 160km or so and Tom suggested we “Crack on!”  Another Europeanism that would echo in my brain for the rest of the race.  Anytime I would start moving I would say to myself, “Crack on!”  Tom pulled away being the strong rider he is and I was on my own again.  The quad muscle started to scream at me so I took some more ibuprofen.   I crested a hill and saw Jose working on his bike.  He had a flat and was struggling to get the valve stem out of the rim.  This was another instance I felt terrible riding away from someone who I could have helped.  Self-supported was part of the race I would tell myself.  It provided a bit of consolation, but not much. 

Near dusk and the sunset was amazing!  The sun was setting in the west and the full moon just above the horizon in the east.  The sky was clear and gradually turned from blue to pink and into the dark. A 360 degree sunset!  Definitely a highlight of the trip! 

Simultaneous sunset and moonrise in the Basin

My quad was really bothering me so I decided to try the Aleve I picked up somewhere along the way.  My dosage was 1 Aleve and 2 ibuprofen.  After a little while I started to get stoned and my vision started to go wonky.  The good thing is it stopped the pain in my quad. I kept riding into the night trying to get to Wamsutter. As the darkness set in, my double-vision got worse.  Jose caught up to me and we rode into the night.  I tried to play it cool as we rode along the white sandy washboard road.  With the double vision, the whiteness of the road illuminated by my headlights appeared at the top of my vision.  I had white road low and white road high which made it seem like I was riding through a parking garage with a ceiling above.  I was able to discern the road in front of me so I could still ride safely and my leg didn’t hurt because I was so stoned so I didn’t want to stop.  I was glad we were riding this stretch at night.  I heard about all the big rigs blasting down this road during peak hours. 


We decided to bivy on the side of the road a few miles away from Wamsutter.  Jose said he was falling asleep on the bike and I was getting tired too.  We set up camp in the dust and trash in the light of the full moon.  Another night with a really good sleep. 

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